Extreme Change

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

– Albert Einstein

The great cosmologist Carl Sagan once said that “Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist.” We are born with a beautiful sense of curiosity about the world – everything is new to us and we approach every new experience with wonder and without biases or external influences. Remember the time when we were kids and we were asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Isn’t it beautiful how young children have no boundaries of imagination or of what’s possible? They aren’t limited by doubts or by the judgement of others. But along the way, we got this “light” beaten out of us. A lot of people will argue that you have to become more “realistic” as you get older, and I agree to an extent, but I would argue that most people went too far down the spectrum.

Ever since I was a young teen, I wanted to start my own business (I didn’t know what the word “entrepreneur” meant until way later) and live a proud life of greatness and success that I’d seen a lot of my role models achieve. And I still do. I received a small plaque from the CEO of a large construction company back in one of my managerial leadership classes in college that reads:

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Hypothetically, if failure was not a possibility, what would you honestly want to do with your life? I remember asking a bunch of my friends this right after I got this plaque and recorded their answers on my phone. I heard a range of answers such as US diplomat, artist, try to solve world hunger, musician, professional soccer player, etc. These are beautiful dreams, but somewhere along the way we start to believe that these aren’t realistic or possible, and we take a more traditional/”safe” route. Lately I’ve really been envisioning the type of life that I want to live in the next 5, 10, and 20 years from now. My visions of the future are definitely ambitious, and will require massive, massive action from me to change the course of my life and start building myself into the type of person to attract that kind of life (the law of attraction). But I think this is one of the major crossroads that myself and many others come upon – understanding the disconnect between your current situation and the life you want, and really committing to working toward that dream or giving up on it. And I don’t blame those that give up..honestly. If your goals are ambitious, it will require extreme change in your life to achieve those things. For most people, that amount of effort is not justified to them. And that’s OK. But don’t complain about it. If you make the decision in your mind that you aren’t going to commit to taking that risk, then you can’t complain. Because as Einstein said, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insanity. What do you expect? The quote on my blog reads:

There’s no magic success fairy that shits 100-dollar bills on your head.

Miracles aren’t going to happen to you, so if you’re doing the same thing day in and day out but expecting your life to become amazing over the next few months, you’re delusional. I’ve seen people like this and it breaks my heart because that frame of mind is so ingrained in them. This is the classic fixed vs growth mindset duality. You always have to believe that you are able to grow and can achieve better things through hard work and effort.

For me, I became really scared recently because I noticed myself complaining about my current circumstances, but my complaints weren’t justified. I wasn’t taking enough action so the lack of results was a given. So I committed myself to my craft and to my dreams. I decided to stop complaining and to take massive action. Because that’s what it takes to pivot your life. Always remember Newton’s First Law: an object in motion will stay in motion. It’s time to start moving.

As Sun Tzu Once Wrote… It’s Time To Create Your Death Ground

SunTzuThe following is an article I found  on general Sun Tzu’s concept of creating a “death ground” in which you have no other options but to advance:

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Sun Tzu wrote of creating a ‘death ground’ — a place where an army is backed up against some geographical feature like a mountain, a river, or a forest and has no escape route.

It was reasoned without a way to retreat an army fights with double or triple the spirit compared to being on open terrain, precisely because death is viscerally present. Sun Tzu advocated deliberately stationing soldiers on death ground to give them the desperate edge that makes men fight like they never had before. There doesn’t seem to be any better way to motivate someone to give it their all and maybe it’s time for you to create your death ground?

Yes, back yourself into a mountain, in fact, back yourself into a mountain full of dry trees and light that mountain on fire. This way you have no choice but to advance.

At first you can admire the great spectacle that is the flames. But as it grows you will begin to feel the heat. The flames rise and you are left with a choice.
Do I stand here and die or do I fight my way through the other side?

We all are on a slow path to death. Grim isn’t it? You’re slowly dying…

It’s either you choose to place your back against the wall or you choose to live a life that does push you to your outer limits.

People change their behavior only if they have to.

We are creatures of habit. We get into the daily grind. When our situation is relaxed we tend to repeat the same motions every single day, often we fall prey to this self replicating nonsense.

If you want to change you must create a sense of urgency, immediate urgency will break this spell. I think there’s one true way to ensure you snap out of this trance…

Act Before You Are Ready

One of the best ways to put your back against the wall is to take action before you are ready. This doesn’t mean to just go and jump off a cliff without a safety net–but sometimes acting rash will payoff.

Most successful people have the ability to execute a strategy or execute when they’ve gathered enough data but they feel something in their gut. A general rule when creating  your death ground is to act before you think you are ready.

This is when you will become more resourceful with your efforts and under pressure creativity will flourish. It’s just like the soldiers on the battlefield, with nowhere to go and their backs against the mountains, suddenly they find strength and stamina they didn’t know existed and just enough to come out alive.

What To Do Now

Can you think of something that would be bold and a massive leap for you? What’s holding you back from taking this leap? Why didn’t you take this leap yesterday? Will you regret not taking it tomorrow, in a week, or a year? If so, then maybe it’s time to create your own personal death ground. If nothing else has worked for you up to this point then maybe you need to place your back up against that mountain, light the forest on fire, burn your boats, and never look back.

Go ahead, cross the Rubicon.

From engineer, to entrepreneur to blogger – 7 lessons learned from a life full of changes

I found a post on Reddit (r/Entrepreneur ) that someone posted about some top-level lessons they learned throughout their life. I’ve been feeling very conflicted lately because I’m about to make a very pivotal life decision soon, so seeing pieces of advice from those ahead of me is my form of “speaking to mentors.” I agree with a lot of what the poster mentions, and I think these are life lessons that anyone can use and apply in their life:

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Hey guys,

I have had quite an interesting journey so far, changing careers from engineering to entrepreneurship and finally blogging.

In this journey, I learned many lessons; lessons that I wouldn’t have learned if I had decided to choose only one path. All those changes made me who I am and helped me experience things I couldn’t even dream of.

These lessons, I want to share with you today, with the hope that they will inspire you in your own journey:

1 – WHAT YOU STUDY IS NOT NECESSARILY WHAT YOU WILL END UP DOING

I studied electrical engineering.

Steve Jobs was a college dropout.

Scott Adams (he is the creator of Dilbert and his blog is my latest obsession.) studied law and economics.

Many successful people didn’t really stick to a singular theme in order to cultivate a success mindset.

However, everybody needs to start somewhere until they really understand their life’s purpose.

What you should focus on is whether your study can employ you with some of the necessary skills required to survive easier in today’s highly competitive environment.

I didn’t really use electrical engineering as an education source to deepen my knowledge in computers and programming. Instead, I used it as a tool to cultivate analytical and critical thinking. It also helped me understand the importance of a well-structured study system in order to achieve my goals.

Takeaway: Whatever you study, even if you don’t see yourself working in this field, make sure to take advantage of it in any way possible.

2 – BE A LIFE OPTIMIZER

I borrowed this expression from a friend of mine who was a successful hedge fund manager. In one of our discussions, he told me:

“I think that because I am kind of open to new challenges and possibilities, the best way to describe myself would be as a life optimizer.”

This is probably the essence of an enjoyable and fulfilling life.

The reason we struggle, the reason we feel depressed, the reason we fail to succeed are all results of our lack of optimization in our lives.

Instead of nurturing the right mindsets that can help us enjoy a lasting feeling of abundance, we are constantly in the search for quick fixes and temporary pleasures.

This is far from what optimization looks like.

Optimization is habits. Optimization is processes. Optimization is feedback. Optimization is mindset. Optimization is experimenting.

Optimization is failing over and over until you eventually find the right ingredients to create a life worth living for.

When I started working on my blog, I was overwhelmed. I started writing in a language that wasn’t native to me and I had no idea how to find my first readers. The amount of work was unbearable. Instead of losing hope I created a well-structured plan that could help me overcome those obstacles.

My main goal was to focus on the three most important activities that could help me improve my blogging skills. That was, reading, writing and marketing. I decided to divide my time equally on those three areas and after some months, the blog took off.

Takeaway: Stop wasting time doing things that don’t convert. Focus on processes that allow you to actualize your full potential and create a well-structured plan around them.

3 – FOCUS ON HOLISTIC THINKING

The power of holistic thinking is unquestionable.

Before I started my blog I was thinking of writing mainly about dating. Over time, as I started increasing my value as a man, I realized that I could write about how to get girls, but this is useless. Instead I could write about how to increase your value as a man and show that by doing that, girls will automatically come to you.

Most people fail to grasp a concept concretely because they are not capable of understanding all the parameters that affect it.

When you see people struggle with girls it is not because they are incompetent. It is because they have a shitty mindset. They don’t invest in themselves at all and expect that girls will like them just because they used some pickup lines.

The same for instance applies to blogging. You don’t become a great blogger just by writing. You become a great blogger by having a business mindset and understanding all the parameters that affect a business.

If you want to become successful, you need to cultivate a holistic thinking mentality. Make sure to be in the know and try to expand your knowledge in many fields.

Learn about marketing, business, investing, finance, quantum physics, AI.

Takeaway: You don’t need to dive deep into each subject you are interested in, but try and gain knowledge in topics that can help you become a well-rounded individual who can understand how the world works and evolves.

4 – BREAK OUT OF HOMEOSTASIS

For those unfamiliar with the term, homeostasis refers to the ability of a system whose variables are regulated so that the system remains stable and relatively constant.

What does this have to do with you? Everything.

When you stay in the same situation for a long time, you eventually get stuck in homeostasis. It is a mechanism for saving energy but at the same time the most self-destructive force for a person.

Most people are unaware of this fact and while they grow older, they eventually find it even harder to break out of this state.

This inevitably leads to lack of willpower, motivation and movement.

Especially in today’s comfort-oriented society, getting stuck in that state is more prevalent than ever.

Takeaway: The most effective way to escape this “suicidal” situation is to make sure you constantly activate your brain and body. Train, read, write, spend time in the nature, socialize and focus on activities that can boost serotonin and testosterone levels.

5 – YOU ARE NOT AFRAID OF CHANGE BUT OF THE PERIOD OF PAIN ASSOCIATED WITH CHANGE

After I finished my MSc in business in London, I joined a consulting firm for 2 years. Then, I decided to quit in order to focus on my startup. Before I quit I was shit scared because I was afraid of change and the unknown.

When it comes to change, however, it is not the change itself that we are afraid of, but the period of pain associated with it.

Let me clarify something in that respect. Your brain is an incredibly powerful instrument. Sometimes it is your worst enemy but also sometimes it is your most powerful ally.

I agree that change sometimes is difficult but don’t underestimate your brain’s capacity to eventually adapt to the new reality.

You most definitely have been through a difficult breakup in your life. Can you try and think of how long it took you to get used to your new reality? It most probably took you about a month. That’s because a new habit is usually formed within 30 to 40 days and your brain requires that much time to rewire its state to a different one.

It’s not rocket science. It’s simple physiology that allowed humans to survive for thousands of years.

Takeaway: Instead of resisting change, help yourself understand the physiology of change, become self-aware and enjoy its benefits.

6 – WHEN YOU GO THROUGH A HARD TIME, REBOOT

In whatever life scenario you find yourself, there will definitely be times where you will feel confused, frustrated and stressed.

In these situations, the best idea is to reboot and start from the basics.

Some months ago, I was going through a tough situation and I realized that if I allow myself to be absorbed by it, I would stay behind.

Instead, I decided to harness the power of habit and focus on some basic healthy habits that I was neglecting but also knew they were absolutely essential for my well-being.

Habits like waking up early, sleeping well, taking cold showers, taking care of my style, being honest and assertive, journaling and meditating to name but a few.

I performed almost 30 of those habits in a form of challenges for 30 days and after that I was reborn.

My worries were gone, my mind adapted to a new reality and I was ready to face my life from a new, more refined perspective.

Takeaway: Whenever you face a tough time and your life feels like a rollercoaster, instead of allowing yourself to be absorbed by negativity, distract yourself by investing in healthy habits.

7 – UNDERSTAND WHY YOU WANT TO MAKE MONEY

People don’t understand. Money is not for a fancy car or home. It’s to be free. To say fuck you, I don’t need this… And mean it.

When I quit my job and started my startup, one of the reasons I did it was because I wanted to respect myself and not stay in a situation where others are in control of my life.

Of course, I also did it for the money but money to me is not about power, or showing off, or hanging out in mansions and high-end clubs.

All that is nice but it is also temporary.

Money is about freedom and control.

It is about waking up on a Tuesday morning and deciding to go on a trip to Cannes with your girlfriend or your friends.

It is about not having a neurotic boss who, because his wife dumped him decided to be an asshole to you.

It is about realizing that you always wanted to open your own bar and now you can do it.

It is about being the master of yourself and your surroundings.

Takeaway:Whatever idea you have, or whatever new endeavor you emabark on, always have in mind the reason you do it Don’t just do it because you want to make money. Do it because you know what that money can bring to your life.

The Egg by Andy Weir

 

The Egg

By: Andy Weir

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You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup,” I said.

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

“Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be all right?”

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“Where you come from?” You said.

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

“So what’s the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m Jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

And I sent you on your way.

Don’t regret; rather respond

“Chasing after the poisonous snake that bites us will only drive the poison through our entire system. It is far better to take measure immediately to get the poison out.”

This is a quote from a book I’m currently reading, and the chapter is on knowing what you can and can not control (Circle of Influence vs. Circle of Concern). Consequences and mistakes are 2 things which you cannot control. You can control your behaviors and actions, but the consequence that follows is out of your control. But what you CAN control and what DOES matter is how you respond to these 2 things. Like the quote says, you can either complain about the situation or do something unproductive, or you can respond in the most proactive way possible to turn things around. Let’s start taking control of our lives.