Intermediate – Advanced – Elite


Those three inflection points on last week’s effort/time curve represent three different levels of achievement or success. This applies to any activity or pursuit requiring resources and effort.  The law of diminishing returns is a challenging and powerful limiting force.

For example, in weightlifting, the National Strength and Conditioning Association sets strength level performance standards in tables for major lifts (bench press, squat, deadlift, etc.) broken down by body weight (the bigger you are the more you should be able to lift). The levels are:

Untrained-Novice – healthy beginners new to the sport of weightlifting and physical training.

Intermediate – a person engaged in regular strength training for 2 years with enough strength for a high level of performance at the recreational level.

Advanced – an individual with multi-year training experience with definite goals in the higher level of competitive athletics.

Elite – athletes that are competing in competitive powerlifting events – less than 1% of the weight training population.


If you start working out you can quickly get to the Novice strength level. Getting to Intermediate takes some consistent training.  Moving to Advanced requires an extraordinary amount of training intensity and focus.  It’s a big jump.  And Elite weightlifters ride along the very top of the diminishing returns curve.  They engage in long-term, fierce training resulting in tiny improvements and harder and harder to obtain strength gains.  You would have to sacrifice a lot to be an Elite athlete or elite at anything for that matter.  Getting to Intermediate strength level takes self-discipline but the benefits are enormous.  Socrates said no man should be a novice in the matter of physical training.


Pursuing any challenging endeavor – a new business/job, music, art, learning difficult concepts, golf, running, whatever it is, has initial large improvements followed by extremely difficult later improvements. Whatever it is you decide to do, determine at what level you wish to do it at – Novice, Intermediate, Advanced or Elite.  You obviously can’t be Advanced or Elite at everything.  Time, money and human effort are precious, scarce resources but they can be focused to achieve remarkable things.  Be selective.  Climbing the diminishing returns curve to achieve something great takes sacrifice and dedication.


The true luxury of sufficient wealth is that it gives you time to spend on things other than generating income. Achieving personal goals and becoming better at something is self-actualization – being all that you can be.  Choosing to improve at something, whether it’s a new language, a better understanding of an area of human knowledge, a sport, a hobby… anything– is what makes life worth living – the world’s your oyster!  Be heads up about how you spend your time and money.  Now, close your Estate Planning War Chest and get to work becoming Advanced at something or Intermediate at a few things.  Next week, we’ll turn to the Elite participants in the economy –successful Entrepreneurs.


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