I am lucky

I am lucky

I would be insulted if you called me lucky two years ago.

After all, I worked my ass off to get to where I am today. That’s not luck. I created this reality I live in.

Or so I thought.

I realized something a few months ago. Luck isn’t about winning the lottery. Being called lucky isn’t an insult. It’s the truth. After reflection, I am very lucky.

I was born in the right country to the right parents. Everything I have experienced has brought me to where I am today.

I almost drowned in family friend’s pool when I was 3 years old. But I didn’t. I was saved by my neighbor’s friend. I could be dead. But I’m not.

I have a natural drive to work hard. I’m self-motivated. I always wanted to do that best I could. I can’t describe what gave me this internal drive at a young age.

It wasn’t something that I learned from a book. There was a moment or series of moments that shaped me into becoming that type of person.

Maybe it was my mom, who started teaching me when I was 3 or 4 years old.

Or, maybe a teacher help change the trajectory of my life.

Or maybe it was my three siblings influenced me.

All I know is that if you change one of those inputs, the output or my life would be different today.

 

One Example

Bill Gates is brilliant. He’s ambitious. He took advantage of the opportunities he saw early in his life.

Bill Gates is also lucky.

He attended Lakeside, a private school in Seattle. A private school with a computer. Not just any computer, but a brand new, top of the line computer.

The Lakeside’s Mother’s Club had a rummage sale every year to raise money for the school. And instead of just funding the budget, they always would fund something kind of new and interesting in addition. And without too much understanding, they decided having a computer terminal at the school would be a novel thing. It was a teletype — upper case only, ten characters a second — and you had to share a phone line to call into a big time-sharing computer that was very expensive.

This was one moment in Gate’s life that put him on the path to revolutionizing the world. Luck played a role in getting him there.

What if one detail and his life changed? What is he attended Public School in Seattle instead of private? What if he not have access to a computer in middle school? Would he have still changed the world?

(Credit to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers for this story.)

When comes down to it luck and hard work two sides of the same coin. Here’s how I see it:

Luck + Hard Work = Success

No Luck + Hard Work = A difficult, but fulfilling life (in my opinion)

Luck + No Hard Work = A recipe for disaster (Case in point: lottery winners)

No Luck + No Hard Work = Not much

Being lucky isn’t a bad thing

Bill Gates got lucky. He worked his ass off for years and change the world and process. He took advantage of the luck bequeathed to him.

He leveraged this and used it as a springboard to create one of the most successful companies in the world.

Sometimes you just have to put yourself in the right place with the right amount of effort. Embrace the serendipity around you. Work hard. Follow your curiosities. Go where others haven’t dared to go. Who knows, luck might just find you.

What is one thing that has happened in your life that you would say was “lucky”? How would your life be different had that not happened?

How are your questions?

How are your questions?

Three months ago my boss came to me and told me that I had to work out of town for a month. I would only be about an hour away, so I could commute if I wanted to.

This was a minor annoyance, but no big deal. I could still sleep in my own bed and go on with my normal routine without too much interruption.

That changed two weeks ago. Due to budget cuts, I wouldn’t be working an hour away. Instead, I would have to drive two hours away to Jacksonville and work there for a month. No way was I commuting now.

When I found out I had to spend a month away from home, I was heated. I was the only person from my office who had to travel away from home this year. And this would be my second time doing it.

Last time I also traveled to Jacksonville, and I was miserable. I was upset I had to spend time away from home. And that was only for two weeks. This time it would be for the entire month.

What’s wrong with me?

I had an observation three and a half weeks ago: the smallest things were setting me off.

I was complaining more. I was playing the victim. I believed everything was outside my locus of control.

So you can imagine how I felt when I was told I needed to go away for a month. I was angry. “Why the f*** do I have to keep doing this? It’s not fair.”

A few days after finding out I would be in Jacksonville I was listening to a Tony Robbins recording.

He talked about how we can’t control everything around us. But what we can control is our perception of the world. In order to change your perceptions, you must change the questions you ask yourself.

