If you know how to properly study self-improvement you have the cheat code to life itself. Sometimes, I sit back and think, “I can’t believe people don’t know this stuff.”
All the answers to everything you’d ever want to know are right in front of you, but most people are blind to them.
In short, society has created the greatest marketing campaign known to man. The vast majority of society is under a spell. In the book Outwitting the Devil, there’s a name for this state people find themselves in — hypnotic rhythm. People get programmed by fear to the point they start running on auto-pilot in the worst way possible.
My level of faith for the collective continues to drop on a daily basis. I don’t know if there’s anything anyone can do for them. I only hold out hope for individuals, changing one at a time on a case by case basis.
You can be one of these people.
Listen to what I say and take it dead serious. I’m giving you the game, the recipe, the strategies, everything you need to know in one post. Within reason, if you use these strategies, you can get anything you want.
Beat the Competition, No “Grinding” Required
“I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.” — Charlie Munger
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a book, watched a video, or even saw a Tweet from a smart person, and said to myself. “Why has no one ever told me about this?”
If you can make it a hair above the level of reading just to say you’ve read, you can learn anything you want and apply it to any situation you want.
People in our society constantly talk about oppression, lack of upward mobility, hopelessness, but we live in a world where you have infinite access to free information.
I credit the way my parents raised me. My grandfather, in the 1960’s Milwaukee, which is still the most segregated city in the US, gave my mom the ultimate tool for social justice — a library card. He told her to read every book in the library. She damn near did. Growing up in the thick of one of the most oppressive times in our nation, my mom graduated high school early and eventually earned two master’s degrees. Her mom couldn’t even read and her dad worked at a factory. But they gave her no excuses.
Nobody is stopping you from picking up a book. Books are dirt-cheap compared to their value. Books should be $100 apiece minimum. YouTube is free and has instructional videos on how to do literally anything. You can buy online courses about a skill you want to learn.
I’m 30 years old and many older people have told me I seem wise for my age. Many are surprised when they find out how young I am. Do you know where I get my ‘wisdom’ from? I just find resources from people who already found the solutions to the problems I had.
Generations of people have already done the work for you. All you have to do is implement the things they say.
Apply the Most Rarely Used Tools in the World
“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” — Thomas Sowell
Common sense is uncommon. Most people don’t understand how to properly apply logic and deductive reasoning. They let their emotions run them, suffer from insane levels of confirmation bias, and would rather be right than get it right.
If I could give you one book recommendation, it would be Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger. It’s a literal textbook on learning how to apply logic and common sense.
The most important lesson I learned? Try to figure out what is true instead of what you wish were true. Most people can’t tolerate useful information that comes from a source that doesn’t like or comes from an ideology they disagree with.
Me? I belong to no political party. I see bits and pieces of opposite ideologies that make sense and piece them together. I remove my identity from the situation and focus on trying to be objective about what I’m seeing.
More importantly, I know that I’m prone to mental defects. I know that my emotions make decisions first, not logic. I know it’s an uphill battle to fight these defects.
Most people think they are rational. The more rational someone thinks they are, the easier they are to con. Some of the highest IQ intellectual types are, in my opinion, the dumbest people. Nassim Taleb likes to call them “Intellectuals Yet Idiots”
Beware the semi-erudite who thinks he is an erudite. He fails to naturally detect sophistry. The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited.
When you understand you’re not rational by default, you start to train yourself to have more common sense. In my case, I’ve been able to push forward and succeed because my common sense mind tells me that I’m not personally oppressed.
I can see how much of the idea of oppression is a narrative based on little to no facts. So I move forward while most people get caught in that looping mental trap.
The ability to question your own beliefs and change them when the evidence says you should give you the ability to adapt and pivot when others stay stuck in their tribal ways.
Harness the Most Boring Yet Useful Power in the World
“Play iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.” — Naval Ravikant
Delayed gratification is the most boring, unsexy, incredibly powerful self-improvement cheat code you could ever find.
I saw a Tweet that said investments don’t care what race or gender you are, which is true. It also said that all you have to do to become a millionaire is dollar-cost average 20 percent of your money into the S&P 500. This is also true.
I will be a millionaire at some point in my life unless I die early. Guaranteed. Why? Because I mustered up the discipline to start putting money into the stock market and leaving it the hell alone. I held onto it, bought more stocks, during the recent collapse. In my mind, that money doesn’t exist for spending. When that compound interest kicks in, it kicks in hard.
Delayed gratification creates compound rewards in all areas of life. I delayed my gratification to build a writing career. Now? I apply the same level of effort to write a blog post and it gets anywhere from 10–100x the number of views as it would’ve when I started. I have more money and a bigger audience, which can help me start more projects.
My recipe for a successful life is simple:
- Spend five years developing a profitable skill to the point you can create a real income from it. Decide upfront you will spend at least a half-decade on your project, and it will work.
- Live below your means and invest your money.
- Keep building systems in your life to get more resources, influence, audience, whatever. Keep doubling, tripling, and quadrupling down.
Once you go through this ‘self-improvement arc’ once, your limiting beliefs will disappear. You realize you can do anything you want if you just give it enough time.
How do you develop the ability to plan for the future and execute on your plans? Visualize the future in-depth. Visualize the consequences of your inaction. Because trust me, that left hook is coming for you if you don’t.
