“For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” — Matthew 12:29
The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. When you achieve success, it’s easier to repeat your success. When you already have money, you can borrow more and invest it. If you’re already confident, you expect good things to happen to you, so they do.
You pay a penalty for losing. The bank charges you overdraft fees for being broke and you take out predatory loans that keep you broke. When you lack confidence, people treat you the way you treat yourself, reinforcing, and compounding your insecurity. Your perception creates your reality which reinforces your perception. You live your life in up and down cycles.
Most people end up in a vicious downward cycle. When life beats you into submission, you become submissive. The longer you maintain a reality where you lose, and by lose I simply mean fail to get what you want, the more you cement your identity as a loser.
Again, not speaking of this as an inherent trait but a chosen identity, we live in a society of losers. Most people just don’t expect much of themselves because society trains them not to. But, you can be different. You can become a winner regardless of what happened to you in the past.
The Hot Hand Reality
You’ve seen this happen in sports games all the time. This happened against my favorite player over and over again against a certain team. LeBron James played the Golden State Warriors in four straight NBA finals series, barely winning one and losing three. The Warriors had a bunch of players who were great shooters. They could be losing the game for a half, for three quarters, or even the majority of the entire game. Then, it would happen. They’d get hot.
You could only beat them if you kept them from getting on a roll. Once they did, the game was over. They knew it, the opposing team knew it, the crowd knew it, the announcers knew it, everyone knew it. One-shot would go in, the crowd would get hyped. Another would go in, the crowd would get rowdy. Another one would go in, the arena would explode.
After that, you could look in the player’s eyes as they shot each shot. They knew the ball was going to go in, and it did. This is known as the hot hand phenomenon:
Nearly every basketball player, coach or fan believes that some shooters have an uncanny tendency to experience the hot hand — also referred to as being “on fire,” “in the zone,” “in rhythm” or “unconscious.” The idea is that on occasion these players enter into a special state in which their ability to make shots is noticeably better than usual.
The quoted article first showed that researchers debunked the idea. But a new set of studies that looked at the shooting percentage of shots taken after a streak of makes showed an above-average level of makes afterward. The hot hand is real.
Why bring up the hot hand? Because I’ve seen it create long-term success. Get hot enough times, at the right time, and in the right sequence, and you can change your life forever. You can become a permanent winner.
You’ve already been a winner, but you don’t remember your winning moments enough. You’ve been on a roll before. There are times in your life where you have the ‘hot hand.’ You build long-term confidence by taking the hot hands in your life and turning them into patterns, habits, disciplines, and rituals you use to create brand new circumstances that further solidify your confidence.
You can decide at any moment, that you’re going to start over. In the beginning, you will stumble and fumble to build confidence and make tangible progress. But, if you get on a roll, you can stay on one. Think about where you’ve gone on a roll before to remind you that you can do it again. Becoming a winner is the process of creating enough memories of feeling like one. That’s it.
The Catalyst For Winning
You can’t get a hot hand until you’re in the game. You can’t play the game until you start. And you won’t start if you don’t think you can win at all.
How do you change your mind? You can’t just force yourself to think differently, right? You can’t just decide that you’re going to live a better life and be more confident, can you?
You’ve lived your life a certain way to this point. Also, there are outside forces that get in your way. Even when you adjust for personal circumstances and environment, much can be said about your expectations and what your environment means to you.
I read a story once about a teacher who taught a bunch of inner-city students to read several grades above their level. Students who would’ve otherwise been labeled hopeless, learning disabled, lost causes. How did she pull off this feat? She just expected her students to be successful and communicate with them.
In this video, Thomas Sowell talks about the fact that charter schools in New York City are outperforming public schools with students from the same backgrounds. Sometimes, the charter schools themselves would be in the same building, a section of rooms, in a publicly funded school. The students in those rooms would thrive. The rest of the students in the building would be failing. Kids from the same neighborhood in the same building with the same resources.
In the video, he talks about the fact that many of these schools simply hold kids to higher standards. That’s it. They expect the kids to win, so they do. This goes against the narratives in society that teach you to have low expectations. Once you unlearn these patterns and limiting beliefs that society teaches you, you can adopt new ones and use those higher expectations to build those winning streaks to build higher levels of long-term confidence and success.
The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations
I wrote an article about this phenomenon. Here’s a quote from it:
The people who take pity on you and spoon feed you this message that you’re oppressed don’t care about you at all. They will post on your behalf on social media, but they won’t visit your neighborhood. […]. The politicians who claim to want to help those who are struggling often oversee some of the worst districts in the country and do nothing to help them improve. Real caring involves telling the truth.
