QT: Grading Yourself Harshly Can Lead to Substantial Growth


Often, we can be our own harshest critic.

Equally often, we can cut ourselves more slack than we should.

The Code

As you’re probably aware, I’m a fan of all things Jocko.

On a recent episode of the Jocko Podcast, he was discussing the Marine Corps criteria for how individual Marines are graded in a variety of areas of their job.

Fast forward a month or two, and Jocko has a new book called The Code. The Evaluation. The Protocols. Striving to Become an Eminantly Qualified Human.

The Code. The Evaluation. The Protocols.

The idea of the book is pretty simple: on a scale from 0-5 for a variety of areas of your life you are regularly grading yourself on how you’re doing relative to the scale.

The areas the book covers are:

  • Health
  • Personal Development
  • Professional Development
  • Character/Leadership
  • Relationships
  • Preparedness/Safety

Each area is broken down into a few different elements, and each element is graded accordingly.

The grading scale? Is tough.

For the most part, doing the things that you’re supposed to do gets you a score of one.

In order to get a five? You have to be pretty much perfect.

I obviously ordered a copy of the book, and as I read through it I thought this was something that a similar “code” would be helpful for us as runners.

Becoming an Eminantely Qualified Runner

What would a “Code” for runners look like?

That is an Excellent Question

I’m not sure what each of the main areas would be, but here are a couple of thoughts I have so far.

  • General Health
  • Training
  • Recovery

And similarly, each of those areas would be broken down further.

General health may include diet/nutrition, stress, and/or emotional sub-sections.

Training would be not just your running, but also strength training and cross-training.

The recovery category would include foam rolling, stretching/mobility work, and sleeping.

Each sub-category would then need to a rubric that you could use to grade yourself, and objectively see whether or not you’re doing that which needs to be done.

The Takeaway

Whether or not you like Jocko and his style, I think this idea of having an objective grading system can be really quite powerful.

For me at least, it’s easy to think I’m doing “enough” in different areas of my running life.

If I’m honest? There have been times I’ve more or less just sat on the foam roller, but then patted myself on the back for getting my foam rolling in for the day.

But if I had a standard metric in place by which to judge myself?

It would often be generous to even give myself a one, let alone a four or five and a pat on the back.

That kind of objective truth?

While it isn’t pleasant to receive, is there a better catalyst for change?

Instead of convincing yourself that you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing to bring about the desired results, it’s a lot more black and why.

If you’re getting mostly threes and fours, you’re going to be moving in the right direction.

Mostly zeros and ones? At best you’re holding steady, and quite possibly you’re regressing.

And at that point, the buck stops with you.

Either you’re doing what you need to be doing to make progress, or you’re not.


How Harshly do You Grade Yourself in Various Aspects of Your Running/Life?

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