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Meaning of bias for action

In this post, we’ll have a discussion on the meaning of bias for action, and how to develop it.

We tend to think of robots as emotionless machines that will do whatever they are programmed to do regardless of the consequences, and often we compare them to those humans who seem to display similar type of behavior. Of the kind that follows rules first and thinks second, but the truth is that if that’s the criteria we use to judge the level of “robotness” of a person, then we’re all robots in our own way. What I mean to say is that to some degree we all once in a while give the wheel to the evolution written programs within our brains and cells. We can certainly try to suppress that kind of behavior with the goal of looking more rational, but the truth is that as much as we might be against some of evolution’s decisions, not all of them are bad. In fact, if we leverage what mother nature gave us over the millions of years we’ve been around, we can advance on our lives and careers. It’s the equivalent of using the factory engine as opposed to building a new one and trying to make it fit, and work well with the car. One example of these gifts is what is known as the bias for action.

What is bias for action?

To put it simply, bias for action is the tendency for one to convert the mental, such as ideas and plans into action. We spend most of our time with ourselves, and most of that time is spent thinking, planning, and dreaming about distant and not yet realized futures. When science tells us that 20% of our body’s energy is directed to our brains, it soon makes sense why that would be so.

Just like with any kind of preference you can think of, some people are more inclined towards taking action, while some others more about keeping their thoughts as just thoughts, like a factory that does nothing but stockpiling raw materials with no intent of turning it into something useful. Below you’ll find a few examples when this bias is at play, when it’s good, and when it’s bad.

Bias for action examples

Examples of the bias for action are everywhere, from the driven businessman/woman movies and books make us aspire to be, who as children were known for their tendency to get their hands dirty, to the workaholics of today we all use as an excuse not to work hard who completely destroy their lives because of their almost obsessive need to get things done. On the first, we see an example to follow, while on the second, just like a “don’t drink and drive” ad, a warning about what happens when you let your drive and action take the wheel for too long. Whether there really is such a thing as workaholism or not is a matter for another day, but the point I’m trying to make is that although not necessarily a tool, this tendency should be harnessed as such. Like medicine, taking it only in medicinal doses to attain the desired effect, and to stop just shy of too much.

When is it good?

Being biased towards action is good when it’s the right time. Meaning that letting ideas and plans sit on the mind for long enough for them to become bulletproof is good, but it’s when you take it too far that trains of opportunity are lost, like when you eventually hear that the idea you’ve been working on for years has made someone else millions, or when you find out that the person you’ve been thinking about calling out for a date from the past few months is now engaged. As much as we might like to think we live in a civilized world, the world we live in still holds some of the traits of the long distant past, in which a mere extra and unnecessary blink of an eye could literally mean that you’d lose your meal for some other faster and opportunist primate.

The Minimum Viable Product

In business it’s commonly known that one can’t hold on to a product idea/prototype for too long since chances are that either the product will lose its usability for the public, maybe because a better technology came along, or someone somewhere who thinks just like you will think about, and act on it quicker than you.

One somewhat example of this I was made aware of what that from the book Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang, where the author claimed to have thought about the idea of Rollerbladers before they were introduced to the market but who, due to negative feedback from relatives decided to give up on the idea. This is one of the many examples of idea postponing ending up in deep regrets for the original inventors.

To solve this problem of trying over perfect your idea the author of the book The Lean Startup proposes the idea of the minimum viable product, in which instead of waiting for people to give you positive feedback on the idea, or for the product to be so perfect the public only gives you positive reviews, you build a version of your product with the least number of features that do the job, and to release it to some segment of your target customer base. This one way to artificially create the bias for action in ourselves especially if we are of the perfectionist kind. By artificially I mean using some logic/principle to instigate you to some kind of action to which you’re not naturally inclined to take.

The 3-second rule

Another situation common to all of as is that of taking too long to take action in all or nothing kind of cases. Like for example when deciding to ask a person you’re interested in a date, or when it’s imperative that you approach the one person who has the money/connections to make your dream come true.

For this problem, there is one solution I learned from the book The Game by Neil Strauss, in which you give yourself no more than 3 seconds to take action, with the goal of doing what you have to do before you’re flooded by the array of emotions and hormones that will eventually make you paralyzed enough and over thoughtful enough to chose to do nothing. This is what I would call positive recklessness, where you chose to do something you know might end up great quickly to prevent you from giving in to the increasing negative thoughts that come when we get out of our comfort zone.

The Pomodoro Technique

Another way to look at the lack of the bias for action is procrastination. At the end of the day, procrastination is, in essence, some sort of bias towards inaction, in which regardless of how pressing the matter one can’t help itself but to start working only when the deadline is a few inches away. It’s thought in science that for some reason chronic procrastinators need that adrenaline rush that comes from being about to lose something important to be compelled to act. One way around it is the famous Pomodoro technique, in which instead of working for hours on end, you chose to work on intervals of 25-30 min followed by 5-10 min breaks. It’s believed that this works because it’s a way to trick the brain each time into believing that we won’t be spending lots of time on the task at hand, and that right after that will be fun time 🙂

Decision making

We spend most of our time making decisions, and the impact of each can be so much to change our whole lives. This is the reason why when presented with a decision to make, many freeze and find themselves secluded to inaction. The person wants to make a decision, but the data is not enough to give it 100% of certainty that it is the right one, so they do nothing. There is one now somewhat popular strategy to urge people to an action that although it doesn’t appease the emotions of the person worrying, at least allows them to make the decision and it goes as follows:

When you have 40% of the evidence supporting one out of many possibilities just make the decision. The thing about the world we live in is that often it will be difficult if not impossible to be 100% certain of anything, and sometimes all we can have is small percentage points of certainty between disparate points/positions.

When is it bad?

At the extreme always lies some form of recklessness. We’re in a time in which plunging into our dreams is thought of as brave and something for the ones who do so to be proud of. Like anything in life, when you find yourself siding with the extreme, chances are that you’re wrong.

The person of today is all for the sensational and goes for it without a thought. When you think about it being biased towards action can be as detrimental as it can be good below are a few negative examples:

Leaving your day job

The first example I can think of is that of the newborn entrepreneur who reads a book or watches a speech and in a feat of inspiration chooses to leave its job to start a business forgetting that on average most businesses fail and that from the ones that do succeed, few do so overnight.

They forget that stories of success depict astronomical and quick sounding victories because the time to tell them is short. The book can only have so many pages, and the motivational speech can only have so many minutes. Leaving your job prematurely might make you look and sound like an action person, but that doesn’t make the action right/effective.

Making life-changing commitments

On the other side of decision paralysis is the need to prove how uncommon one is by making spur of the moment life-changing decisions. Leaving your job for a not yet proven and customerless business is certainly one example, but what I’m talking about here is more towards the subject of relationships. Be that romantic, like when you decide to marry a person without thinking it through because you think you found the love of your life forgetting that 1/2 marriages turn into a divorce.

There is also the classic scene on the movie in which strangers, in a binge-drinking night decide to become business partners, forgetting that a business relationship is more than just about two people agreeing on how awesome an idea is, but also about the blend of personalities, weaknesses and strengths that just like with parenting, will/will not provide the adequate environment for the birth and healthy growth of the idea into a profitable business.

The last in line and by no means the last in the long list of examples is that of investing your money on an idea without doing the adequate background work on the idea itself, the qualifications, skills, and personality of the person you’re investing in, just because you’re sure you “feel it”. The crazy thing about investing money is that even those who claim to do it 100% objectively lose money sometimes, which makes it even crazier to base your investment decisions on gut feelings.

Summary

Just like most things in life, this is one of these things that is often looked one way. We emphasize the ability to turn thought into action as this amazing trait to have that we forget that there is also the other and bad side of the coin, such that if not looked at carefully can be the source of much misery. This post is nothing more than a tour on both sides of the street. An appreciation of the pros, while not downplaying and making careful consideration of the cons. Again, at the end of the day, the bias to action can work for good and bad, and it’s only by monitoring the bad that we can fully enjoy the fruits of the good.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

Leave a comment below

Sources:

  1. https://books.google.com/books?id=ebY2NScPDWAC&pg=PA131&lpg=PA131&dq=bias+for+action+millionaires&source=bl&ots=gt8lcVL8pH&sig=bPYuY9gSeXXp-09dZLmtjzUs9uw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiq_5DLobvJAhVEXD4KHZTqAl8Q6AEIJTAB#v=onepage&q=bias%20for%20action%20millionaires&f=false

2. The Game by Neil Strauss

3. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

When to feel confident and when not to

In this post, you’ll get a few ideas on when to feel confident and when not to.

