The Three Pillars of Extreme Success According to Mark Manson

In a world of competition and conventional wisdom, achieving extreme success often seems like a journey reserved for the chosen few. And there’s a reason for that.

As someone passionate about productivity and success, I enjoy learning about groundbreaking ideas that challenge the usual narratives. I have routines, apps, and to-do lists that experts recommend, but so do thousands (probably millions) of other people. And I consider myself to be successful, as do many other people.

But what about extreme success? What does it take to be in the top 1%? Because let’s be honest, if everyone is doing it, it’s not unique and doesn’t make you any better than someone else.

According to bestselling author and internet entrepreneur Mark Manson, the path to extraordinary achievement isn’t complex. You don’t need a list of 20 things to be successful. It’s not goals, discipline, or focus that brings success. If that were the case, everyone would be amazing and successful.

Manson argues that to differentiate yourself from the 99, you must embrace a path less traveled.

He cuts through the noise with simplicity, depth, and just three principles. To obtain extreme success, you must: 1) have a contrarian idea, 2) be correct about that idea, and 3) execute it massively. In this article, we are breaking down this no-nonsense framework to be better than everyone else and answering the more important question of do I really want to. 

Principle 1: Have a Contrarian Idea

Innovation starts with thinking differently. The first step to achieving extreme success, as Manson argues, is to have a contrarian idea. 

This doesn’t just mean being different for the sake of it; rather, it’s about seeing what others don’t. It’s about questioning the status quo and looking for opportunities where most see obstacles.

However, being a contrarian isn’t always great. First, most people don’t like contrarians and second, most ideas fail. 

Those with extreme success had an idea that had likely been tried before and failed. But they kept at it and eventually saw success. That success sometimes comes at a cost of quality time with family, large amounts of debt, and sometimes sanity.

Extreme success is built on a contrarian idea that completely challenges traditional norms. Think about how Airbnb questioned the traditional hotel industry or how Uber rethought urban transportation. These companies didn’t just improve on existing ideas; they flipped traditional models on their heads, proposing new ways that initially seemed outlandish to many. Who would have dreamed we would get into cars with strangers instead of using taxis?

Principle 2: Be Correct About That Idea

Having a groundbreaking idea is the starting point, but the idea itself needs to be viable. This principle is about validation. 

Is there a real demand for this idea? Does it solve a significant problem in a way that is scalable and sustainable? 

Being correct means having not only the vision to recognize a unique opportunity, but also the insight to understand its practical implications.

The journey from concept to validation involves a great deal of time, research, testing, and feedback. This phase is crucial because it separates mere fantasy from actionable insights. 

Jeff Bezos, for instance, was correct about the potential of an online bookstore before expanding Amazon into the behemoth it is today. His idea was not just contrarian; it was deeply insightful about future consumer behaviors. Had he been wrong, it would have been just another bookstore.

Principle 3: Execute It Massively

An idea, no matter how great, is worthless without execution. 

Massive execution means taking bold actions to scale your idea from a concept to a reality that impacts a large number of people. This involves building a team, securing funding, managing resources wisely, and constantly adapting to challenges without losing sight of the ultimate goal.

Execution is perhaps the most challenging of the three pillars because it demands perseverance, leadership, and a keen sense of timing. Elon Musk’s ventures, such as SpaceX and Tesla, showcase what massive execution looks like when paired with visionary ideas and correct assumptions.

Is That Really All It Takes?

While Manson’s three principles form a powerful framework for distinguishing oneself in a sea of mediocrity, they are, in essence, just pillars upon which outlier achievements are built.

The daily grind of striving toward success is more nuanced and involves many other essential habits and practices. Regular goal-setting, high productivity levels, and sharp focus are still important to stay on the path to success.

These practices ensure that day-to-day progress aligns with long-term ambitions. However, when it comes to truly monumental, game-changing success—what sets the great apart from the merely good—Manson’s trio of principles becomes critical. They enable an individual not just to succeed, but to redefine the parameters of success and influence entire industries or spheres of thought.

Thus, while everyday diligence and good practices underpin success, it’s the adoption of contrarian ideas, their correct validation, and their bold execution that catapults some to extraordinary heights, making them true difference-makers.

It Worth It?

Well, according to Manson, it depends. Extreme success is only meaningful if you do it for the right reasons. It won’t magically make you happy, and it won’t improve relationships that weren’t broken in the first place. So, you need to figure out your why and ask yourself if it’s worth it.

Extreme success requires you to be wrong…alot, and it can take a long time to get the idea right. It’s easy to lose friends as a contrarian, and this isn’t easy for everyone to deal with.

Everyone will have their own definition of success and what they want to achieve. That’s where the focus should be. What are your life goals, and how do you want to get there?

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These purchases are not about cutting corners but making smart enhancements to your workplace to boost organization, relaxation, creativity, and time management. Whether you’re a busy professional, a creative soul searching for inspiration, or anyone in between, these cheap purchases could be the game-changer you’ve been looking for to be more productive.

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You have all over 1400 minutes every day—why not spend a few on habits that pay off big time? Here are 13 micro-habits that promise to streamline your workflow and maximize your output with the least effort, proving that sometimes, the smallest tweaks lead to the greatest gains.

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