When you’re upset or angry or annoyed, don’t list the reasons why a situation sucks. Shift the focus. Ask better questions.

Ask yourself: “what’s good about this?”

The light bulb moment

A couple days later, I was taking my mid-morning walk at work still fuming when the light bulb went off. Right then I shifted the focus. I asked myself, “What’s good about this?”

When I got back to my desk I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote in big, bold letters at the top of the paper “What’s good about having to work in Jacksonville for a month?”

And I began to list things out.

  1. I’ll meet new people.
  2. I can go to new restaurants.
  3. I can check out their breweries.
  4. It won’t get dark until late, so I can explore after work.
  5. I’ll be downtown, and everything is within walking distance.
  6. I’ll challenge myself with new tasks at work.
  7. I’ll be able to go home on the weekends.
  8. All of my meals are paid for.
  9. I’ll break my routine.

All of the sudden, I started to feel better. Instead of being annoyed, I started looking forward to it.

In retrospect, I don’t even know why I was annoyed.

The only thing I really had to be angry about was being outside the comfort of my hometown. Other than that, going to Jacksonville looked like more good than bad.

How is it going so far?

Today is my second day in Jacksonville and I’m enjoying it much more this time around.

I’ve been able to explore more. I’ve gone to new places to eat. I’ve tried new beers.

I’m convinced I would not enjoy myself if I continued with the mindset of being annoyed.

But because I searched for reasons why this would be a good trip, it has thus far turned out to be good.

I reframed the situation by asking “what’s good about this?”

I forced myself to come up with answers to a question I didn’t even previously consider.

A reminder

This serves as a reminder for myself: you are only as good as the quality of questions you ask yourself.

You can use this same technique in a number of situations.

For example, if you’re stuck in traffic tomorrow, ask yourself, “what’s good about this?”

Come up with five reasons why being stuck in traffic is actually a good thing. I tried this the other day and there was a huge difference in how I felt by end of my evening commute.

Next time you’re in a situation that makes you angry, annoyed, or upset, ask yourself, “what’s good about this?”

It may be hard to come up with answers initially. You will want to resist answering. Overcome this resistance, answer the question as best as you can, and see how you feel.

Remember, you’re only as good as the quality of questions that you ask yourself.

Why I don’t tell people what to do anymore

Why I don’t tell people what to do anymore

As you know, I ran a personal finance blog for two years. I created the blog for three reasons: (1) to help people with their finances, (2) to reinforce what I was learning, and (3) to make a living from blogging.

At the start of this blog, I absorbed everything I could on personal finance. I read the classics, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I read The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, followed up by Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

I read numerous other books in the following months and had a good grasp on personal finance. I gave advice to anyone who was willing to listen to me.

I would also write 2 posts per week about personal finance topics that I conjured up during the slow work day.

Do THIS, not that

In these posts I would pick an area people struggle with. Then I would tell them what to do.

Save 10% of your income. Open an IRA account. Don’t go into debt. You get the idea…

I felt like an authority. I believed as an authority it was up to me to tell people what to do.

It was all out of the goodness of my heart. Honestly. I didn’t think I was better than anyone. But I expressed what I thought people should do.

This began to trickle into my personal life

I would give advice to my girlfriend. “Do this instead.”

I would give advice to my sister. “Why are you doing it that way? Do it this way.”

I would have arguments with family members. I told them why they were wrong and why they should think about a particular situation differently. I’m not proud of those moments.

I had my view of the world and wanted everyone to conform to that view. Not necessarily in a negative way. It was just how I believed the world should be.

This changed last year

A year ago I became interested Buddhist concepts and philosophies. As I was reading, I came across a quote that stuck with me:

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

The Buddha himself essentially told people not to blindly follow what he said. It was his way of saying, try this yourself. If you like it, continue to use it. If not, move on.

And this idea struck a chord. All this time I was telling people what to do, what to think, what to believe.

I had my view of the world and what the right thing to do was. But that wasn’t the right thing to do.

The fault in giving advice

Derek Sivers was interviewed last month on the James Altucher Show. In this podcast, he asked James about how he deals with giving advice.

