Improve with Plus Minus and Equals

The simple formula to get BETTER at anything.

The idea of “Plus, Minus, Equals” comes from Frank Shamrock’s approach to training. He uses it for his personal training as well as coaching others.

The idea is to train using 3 dimensions.

In simple terms, someone who is more skillful than you (Plus), someone who is less skilled than you (Minus), and someone who is equally skillful as you (Equal).

Frank Shamrock was an MMA pioneer and UFC champion. So clearly this formula yielded results for fighting. But it absolutely can be utilized for MUCH more.

Pick something. Anything you want to get better at. Apply this formula.

To help illustrate a maybe more relatable subject than fighting, replace it with whatever you currently want to become the best at.


So we want to be the best BLANK we can be right? Well, first we need a mentor. Your mentor will be your plus. You will learn from your plus because they already experienced all the steps that you are about to embark on. They failed MANY times and wasted plenty of time. They are there so you do not have to make the same mistakes. Avoiding these mistakes may even allow you to surpass your mentor!

Find many pluses. You don’t need just one mentor you can have five. Five people to learn from from five different perspectives and paths of mistakes that ultimately made them who they are today.

Always pay respect to your pluses and thank them, because without them… you’d be aimlessly wandering the path that they themselves wasted valuable time on.

(Side note- When I first started my insurance business I walked into many local insurance offices and simply asked questions. Many owners were very helpful and gave great insight. Some were assholes. Three particularly I still stay in contact with and ask questions on a weekly basis, they are my mentors whether they know it or not. )


Many times, the best way to improve to is teach. It forces you to revisit basics and reinforce them. We learn this from having a minus. You are forced to put yourself in the stage of a blank slate, thinking how would I prefer to have learned if I was a complete beginner.

Any particular “world” relies on beginners in order to keep that “world” alive. Yoga would have essentially went extent in India if it wasn’t for the willingness of the creators to share the practice and teach the beginners. help reduce these barriers of entry by teaching those who are a minus to yourself. It grows the community and opens up new perspectives. From the origins of yoga we now have hot yoga, aerial yoga, and even goat yoga (seriously).

Plus, its a great feeling to give back.


This is your main training partner. He or she has slight advantages in some ways and you in others. Sometimes your ahead but many times your equal is. Things that work for them may not work for yourself, so don’t trip.

This is the perfect environment for growth.

Throughout your entire career you will have many equals, figure out how to utilize your competition and not fear them. Learn from them.

How you react to your equals ultimately forges who you become. The “equal” dimension could be the best learning tool or the worst. It’s completely up to you.

And if your reading this and thinking to yourself well I don’t want to go through all of that then maybe you don’t really want to be the best you can at that particular skill, move on to the next one and apply the formula.






One response to “Improve with Plus Minus and Equals”

  1. I always love it when someone wants to learn from me because taking the role of the teacher FORCES you to see things differently. I also find that I go above and beyond my comfort zone of knowledge on a subject when someone else shows interest. It is here that I learn way more than I ever would by simply applying my existing knowledge and going through the motions.

    I wholeheartedly agree that the Minus aspect is hugely beneficial to your own growth. But I’ve never thought of it in terms of identifying the standing of the different people who intersect your life. In terms of your skills and goals, this approach must add clarity. This is a really interesting thought experiment and I’m going to try to use it going forward.

    One thing about Plus, Minus, and Equals that I think will be especially helpful is identifying where a person stands within the three, and then approaching them with the corresponding expectations that you’ve described for each. I can see many areas in my life where I certainly treat Equals like either a Plus or Minus. It now makes sense to me how I’ve potentially pushed them away or wasted my own time by not identifying our purposes to each other sooner.

    You’ve given me a lot to think about! Thanks.


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