Which Fires Are You Putting Out And Which Are You Keeping Going Or: The Real Job You Need To Undertake To Be Successful
Everyone has their own shit going on. At home, at work, in their own minds. It is worth remembering this throughout the day. As you also have your own shit going on too.
Before you launch into a tirade, before you react to someone else, you always have the option. The option of adding fuel to the fire to the option of extinguishing it. It depends what the fire is for.
If the fire is anger, conflict, hurt, then adding fuel to this is not going to be very constructive. Do you think that when two people are feeling this way that they are going to be in the right mind-set to resolve anything? Are they likely to feel better during or even afterwards? Probably not.
What if the fire is a fire of change, of possibility, of creativity? Then better to be the person adding to this fire, to make it burn as intensely, brightly and as long as it can before it goes out. Ideally, this type of fire should never go out - and you should take responsibility for being the fire watcher.
Anyone can be a leader. It does not matter what your role on an arbitrary hierarchy is. The only decision you have to make is which type of fires are you going to keep going and which ones are you going to help extinguish? There is not much more to be done.
When people are busy, they liken this to going around putting out fires. Small blazes set alight by others who are seeking to harm you in some way. If left unattended, their fires may grow larger, they may join together in a massive blaze of negativity. On the other hand, they may just go out themselves. Others might not keep them going and they run out of fuel.
But if you go around putting out other people's negative fires, you are unlikely to have the time to start, tend to and grow your own fires into a massive blaze of creativity and positivity.
Which is easier? Which will be more successful?
No one will care if there are a few small pockets of negativity against a blaze of positivity. All your job boils down to is to manage the relative difference in size between the two.
I was listening to best life ever podcast on the drive to my day job the other day about reversing your usual thinking towards focussing on who you want to BE rather than what you want to HAVE.
It was inspiring to hear them riff together as they are so natural it is obvious that they are truly passionate about the subject and doing what they are supposed to be doing in the world - I hope that everyone can find their thing.
Anyway, it made me think of Think and Grow Rich. When I read it, I thought that the first few pages were a bit woo-woo, but that the rest of the book was one of the most practical books I have read. If you don't have money, work for someone else; work to learn, not to earn etc. Only much later after reading it, and relatively recently, I found out that the book is heralded by the manifestation community, the Secret, the "put a thought out into the world and sit and wait" brigade.
How could the same book be taken in two different ways? I got from the book that I need self-confidence and hard work, whilst others got the "think". Just think and you will be rich.
Maybe I picked up what I needed? Maybe others didn't actually read it and just read the title? I guess it doesn't matter. Anyway, the Best Life Ever episode reminded me of Think and Grow Rich as I have the affirmation from that book in my morning routine. It says, "I shall keep trying until I have developed sufficient self-confidence for its [definite chief aim in life] attainment." In fact, self-confidence is scattered throughout the book.
So, linking the two, book and podcast, I got a moment of an epiphany. To get the self-confidence to reach my goals, I just need to BE someone who has self-confidence in reaching their goals. What would that look like?
Have you ever bought anything off an unconfident salesperson? It feels awkward and creepy or just downright terrible experience. BE the opposite of that. Be passionate, be outgoing, go to conferences. Shout about your product and be proud of it.
You are the average of the five people you most closely associate. This is timeless wisdom that has come up again and again. But what if you are stuck? Stuck in a small town. Stuck in a job. Stuck with your family.
What if there are no inspirational people around? What if the five people that you spend the most time with are complete fuck-tards that you will never learn anything from?
You still have choices.
Stuck in a small town? Move.
Stuck in a job? Leave.
Stuck with your family? Don't visit them; ignore them; practice being tolerant.
If none of these is palatable, remember that we have lots of books accumulated over the course of history and... guess what, it is 2018 and we have the internet. You can surround yourself with virtual mentors who will teach you to think differently than your contemporaries.