Derek went on to say that he never knew what to tell someone who came to him seeking advice.

For example, one person wanted to know if they should quit their job to pursue an entrepreneurial venture full-time.

Derek said he wasn’t sure what to tell this person. Should he tell them to quit? Or should he tell them to stick with their current job?

The dilemma caused him to think about the fault in giving advice.

Advice is a double-edged sword

Any advice we give to others is based 100% off our personal life experiences. It’s based off the knowledge and actions we have taken throughout our lives. And it may not always be the best advice.

That’s why it’s not useful to tell someone what to do in their life. Especially if you get into a position where people trust your opinion and will do whatever you tell them.

That’s where I could see Derek’s problem. What if he told them to quit their job and dive in full-time and they failed. Would it be his fault? Not really. But I’m sure he would feel pretty bad.

But what if he told them not to quit, and they never get that fire under their ass to turn their venture into something big. Is that also his fault?

I don’t tell anyone what to do, just what I’ve done

From these experiences, I’ve learned that it’s not my place to tell people what to do.

Even in their articles, I do my best to present to you things that I do that work for me, and encourage you to try them out for yourself. But I refrain from telling you what to do.

And this is where I leave it. “This is what I did in this situation. This is the end result. This is how I feel. Try it out yourself.”

I feel better now, not telling others what to do. I merely make suggestions based off my life experience.

Try this out yourself and see how it makes you feel. If you like it, great! If not, that’s okay too.

Do you ever find yourself telling others what to do? Or do you have others in your life who always seem to have advice for every thing? How does it make you feel?

How you can discover your passion and purpose in life

How you can discover your passion and purpose in life

I don’t have a passion.

I work as an auditor. I chose a safe major in school which led to a safe career path. I’m good at what I do, but it doesn’t make me feel alive.

Every day I feel a little more anxious because I haven’t found my passion. Four or five nights a week I wake up, without fail, apprehensive and scared.

I worry that I’ll never find my calling. I want to follow my passion, but I don’t know what that is.

What am I doing wrong?

Teachers, leaders, mentors, and family members encourage us to do what we love. The message is everywhere. On television. At Harvard commencement speeches. In Ted Talks. “Do what makes you come alive,” they say.

What if nothing comes to mind?

I don’t have a passion. There isn’t one thing that make me come alive. At least not in the way those public speakers make it sound.

I have a wide variety of interests. I love sports. I enjoy learning and helping others. I find psychology and entrepreneurship fascinating. But I wouldn’t say I’m passionate about any one of those things.

The problem with finding your passions

The educational system

The education system don’t foster students’ passions.

The educational model is the same system that popped up during the industrial revolution. Kids spend the six or seven hours per day in a class room, performing academic drills in math, science, and English.

As a result of this model, we don’t foster children’s natural creativity.

Sir Ken Robinson talked about this in his popular Ted Talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” Robinson believes that we are all born with “immense, natural, creative abilities” which “slip away as we get older.”

Instead of nurturing creative abilities, we devote equal time to specific academic areas every day.

Robinson believes that the educational system is too standardized. He’s right. Everyone learns differently, but school doesn’t foster to these individual differences.

Standardized testing overrules creative activities. Teachers are evaluated based on how many students they can get to pass a test.

Administrators don’t nurture creativity. You can’t measure creativity. You can’t put a number on it. You can’t rank students and pay teachers based on the creative ability of their students.

Students are steered away from their passions

According to Robinson, students are steered away from their passions and interests in the current educational system.

The educational system is a factory learning environment. You plug students into the system, teach them up, and send them on their way. This one size fits all system kills passions.

If an 8 year old kid loves science, they aren’t encouraged to spend more time on science. Instead, they have to take the same classes in equal parts for over a decade of their life.

Then they go to college and focus on what their passionate about (if they haven’t developed a distain for education yet). But they still have to go through 2 years of prerequisites so that they are “well-rounded” citizens.

As a result, children and driven away from their passions by taking a decade and a half of the same classes instead of focusing on what they love.

Dreams Crushed at a Young Age

“You can’t make a living doing that.”

