Clean Thinking, Personal effectiveness

The 10x Rule: How Fear and Discomfort Can Signal the Path Forward

In 2011, Grant Cordone wrote a book called The 10X Rule. In it, he described how to take “massive action” toward your goals. It’s very much a rah-rah-rah book, geared toward salespeople and entrepreneurs, but when I read it, its concept of “more is more” didn’t quite resonate with me. 

Other books and online resources about gaining success have a similar tenor: 

Success comes to those who are hungry enough for it.

Achievement can only be realized by going the extra mile.

Do you want to wallow in mediocrity, or do you want to excel?

However there is a concept in the book – a very good one! – that fear is a signal to achievers to lean in and pursue something rather than retreat. If they can get over the hump (where others wouldn’t because fear holds them back), then they are in the winners’ camp.

So I was conflicted – did I agree with the book, or not?

I decided to flip the script on the 10X rule a bit.

I would like to apply this 10X rule/ massive action concept toward a goal of BALANCE rather than collecting MORE of something (money, success, Instagram followers, whatever). After all, what is holding us back from achieving balance except a fear of failing, a fear of missing out, and/or a fear of others’ judgments?

Let me give an example: in speaking with other parents recently at a welcome brunch for new families to my kid’s preschool, I learned that another school in the area was requiring parent participation in the form of a minimum (not insignificant!) amount home-baked goods. They MUST be home-baked. That was the actual requirement.

This is what my 10X massive action would have been in supporting a goal of balance in my life: “Oh. Hell. No.”

See? Any fear of judgment is something I should just lean in to in order to achieve my goal.


The author himself outlined the 5 key tenets of his book. Let’s see if we can run a balance goal through them and see if it holds true.

1. There is no shortage of success. 

Is there too much balance? Too much peace? Too much contentment? Nope. The author argues there is no limit to success because it’s something we create, not something we acquire. I agree. Read about my lightbulb moment on this concept, where I describe my personal experiment in creating more love and presence and focus in my life, rather than trying to acquire those things from a fixed pool.

2. Assume responsibility for all results.

Here, Cordone and I differ in semantics, since I use the word accountability and believe it’s different from responsibility, but we’ll go with it. This works for a goal of balance as well. Would I get ostracized by other moms because I dared to buy cupcakes at Whole Foods instead of baking them? Maybe. Will my kid be somehow be bullied in that very nuanced and exquisitely manipulative way that only Mean Girls can perfectly master because her mom didn’t actually bake? Oof – maybe that, too. Well, you know what? I would accept those consequences, and that I might have to manage those downstream outcomes with my kid. Fine.

3. Take only massive actions.

Push the envelope. Dare to do something.

Listen, I know at least half the moms at that school wouldn’t WANT to bake, but they would absolutely cave because of “the requirement.” I wouldn’t have. I would have more balance. I win.

Saying NO is massive action, in my book.

4. Fear is an indicator to take action.

It doesn’t have to be fear. Sometimes, it’s not even that strong. Hesitation, discomfort, uncertainty, waffling… these are all clues that you should ACT. Fear is good! Afraid of failing? Failing can result in fantastic outcomes – if it’s done right. Here’s how to fail the right way.

5. Criticism is a sign of success.

Cordone discusses criticism as a good thing – when people can’t stop talking about you, it must mean you’ve “arrived” and mastered the 10X rule. Maybe. However, I prefer to stick to the concept that criticisms and judgments are more a reflection of the other person than me. I don’t really like interpreting criticism as a reflection on how far I’ve come. Leave it with the individuals criticizing; it’s their burden to bear.


When you are stuck or uncertain, think of your goals through the lens of your 10X self. Where would you be if you did the brave thing? What would the 10X version of yourself be proud of? Where is the discomfort or fear coming from, and are you willing to lean into it to get to the other side?

If your goal is to see more balance in life, applying the 10X rule in a novel way might just get you there.


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