do it the hard way header

The Bottom Locker – Why You Should Always Do It The Hard Way

3104.

That’s the number on my locker. Wanna see it? Sure, here it is:

do it the hard way locker

6 out of 7 days of the week I go to the library. None of the lockers belong to anyone by the way.

Anyone can choose whichever locker they want on any given day of the week. You come, you pick one, you go, you leave it open.

Then how come on all 6 days I get to use that same locker, again and again and again?

Why can I walk around and tell everyone with 100% confidence that that’s my locker, number 3104, Nik’s locker?

Here’s why (and why you should care): because it’s on the bottom.

Today’s blog post is about why you should always pick the locker on the bottom, how that translates to the rest of your life, and why your life becomes ten times easier, if you do it the hard way.

Don’t believe me when I say choosing what’s hard will make your life easy?

Read on, young action taker 🙂

Two visits to the library

Here’s what we’re going to do.

I’ll walk you through two library visits, both of which happen at the library I go to, exactly like this, every single day.

You try to spot what’s different, then we’ll compare notes.

Deal?!

Deal!

The lazy way

Meet Lazy Luke.

 do-it-the-hard-way-lazy-luke

(created with Bitmoji)

Lazy Luke is one chill dude. He wants to get through life as smoothly as possible, so of course, he takes the easy route wherever he gets a chance.

So what’s Luke doing at the library in the first place?

Oh, he’s only here because he has to. It’s finals week and he didn’t study all semester, so now he needs to cram.

Because he can’t focus at home, he does what everyone does, and goes to the library.

When he arrives in the morning, he puts his backpack into a locker. Luke always picks the middle ones, because that’s where all the cool kids put their backpacks.

Plus it’s easy to reach, right at arms height, smooth.

do it the hard way easy lockers

But what’s that?

Dang it! Because Luke arrived 5 minutes later today, all the cool lockers in the front and at a nice height are taken.

“Fine,” he thinks, and walks around the locker room, eventually finding an empty locker on the same height level, all the way in the back of the room.

He puts his backpack in, grabs his laptop, and enters the library. The whole thing has three floors, but Luke always sticks around on the ground floor.

Lazy as he is, he tries to get a good spot, right near the exit, so he doesn’t have to walk far to the bathroom.

do it the hard way cool kids spots

But a lot of taken lockers also means a lot of taken spots, so Luke has to walk all the way to the back of the building, only to find out all seats are taken.

“Ugh!” he thinks, and drags himself up to the first floor, where he finds a spot somewhere in the middle.

30 minutes later, Luke needs to pee. Good thing there’s a toilet on the same floor he’s on, at least that’s something!

He walks over there, but unfortunately it’s only one stall, and it’s blocked – dammit!

As he trots into the bathroom in the basement, Nerdy Nik passes him on the way out.

The hard way

Nerdy as he is, Nik has analyzed “library traffic” over the past few weeks, since he goes there every day anyway.

do-it-the-hard-way-lazy-nik(created with Bitmoji)

When he noticed the library filling up earlier, as exam time approached, he decided to go a little earlier himself, before “traffic hits” late in the morning.

As soon as Nik arrived, he put his stuff into his locker, number 3104. Nik always uses the same one, because it’s always free.

It’s on the bottom, so he has to bend down to put his belongings in, but he doesn’t mind.

Next, he enters the library, and walks up to his spot.

Yup, he’s got a spot too!

It’s at the very top, on the third floor.

do it the hard way spot

It’s his favorite spot and he barely switches around, but when he does, he picks another spot on the top floor.

That means when Nik wants to go to the bathroom downstairs, which is the one he always uses, he has to take 100 steps – quite a long way for a little bathroom break.

Nik drinks a lot of water as well, so he has to take breaks quite often, but he thinks the stairs are no problem.

Okay, enough of this, pop quiz!

Question: Who’s the smarter one here?

You might have already spotted it, but even though it initially seems like Nik is a dumbass, he ran into a lot less problems than Luke.

Because Nik makes the effort to bend down to put his things into his locker, he can use the same locker every day, he never has to look for one.

Because Nik always takes the stairs and goes up to the third floor, he never has to worry about not finding a spot.

Because Nik always goes the long way to the toilet in the basement, he always finds a stall that’s free.

Here’s the profound lesson from this, that applies to anything you do in life:

When you do it the hard way, you will face almost no competition.

Why?

Because no one wants to bend down, it takes effort.

No one wants to walk up 2 flights of stairs, it takes effort.

No one wants to walk 100 stairs to go to the loo, it takes effort.

And that’s why people like Lazy Luke always end up frustrated, take way longer to get results, and often quit long before they reach their goals.

They spend so much time trying to do it the easy way, that they don’t have any energy left to do it the hard way.

Doing it the hard way in the first place would have been much easier – because they only would’ve had to do it once.

Why you should do it the hard way too

Everyone wants to take the easy road, because they have already settled for mediocrity.

Tim Ferriss discovered this in a fascinating experiment, where 0 of 20 students even tried to accomplish the presented task, in spite of an insanely cool prize: a trip around the world.

They thought it was hard. They thought they couldn’t beat the competition.

In fact, there was none. If one person had showed a sloppy attempt, they would’ve won.

