The Unfair But Extremely Useful Attitude You Can Adopt to Succeed
This is a test section for a new book I’m working on. Tentative title Real Help: A B.S. Free Guide to Self-Improvement. I’d love your feedback. I’m trying to test out ideas like a comedian at an open mic night.
Remember the theme of this book: Real-Help involves doing more than paying lip service to self-improvement. And it involves a heavy dose of acceptance about reality and the way the world works.
Before you move into the strategy section and give an honest effort toward your goals and dreams, it’s important to understand this section on attitude.
See, attitude is the backbone of your entire journey. The way you feel about and react to the world around you is the number one reason for success or failure. And the biggest trap is having an attitude that doesn’t account for the real world. The real world doesn’t care about your opinion.
It does not acquiesce to your comfort level. It does not cater to your judgments of it. And the people in the world? They’ll be your number one downfall if you care too much about what they think, try to change them, or get too preoccupied with anything they’re doing.
In my own life, I noticed I started doing more and being more as I continued to develop a hyper-realistic attitude about…everything. I took off both my rose-colored glasses and stepped down from my pedestal. I embodied the phrase “the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
When I failed to do that, I let the world and other people in it mentally push me around. I was playing their game, not mine. Your mind does this thing where it incessantly tries to fit square pegs into round holes. We’ll continue to talk about strategies to avoid doing that but know this — the minute you let go and accept, the better off you are.
Let me explain…
99% of What You Hear, See, and Experience Will Contradict the Way You Think
I remember a moment during college. I was sitting at the bar with two friends. One had just graduated. The other was about to graduate. They were talking about the next steps — jobs, location, goals, etc.
“I want to make at least $70k right out of school,” my soon to graduate friend said.
“Oh no. You won’t be able to get a job at $70k. Find something entry level and work your way up.”
I didn’t say anything, but deep down, I was annoyed. I was always a dreamer. Never once — even when I was dead broke — did I imagine a life of mediocrity. I always figured I would be somebody, somehow, someday. It bothered me to here “sheeple talk.”
My attitude stayed like this for a while. As I started to learn and write, I became very judgmental of the world around me. Everyone seemed lazy, mediocre, and out of touch with their true potential. I wanted to stand on my soapbox and give sermons. I wanted the entire world to think like me, and I was pissed that it didn’t.
“If only I could show them the light!” I thought. So I’d try to have these “big dream” conversations with people. A handful of them were receptive and though the same way. But for most people I talked to, it went in one ear and out the other. I kept doing this for a while until it finally hit me.
Not only is it not my job to order people how to live their lives, but there’s also nothing intrinsically bad about the way people live their lives. It’s perfectly fine to be “normal.” Nobody is a “sheep.”
Human beings are…human beings — with different visions of the world and different degrees of accomplishment they call success. Most people who start on the journey of self-improvement tend to get on their high-horse. Even though beforehand they were just like the people they now criticize, they suddenly believe it’s their job to “help.”
No. Your job is to make your life better, reach your goals, and help the people who want your help.
As you continue to improve and learn, a lot of things won’t make sense to you — the amount people complain, their lack of ambition, their rock-solid faith in the status quo, their belief of the media, their acceptance of their lot in life, their conversations that amount to gossip or small talk, their preoccupation with pettiness, their lack of imagination, their quiet desperation they do nothing about, their evangelization of “the rules of society,” their poor choices, and their seeming blindness to all the above.
But you know what, those are all judgments made by the person who’s judging, not accurate depictions of other people. Everything I listed is an interpretation based on my worldview. They say more about my character than they do the people being judged. Now that character can be sliced two different ways.
It could mean that you have high standards for yourself, don’t agree with what other people do, but also don’t care or wish you convert them. You live your life your way, build your tribe of like-minded peers and welcome people who come to the light through your example.
Or it could mean you’re an arrogant asshole who thinks they know how other people should live their lives better than they do.
It’s a subtle distinction that makes a world of difference. Choose the former.
Which leads to my next point…
You’ll Feel Lonely
To this day, my wife doesn’t quite know exactly what I do. She just knows I write books and make money online somehow. I use writing as my medium to share what I feel, believe, and want to express. In my personal life, I barely talk about my business.
This is a corollary to the point above. Most people just don’t want to talk about big ideas. Most people are not entrepreneurs (which is totally fine). You’ll live in a world that doesn’t always make sense to you and it’s difficult to find people who share your vision.
Of course, even though it’s a smaller percentage of the population, there are plenty of people who believe in self-improvement. It is a billion dollar industry after all. You’ll just have to go out or your way to find these types of people. I’m in clubs in my local community. I’m in online groups with other writers and entrepreneurs. I’ll have skype sessions with people I met online who live half-way around the world to talk shop. You have options.
But in your day to day life, when you’re really working to build a dream, you might get a little lonely sometimes.
But a little loneliness is worth a little meaning and accomplishment. Don’t you think?
Nobody Believes in You
Whatever dreams you have floating around in the back of your head, nobody thinks you can pull them off. Why would they? Only people who believe they can pull their dreams off would think someone else could do it. It’s human nature. People view the world a certain way and automatically assume everyone else is either like them or should be like them. I’m no different. In my case, I happen to believe other people can make their dreams come true because I believe in myself.
My wife’s brother is an engineer. I remember once her mom was talking about who’d take care of her when she got older. My wife’s a school teacher — not exactly rolling in it. And at the time, I hadn’t really gotten any traction in my writing career or made any serious money yet.
“Well, it’s probably going to be Joe. He’s the one with all the money.”
I was pissed.
