Workout of the Day

Electricity Bills and Skin in the Game


I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you, dear reader, are more cavelier with your air conditioning and hot water usage when you’re staying in a hotel than when you’re in your own home. The reason, of course, is that you’re not paying (directly) for the cost of electricity and gas and water when you stay in the hotel, and so the mild inconvenience of shutting off the water as you brush your teeth, or turning out the lights as you leave the bathroom, or having to turn the A/C on and off rather than the comfort of leaving it blasting all day and night is outweighed by the fact that the cost does not come directly to you at the end of your hotel stay. In short, you have no ownership over the resources. Retrospectively, you would probably agree that this reckless resource usage is not in line with the behaviors that you value most, but the behaviors still stand.

This leads to a valuable observation to be had about our behaviors in general. Our behavior is profoundly affected be even a small shift in stakes and ownership. This is where the principle of “skin in the game” comes up. You are and always will be more bought into the process and results of the thing that poses a risk to you (or your pocketbook).

On the one hand, we can use this principle to recognize how our behaviors change for the worse (wasteful use of resources when staying in a hotel, for example), and with this awareness, potentially change these poor behaviors. On the flipside, we can use this principle of skin in the game to our advantage. Too often we engage too deeply in the game of risk mitigation to the point that our actions hardly seem to affect our outcomes, and this is how we end up under-committed, lazy, and feeling helpless. When we recognize areas of life in which our commitment or effort are lacking, we can manipulate settings and find ways to create skin in the game.

If we are talking about fitness (as we often are), we can’t help but look to the obvious recommendation: commit to working with a personal trainer or coach. Not only does this give you the resources to move better and train more effectively, but you are and always will be more likely to show up when you have the social and financial skin in the game of having a coach waiting for you. Apply these principles in your education, your work, your hobbies, your chores, your health, etc. If you are looking to change your nutrition habits, hire a nutritionist, pay for a personalized nutrition program, or even make a bet with a friend that you can eat sugar-free for 4 months. If you are looking to improve your public speaking skills, enroll in a class, or sign yourself up for a local open mic night and don’t let yourself back out.

Humans can be stubborn creatures, but with a little self-awareness, courage, and some skin in the game, you can change.

- PS


  • Overhead squat - 5,5,3,3,3,1,1,1,1,1