Thinking differently can be dangerous. The people you currently have around you might not like that you are trying to better yourself. Well, if it was easy, everyone would do it. Did you think rising to the top would be easy? Just because you want it, doesn't mean they are going to give it to you.
Forget about your current five people and focus on your new five virtual mentors. Work on yourself, your compassion, forgiveness, tolerance. They didn't come into this town, into this job today, or into your life trying to be fuck-tards. How can you help them to help you get to where you want to be?
Some people are hard to change, and you will at some point likely need to break free from them. But at least try. If someone is hurting you to the point that it is stopping you improving yourself then whether temporary or permanently, you need to take a break from them.
This could just be in one area of your life too. Have negative parents? Well they probably mean well so rather than cutting them out of your life, just don't talk to them about that risky venture they will probably disapprove of. What's their issue and what's yours?
What a difference a smile makes. I have just tried the guided meditations that come with Tara Brach's Radical Acceptance and one of them makes you visualise a smile. It is pretty difficult to not start smiling from even just imagining a smile in your mind - even before you are supposed to put a smile on your lips. The joy that it gives to see my four-month-old boy smile is amazing - the first time he smiled was heart melting.
I have also been reading Win Bigly, about persuasion and how reality can be split as everyone interprets it differently. Someone going around with a frown all day is likely to perceive those around them as unkind and unfriendly. Those that go around with a smile on their face all day are likely to perceive the world as a happy, helpful place. Because reality is not fixed. It is in our own minds and our actions rub off on other people.
This also reminds me of Gaby Reece who says, "go first". When you go into a lift, don't expect others to speak to you - go first. At a party or a conference, don't expect others to approach you - go first. Want others to be kind to you? Go first.
This resonates a lot with me as I have tried to be less introverted over the years. Smiling is also going first. It is amazing how contagious it is, and it also starts to build the realisation that we can make our reality anything that we want it to be. It is in our thoughts that we have complete control. We must realise that the world around us, and even our own bodies (as the Stoics would say as we can be struck down by illness), is out of our control. But there is no reality, only our perception of it. We definitely have control over our own thoughts and choices and so we are more powerful than we imagine. We have the ability to shape our own reality through our perception of it.
Now that everything is completely global, jobs are going to the cheapest countries. IT was outsourced to India and now Ukraine and Romania. As a human population, we have the risk of massive upheaval across the globe.
Yet, when you think about a country in the context of the universe, it is an insignificant speck of dust floating on a pond of water on a rock. Really, we need to the think of the whole planet - all countries together.
I wondered if we asked all the world leaders what they would focus on first if they were the leader of the world? And then the follow-up question - what is stopping us doing that right now?
You can ask yourself the same question.
And bringing it closer to home. If you were playing yourself in a movie about your life, how would you want the main character to be like and what would they do?
Again, the follow up - what is stopping you doing that right now? What would that character in the movie do?
Why do humans argue?
Because we have it too good? Because there are so many options and interpretations? Because we think people should see the world the way that we see the world? Because we are rational and they are not? Because our way is right and their way is wrong?
I gave up quite a lot in January. Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fast carbs, meat, fish, gluten and all grains (I tried to Aldo go vegan but cracked on cheese!).
I didn't shout about it, but it came up in conversation and the person I was talking to asked, "is there any evidence that giving up all these things is actually healthy?"
The real question is, will this make a difference if I answer you?
For any similar questions: What evidence do you have that this thing is the right thing? What actual proof do you have that giving up x is good for you?
Well, rather than arguing. Ask, "what could I say that would persuade you?"
Again, this question assumes we are rational.
A better question, "if there were irrefutable evidence, would you try it today, right now? Would you give up that steak that is sitting in front of you, what about that toasted bacon bagel?"
What evidence would you need to be convinced?
If it is that an expert has some data then you can probably find it if you needed to and looked. But what is an expert?
More likely, the threshold for most people is that it is accepted into popular opinion, although they would not like to admit it.
