The Startup
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Mankind’s Deepest Fear Might Reveal How To Be Extremely Efficient

If you’re like most, you probably waste a lot of time. Not every day of course, because you’re somewhat competent. But then again, at other days, you just can’t seem to stop yourself from procrastinating.

And when you do procrastinate, you feel a bit anxious. You might even make yourself feel worse because you’re not doing the things you know that you should. And it all slows you down; you’re not being very efficient this way.

I know how this feels. But it doesn’t have to be like this, for any of us. No.

We can discover the fastest, most efficient way of doing anything: having the support of other people.

Not that long ago, I read the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. And there was this one passage that really struck a chord in me. It was subtle, but enough to make me realize that things are so much easier with the help of other people.

It goes like this: the Boy and the Englishman goes looking for the alchemist. They’ve just arrived to a new place, but still decides to look for him on their own. At the end of the day, the Englishman exclaims, “We’ve wasted almost the entire day”. The Boy simply replies, “Maybe we’d better ask someone”. Soon after, they end up getting the information they need to find him.

Had they only asked someone at the beginning of the day, they wouldn’t have wasted so much of it. It would have been more efficient.

Borrowed Familiarity

The things you’re familiar with are the things you can do most efficiently. Because when you’re familiar with something, you simply know what to do.

If you know how to cook dinner, you can make yourself dinner when you’re hungry. But if you don’t know, you start to feel anxious because you’re uncertain of your own abilities to do it (and you’re uncertain that you’ll be able to eat anything at all :-)).

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”, said H.P. Lovecraft in his essay ‘Supernatural Horror in Literature’. And it’s true; psychologists have argued that the fear of the unknown is the fundamental fear of all.

And that’s why it’s so useful to increase your familiarity with things. Because once you know something, you’re not afraid of it. And when you’re not afraid of it, you don’t procrastinate; you do it.

Support, as it is, hijacks this familiarity principle; it’s kind of like an antidote to the fear of the unknown. Because in its most basic form, support is borrowed familiarity.

Albert Bandura, the great psychologist, said that, “Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do.”

What this implies — because we’re highly social creatures — is that, we’re able to face the unknown on the basis of someone else having faced it before us.

When you look to another’s success, you can see that it’s possible to venture there without getting hurt. Then, a bit more assured, you’re more confident in your own ability to do it.

The magic of support

Before the Internet, people had to look within their limited community for role models. Now, with the technology flourishing, there’s so much more opportunities and you can pick and choose who you would like to observe.

Do You want to be the next Opera? Well, then, observe Opera. Follow her on social media and read about what she’s done to get to where she is. If you learn her tactics, you too can start to implement them. You can learn from her; she’s already conquered the unknown.

I know you might be thinking that, this isn’t really support. And you’re right. But, observing someone is the first step in identifying whom to actually get support from (and in itself, observation is a valuable tool).

The next step, however, is the most efficient and powerful trick in the book: to get close-quarter support from someone. This can be a mentor, a teacher, or the support of a like-minded friend.

Now, when you work together with someone, you still have the benefit of observing them — but even closer. And additionally, you have their feedback, new perspectives, different ideas, and inspiration. And last but not least, you have accountability of your actions.

If you had a world-class chef at your disposal, you would quickly learn how to make some dinner (and that dinner would be exceptional too :-)).

This is the true highroad to success.


It’s normal to waste time. But you don’t have to. You can be efficient.

You can observe the best, and borrow their familiarity with the unknown. Then, as you start to feel more confident, you can conquer it yourself.

And if you want to be even more efficient, you learn from the mistakes of the Boy and the Englishman, and you go ask for help immediately.

Be the hero who walks into the dungeon. And remember, even the hero needs the support of the great wizard.

Step up to the fear of the unknown. Be efficient. Be successful in everything you desire.

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