“Didn’t she know I was going to be a bestselling author with a 7 figure online business???” I thought. Which was of course, stupid.
To a normal person, it makes sense that an engineer would make more money than a“writer” because…oftentimes writer is just a code word for “broke person.”
These are the type of thoughts I used to have when I had a major chip on my shoulder. Sure, I did convert some of that misguided energy into producing work, but the energy was misguided nonetheless.
You’ll start working on that little dream of yours. And in the beginning, it will be little. Why would anyone believe in your future when:
- You have zero evidence you’ll succeed and you’re just talking s***
- The world is full of people who talk s*** but never get anything done
- Even some people who do try to walk the walk still fail
Dreams are fulfilled in obscurity and silence while the world continues to spin as it always has. Nobody believes in you, but nobody has to believe in you for you to get the job done. You have to believe in you. Over time, you’ll come to understand that the only opinion of yourself that matters is yours, anyway. Once you embody that, you’re free.
Do you know what I do now?
I say absolutely nothing. Then, when I’m actually done with a project, lose the 30 pounds, reach the milestone, have tangible evidence of the dream, I announce it.
When you actually accomplish something, go ahead and stroke your ego. Show off. Tell the world. But only do this after you’ve actually done something.
Success Will Take Longer Than You Want
I’m finally on track to make the magical six-figure income every online writer and entrepreneur fantasizes about. Do you want to know how long it took? First hint: I didn’t take “6 months” or “6 weeks” like those Facebook Ads told me it would.
It took roughly 5 years.
If you want an absolute number and milestone to chase, there it is. It takes about 3–5 years to get real traction. Do some people do it faster? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t bank your future and sanity on getting abnormal results.
If you really, really, really want to get super-successful or wealthy, it takes about a decade. I wouldn’t know. I’m not a millionaire. That’s just what I’ve heard. The days are long but the years are short. I’ve been writing for a half-decade, but it doesn’t feel like it.
Not only does it feel like time flew by, but I’m having fun. I’m having fun because I chose to do something I actually wanted to do and had a knack for. We’ll cover that in-depth in the strategy section, but working hard and for a long period of time is not hard when you actually like what you’re doing.
I didn’t get into writing and marketing for the money. I started doing them for free, for years, because I didn’t even know you could make money from them. Then I started to learn more about online writing and decided I wanted to pursue it in a real way. I’m thankful I didn’t see the dollar signs right away because I would’ve quit.
My definition of a life of wealth, abundance, and happiness is the ability to do things you enjoy as much as possible. No, this doesn’t mean find your rainbow-colored unicorn-like ultimate passion and never work another day in your life. Just find something you like to do and have a natural talent for and work on it for a really long time. That’s pretty much the entire recipe.
Patience is one of the hardest traits to master because it’s the most worthwhile. It’s all about changing your perception of time. I once read a book called the Millionaire Fastlane, which is actually a pragmatic and useful book despite the name. How long was the fast lane of riches? About 5–10 years. When you think about it, that is pretty fast.
It’s fast when you compare it to 4 or 5 decades of slowly letting your career and surroundings suck your energy and meaning away. It’s fast when you compare 5–10 years of diligent work to half a century of Chinese-water-torture-like groundhog days of work, eat, T.V., sleep. Juxtaposing those two scenarios often is a great way to keep you focused.
I’ll end this section with one of my favorite quotes about this topic:
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
The World is Constantly Trying to Throw You Off Balance
Picture your spouse cheating on you, right now. Imagine your doctor just told you that you have Leukemia. Mentally transport yourself to the H.R. office at your company, being told the company is “restructuring” and that while they value your contribution “they have decided to move in a different direction.”
Or, moving lower in degrees of shittiness. Imagine your kid waking up two hours earlier than usual — interrupting your creative time to work on your business that you purposely wake up at 5 a.m. for so as to avoid dealing with your kids. Picture just being ready to launch your book with the money you saved, but the transmission in your car goes out and you have to spend your savings to get a new car. Think of a scenario where you find your dream job, get three interviews, and still don’t get hired.
The world will try to throw you off balance. And it will succeed if you let it.
I remember a moment a while back that almost crushed me. My writing career was growing and I was making a little bit of a side income, but we were in major debt — wedding and some uninsured hospital bills threw a monkey wrench in my plans.
So, even though I was making an extra $1–2k a month on top of my job, my debts and expenses were sucking it all up and I was living paycheck to paycheck. I always found a way to pay for everything, but I never let on about my financial frustration or talked much about it with my wife.
One week, the bills and expenses just hit my bank account like Nagasaki. My wife has promised my daughter we’d buy her some fish because someone gave her a free fish tank. Of course, when we go out shopping, we end up getting food.
I had $35 in cash and another $25 on a near maxed out credit card. We go into the pet store — my wife is browsing around for “accessories.”
“Please get the cheap tank filter. Please!” I thought. But I didn’t say anything. We looked at fish. The tank was small so we could only fit 3 fish in it. I’m doing mental math, trying to subtly convince my wife and daughter of the positive qualities of lower-priced fish. “Wow look at that one’s tail. It has stripes!”
End of story. We get the fish and fish accessories, go to Chik Fila for lunch and go home. I have roughly $3 left. I don’t get paid for another three days. Another bill hits, my bank account is now negative.
I wanted to cry. But I didn’t. I was emotional for a little bit, swallowed that negative energy and converted it to more work. I was getting traction already. I knew it was a matter of time before I reached a tipping point.
Six months later, I had my first five-figure month from my side business.
The world will try to throw you off balance. Don’t let it.