Getting something into popular opinion is very slow. Changing the masses behaviour is very slow.
Not that we should throw out science, but to understand that to consider science separately from politics and persuasion could be considered by some as quite naive.
You are taught in school that science is reason. However, when you grow up you realise that humans have biases. Biases in results, in statistics, in storytelling, in politics, in what gets funded and in who listens to whom.
A better marker, like Nassim Taleb says, is where should the burden of proof be? Why wait to see if fucking with food until it is not food anymore hurts humans over three generations? This study will never get funded, and even if it finds results will need political influence to get past the trillions of dollars in interests counter to these results.
If it is not natural, it is probably bad. A much simpler way to navigate life.
I use the 5-minute journal daily, morning and night. In the nighttime entry, it makes you ask yourself, "how could I have made today even better?" I seem to interpret this as "what did I regret doing or not doing today?" In these micro regrets, as all other regrets, I find that it is always something I did not do rather than something I did do
Rather than waiting until the end of your life to find out what you wished you had done, you can do this in advance or at least react quicker than waiting until your deathbed.
If you think about what you would have done differently each day, using the 5-minute journal or otherwise, after a year you have 365 micro regrets. If you analyse them I bet there is a pattern. Use this to not have the same regrets the next year.
Of course, you can do this even faster. Review the last month. The last week. Make sure you put something into action today from yesterday's micro regret.
Why wait until the end of your life, when you cannot change anything? Use micro regrets to ensure you don't have any later. Live in the present.
We have a access to more information than any other human before us. Why is not everyone on the same page of working productively, of running that meeting properly, of avoiding interruptions? It has been covered in texts time and time again.
As Derek Sivers says, "if more information was the answer, then we would all be billionaires with perfect abs." Is the fact that we have more information mean that there is a proliferation of choice so it is hard to find the best advice to improve yourself? To make you better at whatever you choose to do?
Or is it actually that the majority of people do not choose to even try to make themselves better? To try to be more noble, more virtuous, more productive?
If you are even trying, then you are at least in the top 20%. If you are trying consistently, then you are in the top 20% of that.
Deadlines and rushing around. Why is it that we feel that adrenaline rush with the feeling of being busy? Where we can do all the things we have been meaning to do for weeks in the space of a few hours. Why is it that we let ourselves get distracted?
For me, I need constant reminders. Not of tasks to be done but of what is important.
In my morning affirmations I wrote, "...and I will put all of this ahead of work at my day job, or any other salaried job." When I wrote it, I realised that working for someone else, no matter how much money or how flexible they are, would not ultimately meet my goals.
It is very easy to get sucked in without this constant reminder. Sucked into the steady income. Sucked into the thrill of negotiating a raise. Sucked into the adrenaline feeling of all the tasks that need to be done in your current role. Sucked into the feeling of accomplishment when one is ticked off the list.
Until you realise that the steady income is never as risk-free as you think. Until you have lost half the raise through tax. Until you realise that none of this has moved you much further towards your ultimate goals and dreams and that you have been doing all this as an excuse.
An excuse away from starting that side project. An excuse away from making something. An excuse away from putting yourself out there.
You are very unlikely to get fired for being late. Work on your side hustle before starting your day-job.
No one really cares if you leave early and if they do are very unlikely to say something. Even if they do say something, they are very unlikely to fire you if you are producing results.
Focus on the 20% of tasks that produce 80% of the results and do these first. You will be producing more output than 80% of anyone else in the shorter time you are in the office.
No excuses. Even if you do get fired, at least you tried to make both work. And now you have been given the gift of focus.
No excuses. How many people do you know who got fired for their side hustle? None.
Whether someone is overly loud or overly quiet, the cause is usually the same.
Lack of self-confidence.
It is just that the loud person appears more confident than the quiet one.
Whichever one you are, the key to success is always to keep working on yourself. And keep trying until you have developed sufficient self-confidence to succeed.