The term "moderation" often gets a bad wrap. And while the misconception can stem from cultural beliefs, the power of moderation, when wielded effectively, is undeniable for the mature, experienced and driven mind.
"Moderate" by definition means "average in amount, intensity, quality, or degree" or "make or become less extreme, intense, rigorous, or violent."
Average. Become less. Who wants that?
On the surface, it does sound like a sure path to mediocrity doesn't it?
But what if we consider moderation more deeply?
On October 12, 2019, Eliud Kipchoge ran 26.2 miles in 1:59:40 recording the very first sub-two-hour marathon ever. Crazy, right?!! The very definition of intensity!
However, Eliud's time will not be recognized as an official world record.
When digging a little deeper, the race was indeed moderated to "become less extreme" for Eliud. "Kipchoge ran under conditions that had been painstakingly and exclusively arranged to push him beyond the two-hour barrier," reports The Atlantic.
The 6 mile circuit route was very carefully chosen, Kipchoge had groups of pacers blocking the wind, his favorite carbohydrate drink was always available by cyclist, he was wearing new state-of-the-art shoes which have not been released to the public yet, there were no other runners on the course, etc.
Does this take away from Kipchoge's achievement? Some say, yes, (no official world record for Eliud) other's pay no mind to the moderation that set up the super-impressive performance and still feel it was equivalent to breaking the sound barrier or landing on Mars.
And what of Kipchoge's "average" mile pace (about four and a half minutes per mile)? What did all this moderation gain him? A 2 minute personal best on his marathon time... an extra 5 seconds per mile.
Kipchoge simply raised the bar on his average did he not? He could've gone faster earlier, but he didn't. He could've gone slower earlier and faster later, but he didn't. He moderated his speed for the entire race, and his training + his plan simply allowed him to increase his average in order to set an unofficial world record.
Now extrapolate this to any marathon runner. The goal, for every single one of them, is to run at a moderated pace that allows them the most effective use of their energy over the breadth of the course. This is as true for an Olympian as it is for a trained beginner.
Look for moderation elsewhere and you will see the same thing in almost every single top performers. Their goal is to raise the average pace, moderating their actions almost all of the time, and only exercising some "intensity" in small bursts. This is what creates high win percentages and sustainable, effective legacies.
How does a veteran perform versus a rookie? Conservatively smooth versus intensely harried, right? Smooth becomes fast in the hands of an experienced person.
How does a professional boxer build their training camp into peaking on fight day? How many rounds does a prizefighter take on fight night in order to carefully feel out their opponent before locating weaknesses and increasing the speed of their offense?
How about an apex predator like a lion, a crocodile or a great white shark? How much of their time is spent resting, cruising, or patiently scanning and stalking compared to quick bursts of violent killing?
What about elsewhere, in the world of finance for example?
Tony Robbins writes in his book, Unshakeable, "Wall Street wins by getting you to be more active, but you win by patiently staying in the game for decades. Remember, as Warren Buffett says, 'The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient.'"
Moderation is underneath success everywhere! It's just not sexy... nor advertised: it's hard to sell people stuff when they already have all they need to be happy and are comfortable delaying gratification.
Moderation is about consistency; and consistent, effective action creates success.
The discipline that moderation creates leads to optimized, effective, sustainable performance in stressful times.
Consider one more example: We often hear people striving to be "the hardest worker in the room" as a means of being successful. This is a wise policy to be sure.
To be the "hardest worker in the room" you have to show up to "the room" every single day. This is the only way to truly understand how the room works, how to put in the effort, and how to build the acumen it takes to raise the average.
Showing up every single day has nothing to do with intensity and everything to do with consistency.
Do you see?
Moderation is not the problem when it comes to descending into mediocrity, a lack of dedication to building success is. Raise the average patiently and consistently, like an apex predator dedicated to finding its next meal and enjoy the results!