Most of us dream about achieving great things in life. Maybe you want to write a book, build a successful business or achieve financial independence. Despite these ambitions, however, most of us limit our own productivity and ceiling for achievement by chasing ‘mice’ instead of ‘antelope’.
Let me explain…
Are You Chasing Mice Or Antelope?
The concept of chasing mice versus chasing antelope came from Newt Gingrich:
“A lion is fully capable of capturing, killing, and eating a field mouse. But it turns out that the energy required to do so exceeds the caloric content of the mouse itself. So a lion that spent its day hunting and eating field mice would slowly starve to death. A lion can’t live on field mice. A lion needs antelope. Antelope are big animals. They take more speed and strength to capture and kill, and once killed, they provide a feast for the lion and her pride. So ask yourself at the end of the day, ‘Did I spend today chasing mice or hunting antelope?’”
In reality, the lion is us. It could be our business, bank account, career or anything else. This ‘lion’ requires calories in order to survive and thrive. You can view calories as revenue, achievements or meaningful progress. Without these ‘calories’, our lion can’t survive.
In order to get these calories, our lion needs to chase and kill prey — tasks, projects, goals, and customers.
If we play it small, we chase mice — low-value tasks, mediocre projects, and cheap customers.
If we play it big, we chase antelope — important tasks, valuable projects, and high-paying customers.
However, if we decide to play it small (like most of us subconsciously do), we’re forced to chase and kill many mice. Eating just one mouse doesn’t provide us with enough calories — again, revenue, progress or achievements — to stay alive. Therefore, we need to chase again and again and again.
However, in our pursuit of all of these mice, we spend so much time, energy and effort that our lion — business, bank account or career — isn’t able to survive, let alone thrive.
In the real world, this translates to the tendency to pursue many low-mid value tasks that offer only incremental progress. Yet, at the same time, this costs us a lot of time and energy.
It also translates to entrepreneurs and freelancers who pursue many clients that aren’t willing to pay high prices. This forces them to take on more clients than they’re actually capable of, in order to get the ‘calories’ needed to survive.
All in all, chasing mice isn’t a productive strategy for achieving great results. In fact, it leads to mediocre results while still requiring a lot of time and energy.
“It’s lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most time and energy-consuming.” — Tim Ferriss
That’s why we need to play it big. We need to start chasing antelope. Catching one antelope — a high-paying client, a valuable project or important task — might be more time and energy consuming than catching one mouse, but it offers significantly more calories — revenue, progress or results.
For every antelope the lion catches, it needs to catch about 100 mice to get the same amount of calories.
In other words, you’re better off working on just 1–3 highly important tasks than crushing 28 low/mid-value tasks in a day.
You’re also better off raising your prices and chasing only 4 high-paying clients instead of 12 average-paying clients.
And, you’re better off pursuing one big and ambitious goal than 8 mediocre ones at the same time.
In all cases, you’ll get equal or even better results with less time and energy spend. That’s a powerful increase in productivity.
How Chasing Mice Kept Me Stuck At Mediocrity
At the start of my journey as an internet entrepreneur, I was creating courses on Udemy. Although I’m grateful for the opportunity Udemy gave me, I was definitely chasing mice there.
On Udemy, courses sell for about $10. That’s not much. This means that in order to earn a mediocre income, you’ll need to sell about 300 courses per month. That’s 300 people who you need to find, convince and then service. That’s a lot of effort for a mediocre outcome. However, I was used to Udemy. I felt comfortable there. It was familiar.
I was working hard, yet I was struggling financially. Finally, after years of ignorance, I realized I was chasing mice and that I needed to chase antelope instead. Thus, I removed most of my courses from Udemy and I decided to create higher quality courses that could be sold through my own channels for much higher prices.
In fact, my upcoming Peak Productivity course will be priced at $297. In the past, I would need to chase 30 ‘mice’ in order to earn that amount of money. Now, I only need to chase one ‘antelope’. That’s much less time and energy consuming, yet the pay-off is higher. That’s how you increase your productivity.
Fun fact: Some courses that I offered on Udemy took me about 1–2 months to create, yet only earned me about $1000 in total. To compare, there are a few Medium posts that I’ve written in 2–3 hours that have earned me the same amount. Again, mice versus antelope.
Every time you underprice your products or services, you’re forced to chase mice. You’re forced to play the quantity game, and that’s not an easy game to play. Rather, raise your prices and aim for high-paying clients — antelope.
The same goes for your work. Every time you avoid the big and important tasks — and work on easy tasks instead, you’re chasing mice. You’re forced to crush many tasks and work many hours in order to make any meaningful progress — which also could’ve been achieved by tackling just one or two important tasks.
Why Do We Chase Mice So Often?
Most of us keep chasing mice on a daily basis, thereby limiting our productivity and ceiling for achievement. We chase average goals, ask (below) average prices for our work and often prefer to work on many easy tasks versus just a few big and important tasks.
But why is this the case?
First of all, chasing mice is very comfortable. It’s within our comfort zone to ask low prices, work on many low-value tasks and chase average goals. It’s familiar territory and you know you’ll be safe there. That’s why I was stuck on Udemy for so long. Chasing antelope, on the other hand, is often outside of your comfort zone.
For example, if you’re a coach, it’s much more intimidating to ask $500 or $1000 for a coaching session compared to just asking $50. Charging that amount of money means that you have to deliver. You have to be on top of your game. This added pressure makes most of us feel uncomfortable, thus we don’t do it.
The key is to realize that you need to step outside of your comfort zone to get better results. Over time, as you get used to chasing antelope, it won’t be that intimidating anymore. It’s just a matter of making the bold step. As you’ll get more experience, you’ll feel more and more comfortable.
Second of all, many people believe that they’re not worthy of chasing antelope. Low self-esteem and confidence are big issues nowadays — and what you believe you’re worth is reflected in what you aim for. You might have a limiting belief that you’re not worthy of asking a certain price for your services — or you assume you’re not good enough to achieve ambitious goals.
That’s why, unfortunately, many freelancers, entrepreneurs, and creatives grossly underprice their services.
“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.” — Tim Ferriss
Realize that you are worthy of big things. You are good enough. You’re only lying to yourself when you assume you’re not worthy or not capable. It’s a limiting belief that keeps you safe and within your comfort zone.
It might be that past experiences shaped this limiting belief — but your past doesn’t equal your future. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to free yourself of these limitations.
Now Do It
When you decide to focus on ‘antelope’ instead of ‘mice’, you’ll be able to get better results with less or the same amount of time and energy spend. In other words, your productivity will go through the roof.
Go for the few big goals instead of the many mediocre. Chase a handful of high-paying clients instead of underpricing yourself. And tackle the few important tasks daily instead of many low-value tasks. It might just change everything.
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab