Image for post
Image for post

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl recounts the story of one of his patients who was asked to be in a play for his junior high school class. This patient, a stutterer, was given the perfect role: a character who stuttered. However, they soon realized there was a problem. When the student went on stage to practice his lines, he found himself completely unable to stutter! He had to be replaced by another student.

In daily life, the student was self-conscious about his speech impediment, trying his best not to stutter. This had the opposite effect and only worsened his stutter. But when he actually tried to stutter — when he reversed his intention — he just couldn’t do it. As a result, he’d indirectly found a cure for his stuttering.

The paradox of intention = reaching our goals by giving up the attempt to reach them. This theme pops up in our lives all the time. When we over-think, grasp, cling, over-analyze, crave, control, fear, and worry, we rarely achieve our goals. But when we give up our attempt to reach our goals, however small or large, the pieces often fall into place.

A classic example. You’re trying hard to remember a name. You start going through the letters of the alphabet to see if this jogs your memory. To no avail. Hours later on a run to the grocery store, the name pops into your head. Forget about the goal and it’s yours.

Or when you’re driving and hit a patch of ice. The worst thing to do is slam on the brakes and steer in the opposite direction. The best approach is to lightly apply the brakes and ‘turn into the slide.’ Release of effort, not more control, is the solution.

In my own life, the business I started last year was moving at a snail’s pace. I was trying hard, but with few results. After getting burnt out and taking a break for 6 weeks, I realized the answer had been hiding in plain sight. We pivoted and revenue has been growing steadily. I had to step back, not push forward.

This paradox is all around us, from our relationships to our work, and has been called by different names: Salvation by relaxation, the backwards law, inversion of intention, the law of the reversal of effort, dereflection, acceptance, obliquity, and letting go. A few instances that come to mind:

In Life: The Stoics believed that attempts at achieving happiness through wealth and security were futile. A reversal of fear comes through accepting the worst case, not fighting against it. To overcome embarrassment, wear a silly hat for a week; to overcome financial insecurity, eat frugally and sleep on the floor. You’ll realize the worst case ain’t so bad. “We must abstain from the will to get, and not attempt any of those things which are not in our power.” — Epictetus

In Psychology: If ‘hyper reflection’ is the problem, ‘dereflection’ is the solution. A patient with OCD obsessively checked her door 20 times a day to see if it was open. She was invited to wish for her feared compulsion — to imagine that the door was open. ‘Screw it, let the thieves steal all my stuff!’ When fear was willed, the obsession disappeared.

In Your Relationship. The more you try to be liked, the harder it becomes. Fitting the imagine of a ‘likeable person’ creates a barrier to authentic connection. Roger Dawson, author of Secrets of Power Negotiation, talks about embracing “Walk-Away Power.” You can apply this to relationships — platonic, romantic, familial, and professional. The more you need a relationship at all costs, the more likely you are to overextend and become inauthentic and clingy. The foundation of an authentic relationship is, paradoxically, being willing to walk away.

At Work: When Netflix announced their unlimited vacation policy, many feared that employees would abuse the system and take half the year off to sip piña coladas in the Cayman Islands. The opposite happened. Employees acted like responsible adults, took a reasonable amount of time off, and productivity increased. Now lots of companies are following their lead. Reducing the effort of micromanaging vacation time and loosening control of a process brought good results.

On Your Deathbed: Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross observes that dying patients who ‘struggle and fight to the end’ may seem strong-willed, but make it hard to reach a place of peace and dignity. Inadvertently, their resistance makes them harder to treat. Patients who accept their reality can then turn their energy to helping physicians fight to keep them alive. Paradoxically, accepting your death may increase your chance of survival.

A lot of things in life undoubtedly take a great deal of effort. You can’t just forget about em’ and wait for the stars to align. But the common theme here is not being constantly stressed about the outcome — which is when we usually overexert ourselves. A Japanese motorcycle assembly manual puts it this way: “Before assembling the motorcycle, obtain peace of mind.” Now replace ‘motorcycle’ with business, relationship, or anything else that requires effort.