We live in a time in which the inner workings of any one’s mind has come from irrelevant to almost as if not even more important than one’s health. There is definitely some seed of truth on this concern about one’s mindset since just like with gossip that is unable to survive when only based on lies. Some truth is vital. So kids are raised with more and more attention being paid to the self-esteem, and self-confidence of the ones being raised by the now worried and concerned parents of the latest new future.

Among the biggest concerns of the parents of today, the problem of confidence in their kids is one of the biggest. So much so that more and more parents go overboard to the point of never criticizing their children. Which instead of correcting the problem, it overcorrects. Overcorrections like overdoes of medicine might solve our initial problem, but often bring with them side effects.

The overcorrection here is that instead of new adults not sure of themselves, what we now have are new adults who are overconfident about themselves with no reason whatsoever to back it up. When on the first the problem we have leaders not energetic enough to bring to life new and great ideas resulting in a universe of back to back innovations, on the second the problem we face is that of recklessness which might be driven enough to build, but that can be just as energetically reckless to destroy. If on the near past the silver bullet was to build up a person by beefing them up with positive and confidence promoting compliments, now a more careful approach might be what’s needed. Now the question is: when is it ok to be/feel confident?

When to feel confident

The time we live in is that of new rules. Behave confidently at the wrong time and you risk being called arrogant. Be caught being humble at the wrong time, and people start to put to question your intelligence and skills. Do the above at the right time and don’t be surprised if you build a following over time. The answer to this question is difficult for the simple fact that it’s based on context. Meaning, the context of the moment of confidence demonstration. Below are a few tips that might shed some light on when exactly to demonstrate that sense of confidence we’re all familiar with and want for ourselves, as well as when to put your head down.

When you have attained mastery in a field

The thing about feelings or demonstration confidence is that it’s often difficult to really know when you earned them. Just because a person close to us tells/told us we deserve it doesn’t mean we do; in fact, chances are that they will try to make us feel as if we do especially when we have all the reasons not to feel like we do.

The reason why objective subjects such as science and computer programming can be addictive once you get the hang of it is that there is no subjectivity in results when they do come. You either did write a computer program that works or didn’t. This is one of the many points made clear on the book Coders by Clive Thompson, that I definitely recommend if you’re curious about the mysterious art computer programming.

If certainty is a requirement to be confident, mastery in a subject can be one of the closest things to this sense of certainty you need. When you master a subject there is no ambiguity on whether you should feel confident about the subject. This mastery gives it to you, and even when you still doubt your skills and abilities, the world will give you the permission to feel good about yourself because they can feel the impact of your mastery on their lives.

This is why if you want true confidence on anything the way to go about it is by as taught in the book Relentless by Tim Grover, learning all there is to learn about the subject, and: “knowing without a doubt that all the hours of work have created an unstoppable internal resource that you can draw on in any situation”, and to master every single bit of it regardless of how small. Actually, the book The obstacle by Ryan Holiday talks about how this was one of Steve Job’s principles by the fact that he demanded perfection even in the interior of the product, even though this would rarely be looked at by the customer.

The master is not subject to popular opinion because the evidence is so powerful that the only way to doubt it is to doubt your senses, and for that, you’d also have to doubt your sanity.

When you master a subject you don’t even have to try to make yourself feel confident. There is no need for any morning ritual designed for positive thinking brain surgery. You don’t have to because the world will do that for you.

 After a while, your source of confidence begins to come not from the words you tell yourself to make you feel good, but from the outside world, from people who have no need to make you feel good. They do it because they feel like they need to. They feel as if they are the possessors of some truth(the truth of how good you are), and they have to make this truth available to someone, even if that someone is you, the person they feel awed about.

When your work gets positive reviews

The stranger has no business in making you feel good about yourself. Your parents, friends and family members do, so much so that they’d rather see you looking ridiculous and make you think you don’t than to put you through the pain of letting you know that are not as perfect as you think.

The stranger, especially when protected by the anonymity of an unspellable username, on the other hand, is freed from the constraints imposed on us by social norms/rules. They are free to say what they want and really feel because even if you get angry, the most you can do is spill out some insults back to them. Even here they have the choice of not seeing your response since all they have to do is to not go back to that page where they released all the evil they’ve been carrying and accumulating for which they were not allowed to release in the real world.

So, it follows that when the stranger gives you a compliment it means double. It might be the case that the stranger is one of these good-hearted people who can’t help themselves but uplift anyone who crosses their path, but chances are that they are not that kind of people because if most people were like that the world would certainly be a better place. When positive their opinion carries more weight because there are no social consequences for rudeness when we are anonymous, in the same way, that the negative feedback of a loved one carries more weight because there is only something to lose for making you feel bad about your work.

When the opposite can hinder your results

One time to feel confident even with nothing backing it is when confidence is the one thing that will bring upon you resilience and strength to get over an obstacle. The problem is that people use this form of artificially generated confidence like vitamins instead of painkillers. Vitamins you take every day, while painkillers you take occasionally and only when really necessary.

An occasion to use confidence as a tool is when it matters. When not using it will be detrimental for your results. What I mean is for the extreme life moments in which you need to believe you’re a God to have access to that extra energy that comes from confidence to keep going. Like when you’re running a marathon, and all your body is telling you is how much you’re not fit for what you’re doing, and that you will fail no matter how hard you try. That everybody else is better than you, and that loss is inevitable. Here being realistic is the last of the useful things you can do. It can be in fact counter-productive, to the point that it becomes a source of empiric evidence for why you should quit.

Just like honesty, with this, there are moments in which a lie is the best thing anyone can/has to do because the opposite will result in destruction as opposed to construction. Be overconfident when you’re selling yourself or your business idea to someone and when any drop of doubt will be enough to prevent you from accomplishing your dream. I’m not talking about telling a lie regardless of whether that lie will cause pain to someone, what I’m talking about is telling a lie to yourself because it will make your life and the world better in the future. When the extra bit of confidence is what will allow you to secure that so needed investment for your business, or when it is the one thing that will allow you to get the person of your dreams. It can be tempting to use the confidence tool indiscriminately and mask it as necessary, but the power of it is enhanced when you apply it correctly and at the right time.

When not to?

To put it simply, when you want to feel good about yourself for the sake of feeling good. Sadly, this is the reason why many people use self-inflicted confidence. They use it as a strategy to not feel bad when they fail. They use it as a strategy to feeling good being the way they are, even when the way they are is far from a source of proudness. They use it so they can feel proud of things any average human being can accomplish/do. They use it as a way to lower their standards, and at the same time shut down the cognitive dissonance that occurs when reality tries to tell them how much they need to change.

Summary

At the end of the day true and deserving confidence has to be earned not wished. The act of earning your confidence should be taken as depth and resilience-building experience. Here the depth and the resilience would be with respect to your so claimed sense of confidence, and the resilience would be for the moments in which the nature/source of your confidence comes into question in the minds and hearts of others. When your confidence is based on something concrete, there are no words that can tear it down. Even in moments of low self-esteem/self-worth, there is no need for a motivational speaker or a motivational tape. What brings us back are the memories of our past conquests, and obstacles overcome.

The quickest way to get to that earned sense of confidence is by continuously working on oneself. To continue even if when there is only a 1% improvement a day since even those 1%s with their little impact of theirs eventually string together with other small 1%s compounding their effect overtime for long enough to make a true impact as a whole.

Sources:

1)Coders by Clive Thompson

2)Relentless by Tim Grover

3)The Obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

Leave  a comment below

Why mindset is not overrated

In this post, we’ll have a discussion on why mindset is not overrated.

The self-help industry has been around for a while, and during this long run, a set of principles/ideas were so cemented into the global mind that they became a part what self-help is known to be. The ideas I’m talking about are: being positive, believing in yourself and to dream big. These three ideas can, in turn, be boiled down to one, which is that self-help is an act of managing one’s mindset for the purposes of having a better life. By better, I mean anything you consider at the moment to be better. It’s subjective and heavily dependent on who you are and what drives you, but achieving it, whatever “it” is, boils down to mindset. If you pay attention to any self-help book/course out there, chances are high that it can be boiled down into this simple idea/principle. They are all in one way or another about changing the way you think about what’s it’s possible in order to help you accomplish/achieve more in life.

Why Mindset is not overrated

The problem with the self-help industry is the same problem that any kind of group faces. The problem that for outsiders, the group is viewed as nothing more than the average of its members. If on average the members of a group behave in a certain way, the outsider perceives the group as being the way of the average. The problem with averages is that they are easily swayed by outliers. We think they are representative of the truth most of the time, but if some of the time the results are extreme, what we see is the extreme, even if most of the time, the results are… well…average looking. The self-help industry is a victim of the many who just like the fanatic, blindly believe and make claims about something to the point that they start looking for lack of a better word…well… crazy.

What I’m talking about is the positivity problem. The problem of assuming that one can get anything one wants if only one thinks positively about the desired goal/result, positively enough. And on the advent that one doesn’t get what one wishes, then the impulse is to assume that the few moments of negativity and doubt he/she couldn’t control were the culprit and not the fact that they didn’t work hard enough. When the positive thinker finally comes to the conclusion that its way was the wrong way, the impulse then becomes to take the complete opposite approach. I’m talking about cynicism, which is still the wrong way, and the reason why the positive becomes the cynic is not so much because the positive became enlightened, but because of a flaw in reasoning. Meaning that just because the extreme of an approach did not work, doesn’t mean that a milder implementation of it won’t. The best example of this truth is medicine. Take only the effective dosage. Take more than that and chances are that you’ll give birth to new problems on your attempt to put some to bed.

Give enough time to the same cycle of hopeful romantics turned cynics, and soon enough anyone who becomes a hopeful romantic is seen/perceived as naïve/inexperienced. The mere belief of any remotely uplifting future becomes then a sign of immaturity, not because the ones who believe in that really came to realize how immature it was, but because they failed when they took that kind of path as their path and on the first sign of massive failure due to the over-application of a good thing, they incorrectly assumed that being hopeful, is a recipe for an even more disastrous disastrous world.

Jim Rohn and the idea of new principles or new truths/new fundamentals

I always seek to learn something new from someone new, and one of the first few lessons I learned from the motivational speaker Jim Rohn was that there was/is no such a thing as new truths/fundamentals. In essence, the teaching states that Truths and fundamentals will remain as true and fundamental as they’ve always been now, and in the future, regardless of social norms or governing governments. What is really true today will remain tomorrow. If not, then you’ll at least get a glimpse at how delusional you can be. Sometimes you really think you know, but not really you don’t.

The idea that you have to believe to achieve is one of these truths but not due to the reasons you might think. Again, sometimes you really think you know, but not really you don’t.

A part of being enlightened is to give in to the idea that you have no idea of what you’re talking about. It’s about knowing you’re ignorant even when you think you’re enlightened, and instead of unsuccessfully wishing your way into wisdom, to search your way into wisdom.  To REALLY accept you know nothing, not to look humble, but to REALLY be humble even when no one is looking.

When one first buys into the core ideas of the self-help movement one find itself enlightened. Oddly enough the same happens when one fails and falls into cynicism disguised in realism. They are both extremes, and as Aristotle suggested once: the truth is in the golden mean. Extremes rarely tell us the truth and yet we can’t help but fall for extreme ideologies, especially when disguised as “just rationalist views”… free of any agenda on the surface and still possessors of invisible goals.

Why is mindset not overrated? Because it’s not overrated.

I guess the theme of this post could just as well be “Why is mindset not underrated” and the answer would be just the same: Because it’s not underrated.

The one who so deeply believes in the power of the universe will exacerbate the importance of mindset, while the complete skeptic can’t help it by to downplay its value.

The truth is that if we overrate it we fall for the temptation of removing any action behind our intentions, while if we underrate it we fall for the temptation of removing any intention behind our actions.

The idea that the reason why one can fall prey to the belief or idea that mindset is just what readers of the secret talk about when they want to convince you that the universe is what will give you what you want is incorrect.

The thought process is wrong but the action somehow comes correct, in the same way, that one can be a fake doctor and recommend the right medicine even though the rationality behind the recommendation is incorrect.

Mindset is important because the brain can only work at its full potential when it has a good one. A person who doesn’t believe it can solve a problem or accomplish a goal will not have the resolve to plow through when the moment comes that insights fail to come or results fail to materialize. This is the risk you put yourself under when you remove any belief or motivation from your goal accomplishment attempts. You find yourself divorced of the kind of emotional energy you can only get when you have faith in your vision, and when you do fail, you incorrectly assume that it wasn’t meant to be, or you weren’t good enough. Just as there is such a thing as fanatically believing on the power of belief, there is also such a thing as fanatically disbelieving on it. The disease is the same but it is manifested in different sceneries, like how different bodies can respond differently to the same disease. For the extremist, the disease is the extremism of its beliefs, and the body is the belief. The result is the same: death caused by an over-application of a good thing.  

Mindset is vital

Another way to look at this question is through the perspective of one who has read the book The one thing by Gary Keller. This point of view is one in which the thinker chooses to think about only those things that matter enough such that when taken care of will reduce the amount of work to accomplish what one has in mind. In other words, think about what’s vital and ignore the rest.

Thinking along these lines, it becomes easy to see why subjects like health and mindset are important. They are vital to the accomplishment of anything in life. Without health, there is no room in anyone’s head to think about making money or success. Without the right mindset, there is no drive to accomplish anything; since it can be hard for anyone to do hard things if one doesn’t believe on its own ability to overcome obstacles or solve problems.

Just because something is preached by almost everyone you get in contact with doesn’t make the advice less valuable, in the same way, that just because everybody talks about how important it is to eat healthy and exercise doesn’t mean that healthy eating and exercising are not powerful pieces of advice. The same goes for mindset. You’ll find a tone of people out there preaching about it, some who know what they are talking about, and some who just heard it from someone else and are on the quest to looking smart/knowledgeable by re-cooking advice they’ve heard somewhere else from someone else.

Summary

The point in this post is to make you aware that mindset is not so much about what you are, but a tool to get you what you want. It’s by no means the silver bullet some people make us think it is, and neither is it a delusion of any kind, like some people, make us think it is. A mindset is just a tool. To say it is or it isn’t overrated is to make a similar judgment but about a tool of any kind. Overuse it and soon the tool becomes a weapon. Underuse it and soon you’ll be made aware of how much “money” you have been leaving on the table.

How To Inspire Loyalty

In this post, you’ll find a few ideas on how to inspire loyalty.

We live in a time in which being loyal to someone or some cause can easily be perceived as weak. More and more people think more and more about themselves. Everybody wants to make it, and the way most choose to do it is by taking a selfish approach. The few who don’t are the ones who in the long run are able to attract true crowds to their circle. Not of the kind that you see on the social media that pretend to cheer when you post a video on a recent achievement, or pretends to cry when you post a sad image, but of the kind that allows you to make changes in the real world even on the face of a powerful force/entity. So, it follows that the one who is able to inspire true loyalty is the one who can have more influence even when lacking resources.

How To Inspire Loyalty

The problem most of us have is that of us have is that of treating loyalty like love, or the desire for a great relationship: we expect it to fall from the sky. To find love or to have a great relationship one has to be proactive. One has to go after it; to take action. There are some cases in which through luck alone people manage to get what they want, but to bet on that is a losing strategy since luck has this tendency to show up when you don’t really need it, and to conveniently leave you when your life depends on it.

The same can be thought about loyalty. You have to take a more deliberate approach to get it, or chances are that you’ll spend the rest of your life wishing for it. This post is just a discussion on a few ways you can go about getting it.

Give first and ask for it second

The thing about loyalty just like everything else in life, is that it is all about reciprocity. It’s one of those things we all want/wish from others, but that we’re only willing to give when we get it first. So, we all find ourselves facing that chicken and egg kind of problem in which the correct and winning approach is the counter-intuitive approach of being the first to give. It’s the strategy of taking the risk that the other side of the table will betray our confidence, even taking into consideration our own act of loyalty.

The secret here is to be wise on who to demonstrate your first act of loyalty to. There is no point in trying to inspire loyalty on a known cheater or liar, since even if you do manage to get any genuine feelings of loyalty from that kind of person; you’ll live in uncertainty, which defeats the whole purpose of cultivating loyalty because at its core loyalty is all about security and trust.

So, the point here is to choose the kind of people who you can trust to exert your first act of loyalty. The reason why being the first is a good strategy is that as humans we are wired to pay back not only those who hurt us but also those who help us. This is what the reciprocity bias is all about.

Start by being a little loyal

The movies we watch tell us always a similar story when we hit on the subject of loyalty. They tell us the story that just like in the romantic world, only grand gestures are what matter. If we want to prove to someone how loyal we are to them we have to do so in a grandiose manner. And anything less than spectacular is useless. The thing is that the human mind is more complex than that. It is not enough to make a major display of loyalty and expect that display to cement your relationship into an unbreakable bond. As counter-intuitive as it might sound, it can be far more productive to make smaller displays of loyalty to the ones we are loyal to overtime, giving the relationship the time to grow old and deeper like the taste of a brand of wine let age at its own time and pace.

The alternative to that is just tiring and not sustainable. Doing it once in a while is not enough since regardless of the gesture, humans tend to need constant reassurance that their allies of yesterday remain so, and that they didn’t, for whatever reason convert into covert enemies, now plotting their future destruction. So instead of trying to light up fireworks everyday, you should focus on making sure you get the equivalent to a candle lit. This although not as impressive, is much more reliable, and its impressiveness comes from time.

Keep a clean record

The idea of keeping a good reputation/image has lost its influence over the years. Today we live in a time in which any kind of attention regardless of how negative is welcomed for those who are happy to settle for anything when the target goal becomes infeasible.

The problem with that is that it takes some options off the table, and among those options is the default sense of pre-loyalty strangers feel compelled to give to those who cultivate a clean record. What I mean here is the kind of person who is known to have an honest word that can be trusted always. The cleaner the image the lesser the volume of words is required to inspire trust and loyalty in others. Here your record speaks for you, in the same way, that an athlete’s trophy room tells the visitor of the power of the man/woman who owns them.

With the kind of loyalty built from a clean reputation comes word of mouth. The kind of word of mouth a business would pay to have. With it also comes influence, since as the number of people who know you for your track record grows, also does the number and reach of people who would like to develop a relationship with you. This is why dishonesty doesn’t pay in the long run. It’s not an ethical but a numbers thing. Meaning that the greater the number of people you’re dishonest to the greater the odds that your reputation becomes more publicly known.

Be useful

The last thing to talk about is the idea of being useful. We all want people to like and do good things for us. We want it for free, being the way we are without giving the other side of the table anything in return. It’s that new tendency to force people to like us even when we are awful, and when they don’t paint them as evil. We can do that as much as we want but it won’t make us any more likely to build our circle of loyalty.

The effective approach is to make people have something to gain by being loyal to you. It’s true that once in a while you’ll find the kind of person who for whatever reason will give it to you unconditionally, but again to bet on that is a losing strategy. Being useful might be harder than just wishing people are loyal to you for free, but it definitely is a more sure approach to getting loyalty from people. When you can add to the lives of others instead of just taking from, people tend to value your relationship with them more. Eventually, this value is so high that they become more willing to do anything to keep it, and at the top of the most powerful things people do when they want to keep a relationship they hold dear is to show to the other party that they are loyal to them. You don’t ask for or force it to happen, but it comes as a side effect of your ability to enhance other people’s lives.

You can enhance your usefulness by enhancing your ability to solve problems. The better you are at it the better you are at giving good advice, which is one of these scarce things the world is so desperately in need of. As your network grows you can be even more useful by connecting disparate parts of the network that would never meet. Now you’re the middle man or say the bridge that made it all possible, and the person they have a lot to thank for. Still on the same tone is the idea of favors. The more favors you make the more useful you are. This is especially true if you don’t ask for payback or give any hint that you’ll be needing any soon.

Summary

As discussed here loyalty is one of these things you have to earn. Waiting for it won’t take you anywhere, and the ideas above are just a starting point on your way to more loyal relationships.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Improve Patience

On this post, you’ll find a few tips on how to improve patience.

We live in a world of fast, where the one who gets results the quickest is the one who goes home with the crown. This idea is so ingrained in our global culture that it can just as easily be a business strategy. Where instead of coming up with groundbreaking products/services the entrepreneur settles for a slightly better improvement of the status quo. And often this improvement is in speed. Faster gadgets, faster services, and with all of that it’s no wonder that the word boredom is gaining more and more ground in the collective mind of our beloved planet. We are less and less patient, and the bad thing about this tendency is that some things will remain as they’ve always been. Meaning that unlike technology, which seems to introduce new products/services that work or allow us to do things faster and faster, things like true connection and mastery remain as they’ve always been regardless of the technology of the moment. They always took and will still take time to accomplish. They always did require patience and time, and they will remain so in the future. It is the idea that even these can be hacked for speed the reason why more and more people, as the Investor Tai Lopez once said: “believe they can be great at many things”.

There are very few Swiss knives of skills in history. The reason for this is that even for that who calls him/herself a master, there is still always more to learn since for every discipline there is always some unsolved mystery if you look hard enough. Some new and not yet discovered way of doing things better. And the way to find the way is through the practice of patience.

How To Improve Patience

Expect things to take longer

At the root of any moment of lack of patience is the expectation that things would take any less time to complete. With that assumption, we design our schedules around the event and when it does take longer we get the shakes that only a drug addict can tell us about. When we say we want to be more patient, what we mean is that we want to be calm when the inconveniences of life come our way. We want to avoid that feeling of anger that comes with it, and as a result, also prevent ourselves from losing mental balance. But setting ourselves up to expect things to take as long as their apparent time is like being overweight and expecting a party we’re going to will have only healthy dishes. It certainly is possible that that will be the case, but chances are that it will not. So instead we assume the worst possible scenario and prepare ourselves mentally and physically for it.

When we expect things to take longer than they are supposed to we often notice that they actually take less than that, and instead of the burst of lack of patience we are washed off by that sense of delight we feel when we find out that something we wanted to buy is actually cheaper than the money we saved for.

Remember that we’re not talking about just expecting an event you’re going to will take longer than expected, but to apply the same principle to your goals and dreams. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why people give up on their goals and dreams. They have an expectation about how long and how much it would take to accomplish them, and when it takes/costs longer/more, they give up. The point is that it will always take/cost longer. Remember that there is no such thing as average time. What there is is what you’d consider an extreme, and picking those for which you consider extremes is probably the best estimative you can ever make. If your goal takes on average 2 years to accomplish, expect 4, and you’ll notice that on the advent that it takes 3, you won’t be as easily phased because you knew it all along it would take longer than that. Just like a pessimist who lives life expecting the worse to happen is better mentally prepared for it on the advent that the worse does happen, you can keep going even after it has taken longer than average to accomplish what you want to accomplish because you were expecting it to take longer than average in the first place.

Practice any kind of stillness

At the core of any kind of stillness, practice be that meditation or simply choosing to only speak when one has something important to say is patience. Again the world we live in is faster and faster, and this increased speed is forced upon us. As a consequence, we also need things to be faster and faster. From the time it takes us to solve mundane problems, to life-changing decisions such as the people we take in as our romantic partners. We want it all to happen in an instant. In stillness, we force the mind to slow down, which can be quite uncomfortable for you if you’re all about getting everything now at least, but preferably yesterday.

So, another way to improve patience is to train yourself to be comfortable being still, because the struggle one has when forcing stillness upon its mind, is the same kind of struggle one goes through in moments of impatience when trying to force patience upon itself. Actually, if you think about it, another way to think about the patience problem is to think of it as a stillness problem. Just like in science when we can frame physical phenomena in mathematical or chemical terms, we can frame our attempts in being patience as attempts to keep the mind still. In essence being patient is keeping the mind still/unresponsive to some specific stimuli. So from this it follows that if you can keep your mind still/unresponsive to everything/all stimuli, which is almost what meditation is about, you can for free keep your mind still/unresponsive to some specific thing of your choice. In other words, you can be patient.

Beware of your own chemistry

The human body is a complex system of interconnected systems. One seemingly inconsequential change in a single and seemingly inconsequential variable in one system can cause catastrophic changes/effects on the whole big picture system. We talk a lot about the butterfly effect and often wonder how it might be affecting the universe at large, like how a butterfly swinging its swings here and now might affect the trajectory of some not yet found alien planet on the other edge of the universe in such a way that it will make it extinct and as a consequence never discovered by us; But we forget that this same effect might  and is at play closer to home. In the temples, we call our bodies.

You can easily notice this by paying attention to how chemical substances affect the various parts of the system you call the human body, from the electrical activity between the neurons of your brain to the whole psychological aspect of it like when you eat an amazing dish or have a night of drinking. The point is to find ways to hack your chemistry since it can be and it is a very influential part of your life. You can do this in many many ways, from the food you eat each day, to the large array of supplements known for their positive effects on the human brain in terms of mood, motivation, focus, and memory.

Get used to discomfort

Getting used to the thoughts that arise when you’re uncomfortable is another very important thing you have to learn on your way to improving patience. The reason for this is as we talked about above, one sub-system of the main system you call you can have an enormous impact on everything, and one of the most powerful ones is your thoughts and feelings. As you probably know, the things you think about can be so powerful to change your physiology and chemistry. You think positive and in brain scans what you see is brain activity matching the positive thinking mode. Do that for long enough and saliva tests designed to measure your level of cortisol(a stress hormone) can’t help but to reflect this increased sense of relaxation towards life that being positive represents, and on and on.

The point is that being positive is not just a way of life you adhere when you listen to a motivational speaker telling you about how the way you think about things can affect the “gifts” the universe will choose to give you. Thinking positive is also about managing your body. From the psychological, you affect and influence the chemical and the electrochemical, and from each, you affect the rest even those you never intended to in the first place.

Getting used to discomfort is one of these challenges that in order to be overcome you need to change the way you think. You need to manage your thoughts and attitude at the moment of struggle, and only then you can get past the obstacle. The thing about getting used to discomfort and beating it successfully is that when you succeed at it, chances are that being more patient will be much easier if not even a walk in the park. The reason for this is that the same mental muscles required to overcome discomfort in a given situation are at large a part of the same mental muscles required to deal with impatience, since just like on the stillness example, patience can also be reduced to our ability to deal with the discomfort that arises when the mind doesn’t want to wait and yearns for impulsivity.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Be A Better Problem Solver

In this post, you’ll find a few ideas on how to be a better problem solver.

The ability to solve problems is one of the most sought after skills any employer or start-up founder looks for. At the end of the day getting to tangible results is what has the final say on how much one can achieve in life. We often hear about the idea that what matters most is being able to interact with people and make connections, or even to be able to persuade the indifferent and hostile into friends. While this certainly has its own share of truth, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

One can be able to make connections in lightning speed, but connections are more than just the likability factor which many self-help/persuasion books try to convince us it is. Powerful connections are as much about what the other side of the table has to offer you, as you have to offer to them. It is all about a continuous exchange of value between two sides. Without that, you’re nothing more than a charming taker, and eventually, in life and business we shut down takers regardless of how charming they might be. The ability to solve problems is perhaps the most valuable card you can have on your value delivery arsenal.

How to be a better problem solver

Problem-solving in general is a challenging activity, and often to succeed at it the most effective way to go about it is to take more specific to the problem approaches. There are, however,  some things one can do regardless of the nature of the problem that can greatly increase the odds that once one decides to go about solving the problem, that the efforts will come back fruitful. Below are a few of them.


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Understand the problem first

One thing we often do when trying to solve a brand new problem is to throw ourselves at it without taking the time to completely understand it first. I believe the cause of this is the old and still existing belief that the genius is that to whom solutions to difficult problems come easily, and from this unacknowledged and insidious little belief, combined with the need to look and feel at least smart, comes the almost fear of making/demonstrating effort in trying to understand the problem. It makes us feel dumb and mentally weak to take that time to take the problem in. In a computer, this would be the equivalent to trying to run a game or an application by skipping the loading phase.

So, we find ourselves trying to solve a problem we don’t fully understand, and as a result, we don’t even know what we’re looking for. Now we can’t recognize the solution even when obvious, in the same way, that it’s near to impossible to find something in a lit room, when we don’t even know what that “something” is in the first place.

The crazy thing about this first step in any problem-solving activity is that often it culminates into the solution of the problem in the first place. Meaning that sometimes when you know what you’re looking for looks like, or what is, finding it can be done immediately. This is in part at the essence of the reading and interpretation strategy of reading the questions first and looking for the answers in the text second is based on.

Let it marinate

Another common problem-solving misconception is that for bright people the solutions for all problems appear immediately after they become/became aware of the problem. The truth is that the “Aha!” moment when it came it did so after days, weeks, months, or even years of pondering. In other words, the “geniuses” worked out the problem by letting it sit there in the mind for longer than a little while. Albert Einstein, for example, is known to have said that his genius came not necessarily from brilliance, but from the fact that he was willing to stay with a problem for longer than the average physicist. Something similar was said once by the physicist Michio Kaku when he said that the job of the physicist is mostly done sitting down for hours on end working on one problem. According to him, the better you were at it, the better physicist you were.

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So, after loading the problem into the mind the next step is to let it marinate. It often is the case that the solution comes when you’re not even thinking about it. It’s as if the brain has a separate unit inside itself responsible for working out problems, even when we’re not consciously doing so. The point here is to do it for long enough to trigger the process.

Ask someone

Sometimes we there is no point in reinventing the wheel. Meaning that with the large knowledge base the world has built over the centuries, often it is the case that for any given problem, there is someone somewhere who wrote something about it. It is still true even when the solution is not readily available in popular sources of knowledge/content/information you know of. I became aware of this last fact a while ago when I heard from a documentary that in the field of mathematics, for example, the solution for an unsolved problem is sometimes found by applying some old and forgotten technique in a new way. The same can be observed in the area of health and fitness in which once in a while someone, somewhere brings some old health practice to the light, making it mainstream, and subject to new scientific studies.

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The point is that as you look for the answer from within it might be useful to look outside also, and once in a while you might be delightfully aware that someone already solved the problem you’re trying to solve.

Enhance your mind

On any problem-solving effort, the mind is that which is behind it all. So far we’ve only taken an outsiders approach to problem-solving, which is definitely ok and will get a good portion of problems you ever need to solve taken care of. But the next question then becomes: what if none of that works? Meaning what if It is all up to me, the person solving the problem to come up with the solution? For this case, there are two important skills that have to be worked on well before you stumble into a difficult problem and they are as follows:

1.Increase your endurance

As we discussed already, difficult problems tend to take some time to be solved. They require us to look at them from different angles, methodologies, and even moods. As crazy as it might sound, your mood at the moment can have an impact on how likely you are to find an answer. Curiosity for example, makes us more open to whatever the mind brings to us, while the need to prove how smart we are can make it more difficult as time passes and we haven’t found the solution, and the thoughts about how smart we really not bubble up so high that they are all our minds are about.

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Knowing a lot is important to be a good problem solver, but even more important than that is the ability to keep knocking on new doors, even after a painfully gigantic stream of failed attempts. The reason for this is not that “the universe” will notice your efforts and reward you with the solution, but that the longer you stay after a problem, the greater the odds that you’ll learn what you need to learn to solve it. The greater the odds that you’ll stumble into a solution, and the greater the odds that you’ll have an insight. It’s not a belief thing, it’s a numbers thing.

2.Increase the number of things you know about

Knowing about a lot of things is one of these good things that is often looked down upon. Sadly the ones who know nothing are often the ones with the loudest voices and stronger presence, and often this presence is confused with wisdom. Just because a person can state their opinion persuasively doesn’t make them right, and this persuasiveness is often what makes us believe in the most ridiculous of theories.  One of them being that knowing a lot of things won’t get you anywhere. Of course this kind of view comes from people who don’t know much about anything, and in a world in which those who know don’t speak, emotional sayings naked of any background solid basis can not only take root but grow to flower and become huge trees of delusion. Tress that future generation will eventually sit under, and use for support throughout their lives.

 

That’s why it’s important to be guarded when in the presence of a person with a strong personality or who is skilfully persuasive. The reason for this is that they, because of the way they are, tend to be more believable, even when what they say has no grounds in rationality or truth.

How do you know the words coming out of a person are valid or not? Attack the point, not the way the point is being made. Attack it with the same kind of mental clarity you’d attack the point if it were written on paper by some unknown writer. Here it’s important to always ask why they believe in what they believe in, and as you’ll notice, most of the time these people have no clear reason for why they believe in what they believe, other than the fact the beliefs are theirs and not someone else’s. In other words, they are just biased to believe in what they believe in because they are them and the beliefs are theirs. On the advent that they do have a reason behind their beliefs, listen to it, and fact check it for validity. Look for conclusions coming from flawed logic or incorrect assumptions. Here the study of the basic laws of logic can come in handy since they can be of great help in finding mistakes in reasoning. If you can’t find a flaw in the reasoning behind the belief, you can give yourself the right to adopt the belief, but do it with a grain of salt. Do it with an open eye. Do it with one foot in the door ready to leave. Ready to abandon the belief. Because it is still possible that just because you couldn’t find a reason for not believing in a belief, that doesn’t mean that the reason doesn’t exist.

So, this is what knowing more is all about. Not to show off, and make the people around you hate the idea of knowing more and you along with it. But to help you distinguish the truth from a lie when you see a potential fact. To just like cook increase the number of ways you can connect the smaller pieces of knowledge into some new never yet seen solution. To be a better problem solver.

 

 

 

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How to influence people and make friends

In this post, you’ll find a few ideas on how to influence people and make friends.

 

Life is about influence. What we think about is that money is important, but the reason why this is so is that money has the power to move people. We think money makes things happen, but the truth is that money makes people do things for you because people love and need money. Which means that most people get the whole money thing wrong. Most people think that the world is run by money which is true only in a surface level kind of thinking. In a deeper level money buys us influence.

We’re all deep down aware of this, so much so that we can’t help but feel at awe of people who are able to move and touch the hearts of lots of people through their words, from seducers to politicians. So at the end of the day instead of one, there are actually two ways to get what we want in life: 1) through hardworking our way into money based influence, or 2) through emotional intelligencing our way into the hearts of people.

How to influence people and make friends

So how does one influence people and makes friends? The first question is: why do you need friends in the first place?

The answer to this question can have a back and forth kind of effect over your friendship network and the way you live your life. Meaning that the attitude you have about friendships can dictate your friendships, and as a result also the way they influence the way you live your life, and the way you live your life can influence the kinds of friendships you have.

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If you’re needy then you’re more likely to have your friendships take over your life which is not ideal since each human being is at the end of the day out there for him/herself. Which means that each attempt to please is like a chess move in favour of the opponent with the probability that the beneficial move is not even a gambit. Being needy is a problem, and being able to tell when you have that problem is crucial.  Neediness comes from the sense of insecurity and the need for the approval of others. Which is totally a part of human nature but completely detrimental for your future if your goal is to take your fate by your hands.

So, are you needy? The point is that your friendships should enhance your life, if not as a stepping stone for your life goals, at least for the purpose of enjoying life for its own sake since as far as we know… there is only one.

Have a clear idea of the end goal

When it comes to friendships the most important thing is just like goals to know what you’re trying to accomplish. If you want to create more connections behaviours that increase your connectivity to people in a deeper level is the way to go. If all you want is to have people who will get you closer to your vision, the kind of behaviour that increases debt and value over time with each member of your network might be the way to go.

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Connection

When the goal is to increase the depth of your relationships with other members of the human race the tested and proven strategy has always been to train yourself into thinking their way by wearing their shoes. The number one question is always: “what would x do or want in this situation/from me?” The strategy here is not to think about what ought to be, but what is. The strategy is to get in the minds of the people you want to connect with not to take advantage of them but to as Steve Jobs would have said: show them what they really want. Being that what they really want is more powerful than the things they tell you in words that they want since when they do find what they really want, no words in the dictionary are enough to explain the array of feelings they feel regardless of language.

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This is the kind of thing the ultimate seducer/politician is looking for. The things/desires you want/have that you don’t even know you deep down want/have. This requires living in the head of the target, which eventually makes you the target of your own conquests. You genuinely like what your target likes because you now think the way they think. Hell… for a second you’re them even, and you as you know a foreigner because you feel the way they feel… no more no less.

 

Logic

The other way to go about it is also dependent on your goal, that is if your goal is to not connect with the human race, which is fine, but to advance your now perceived to be “selfish” cause. Here it’s easy to make the mistake of using deception towards other fellow human beings to get what you want since you don’t really care about what people think right? Wrong! You might not need people to love you, in the same way that anyone who seeks for connection does, but the truth is that human beings can as much as you can deny have a role on your overall happiness and misery. Just think about the concept of bullying. If we really are the masters of our destiny, why do some people commit suicide when rejected by their peers?

The point is that even when our goal is not to connect, we have to connect nonetheless. Not the kind of fake connection we learn about in books of persuasion, but the kind of connection in which the other side of the table knows what you’re about and is ok about it. What I mean is the kind of connection of the kind of which you want to be as useful as possible to the other person, so that through the power of the reciprocity bias they urge to be as useful as they can for you back. In essence, you get what you want by making sure the people who can help you get what you want get what they want. It’s that simple.

In a world of sceptics, the only thing that makes sense is results. If A wants B, and A can give you C, the most effective way to have C is to find a way give B to A, and show them you can do it.

We’re all self-involved. We want people to go by our principles because we think our principles are the most principled of the principles. What we forget is that chances are that our regards for our principles come not from the fact that they’re right but from the fact that they’re ours. The truth is that we are biased towards ourselves, and the way to get what we want in a world of logic not emotions, is to learn to be biased towards the other person, whoever that person is. No matter how illiterate or stupid.

So how do you make friends and influence people In a world of logic? You do it by being as useful as possible. You do it by being the tool of others who by themselves are the tools of the tool. Both A and B are special because they are people, but they are as human as they are tools. They’re both aware of it, and they are both OK about it.

Summary

The final thing to talk about is honesty. The ability to tell things the way they are is one of the most desired traits in all areas of life. So many potentially great relationships fall because of this lack of clarity and straightforwardness. This means saying what you have on your mind and what you hope to get from the relationship. The idea is to be as honest as possible about it, and if you can manage doing it without making the other person feel bad about it, they might even thank you for it. This is like criticism. We often hide passive aggressiveness behind it and when called on it we label what we’re doing as constructive criticism. True constructive criticism is more than just telling the person about their weaknesses with no regard for their feelings, but also this added concern for their feelings, since doing the opposite will just make them less likely to listen to what you have to say, the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish.

The one who is recklessly honest is of the same kind as their honesty: just reckless. The one who avoids honesty completely intentionally or not puts the relationship in jeopardy, taking it a step closer to the breaking point. So, honesty for what you want and feel without being aggressive about it, and clarity on what you really want is what to aim for when on your journey to influencing people and making friends.

 

 

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Be A Better Person Everyday

In this post you’ll find a few tips on how to be a better person everyday.

Self- improvement is one of the biggest industries of today. From the thousands and thousands of books and courses produced and sold every year, we can safely infer something about the human psychology. The one truth is that we can’t help but to be a part of some movement, regardless of direction. Staleness and boredom scary us, and this is in part the source of most of our problems. We all want to get better over time, in the sense that at any point in our lifetime, when we look 10 years back our improvement is always in a perpetually upward trend. The problem is that often because we have no idea on how to do this thing called self-improvement , we do nothing, which is never nothing. Doing something or nothing always have an effect in our lives. By doing nothing we don’t remain the same. We subject ourselves to the mercy of mother nature and father fate. And the problem with that is that slim are the chances that all of our dreams will just fall on our laps as a gift from luck. On average we become, well…average. So we have to do something, but what is that something exactly? And How should we do it?

How to be a better person everyday

So, how can one become a better person every single day? Well, the problem with this question is that it’s too vague. So vague that for any person trying to take advantage of you the asker of the question, it would be easy to come up with a straightforward answer. That answer would probably come in the form of a book, or a self-help program, and if the person is persuasive enough you might even buy it, and in the end, after you find out how much the suggestion didn’t work, you’ll find yourself back to zero.

So instead of attempting to give you a straightforward answer which would likely be useless, the answer will be given in parts, as tools you can use to more easily learn what becoming a better person everyday means for you, and how to do it.

1.Know yourself and what you want

Life is short. The quicker you become aware of this and accept it, the quicker you come to terms with the fact that most things don’t matter, apart from the things that matter for you. The point is that often we spend our time pursuing the lives other people want, and not the life we deep inside know we want.

The first step is to understand yourself better. To try to learn what dreams you have are really yours, and which are nothing but ideas borrowed from some other and very persuasive person who tricked you into buying into their dreams. So, what do you want? And Who are you really?

The reason why these questions are important for your self-improvement journey is that self-improvement is nothing but a tool that allows you to achieve something you want, but that you don’t yet have the skills or aptitude to achieve.  Most people just think about improving themselves just for the sake of doing it. That’s why often it is the case that most people bail on their self-improvement efforts after a few months, weeks or even days. They don’t have a clear end goal they really value that would be accomplished by the self-improvement effort. It’s the difference between try to start a book reading habit just because, versus starting a book reading habit because you aspire to become a more knowledgeable person. On the first, the first boring book would be enough to get you to quit, while for the latter, there would be no such thing as a boring book, since on every book you open, your mind is open too, to receive at least one golden nugget of knowledge, no matter how small.

2. Think habit formation

One reason why a self-improvement journey tends to be dreadful for most people is that they carry within themselves the assumption that the struggle they’ll feel at the beginning will be the same all the way for an indeterminate amount of time. A good example for this point is that of exercising. Most people who don’t have it as a part of their lives hate it, and when they start they quickly quit on it. But one amazing thing happens when you continue exercising for long enough. Your whole feeling about it changes. When before you hated it, now you look forward to it. When the main reason why you hated it was the level of discomfort the routine brought to the mind and the body, now you have some semi masochistic  feeling towards it. It’s not comfortable by any means but you learned to enjoy the struggle and discomfort that comes with the task. It’s as if both you and your subconscious are on the same page. Both know that the uncomfortable task will yield you the results you seek, so the subconscious now urges you to go do it as opposed to pulling you to the opposite direction. You know the task is good both logically and emotionally.

This is what happens in reality with pretty much every task. The dread and struggle is only momentary. Eventually either they both disappear completely, or if they exist still, these uncomfortable feelings/emotions become bearable. So, the goal here is to look at whatever self-improvement task as something you can build a habit around, and hopefully even grow to like it. Research shows that 66 days is the average time it takes to make a given task/behavior a habit. Use this number as a guide. Knowing that each day is one day closer to a brand new and useful habit, can be very motivating, especially when you’re more than half way.

3. Combining 1 and 2

So, in point 1 you learn about yourself and what you really want. From that knowledge the set of actions you have to take to get to where you want to get become clearer. If knowing more is your goal, the most intuitive solution becomes then to read more, or maybe even mentoring. This is the reason why lack of clarity on what you really want for your life has a massive impact on your level of clarity with regards to what you should do next.

From 1 we learn a list of things we should do to get what we want. In 2 we narrow that list down to the one thing, as it’s taught on the book The one thing, we narrow it down to the one thing such that by doing it everything would be easier or unnecessary. The one thing is that one action that brings you the closest to your goal. Like again if being smarter is your goal, the one thing  would arguably be reading more books of a wide variety. The reason for picking one thing as opposed to 2, 3 or more is that according to research, the most effective way to convert new behaviour into hardwired habits is to try to do so one at a time.  This is ignoring the fact that it’s just much, much easier to stick to something new for 66 days if that one thing happens to be the only one thing in your mind during that period.

Summary

So, the answer to the question : how to be better everyday? Is, well…It depends. We got used to having a broad brush kind of answer to big deal questions like the one discussed on this post. The problem with that is that the world is full of people who when given the chance will not think twice before giving you an answer no matter how incorrect. This is especially true and more damaging when there is a monetary advantage to be gained by providing the supposedly correct answer/solution to the question.

If knowing what to do next could be summarized in a sentence or two, or discovered trough a $99.99 product/service the world would be much better than it is right now. Poverty for starters would seize to be a problem. Knowing how to be better Is the kind of thing that requires introspection, meaning that it is the kind of thing you learn from within and through self-exploration, not by giving your ears to a person who barely knows you the way you know yourself. And they shouldn’t anyway. We are the only ones who spend the most time with ourselves since the time we’re born till the time we die.

 

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Make Good Decisions In Life

In this post you’ll find a few ideas on how to make good decisions in life.

Life is about many things, and depending on your frame of reference some things matter more than others. Think about the two biggest motivators any human being usually has: love and money. On one hand are the kind of people who live and swear by the importance and worth of the first. According to them, one can have as much wealth as one wants, but without love, love encompassing all kind of close relationships, the money will have almost no worth. Eventually the billionaire gets tired of his/her billions and soon the primal crave for close relationships becomes the kind of itch one can only scratch by having the real deal, not through money acquired replacements.

On the other side of the fence are the kind of people who believe in the importance of the second, meaning wealth building, and just like the first group they  make a good point of why they see the world in the way they see it. For them one can have love, which in fact most people do have, but without the freedom and possibilities that come from money, one will always be subject to the wills of life and nature. Both sides make a good defence for their cases, and in fact, the truth is that whoever votes completely for one or the other makes the classic mistake of going for extremes. As you’re probably aware of, few are the cases in which an extreme position is the wisest and without consequences coming from the natural attempt of nature to balance that which is out of balance.

There is one thing however that happens to be ubiquitous. When thinking about the answers for big deal questions such as : what is the meaning of life? And what are the kinds of things that really matter? We easily go for the obvious, and if we’re like most people we settle for the obvious. This one thing behind all things is: the ability to make decisions, and more important even is the ability  to make good decisions.

How to make good decisions in life

The power of decisions is such a big deal that it has been mentioned multiple times across history. In religion, especially in Christianity, where it’s believed that one is responsible for all that one does on its lifetime because God gave to all what we know as free will. We chose one leader to govern over millions if not billions of people mostly because we believe that the one we call the president has some above average ability to make the best decisions for the good of all. The whole idea behind the judicial system where the court has the power to sentence an individual only based on the assumption that this one individual is/was sane at the time of the crime. The point is that decisions are a big deal, and below are a few tips on making good ones in life.

1.Outsource as much as you can to more capable people

One very well understood idea in computing science is the idea of libraries. The developer desires to build a piece of software, and instead of building everything from scratch, it choses instead to leverage the work of other software developers who came before her. It’s the old standing on the shoulders of giants concept. The obvious benefit that comes from this approach is that one can build more software more quickly, but above all, and perhaps even more important, is that one can build more software with less mistakes, also known as bugs.

In your decision making, making the wrong decision might be detrimental, and it might also be the case that you don’t have the required knowledge to make the best decision you can at the moment. For these cases, the best thing to do, especially if you’re short on time is to ask someone with the requisite knowledge and experience. This doesn’t mean to ask anyone, but only those who have experience and real knowledge on the kinds of decisions you want to make. This means not asking the plumber about health related issues and vice versa.

The big thing to do here, if you want to make good decisions in life in general and not in just one moment, is to build your own composite of people whose decision making abilities you trust. This is what the investor Tai Lopez says “the voices in your head” our “your multitude of counsellors”. The benefits of this approach are multiple. Starting from the fact that suggestions coming from more experienced people are more likely to be the more correct ones, and on top of that you also get to learn and pick up from them the set of things that matter in a good decision making process.

2. Grow your mind

The second thing is to grow your mind. This as you know can be done in many ways, among them: reading, courses and mentors, all of which are shown to be efficient in showing the ignorance to the ignorant, and bringing him to the light, given that the books you read, the courses you take and the mentors you pick are of quality.

A part of making good decisions is being able to tell when a decision is imprudent or how likely it is to result in unpleasant consequences. This is why as counter intuitive as it might seem, people who know a little about a subject tend to be more vocal about what they supposedly know, or how smart they are, while people who really know about a subject tend to ask more questions and be more vocal about how much they don’t know.  So, pay attention to when you feel particularly confident about a decision you’re making, because often confidence comes not from the sense of certainty of success but from ignorance. How ignorant are you?

3. Avoid rushed decisions

The third is to avoid rushed decisions. We live In a time in which more and more companies value the ability to make decisions with limited time and under stress. While this might be good to impress your boss, it’s definitely not the way to go if you want a good decision making average across your lifetime. Take the time to make decisions when you can afford to, especially if they are  a big deal for your life/career. Often the sense of confidence that hits us before we make a decision comes not from again certainty, but from emotion, and as we all know, making emotional decisions are  a sure way to not get what we want in life. So, finding out when you’re about to make an emotional decision, and taking some time to get them to wear off, is a great place to start from if you want to make the right decision in the first place. Over time you’ll notice that confidence in an action comes and goes just like a good/bad weather.

This is doubly important when there is a third party making pressure for you to commit to something, be that something a product, a cause or even  a person. The reason for this is that anyone using the time card to pressure you into making a decision probably doesn’t have your best interest in heart. The thing about the brain is that we don’t walk around with clear minds all day long. Just like creativity sometimes we get it and sometimes we don’t . So, reserving any decision making to the moments of greatest mental clarity, especially in the morning is perhaps one of the best things you can do to your decision making process.

4. Find your best time

The last tip is to find your best decision making times, and moments. Different people are wired differently, so it’s no surprise that some people make their best decisions after they wake up, while others during the night when they go to the washroom. Some make better decisions alone, while others make better decisions in groups. Whatever it is, you owe it to yourself to find out the set of factors that positively contribute to your decision making process. What are they?

Summary

The points above are just a starting point. #1 is definitely one many people are not aware of since, we live in a word that encourages us to take the decision making process to the confines of our own minds. Asking for some one else’s opinion thus is a handy tool, which just like any tool has to be used with the ultimate care, since having the wrong person influencing your decision making process might be worse than making an uninformed decision by yourself. # 3 is one most people can get quickly and try to implement but that requires practice and willpower, since often it’s the case that the people pressuring you to make the decision have some influence or importance in your life.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How to be better than average

In this post you’ll find a few ideas on how to be better than average.

The world we live in is one in which as time goes the greater the competition becomes on pretty much every facet of life. If you think about it for long enough you eventually notice that rare are the cases in which one can enter a field and with little to no effort dominate it completely. Even for these few cases In which one manages to do it, the  competition eventually piles up and what was once so easy to thrive on, today is not worth scratching your head around. In business this is clearer than ever. When today you find a gold mine, tomorrow is guaranteed that that gold mine won’t yield the same results as it does today. So without being pessimistic you make the most out of it, and if you’re quick enough you even manage to build yourself a solid position, so when competition does come, you’re so far ahead that it doesn’t matter. But, what if whatever you’re competing for is already crowded? Well, for that there is only one way out: to outperform the competition, in other words, you have to be better than average.

How to be better than average

So, how can you be better than average? The thing about this question is that is so vague and so easily applies to many different contexts that one can hardly believe that there is one straightforward answer that applies to all. But what if there is? Lucky for us this is the case, since just like success principles although vague and applicable to many different contexts, we once in a while stumble into one principle that applies to every success related problem/question we might have. Just like a master key that opens all doors regardless of the lock, the newly found principle is often so powerful that it eventually becomes a part of our lives and the way we see the world.

1.Have  a clear idea of your starting place

The first step to being better than average is to become aware of your starting place. Just like in a long journey you can only know how far to go to a certain direction based on where you’re starting. So, how much closer to the average are you really? We have this weird relationship with the world average, where just because it quantifies something about most people we are quick to assume that it applies to most people. The average is as the name says the average. Nothing more nothing less. Take  wealth distribution example for example. If in a family we have one billionaire and the remaining 20 members are completely broke, the average would reflect a completely different picture than the one painted by reality. The average for someone outside looking in would make the person think of that family as particularly wealthy and probably even start making some assumptions about genes, and what that makes that family as successful as it is, when the truth is that only one person is responsible for all the wealth and that the one person responsible for it is probably nothing more than an outlier.

The point is that just because there is an average that doesn’t mean that it applies to you, and chances are that it won’t , at least not perfectly. So, you need to know how close to the average you really are, and from there you can have  a clearer idea of how hard you have to work to surpass it. And on the few cases that you find out that you’re in fact above average, the next and more exciting question then becomes: how much higher above average do you want to be?

2. Find out how much average has to work to be average

Someone said that in life we’re not static. Meaning that we’re either improving or moving backwards, even when we think we’re doing nothing. This means that even the so looked down average results take some work, because any less might render the average player less than average at best, and at worst what we deem mediocre. If to be an average chess player the key to success is to practice 3 hours a day, the first step is to get your practice habits up to that level if they’re not already, and after you get there, then shoot for 3.5 – 4. The key here is to create the habit to working for as long as you want/need when you want/need. Depending on your baseline this might be as simple as just being aware of what you do and keep doing it, or as hard as breaking old and deep rooted poor work ethic habits. On the first you’re a part of the group of people who maybe had some work ethic introduced to them early in life, and although not the most aggressive, with that level you can accomplish a few things in life. On the latter you’re probably the kind of person who either didn’t get any exposure to it, or for some reason found it difficult to implement it to your life. Whichever it is, you need to be aware of it and take the necessary steps towards the right direction. This is why point 1(knowing your baseline) and point 2(knowing how much to work to be average) are in the order they are.

3. To have above average accomplishments you need to make above average efforts

This is the one idea that we all know almost intuitively but that often secretly wish wasn’t the truth. We know that to get what we want, as (Charlie Munger )  said once you have to deserve what you want, and yet many of us still to this day fall for the so called get rich quick schemes. The plot always begins with the person luring us to their “magical” product with the premise that they know some secret most people don’t, and that this secret made the rich beyond their ears. It follows then that they can tell us what that secret is, only if we give them the small fee of $99.99. Surprisingly two questions never reach our conscious awareness, the first being:  why do they price it that way? Why not $100? A question for which the answer would likely make us twice before thinking about buying their product. The answer to the first is marketing. They want to make the offer more attractive. But if this offer Is so magical that it can change one’s life in a snap of a finger, why would they need to make it attractive in the first place? Isn’t the fact that you can become rich overnight an attractive offer enough? For $100?

The second and even more important question is: if they are so successful, meaning if they have this machine that can virtually print money out of thin air, why would they need to sell it? Why not just “print” the money? For this question in the few times that it does arrive the answer is that they want to give back to the world, which could be true, but an even deeper question arises: why not give it for free then?

Not surprisingly, many still fall for the same trick over and over, simply because deep down we know that the road to get what we want requires effort, and that it can be exhausting, and the brain cannot help but to fall and fail to recognize a too good to be true idea when it sees one.

The point is that as much as you’ll want to find shortcuts, most of the time raw work is what you’ll have to do. There will be cases in which you will be able to cut 8 hours worth of work into 4 or 2, but to base your whole success strategy into just finding these quick small wins is a losing strategy. Sometimes the work won’t be physical but mental. The ability to sit and think about a problem for 8 hours, or coming up with a novel and creative idea never seen before is often underrated. When we think of hard work we think sweat and sore muscles, and forget that thinking your brain into brain fog to the degree that you can’t even recognize mundane words is hard work too. Just of a different kind.

So I guess this point is also about knowing in what way you’re required to work hard, and do that even when you don’t feel like it. If to be average  all you have to do is to put 4 hours of work, this is the time to start putting 5 or 6.

Summary

The last thing I would like to discuss with you is about the power of quantification. The brain is a beautiful  and powerful thing in the sense that given enough time and repetition one can trick it into believing in even the wildest of the beliefs. The same applies to your progress in your journey to become an above the pack person. It’s very easy to convince yourself that you’re improving and getting better than the majority when you’re not. The way to know it is to find a way to quantify it. If your practice time is linked to the level of acquired skill, being  a “slave” of the watch, although not the best of strategies can prove wildly beneficial. If the amount of money you make is the way so be it, as long as you have a concrete way of measuring your progress other than any subjective measure you might have in mind.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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