In their book, “Dark Horse: Achieving Success Through the Pursuit of Fulfillment,” authors Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas give you ideas on how to reach your potential and be the best version of you by embracing the dark horse mindset. In this blog post, I’ll explore the four elements of the dark horse mindset and how you can apply them in your own life.
🐎 What are Dark Horses?
According to Rose and Ogas, dark horses are the people “who triumph against the odds – for winners nobody saw coming.” Dark horses are people who have achieved their own version of success by pursuing their own fulfillment through very unconventional and often winding paths.
🧩 Four Elements of the Dark Horse Mindset
Dark horses continue to reinvent their lives to pursue fulfillment.
Are you in the process of reinventing yourself? Adopting a dark horse mindset will help you.
In their book, Rose and Ogas share four elements of the dark horse mindset:
1️⃣ Element 1: Find Your Micro-Motives
2️⃣ Element 2: Choose Opportunities that Fit Your Micro-Motives
3️⃣ Element 3: Choose Your Best Strategies to Improve Yourself
4️⃣ Element 4: Ignore the Destination
Let’s dive into each element and learn how you can apply them to your life.
Element 1: Find Your Micro-Motives
The first element of the dark horse mindset is “Know Your Micro-Motives.”
The authors explain, “Your micro-motives are composed of strong and abiding feelings rooted deep within your unconscious self.” Since they are within your unconscious self, you might not be aware of them. So how can you find them?
The game of judgment
Rose and Ogas suggest you play “the game of judgment” to find your micro-motives. The “game of judgment” has 3 steps:
1️⃣ Pause when you notice that you are judging somebody.
2️⃣ Identify your feelings and emotions at the moment.
3️⃣ Ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way?” “If I had their lives, what would I like and what would I hate?”
The goal of this game is not to judge other people, but to reveal your hidden desires and know your micro-motives. Play this “game of judgment” not only with people but also with new situations or environments. Pay attention to exactly what you like and what you don’t like, and be very specific.
Dark horses use their micro-motives to engineer their own passion. In their minds, passion isn’t something they follow, but something they engineer on their own.
Element 2: Choose Opportunities that Fit Your Micro-Motives
Knowing your choices is the first element of the dark horse mindset. Once you know your micro-motives, you need to actively choose opportunities to utilize them.
Evaluate new opportunities based on how well they fit your micro-motives, not based on other people’s opinions. Find and select opportunities that utilize the greatest number of your micro-motives.
When you find an opportunity that is a good fit for your micro-motives, make a bold move instead of passively waiting.
Rose and Ogas explain,
“if a new opportunity provides a better fit than your present one and you can live with the worst-case scenario, then no matter how seemingly stable and satisfactory your current opportunity appears, you should still choose the more fulfilling option.”
Dark horses continue to seek opportunities that align with their micro-motives and lead to fulfillment, excellence, and authenticity throughout their lives.
Element 3: Choose Your Best Strategies to Improve Yourself
The third element of the dark horse mindset is to develop strategies that help you get better at what you want to excel at.
Since each individual has different strengths, the best strategies for each person vary. You need to find the best strategies that meet your strengths.
What are your strengths? You might think your strengths are fixed, but they are actually dynamic and malleable. Your strengths are your existing skills or knowledge. You can improve your strengths by practicing. The whole purpose of choosing your best strategies is to alter your strengths for the better.
Always pause and ask yourself, “Is this the right strategy for me?” If you think so, take action and see if that works for you. You’ll find your best strategies through trial and error.
Element 4: Ignore the Destination
To find fulfillment and excellence in life, you need to ignore the destination, which is the fourth and last element of the dark horse mindset.
A destination usually originates from somebody else. If you follow that destination, you’ll end up living somebody else’s life. You might achieve fame or power, but you will always feel something is missing in your life.
Instead of focusing on a destination, Rose and Ogas say you should concentrate on “purpose-driven goals you can work toward right now” and take concrete and actionable steps.
Rose and Ogas recommend the method of “Gradient Ascent” to reach your potential and become the best version of you.
The “Gradient Ascent”
They describe “Gradient Ascent” this way:
“First, you look around at all the slopes near your starting point and determine which slope is steepest. You climb in that direction for a while, then pause and look around from your new vantage point to see whether there might now be a more favorable direction to climb—specifically, a steeper slope. By repeating this process over and over again, you steadily climb higher and higher until you reach a summit. While this process may not find the fastest possible route to the top, it will reliably get you there.”
They summarize the whole process in 9 words:
“getting better at the things you care about most.”
You actually don’t know where you’ll end up in life. But with this mindset, you’ll always feel fulfilled in your life. That is the way Dark horses live their lives. You can use it to navigate and reach your potential and be the best version of you.
💡 Take Action Now to be the Best Version of You
1️⃣ Find out what you care about most by knowing your micro-motives.
2️⃣ Use those micro-motives to engineer the purpose of your life.
3️⃣ Choose the opportunities that utilize the greatest number of your micro-motives.
4️⃣ Choose your best strategies that meet your strengths to get better at the things you care about most.
Follow these steps and live your life like a Dark Horse!