Next time you’re grappling with a problem at work or in personal life, ask yourself whether trying harder is really the solution. What if you let go and took a step back for a while? What if what’s ‘right’ for us is what comes naturally to us, not what takes a great deal of effort? …


Check out our new platform: https://thecapital.io/

Image for post
Image for post

Online courses can spiffy up your resume, make you more attractive in the job market, and lead to work promotions. But can they double your salary? Maybe. While there’s no guarantee you will double your money, if you take blockchain training in IT, marketing, e-commerce, or other areas, you can expect to take home an above-average salary.

Blockchain salaries are racing upwards as the Fortune 500 compete with cryptocurrency platforms for blockchain professionals. …


Image for post
Image for post

Years ago a friend of mine was coming to terms with her homosexuality. She’d been raised in a conservative, Christian household and her parents didn’t know she liked girls. This was easy to keep hidden at the time. Now she was in college, where people didn’t give a shit about your sexual orientation. It was liberating to be in a place where she could more truly be herself. But visiting home for the holidays meant that she had to put up an even greater facade. This deepened the divide within herself.

After a few Shiner Bocks on a Friday night I would impart my all too frequent advice, “Just tell them!” I wanted her to be happy, I said, and telling the truth was the solution, no matter how tough. We joked and laughed and then more seriously imagined the absolute worst-case scenarios — getting disowned by your family, waking up with no more tuition payments and finding yourself homeless and broken amongst the crack addicts. To her these things would have been the end of the world. It wasn’t until many years later when the pain was too much to bear, and perhaps with the strength gained with maturity and the independence of having a job, she came out to her family. …


Years ago a friend of mine was coming to terms with her homosexuality. She’d been raised in a conservative, Christian household and her parents didn’t know she liked girls. This was easy to keep hidden at the time. Now she was in college, where people didn’t give a shit about your sexual orientation. It was liberating to be in a place where she could more truly be herself. But visiting home for the holidays meant that she had to put up an even greater facade. This deepened the divide within herself.

After a few Shiner Bocks on a Friday night I would impart my all too frequent advice, “Just tell them!” I wanted her to be happy, I said, and telling the truth was the solution, no matter how tough. We joked and laughed and then more seriously imagined the absolute worst-case scenarios — getting disowned by your family, waking up with no more tuition payments and finding yourself homeless and broken amongst the crack addicts. To her these things would have been the end of the world. It wasn’t until many years later when the pain was too much to bear, and perhaps with the strength gained with maturity and the independence of having a job, she came out to her family. …


Image for post
Image for post

The beauty of crypto exchanges is that they have plenty of ways for you to make money without necessarily spending time trading and looking at charts all day. For example, tons of promotions and deals are offered to get you to sign up and start learning and trading crypto. It’s not like going to Walmart and getting a “rebate coupon.” In crypto, the payouts are typically instant. Watch some educational crypto videos and get tokens distributed immediately. Send a friend a referral link and get the BTC the second they click on it. It’s pretty sweet.

Other tools offered by exchanges such as OKEx allow you to take advantage of accrued interest, staking and loan services. This requires you to spend money to make money. Buy some tokens and get daily interest (staking dividends). In any case, you’re earning “free” Bitcoin because you’re not having to work for it. You’re just saving/investing it. …


Two simple strategies for busy people

Image for post
Image for post
Mon/Tues/Wed/Thur/Friday/Sat/Sun nights

In a little known story, Sir Isaac Newton bought some stocks of the South Sea Company, a British trading company popular back in the 1700s. He sold the shares for a nice profit, but shortly after he got greedy and swept up in the exuberance of the times. The mathematician bought back the stock at a much higher price. Unfortunately, he lost almost all of it — equivalent to millions of dollars in today’s money. The great physicist “could calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of the people.”


Image for post
Image for post

A few years ago, I would go out frequently during the weekdays with friends and enjoy a Mojito (or twelve). This began to change once I started running longer distances and training for a marathon. Suddenly, I’m a marathon runner and a frequent mojito-drinker — although as you can see these two identities were a little bit at odds. To take this running stuff seriously, I had to cut down on my daily dose of minty rum.

But what I probably feared more is leaving what the Mojito represents: going out with friends, drinking on weekdays, and ‘having fun.’