Master the Art of Staying Close to the Vest
“Keep your friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent.” — Robert Greene
The more you focus on your own personal development, the more you’ll learn that some of the people around you just are, how do I say it, not the brightest people in the world.
You’ll hear them spout illogical opinions. You’ll hear them coming from a place of limiting beliefs and you’ll realize how warped their worldview is. And you’ll want to correct them. You’ll want to ‘help’ them. Don’t.
Focus on connecting with these types of people:
- Like-minded people who are at your level
- People who are smarter and more skilled than you who you can learn from
- People who may not have the success they want yet, but they’re open and receptive to your message
I’m not here to convince stubborn and hard-headed people to change their lives. Call me cold, but I understand that the vast majority of the population simply won’t get the outcomes they want in life, period.
The good news? Even if the percentage of people who want to level-up is small, it’s still a large number in terms of total people. Focus on spending time with these people, working, connecting, and doing business with them.
You don’t have to cut everyone out of your life who’s not on some massive self-improvement mission. That’s dumb. And self-improvement isn’t the only thing that matters.
Just learn how to ‘smile and nod’ when you hear bullshit coming out of people’s mouths. Don’t worry about their beliefs, worry about you and the people you can help.
When I’m out in public, in my real life, I don’t walk around bragging about my life. I’m a normal dude. But, in the background, I’m making all sorts of moves that I don’t tell anyone about.
Understand the Imaginary Nature of Rules
“When someone tells me no, I just act like I didn’t hear them.” — Jerry Weintraub
You always want to be on the lookout for little loopholes, areas of negotiation, or side doors you can walk through when the front door is closed.
This can apply to many different areas of your life. I’ve published posts on blogs that ‘weren’t accepting contributors’ because I knew how to find the right contact and pitch them. As a self-employed business owner, I use every legal loophole in the book to my advantage.
Why wouldn’t I?
The difference between me and a lot of people is that when I see successful people using loopholes to their advantage, I don’t get upset or feel envy at all. I ask myself, “How did they do that?” You might see this as looking out for number one, and you’d be seeing that correctly.
Again, this speaks a bit to people with narrative-driven overly emotional minds. They think they’re doing some public service by being a martyr and not trying to level up in life. Good for them, I suppose.
In my view, you should be looking for every advantage and slight edge you can find. Whether that’s tax loopholes, negotiating down the price of your car, calling up your phone company and telling them to reduce your bill, applying for a job you don’t have enough credentials for, etc, you should never accept the ‘rules’ and ‘standards’ at face value.
There’s usually a move you can make, an area for wiggle room, an edge you can gain. Read the book, When I Stop Talking You’ll Know I’m Dead. It’s about Jerry Weintraub, who became extremely successful by ignoring almost every rule of his industry and using every loophole he could.
Once you learn most of the rules of society are completely imaginary, you can make moves others can’t see.
A Success Rule That Works 90 Percent of the Time
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” — Mark Twain
9 times out of 10, the masses are completely wrong. You can live a successful life by doing the opposite of what most people do. Again, I don’t say this to be mean, but the level of competition is low. Most people simply don’t know what they’re doing and they’re under that spell, that hypnotic rhythm that keeps them stuck their whole life.
If you can get a few basic things right that most people miss, you’ll run laps around them.
- Most people live beyond their means, use their income to buy liabilities, and don’t invest their money. Do the opposite of all three.
- Most people spend 95 percent of their free time on entertainment and 5 percent on education. Do the opposite.
- Many people believe the world offers little to no opportunities or upward mobility. Think the opposite.
- Most people limit their beliefs. Do the opposite.
- Most people take what they see in the media at face value. Definitely do the opposite.
Don’t become a reflexive concentration. Some conventional wisdom is right. But when you see damn near everyone thinking in lockstep, parroting the same narratives word for word, avoid it like the plague.
This is why I’m neither Democrat nor Republican — both parties are political robots with this homogeneous list of talking points. Society has turned tribalists onto steroids.
Just sit on the sideline and observe the insanity. Then, focus on improving your life, using the common sense, logic, and reason I mentioned earlier.
A Cliche, But a Useful Cliche Nonetheless
‘Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.’— Norman Vincent Peale
The most important cheat code to life is being optimistic.
You have to be bullish about the future, even to the point of deluding yourself if need be. Think of life as the stock market — even with ups and downs, in the long-run, it tends to go up.
The level of pessimism, angst, nihilism, outrage, all of it, makes me sad. I can see how people arrive at this sort of thinking and why it happens. But, again, the minds of these types of people are hard to change, so I just wish them the best and hope things turn out okay.
I reverse my messages for people like you. People with hope.
Look, life isn’t fair. I’m sure you’ve been dealt many a bad hand in life. But so the hell what? What does focusing on the negative do for you? Nothing. What does complaining solve? Nothing.
Success in life comes from figuring out which thoughts are useful to you and which ones aren’t. Even if your odds of success are slim, you’re better off focusing on low but possible odds than definite negative odds.
Don’t think of optimism as Pollyanna, think of it as the only logical pragmatic belief system to have. It’s the best option.
You should be optimistic. The sky isn’t falling, no matter how much the media tells you it is. Odds are, you’re reasonably intelligent. You have a talent or skill that you can use to make a living. You have access to insane levels of information.
Get out of your own way.
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