There are two stories I'd like to share to prove that mastery comes with strategic practice. The first story is cute. While making a secret Santa with my son Kye in the basement, I was painting meticulously. Kye marveled and said. "Wow, Dad. You're really good at that. When I get bigger, I'll be able to do it too." I said. "Kye, it's not getting bigger that will make you better. It's a lot of practice. I've been painting for 35 years." He got it right away. It's not how many years you've been alive. It's how many reps you put in. Do you follow this simple mindset?
Once you get better with practice, you will start to notice a phenomenon take place. Your body will just do the best version without you thinking about it. It's called Unconscious Competance and it's where you have a routine that is excellent, efficient, and unbreakable. That's what we need to win in anything. And it's what we need to be able to optimize our solo cleaning businesses. I won't dig into this now, but there are 4 levels to work through: Unconscious Incompetence, Conscious Incompetence, Conscious Competence, and Unconscious Competence.
It takes lots of reps to master these 4 levels. There's another mindset we can borrow from weightlifting too. You can bulk up with high weight and low reps. Or, you can build lean muscle with precision movements, maximizing the negatives of the exercise, through lower weights and high repetitions. That's what I want you to do in your solo cleaning business. Lower the weight and work with precision slowly at first. Master the 4 levels until you reach the pinnacle, then switch to high weight and optimize with speed.
That's the process. Let's close this podcast with a story I've never shared publicly. But if you can get past the funny parts and the title of the competition, you will possibly catch the biggest nugget I've ever shared in the Solo Cleaning School Podcast.
The movie Forrest Gump came out in my freshman year at Penn State. I was an engineering student with homework until 3 or 4am every night. It was brutal. My freshman classes had 300+ students and my sophomore had 100. That's why many said that engineering was pre-business as the drop outs went into the school of business. I couldn't possibly work straight through, so I'd mosey to the freshman commons with my ping-pong paddle, wait my turn, and play until I lost. That's how it worked. The winner would stay on the table accepting new challengers. After a month or two, I improved my already excellent game to become the best freshman ping-pong player. I was already the best in my high school, or at least tied with Scott Shalom, who was a year ahead of me. How did I know I was the best freshman. Simple. I would get on the table when it was my turn and I would stop playing when I was tired. I didn't lose. I was good! There would always be the same pack of Chinese students hovering around the tables and they would cower when I showed up. I was arrogant for sure!
In the spring semester, the Gump-a-thon Table Tennis Tournament came to our freshman commons. It was a single elimination bracket of 64 players like the NCAA tourney. I heard about it, but honestly forgot to sign up. After the deadline, I walked into the sign-up office and asked to be included. They said they were sorry, but the tourney was full. I saw the brackets written out and found an opportunity. There was a qualifying round to make the brackets. I simply said this. "I'm the best ping-pong player here and will win this tournament. Put me in the first round. I'll skip the qualifying round." I said it with such expectation and confidence, they didn't know how to respond other than, "okay".
I demolished my opponents in the first, second, third, and fourth rounds. The final four match-up was tougher. I didn't win by much, but I squeaked out the win 21-16. This placed me in the championship round. But I wasn't playing another freshman, or at least, I never saw him before. He was a French student with ties to the French National Team. I watched him decimate his opponent in the semi-final match. I was a little nervous. I wasn't expecting to play anyone that was olympic level! The table was set up in the center of the commons with a hundred students surrounding us. It was like center court at Wimbleton.
I will spare you the suspense. I won the championship, but not because I was better. He was so much better than me. He could out volley and slam me. But I had a better strategy and he could not figure my serve out. I won the majority of my service points and played tough defense against his service and offense. He had putaway slams that I miraculously returned and then his follow up slam would go long or in the net. He beat himself. How did I win the Gump-a-Thon? Was it my ability? Yes, partly. I won because I put in the reps on the one part of my game that would give me the best chance to win. There was a ceremony and I was awarded first prize with a Forrest Gump poster and the double CD soundtrack to the movie. Yay!
Let me elaborate on how I won all of those nights and ultimately in the big match. I already put in my reps and was a master. I knew what my strength was. No body could return my nasty serve. That was my secret. I had a great serve and could win 90% of my service points and play great defense on their serves. Do the math, in a game to 21 points and sets of 5 serves each. I would get 15-20 serves and win 12-18 points on service alone. On their 15-20 serves, I only had to win 33%-50% of their points and since I was so dominant on serve, they were playing from behind and taking risks to catch up. I would play defense, taking my offensive strikes when I could and win every game. As long as my serve was amazing, I would never lose. Thus, I experimented with my service over and over to get better serves, putting in my reps on my serve while keeping my defense and offensive strikes above average.
This is what it takes to optimize your solo cleaning business. You need to put in the reps of cleaning houses and offices over time and master the four levels of competence. Then, optimize your game by maximizing on your strengths. The serve is the start of a new volley. The marketing process is the start of a new high paying client. I got the clients, kept them, and then learned how to "play more strategically" at each client's house or office. This allowed me to earn over $100 per hour cleaning.
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