We all hold multiple identities: friends, employees, parents, volunteers, singers, runners, football players, weekend warriors, and all the other digital identities and personas we’ve created on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. The difficulty arises when one of our identities clashes with another that is seemingly incongruent, or threatens another.

Being married means you can’t go to the Chicas Bonitas strip joint like you used to with the boys. Being a mom with 3 kids means you give up on the prospects of winning the Sexy Beach Bod of the Year Award because you’ve got no time for morning pilates, goddammit! Being promoted to manager means you’re no longer part of the Water Cooler Gossip Crew — you can’t talk shit about other managers anymore.

An identity clash (and the accompanying behaviors you’ll need to change) is at least one reason all of the above are approached with some level of trepidation — marriage, children, moving up into a leadership role. Achieving these goals and hitting these milestones, while desirable and worthwhile goals to pursue, challenge who we are. When we have to change our identity, or when another commitment might threaten our current one, we can withdraw.

As a recruiter I often witnessed people turning down job offers that had the potential to be life-changing. One marketing candidate, Sarah, received an attractive offer with a 30% bump in salary for a role that had greater responsibility. We both agreed that this would set her up to achieve her long-term goals to become a Chief Marketing Officer. She didn’t accept the offer, arguing that it wasn’t quite attractive enough and thus not worth the move. Instead, she would stay at her current company, where the situation “could get better in the future,” even though she acknowledged that it would undoubtedly be a much slower climb to reach her goals if she stayed.

It’s possible that she harbored a concern about her prospects of success in the company that wasn’t brought forward. But she came off as extremely confident. Based on her results and references, both myself and the hiring manager had no doubt that she would excel in the role. It seemed that rather than a fear of failure, it was a fear of success.

Success — in this case of accepting a new job offer and a bigger role — comes with a few strings attached. For starters, changing jobs is one of the biggest identity changes of all! New colleagues, new processes, new office — pretty much new everything. It means added responsibility and heightened expectations. The new job could require her to temporarily sacrifice doing things she loved like playing tennis every evening. Generally speaking, she’d be required to do a bunch of stuff she’s not doing right now, even though it would be positive for her career.

How do we get past this fear and cross the chasm? The closer we can envelop ourselves in the new identity we want to adopt, the easier it will be to make the shift. In retrospect, as a recruiter I should have arranged for Sarah to spend more time in the new office. I could have also suggested that her, the manager and her prospective teammates spend some casual time on the weekend — these activities would bring her closer to feeling like she’s part of the family and visualizing life in the new job.

Even taking time to mentally visualize our new lives can make a transition easier. Dr. …


Image for post
Image for post

“An investor should act as though he had a lifetime decision card with just 20 punches on it.” — Warren Buffett

What if you could only invest in 20 cryptocurrencies in your lifetime? Would you jump in and out of the cryptocurrencies with the highest momentum? Or would you choose a few quality coin investments and buy and hold them?

If you want to earn 1 percent a day, staking coins is a way of earning consistent returns on your cryptocurrency portfolio. You don’t need to hold your investments forever like Warren Buffet. …


Image for post
Image for post

One day God calls on Jonah and asks him to go preach in the city of Nineveh. Jonah, being a big shot who thinks he knows better than God, ignores the request and attempts to flee by boat. God summons a turbulent storm that throws him overboard, and Jonah is then devoured by a giant whale. Not such a big shot after all. In the belly of the beast, Jonah has time to reflect on his fear. He repents for his sins and apologizes to God for wimping out of the job. Eventually, the whale spits him out on shore. …


Image for post
Image for post

Ultramarathon runner Brandon Falls is moments away from victory. This is mile 49 of 50 and he has been running nonstop for over six hours fueled on candy bars and snotty sports gels. He comes around a turn on the road and sees the finish line, less than 200 feet away.

Fans cheer him on with pumped fists in the air, shouting “You got this, B-dawg!” Just a few feet before crossing the line, his legs buckle from underneath him and the crowd watches his sad and dramatic slow-motion tumble towards the ground.

About

Misha

Japan-based blogger, author and entrepreneur. Follow me at http://mishayurchenko.me/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store