If you’ve ever subjected your skeletal system to the bone threatening pressure of a heavy barbell during a grueling set of squats, bench press or dead lift or taken on a supremely challenging goal or objective you likely did so for a highly compelling reason… GROWTH!

That pressure is called PERTURBATION which happens to be one of my favorite words and Mindsets.

Perturbation in the physical or athletic context means, “An alteration of the function of a biological system, induced by external or internal mechanisms.”

In this case the biological system is your musculature and the external mechanism would be the weights, resistance or athletic endeavor.

We know that increasing the strength of our muscles and convincing them to grow requires the consistent application of challenging pressure or resistance in the form of ever increasing workout intensity over a period of time.

But as I describe in my bestselling book, 7 Rules of Achievement  the term “perturbation” can also apply outside the context of our biology or physiology.


Diamond in the Rough

Perturbation for example is how we might define the tons of pressure it takes to transform a relatively worthless piece of coal into one of the hardest and most valuable substances on the planet, a diamond.

In the psychological and emotional context of your Mindset like your physiology it is perturbation that forces you to GROW.  When properly directed perturbation is what squeezes your raw potential to the breaking point or until forced out the other side as something almost unrecognizable even to you.

The only question is, can you handle self administering the pressure it takes to be squeezed through the other side before surrendering or turning back?

It’s easy say to yourself and the world “I have a winner’s mindset, I can overcome any obstacle, nothing can or will stop me.”

But unless you’ve trained your mind to believe it those declarations represent nothing more than empty platitudes that will evaporate at the first sign of real resistance.


Training to Believe

So how do you train your mind to believe it; to believe you can and will be successful?

The answer is simple.

You convince your mind to grow and expand the same way you convince your muscles to grow – PERTURBATION or consistently increasing pressure focused on a specific outcome over a period of time.

The amount of pressure and the time frame in which you apply that pressure will depend on your objective and your current level of mental conditioning and toughness.

Case in point: I was recently invited a friend to join a small group of high level mountain bike rider (some at the competitive level) for a 36 mile single track ride over the Colorado Trail.  Not only that but I had only 4 days to prepare. Not much prep time for someone who puts approximately 2-3 hours on the saddle every month.

The ride was a grueling 6 hour uphill challenge laced with countless physical obstacles and punctuated by doubt, fear, uncertainty and even anger.

This is video 1 of 8

(Click here For the full 8 part Mountain Bike Success Metaphor video series) 

Had I not had the physical and mental conditioning from years past to handle the pressure (perturbation) I might have had to quite somewhere along the way. But I didn’t know if I could handle it unless I tried.

On the other hand, if instead of a 6 hour mountain bike trek, I had been asked to join a team to summit Everest in 7 weeks, as exciting as that might be the mere thought much less the preparation may have been enough to crush any and all ambition.

The perturbation you apply must be in direct relation to or larger than the current level of success you seek to achieve. If it does not apply pressure… it’s not perturbation and will nothing to help you grow.


The Plan

Here is my 5 Point Check List for Developing a Perturbation Plan.

1. It’s cool and sounds tough to say, “Just freaking do it.” But unless you know your mental toughness starting point you could wind up frustrated, discouraged and demoralized as a result of taking on too much or not giving yourself enough time. Start with small uncomfortable mindset challenges like sticking with a habit change commitment such as cutting out soda, drinking more water or NOT texting while driving. Then become acutely aware of when you’re allowing yourself to be derailed and force yourself back on course.

2. Increase the discomfort level incrementally. Once you’ve successfully expanded your comfort zone by an inch or two it’s time to go for 3-4 more. Push the envelope a little by taking on a challenge or commitment that invokes some real fear, doubt or trepidation.

3. Turn up the pressure by sharing your goal with someone who will keep you accountable and call you on your shit if you drop the ball.

4. Reward yourself at every milestone with a pat on the back and a verbal declaration that reflects the truth like, “I am committed to constant growth and improvement..

5. Action. When you’re ready and you may be ready right now, go after your personal Mount Everest. By that time it may look like a small mole hill.

Tom Terwilliger



PS. I welcome your thoughts and comments… speak your mind.

Make sure you register for my upcoming FREE “Unleash Your Ambition Machine” webinar