Here’s an example from 4 days ago.

A famous entrepreneur posted about a new project in his 10,000+ member Facebook group. He wanted all interested people to comment on the post with their ideas, 8-10 of which he’d pick as ambassadors, who would then get promoted by him.

Here are some responses, mine is easy to spot.

do it the hard way facebook

There are 100 comments on that post. 98% of them are along the lines of “I’m in!” and “I’m interested.”

Instead of just posting another comment, I recorded a 5 minute video, doing exactly what he asked for, to showcase what it’d look like if I did it.

It took me 5 minutes to think about what I would do, plus another 5 minute to record it.

The time it takes to write a comment: 1 second.

Time it takes to do a video: 600 seconds.

I put in 600 times the effort of 98% of the people who wanted in, just by taking 10 minutes to make something cool.

Here’s the real kicker: Everyone has these 10 minutes.

Most people went the 1-second-comment route. Some at least sent examples, like the person below my comment. But most people did it the easy way.

Now will those 600 seconds pay off?

I have no idea.

But I like my chances.

Want some more examples where doing it the hard way has paid off for me?

Sure.

  1. Applying to write for Lifehack, and being accepted within 24 hours, and doing the same again for Elite Daily.
  2. Creating a free plan on coach.me, which led to my first newsletter feature.
  3. Preparing a 24-page document to land a single webinar opportunity.
  4. Spending 2 hours editing an article for free, that lead to more work and potentially a retainer contract.
  5. Taking an entire Sunday to write a fully polished guest post, which ended up on a blog with 100k+ readers.
  6. Every damn day at the library 🙂

How to make your entire life 10 times easier

If you want one rule to make your entire life 10x easier, make it this one:

Do it the hard way.

The next time you go to drive to work, take the longer route. It’ll be less stressful and maybe even faster.

The next time you have to hand in a report at work, make it not only perfectly accurate, but also perfectly designed, and collect promotion points.

The next time you have to park in front of the grocery store, park at the end of the lot, so you’ll instantly get a spot.

Oh and the next time you get to pick, choose the bottom locker.

Because the only true way to do it the easy way, is to do it the hard way.

Let me know where you’ll take the hard way the next time in the comments!


Niklas Goeke

I am a German student on his way to becoming an entrepreneur!

  • ErwinWrites

    Great post, Nik: thanks for sharing all your insights, experiences and (borrowed 😉 knowledge. Very inspiring – gives me a virtual kick in the butt!

    • Glad you enjoy it Erwin! Sure, all knowledge is borrowed, in a way, isn’t it? Just synthesizing the ideas that come to mind every week 🙂

      Be awesome!

      • ErwinWrites

        Borrowed and scrambled, and you do exactly that in a fresh, surprising and inspiring way. Keep it up!

  • Andrew Katasonov

    Great post! Really resonates with me since I’ve been trying (and succeeding, though not every time) with going against masses for quite a long time. Think what most will do and do something entirely different – pick the bottom locker! 🙂

    • Awesome Andrew, glad you could relate, what’s one way in which you’re choosing the bottom locker?

      • Andrew Katasonov

        Going to gym in the morning (significantly less busy there!), driving somewhere when it is not morning/lunch/going home (so there are fewer cars on the road) – just a couple ways 🙂

  • Cameron Paul Sternsdorf

    Fantastic Article, It seems like such a simple concept but it’s often those simple things that are overlooked. Looks like you’re video payed off, I came here from Sumome. Particularly loved your content writing like a huge agency article.

    • Thanks Cameron! Glad you like the idea of doing things the hard way, any ideas on how you can introduce it in your life? Happy you enjoyed the article, hope the systems will help you! 🙂

  • Tem

    Really great article! It’s a difficult pill to swallow, but the harder way is definitely sometimes the easiest, with the least competition.

    • Thanks Tem! I think the difficulty increase and decrease might actually balance each other most of the time – which makes the hard way as easy as the easy way 🙂

      • Tem

        That’s true, good points!

  • Another advantage to your extra stairs, parking at the far side of the parking lot, etc: free exercise!

    • Exactly, and let’s be honest, we’re not running danger of overexercising 😀

  • Mateo Jaunsolo Perazzo

    Great article!
    Been doing what you said without knowing it!
    When I started driving to uni, every day I would waste 10-15 minutes searching for a parking spot, which nine times out of ten, made me late for class!
    Then I noticed that a couple of blocks away, along a narrow street no one would ever park, so I started parking there.
    It’s so easy to arrive knowing that 99% of the time i will have a sure parking space.
    Sometimes taking the hard road pays off…

    • 100%!! Such a great example, I used to do the same thing for my last year of high school. Everyone was circling the block, I went to a street a little further down the road 🙂

  • Евгений Ладинов

    Great post! There’s always a crowdy queue in my workplace cafeteria. So before I’ve read your article I was spending at least a half an hour every day in order to buy the lunch. But afterward I came to conclusion it’s an easy way. And I decided – being inspired by your advice – do it the hard way. Now I’m gathering and eating the crumbs from the floor. And you were actually righ. No one of my coworkers doing it in the same way. Lazy guys…

    • Haha, I think the way to go would be to find out when it’s less crowded, even if it’s early or late, then go at that time 🙂