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  • The Truth About Routines by DJ Fuji

    By on February 4, 2010

    Guest post by DJ Fuji

    Routines, scripts, lines, things to say. Some love ‘em, some hate ‘em, nearly everyone misunderstands them.For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a routine is simply something that you tend to say more than once. In other words, a memorized script of varying length. So in essence, both our kneejerk “fine” response to the question, “how are you?” and a rehearsed, pre-scripted story are routines. One is simply longer and more complex than the other. Obviously, all of us use routines in one way or another.

    Routines (whether yours or someone else’s) can also take the form of being canned, meaning that you’ve practiced them over and over again until you can deliver them well, or Stock, which means they’re generic, off-the-shelf scripts, usually created by others. Both can be useful tools, especially if you’re just starting out or if you don’t have a lot of natural talent.

    Now before we move on, let’s take a quick quiz.

    Question: What do you think is the main purpose for routines? What is the main purpose for openers? Now what is the main purpose for attraction routines? Stories?

    Think about it for a minute.

    Ready for the answer? If you said “to open,” “to get attraction,” or “to DHV,” you’re in agreement with most of the community. Unfortunately, you’re still incorrect. That’s short term thinking, and it’s an extremely common mistake.

    The correct answer to all of these questions is the same: To be a douchebag. Just kidding. The main purpose for routines is to teach you a skill.

    That’s it.

    Ironically, it’s not to hook sets, or to open a set, or to get attraction, or even to get you laid.

    A routine is simply a training wheel designed to teach you a specific skill—in the same way that training wheels on a bike are designed to teach you to RIDE. In the same way that “floaties” are designed to teach you to become comfortable in the water and to swim. Like training wheels, routines are NOT primarily designed to keep you upright or afloat. The word for that is crutch.

    I didn’t understand this concept for a long time. No one ever explained it to me. I was a hard-core Mystery Method guy in 2005-2006 and I thought canned routines were the best thing since sliced bread. I thought routines were there to get you laid. Even Mystery still used routines. They had to be the holy grail of pickup, right?

    As I found out later, the problem was that I was trying to use the WHAT without understanding the WHY. I was trying to use them for short term gain instead of long term development.

    Routines are MOST useful when used for skill development. Stories, for example, are not primarily designed to create comfort, or attraction, or even to get a result in a set. They are designed to teach you storytelling. Any result you get from their use is secondary. Likewise, banter is designed to teach you humor and playfulness. Push-pull is designed to teach you to be a challenge and to not be predictable and boring. Openers are designed to teach you to engage people and hold court in groups. Oftentimes these routines can get us better results infield, but sometimes they do not. Sometimes they can intentionally blow us out (like the infamous “Shocker” routines from BradP).

    And that’s ok.

    Because we aren’t using them directly to get better results. We’re using them to teach us the skills that will make us more attractive, and ultimately, more successful. The main problem a lot of guys have using routines is that they use them for the wrong reasons. Don’t use routines as crutches so you don’t have to learn to think on your feet. Use them as training wheels to teach you the fundamentals.

    And conversely, if you’re not naturally talented socially, don’t shy away from routines because you think they’re inauthentic or disingenuous. They’re no more inauthentic than when you tell a story that you’ve told before, or when someone says hello and you response with, “hi.” Not using routines when you lack natural talent is like not practicing free throws when you lack natural basketball ability – namely, stupid. Even Shaq finally started practicing free throws.

    Stand up comedians, politicians, public speakers, and basically anyone on a stage all learn to speak using routines (unless you’re a former president who just tries to improvise). Only they call them speeches. Sometimes they write their own speeches, and other times they have someone else write them. But the end result is the same – they learn to speak by practicing their speeches. If you want to become good at pick up, you must do the same.

    Eventually, you’ll lose the need to use routines. If you’ve been using routines correctly for more than a year and they’re starting to get you diminishing returns, you’re probably at that point. You probably need to start dropping them and teaching yourself how to improvise. That doesn’t mean you’ll always improvise everything 100%, but you want to progress to where you no longer need routines. You’ll no longer have to rely on them. You’ll be able to tell stories on the fly. You’ll be able to banter because you understand the concepts and underlying mechanisms. You’ll be able to open with whatever’s on your mind.

