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Update: Here is the video, below.
I know who I want to be. Do you?
An important part of discovering / creating your own future is to find out, or plan, who you are going to become.
This sounds kind of obvious– doesn’t everyone think about this?– but in reality, it isn’t often done.
That’s because exerting your will on the universe is hard.
It is a constant push– back and forth– between you creating the world you want through your actions, and the world pushing back on you saying “nope,” or deflecting you, like a soccer ball hitting a goalie.
You can get distracted or upset by this. Over time, life takes over, so you spend more energy on management and juggling what exists vs creating what doesn’t exist at all.
Eventually, you lose track of exactly who you want to be. You forget about it. Momentum eventually goes to zero.
I met with Dale Stephens yesterday, who I was mentoring while he was at the Thiel Fellowship. He knows exactly who he is planning to become in the “new” education movement. In comparison to Sugata Mitra, Sal Khan, etc., he has to know or he will be forgotten and/or trampled.
I also saw Ryan Holiday say “don’t plan too much” on Chase Jarvis’ show (which I’m going to be on next week btw), but I don’t agree. A deliberate positioning in regards to the future is, I think, ultimately necessary.
As you get older (if you’re ambitious), you realize this. Yes, I just played the age card. :)
So ask yourself: who is it that I want to become?
Do you know? If you do, great! It will help you find out who to meet, what you need to know, what skills to obtain, and everything else.
It’s if you do not know that you have a problem. I wouldn’t know how much money to raise for our company if I didn’t know how our company worked. I wouldn’t know who to hire if I didn’t know where we were going. It’s craziness that I ever would.
Yet people let the ocean of the universe move them in whatever direction fate “intends” (as if fate really intended anything).
Well, I have news for you. No matter who you are, I know what your future is.
Your future is to grow older, slowly become irrelevant and have outdated views, eventually die and become food for the living.
That is what the universe “wants.”
I heard a great quote the other day from Horace Mann:
So get to it. Thank you.
People always talk about “missing the boat,” but I think differently.
I think of opportunity as a series of subways, running through a station, one after the other.
What station you are in doesn’t matter. You could be near or far, but that’s irrelevant. Where you start is just a matter of chance, and isn’t something to worry about at all.
What time you arrive doesn’t matter either. You may have missed the subway, and that’s fine. It’s a missed opportunity, but nothing to really worry about, because after all, another subway is coming.
The reason this metaphor is important is because a missed subway is physical, and it’s an easy thing to accept. Seeing things in this way helps you accept the present.
What happens when you get to a station and the subway has gone?
Well, you definitely don’t run. There’s no point.
What you do is wait for another subway to pass.
Be patient, it’ll get here.
Then, get on that one. After all, you have places to go.
Every successful person does something that absolutely terrifies them. Whether it’s public speaking or giving your boss a resignation letter, no one has ever made it to the other side without taking a stumbling leap of faith.
But how do we deal with those monsters and demons that pop up at every corner telling us that we’ll never make it, that we’re not good enough, that we don’t have what it takes?
Answer: You suppress the hell out of it.
I’m not talking about lying to yourself or losing touch with reality. I’m talking about deliberately steering the direction of your mind during high-pressure situations. You know that expression people say whenever someone is on a tightrope or high in the air? Those 3 little words of advice that people have used over and over again – “Don’t Look Down”. You don’t ignore the danger or pretend that you’re not a thousand feet in the air. But you do put one foot in front of the other and stay focused on where you’re going. If you forget to “Don’t Look Down”, you draw your attention away from the goal and head straight towards failure.
Adam Carolla, who holds the record for Most Downloaded Podcast Ever, once said “My job is to talk like nobody is listening”. We should all be that lucky to adopt a life-philosophy as freeing as this. Pretend your actions are being completely ignored. Pretend that no one is around to judge you. A networking opportunity is a thousand times easier when you have nothing to gain. A product release is a million times more fun when you have nothing to lose. Pretend that no one is listening.