Often, the most racist, sexist, and bigoted thing you can do is to tell someone they can’t succeed because of their immutable characteristics. Yet, this is exactly the direction our society is trending. Society teaches people, who need to hear winning messages most, that they’re losers.
Many people in society, especially in younger generations, are being taught to lack self-esteem and confidence. Jonothan Haidt talks about this in his book The Coddling of the American Mind
“A culture that allows the concept of “safety” to creep so far that it equates emotional discomfort with physical danger is a culture that encourages people to systematically protect one another from the very experiences embedded in daily life that they need in order to become strong and healthy.”
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In our attempts to try to right the ills of society we’re creating a society of mentally weak losers. Again, remember my definition of a loser. Not someone who is inherently lacking in worth, but simply doesn’t expect to get what they want.
The Have and Have Not Paradigm
Again, in our attempts to reduce inequality we teach people to have fixed mindsets. Look at the conversation we have about the haves and have nots.
Even though most people in Western Civilization have higher standards of living than the rest of the world and an insanely better standard of living compared to past generations, we live in a society of comparison based on today’s standards in our immediate environment.
The meta-narrative underneath all the equality messaging in society is the idea that it’s impossible for you to rise above your station in life. Society sets these low expectations for you and ruins your mindset with their messaging.
Why worry about the minimum wage? Why not learn profitable skills? Instead of railing against the one percent, why not aim to join them? Statistically, it’s quite possible. And people move up and down in classes all the time.
I saw a Tweet the other day that said not to worry about Joe Biden’s tax plan because “You’re never going to make $400,000 a year.” Again, the tax law itself doesn’t bother me, but the underlying fatalist message — ‘never’ ‘always’ ‘impossible’.
I will make $400,000 in a year, likely next year. 5 years ago, I was making $10/hr. I’m glad I never listened to the people who told me to ‘eat the rich’ because I’d never be a part of them.
Leveling Up > Leveling the Playing Field
I’m layering these concepts because it’s important for you to understand these narratives and rid yourself of them. Rid yourself of these narratives so that you can set higher expectations for yourself.
This isn’t about getting rich or the hollow pursuit of success and status. It’s not about laws, politics, or economics. It’s about you getting the self-confidence and dignity you deserve. The self-confidence and dignity society robbed from you with this garbage message that always speaks to the lowest common denominator.
You deserve to have good outcomes, to win. You deserve to get what you want and you can. Most people don’t even see the underlying evil of these messages at all. The conversation about leveling the playing field and making everything equal is rooted in the outcomes being equally bad for everyone else except the people at the top.
The ones who preach this message, often rich themselves, never give up their riches. They teach you self-sufficiency because they want to gatekeep the narrative. They want to gatekeep the narrative to keep power — one big pyramid instead of letting us all be at the top of our own.
You’re not selfish for wanting to level up. You’re definitely not pious for being a collectivist. You’ll pay the price for that ideology. Trust me. Just focus on winning instead. You owe society nothing. You definitely don’t owe it your future, your success, your confidence, your happiness. Don’t let them steal it from you.
Become a Winner
So you have the basic premise now. You build your ‘winner effect’ through a series of streaks in your life that build long-term confidence. Society does everything it can to rob you of your winner effect through good sounding yet damaging messages.
To start the process, you must start expecting to win. Once you expect to win, even if you don’t believe it right away, you better position yourself to win. You start to do the work to match those expectations. Eventually, you’ll get used to winning in different areas of your life. That’s where the magic comes in.
When I was making $10/hr, that was my reality. Now? I don’t quite understand how I lived at all making that amount of money. In the back of my mind, I’m driven to win because I’m too anchored to the present to want to go that far backward.
Some would say that’s a recipe for unhappiness. I’d say it’s a recipe for continued growth. See, when you unlock a new level, all of a sudden higher levels seem much more doable. Your ‘winner effect’ kicks in more and more.
You can do the same thing, too.
Fundamentally, you must understand that confidence is nothing but a perception created by inputs, expectations, and practice. This is a process that moves up and down. You want to get on the right side of the equation. The ultimate lesson from the rich get richer and the rich get poorer isn’t to hate the rich, it’s to get rich. Then, you attract more of what you want in your life because you’re already successful. The easier way to make money is to already have money. then you can compound your investments more easily.
The easiest way to get confidence is to already be confident. Then, you attract what you want because you actually believe in yourself and you aren’t needy. Becoming successful actually helps you create a more content and meditative state of mind than just trying to be content because you’re suffering less from lack, from want, and from wondering what if.
The jury is out. Winning is better. Win.
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