    Eventually, you will become a natural.

    And that, gents, is really the goal of all of this. Unconscious competence. To internalize your skill set so much that you no longer think about it. To have such social mastery that at times, you take your own skills for granted because they are executed so effortlessly. That’s what you should be working towards.

    Don’t gaze at the trees so long that you lose sight of the forest.

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  • 11 Comments

    • D.C.

      Good point, and I believe this should be taught more explicitly.

      Many noobies (including me!) end up believing that the way to learn pickup is to learn the perfect combination of “routines” and “replies”, and this often becomes a glass wall in front of yourself.

      When you try to approach a girl without the little “gadgets”, you’re as scared as you were before learning them. Some end up becoming more natural, but many don’t.

      So it should be explicitly taught that it’s not about the routines, it’s about getting reference experiences.

    • D.C.

      Also, routines work really bad for people who are extremely logical (instead of going with the flow) and can’t follow up the conversation that they started. A common question is “so what do I say next?”.

    • I am very glad that DJ Fuji wrote this. We talked about it in our interview and I realized that it was extremely helpful to my game, and I hope you guys can learn from it too!

    • One of the biggest mistakes I see guys do is that they tend to think all they need is routines. As you said in your post the real use of a routine is merely to teach you a specific skill. The words themselves are useless, the use comes from being able to register in your mind the feedback you receive and calibrate accordingly.

    • I like the routines as bike-stabiliser-wheels metaphor. While you are learning to ride a bike, you have the guide wheels on, but then as you get confident with riding, you take them off and ride unassisted. This directly parallels the transition from canned material to doing things more by the ‘seat of your pants’.

      Pretty scary, and you might fall off a few times, but once you’ve found your ‘balance’ you are more free than you could ever be with the ‘stabilisers’.

    • I agree with this point of view. I don’t understand why guys who are already good spend their time on creating new routines. I think underneath the beliefs that hold us back, everyone is a natural.

    • @DC: Routines actually work WELL for guys who are logical because it allows them to map out an interaction and anticipate the contingencies. I used to have a flowchart on my computer that was about 50 pages long. It mapped out every contingency I could think of during my routine stack. It was unnecessary, but it initially helped me get over the fear of approaching and it made me feel a lot more prepared. As I got better, I taught myself the ability to use routines or sound bites WHEN applicable instead of dogmatically no matter what the situation was. Then I taught myself to improvise completely, without needing to rely on routines at all. Then I came full circle and integrated everything back together.

      @Rick: Sort of. A natural implies he has a lot of natural social skills. Beliefs do a lot, but good beliefs don’t necessarily mean you will have good social skills. It’s like saying you can be an NBA player if you really believe it. Sure, but that’s assuming you also PRACTICE PLAYING BASKETBALL.

      • Jur

        Hi DJFuji,

        would love to see some of your material ,would you like to share some of it with me.I am now a couple of mouths busy with this stuff and i have already done more approaches then in the last 20 years but i need more.I want to learn more so i am hoping you want to share some

    • kaide73

      I just wonder this: There are PUGs who go straight to natural game without teaching routines, at least Eric Disco, Hypnotica, Juggler, Vin diCarlo and Cory Skyy. Then there are PUGs that use routines as training wheels, that will be thrown away, at least Neil Strauss and Gambler. My question is this: Is there any PUGs who teach nothing but routines and never encourage to moving to natural game?

    • @ Kaide73. No. Game is an external representation of your internal self, therefore no routines will consistently display a persons’s unique self.

      Different gurus use different “sound bites” and “routines” more than others. Mystery is very structured in this sense. Zan and Juggler, less so.

    • paperazzo

      I´ve discovered PU-world a couple of months ago and since than I´ve read a lot of stuff. Now I have a lot of material in my head, but until now I was not able to use it because of my limiting beliefs and a feeling of huge pressure every time I went on the field.
      But shifting to a “Training-mindset”, to just use the routines for training purpose on the way to become natural, gave me a big “ahaaaa”. Now I don´t expect results anymore, I just think about training myself.
      So thank you very much for sharing this crucial idea.

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