Work Like An Athlete

Naval Ravikant popularized “work like a lion, not like a cow.”

In short, this means sprint as hard as you can while you feel inspired to work, and then rest. Take long breaks. Like a lion. Don’t work like a cow grazing on the field all day. Nobody really works 80-100 hours/week at high output with mental clarity.

Maybe there’s some truth to that, but here’s an alternative approach:

Work like an athlete.

Train, rest, play, recover.

The best athletes train hard. They start their workouts at 5am. They’re disciplined with their diet, they obsess over each play, they watch film during half time, they invest in their recovery and sleep on time. Their mind and body is their greatest asset. Just like a high performance knowledge worker.

They don’t count how many hours they work, but rather the output they produce each day/week/month. They focus on driving their business/teams/projects forward. They focus on details. They obsess about winning and deeply care about execution.

They remember that “amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics.” They recognize that 5% is strategy and 95% is execution.

There’s no status signal in working 80-hours/week. Nobody cares. Hours worked is a vanity metric. Just like hours trained is a vanity metric. It’s about the results generated from the training done.

The late Kobe Bryant is regarded as one of the hardest working athletes of all time. He often talked about the work ethic needed to become an NBA champion. Talent alone isn’t enough. Everyone in the NBA is “talented.” The difference maker was the hard work and discipline guys put into their training, resting and recovery. Showing up early, leaving late.

To achieve peak performance and highest output, you have to work like an athlete, not a lion.

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