The last rep is the hardest. You’re tired. Your muscles are already sore. It’s easy to give up and call it a day. But the last reps are where the growth happens. It’s because you’re pushing yourself past your limits that you’ll grow. Most people will drop out before the last rep. They’ll stop right before the growth happens.

Gyms rely on people quitting. If every person who bought a membership used it, gyms would be overwhelmed. But they know that people will drop out when it gets tough, before they begin seeing the progress. Most people quit when they hit a dip. Most gyms don’t optimize for success of their members; if they did they’d reward you for showing up and putting in the effort. Gyms don’t talk about how hard it will be for you to work past your physical limits.

Crossfit took a radically different approach to the traditional gym. Instead of being open all the time they only have classes. Instead of letting you go with the flow you follow their own programming. Instead of avoiding the hard work they throw it in your face and idolize the pain. People don’t drop out of crossfit when it gets hard because they expect it to get hard. They have a community that they are accountable to. They have a safety net to help push them through the dip.

Most online courses are like a traditional gym. They have a dropout rate of 98%. The course is great for the first lecture or two. Then it gets hard. It gets hard and I don’t have any pressure to keep going. No one to push you. No one to help you level up. When enrolling students moocs talk about the benefits, the convenience, the ease of leveling up. What they don’t talk about is the struggle; the wrestling with the material and the challenges that cause you to grow.

Content is now ubiquitous, open, and (largely) free. Community and connections are scarce. The future of learning online will be about the people you learn and create with, the people who help push you through the hard parts of learning.

Sean

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