“No one will pay you to paint or play music.”

“There’s too much competition.”

“Be realistic.”

Parents who do this stunt, and even destroy, a child’s growth. It discourages natural curiosity and tells people not to follow their passions because they’re not realistic.

This leads to the wrong focus. Get a safe job so that you can pay the bills. Get a job that is well-paying and well-respected. Parents push their kids to go to medical or law school so that they can have a successful life.

That’s what happened to Eric Reed. Eric was a successful lawyer who had everything you could imagine. He had a fancy house, nice car, and could buy almost anything you could imagine.

But Eric was working crazy hours. I’m talking 12 to 14 hours a day. When Eric wasn’t sleeping he was working. He hardly saw his family and was unfulfilled with life.

Eric did everything that you’re supposed to do. He got a respected job. He could buy anything he wanted. But he still wasn’t happy.

Eric isn’t alone. Many people face this same struggle. I know because I’m facing that struggle. I picked a job that was safe and pays well. But I don’t love it.

Eric broke free from his shackles. He followed his passion and became a travel writer. Now if only I could do that…

Misconception of Passion

Passion is a strong term. For me, starting with passion isn’t a good place to begin. I don’t feel passionate about anything in particular.

I think maybe the word itself is the cause for a lot of anxiety.

So what do I do since I don’t feel like I have a passion?

Pick One Thing and Move in That Direction

What interests you today? For me, it’s writing, entrepreneurship, and psychology. These are areas that I pursue a little every day.

I don’t expect to make money from these interests right now, and that’s okay. Because I enjoy these things already, I don’t need to make money.

Dive Deep in What You Like

What area do you really like? What are you interested in at the moment? Dive deep into that area.

Discover everything you can about that area. Read about it. Talk to people who work in it. Study it. And finally, become that area.

Take music for example. If I become really passionate about music, I would first start to play an instrument and understand music theory.

I would talk to other musicians and get their advice. I would hire a coach or teacher to help me become better. And I would practice every single day.

What if I lose interest?

I talk to other musicians and take lessons for six months. But don’t feel as interested in music as I did before. Now what?

Naturally, I would move on. It’s a simple as that! It’s okay to quit something that you thought you were more interested in at one point in time.

You are searching for your passion (or something like it). Don’t pursue something that you don’t want to do anymore. It isn’t a life sentence. Don’t be afraid to quit.

Move on to the next thing

Move on to whatever interests you next. Pursue this thing until you lose interest. Or continue to pursue it as long as you enjoy it.

It’s okay to quit what you are doing and move on to the next thing. One of two things will happen: you will find what brings you to life or you will add tools to the toolbox for the future.

When you pursue diverse interests, you become proficient in different areas.

Let’s say I’m interested in music for a few months but eventually get bored. I become interested in psychology and marketing. Then I become extremely interested in computers.

After becoming proficient in those areas, I could take all of this knowledge and combine it into one new idea. After all, that’s how many of the great careers or products began.

Doing many things before finding “the one”

One person who’s done a number of things before finding his true calling is Robert Greene.

Robert Greene is the bestselling author of the 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, and Mastery. But he didn’t become a best seller overnight.

Greene said that he worked 80 jobs before becoming a best-selling author. He previously worked as a construction worker, screenwriter, and hotel receptionist.

He learned a lot from those jobs. He worked many crappy jobs with crappy people and was able to take everything he learned and make something out of it. This ultimately led to him writing The 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction.

That’s what I strive to do

I follow my interests in my free time, working on them a little bit here and there as I can. I pick a path and go down that path as far I want. There will be detours along the way. There already have been. And that’s okay with me.

I don’t get paid for what I’m pursuing right now, and that’s fine.

I don’t make money from writing, but I do it because I enjoy it. I enjoy the challenge of researching and writing and expressing my thoughts.

I don’t have a passion. But lately I haven’t been waking up in the middle of the week worrying.

I pursue what interests me in my free time. If these interests amount to something down the road, great! If not, at least I’m doing something I enjoy in my free time and staying productive.

What do you think? Have you found your passion? What did your journey look like?

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