What This Math Equation Taught Me About Success

In school, we’re all conditioned to follow rules in order to succeed.

Every quiz and exam, particularly in math, is designed to test how well we’ve memorized the rules.

If you memorize the rules well, you earn an A, and you’re considered smart.

If you fail to follow the rules, you earn an F, and you’re considered anything other than smart.

I was always the F student. I was horrible in my math and English classes.

So, I find it ironic I write blogs and code for a living now (which require extensive knowledge in English and math).

Eventually, I opted our of the formal education system.

However, that meant I needed to find out how to educate myself and make money without a diploma.

In the process, I’ve learned you need to clearly establish your goal, then create the tools and/or find the resources to help you get there.

But underneath it all, you really just need to understand yourself.

Unlike school, you need to create your own daily schedule. You also have to create your own “homework” and actually do it, even if no one is expecting you to.

You have to be 100 percent true to yourself, and you have to have integrity.

But, the most important thing I’ve learned is the idea of working smarter instead of working harder.

There’s always more than one way to do anything.

In school, you learn you can only succeed within the boundaries of certain rules.

Let’s take PEMDAS, the mathematic order of operations, for example.

Let me give you an assignment.

The point of this assignment is to build the case for how you can bend the rules to your advantage in order to get what you want.

The assignment:

Create an equation that equals to 24.

The rule:

Use 1, 3, 4 and 6.

You can use subtraction, addition, division and multiplication in your equation, but you can only use these numbers once.

The answer:

Well, within the boundaries of the PEMDAS rule, there’s probably a couple ways to do it.

According to one my math-wiz friends, here’s one answer:

6 ÷ (1–3 ÷ 4) = 24

Now, what if you removed the boundaries? What if you created your own rules?

Here’s what my answer would be:

2 + (63–41) = 24

The assignments was to use each number (1, 3, 4 and 6) once, and I did that. Also, the assignment didn’t say I couldn’t use the number 2.

Life isn’t fair. Life is what you make it.

It isn’t fair I came up with an answer without following the rules.

That answer is only wrong within the boundaries of the PEMDAS rule.

Most play the game as expected and come up with an answer everyone can eventually come up with.

Some may call it cheating.

Well, from my perspective, it’s not.

If the answer was written behind a flash card, and I took a look at it before writing my answer, that would be considering cheating.

The keyword here is “perspective.” I may be wrong about my view on cheating, but it doesn’t matter.

I still got an answer using the resources given to me. Be mad all you want, I still get to enjoy my “24.”

It’s all about how you think.

Coming up with a new way to solve problems is called innovating.

You are more innovative than you probably give yourself credit for.

To be clear, I respect the rules of math and science in general, and I think these rules are 100 percent necessary to solve complicated problems.

My argument is that you can find unconventional solutions to your problems that may still give you what you want.

Rules are meant to be broken.

We see this working in society now as we break the rules of traditionalism when it comes to gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana.

We’re also changing our perspective of what rules law enforcement should follow.

Imagine if we just accepted the rules as they are.

How boring and miserable would our world be?