The most loved and popular people in the world also receive the most hate-mail.
To focus on negative outcomes and hurtful criticism is a good way to ensure failure. Giving power to our doubts is an invitation for our feet to slip off the tightrope.
I used to think that my fears meant something. I used to think it was important to ‘get to the bottom’ of these negative thoughts and find out where they were coming from. I was wrong. Like George Clooney said in Three Kings, “The way it works is, you do the thing you’re scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before.”
So whatever it is you’re worried about – horrifying failure, people who don’t like you, or plummeting to your own gruesome death – suppress that shit and move forward.
And when you make it to the other side, remember to pat yourself on the back and take a deep breath.
I made this for the guys at KoPoint. It’s nice to be making this kind of content again occasionally. :)
“Louder is not the answer. More is not the answer. The important moments in life happen with your friends and by yourself. Nothing important won an Academy Award. If everything in life is getting louder, I’m going to get quiet.”
Whatever mistakes you’ve made up until now are off the table – the only thing that matters from this point on is how you move forward starting today.
Imagine you’re the main character in a video game, or you’re playing the starring role in the supremely megafantastic movie called YOUR LIFE – act accordingly.
What would they do? What choices would they make?
Don’t wait around or expect anyone else to create your own success or happiness – that’s entirely yours to make.
The princess is in another castle and nobody is gonna save her but you.
“Be your own hero, it’s cheaper than a movie ticket.” – Douglas Horton
Everyone knows something important, but getting it out of them is difficult.
I’ve come across a bunch of people recently who are having professional or personal problems that others around them could solve. Yet, they don’t know how to ask those people. They don’t even know who to ask.
Hell, I am one of those people. I have trouble with it all the time.
One of the biggest obstacles to progress is finding out what your contacts know. If a friend of yours knows the director at your bank branch, while you’re trying to get a mortgage, you’d want to know, right? But unless you know to ask, you miss out.
Everyone is constantly missing out on opportunities like this. Little ones, big ones– all the time. It’s a huge passive time waster.
I’m trying to solve this problem now. I’m learning to ask people what they are working on and what they care about– about the things they know how to do that others don’t. But it took me years.
A big question I’m asking myself is why I do not have at least the skills of those I know– if not more.
Some are restrictions of personality or intelligence, sure.
But the real answer is simply that I don’t know how to ask or to learn as well as I should.
So what is the most effective way you have of learning? What is the most valuable thing you know? If you’re willing, please tell me in the comments below.
If you’re anything like me, you probably hate waiting on hold.
Hell, if you’re really like me, you probably hate being on the phone altogether. This is particularly true when you’re dealing with customer service.
So I’ve made it into a game, and that helps.
Everybody knows that one of the best indicators of success is calm persistence. So I use any conversation with customer service employees in order to train myself in relaxed, firm determination.
(In my case, I really need to do this, because I am by nature profoundly impatient and intolerant of stupidity.)
Yesterday, for example, I was on the phone with Videotron switching accounts from my girlfriend’s name into mine.
The guy on the other end of the line, at this point, says that this particular task is $29. To switch a name, in a file, on a computer.
Twenty-nine dollars. I suspect this is a side effect of Canada’s quasi-monopolistic practices in the communications industry. But I digress.
At this point I simply decide that I will not budge.
My theory is that we get very few opportunities in life to practice getting what we want, firmly and calmly. So we should practice as often as we can in environments like these, when it doesn’t matter.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll also notice that there are quite a few other circumstances where you have one-off opportunities to talk to people with no consequences, of which customer service is but one. You can actually use each of them to practice something– small talk, negotiation, anything.
Here are some of my favourites from yesterday. I used them to get this quasi-criminal fee waived in 10 minutes.
“I would like you to waive the fee.” (“Sir, we cannot, it’s procedure.”)
“So you’re saying you’ve never waived the fee, ever?” (Here you’re just trying to get him to admit it can be waived. And of course he says yes.)
“Ok, since you’ve admitted it can be waived, I would like you to waive it for me.”
“I just want you to know that I’m willing to stay on the phone as long as it takes to get my way.”
“I do not want a callback, and I will not waver until you waive the fee.”
Remember to always be polite when you do this. In fact, compliment the guy on what a good job he’s doing, and tell him it’s nothing personal. He will give. Time is money. He has to.
Remember not to go through life letting people trample you. It can be easy to give up. You know this– but more importantly, they know this. Therefore all you need to do is practice persistence. Literally, call it practice. It’ll work.
The pot was $40 million or something yesterday. So for the first time ever, I bought a lottery ticket.
It actually wasn’t for me, it was for a friend. Yeah I know what you’re thinking, but it’s true.
The awkwardness you have when you’re first buying a lottery ticket is akin to when you first go into a pharmacy for condoms. You don’t quite know what the protocol should be. You let them know it isn’t for you. Etc.
“Do you want Extra?” “Ugh, I don’t know. I don’t think so. This isn’t for me.”
So he goes “ok,” and as he hands me my numbers, for the first time, I feel it.
The whole thing happens in seconds. First, I feel this rush like “oh man, I could actually win this thing!”
Then I picture myself not winning, and the disappointment that follows. I imagine myself going “ah, what’s the harm?” and buying another one next week. And another. Etc.
And then, going even further forward in time, I imagine myself having to give up the lottery ticket buying and the feeling that accompanies it. “Oh man, no chance to win this week. Too bad, I guess.”
It’s at this time that I realize that I can never buy lottery tickets ever again.
That little rush that comes with getting tickets; the anticipation; starting the feeling over again next week. Everything. I feel it.
One time I was playing a Nintendo DS game– I think it was a Final Fantasy game– when I ended up in a casino location inside the game. I go “meh, what the hell,” and I play a few times. I win.
“Wow,” I think. “Ok, I’ll go on a little more.” And I proceed to continue to play the game, the game inside the game that is, for about 3 hours. Next thing I know it’s about 4am and I’ve been losing, pretty much non-stop.
But I’m convinced I can get it back. CONVINCED.
Even crazier, right at that moment, at 4am, inside the Final Fantasy casino, I’m convinced that winning it back matters.
The guy comes by yesterday to check out our kitchen and what he can do with it.
Right away he says: “you weren’t here the last time.” He’s right; my girlfriend was here. Now I am.
But the guy has a point. He’s confused now because he doesn’t know who the decision maker is. He thought he knew who he was supposed to sell to, but now he doesn’t. He doesn’t know who to take orders from. It feels like two different deals.
I have a couple of other situations like this in my life now. I haven’t learned to give clear instructions, with deadlines and everything else. I am wishy-washy and I say: “Be creative.” They hate this, but I do it anyway because I don’t know what else I’m supposed to do.
This drove one guy completely crazy and he said so. “Your command of the English language is superb,” he says sarcastically. What he means is “give me some clear fucking instructions.”
So it was while I was reading the Steve Jobs book on a plane that I realized I was doing it all wrong. I was too much of an asshole in my personal life, and not enough of one in my professional life. I needed to do the opposite.
I wasn’t telling people what I wanted, not because I didn’t want something specific (I did, actually; I’m very particular), but because I am not willing to express it and say “this is what I want, this is why it’s exciting, and this is what you’ll do the best of your ability.”
Instead it’s like “oh I trust you.”
Except I don’t. Not really.
Right now, at this phase in my life, I have to learn a new set of skills. I have to be straightforward and honest, perhaps even abrupt, with what I want, while becoming calmer, kinder, and more honest with people close to me.
I don’t know how I ended up the other way. It doesn’t make sense.
When I think about it, it’s kind of shocking I’ve even made it this far.