It’s seldom that I think Napoleon Hill is not quite right, but he mentions failures make decisions slowly, and change the results of that decision quickly. Of course, this is a logical inaccuracy, since if you’re changing your mind quickly, that’s inherently a decision. So someone can’t logically make a decision quickly AND slowly. What he’s likely saying is that someone will decide on something, like a college major, and take a long time to make that decision, and then second guess themselves and change their major. But that just means all their decisions are made quickly except for the first decision they make, which is still a bit of nonsense. Hill contrasts this with successful people making decisions quickly, and changing their mind slowly. Both of these statements are onto the value of assessing your decision making abilities as well as your ability to commit to that decision. But I would restate it to be a bit less rigid and more logical:
Make decisions quickly regarding trying to progress, and if that decision seems like a bad decision, then change your mind quickly and not let your ego get in the way. – Truth Cake.
It’s kind of like being on a grassy field, and you can’t figure out whether you’ll like playing soccer or football more.
Playing one or the other would be more enjoyable than playing nothing while you try to decide.
I can’t think of hardly any situations where someone in business said, “We really screwed up because we made decisions too quickly and executed without really thinking about every single permutation first.”
While some decisions made in haste end up being the wrong decision with negative consequences, the negative aspect of those consequences is most pronounced from NOT altering the course when it’s clearly a bad decision. This is in contrast to most of the negative aspects of a decision being from the decision itself.
If you think of getting married too quickly to the wrong person, most of the problem is from staying in the relationship as opposed to the negative aspects of the decision. And the negative aspects of not making a decision at all usually outweigh the negative aspects of making a bad decision.
Making the wrong decision to try to move forward is better than making no decision at all, as long as you’re adaptable to realizing that a decision may be wrong and should be changed.
What decision are you thinking about doing that you haven’t because you haven’t weighed all the options out yet? Would you be opening to altering your course if you realize it’s a bad decision, or will your ego get in the way of admitting it was the wrong choice?
“Listen to me and take my advice.” – Random Guru.
Someone that says this to a wide audience has no concepts of the main tenants of advice, which is for you to:
A) Find the right person to listen to,
B) Ask the right questions,
C) Know yourself to know ‘where you are’ to adhere to those answers,
D) Know yourself even further to know if you’re listening to advice based on a “you” that doesn’t exist yet.
The last tenant of taking advice is rarely discussed. And these 4 aspects consider that you’ve got your goal correctly picked – which it rarely is (eg. “How do I make a million bucks?” sounds like the goal, but the real goal was to be respected by your spouse, and a million bucks won’t actually achieve that.)
Asking the right questions to the right person –
Are you asking a virtuoso something that anyone at much lower levels could answer? You wouldn’t ask Ed Sheeran what his advice would be to learn the C Major scale is – you can get that elsewhere very easily. Also, asking Ed Mylett for mindset advice also might be a very high level thing to ask, and probably not nearly as good considering he may be the most valuable at low level (detailed) business questions.
You wouldn’t ask Arnold Schwarzenegger if he thinks eating cake is a good idea, because you already know the answer. More importantly, you’re not at the level that could even ask Arnold a good question such as, “Should I take 25g or 40g of Anadrol steroids?”
This is why the people you idolize aren’t always the best mentors.
Therefore, you just need both someone at your ultimate goal and also someone a few steps ahead of you, because beyond that you’re not going to ask the right questions anyway in all likelihood to someone far beyond you.
So, you found the right person to ask, you asked them for the right piece of advice, and finally you need to consider,
Are you needing advice for who you are, or who you want to be?
If a 400 lbs dude asks you for advice on getting healthy fastest way possible, the correct answer is to work out 7 days a week and have a perfectly strict diet. But the best answer is to tell them just to stop eating an entire cake every day – if he’d just stop pigging out, that would help tremendously without even stepping in a gym.
They can handle the baby step advice and actually do it, whereas the other advice that’s better, that’s even directly tailored to them, is probably useless since they won’t listen. I addressed knowing who you are as the most important part of hearing advice here.
Someone called in and asked Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs advice juggling the 3 businesses he was trying to start up and his job. Mike told him to just pick one thing and focus on it. That’s good advice. But Gary Vee might tell him even “better” advice by telling him to manage his time better, work harder, and get all 3 things done. One piece of advice caters to an idealized self (Gary Vee) and the other to the actual self (Rowe).
Usually advice to an Idealized Self is worthless, even if it’s “better.”
If your goal is to get to Florida to live next to Tony Robbins, the steps then are:
a) Knowing that Tony Robbin’s lives in Florida is important. Getting advice from Tony on how to get to Florida is a bad use of his expertise. Therefore finding someone that has lived in Florida is someone best to listen to.
b) Asking the right question since “what roads to take” to get to Florida is a better question than “what shoes won’t wear out” on a cross country hike.
c) Know where you are mentally / physically. If someone says, “Take these roads to get there,” that might be bad advice if they knew you lived in Hawaii.
d) Know who you are. The best advice of “hiring a charter jet” is the fastest way to achieve your goal, but it doesn’t matter if you know you won’t actually take that advice. And knowing that you’re too broke to actually even spend gas money to even drive won’t help either. You realize the only advice you’ll take is one that involves hitchhiking for free.
This is why it’s so hard to get help.
People needing help are asking the wrong question, for the wrong goal, to the wrong person, for the wrong personal situation, and they have the guise of being someone they’re not.
Consider 2 audience questions: 1) How do I get to $1M in sales? vs 2) I’m making $900k currently, but am lazy and need to know how to get to $1M?
The answers there are going to be very different, despite the same person answering them and despite the same goal.
What good advice have you gotten from someone was worthless because of something being wrong with the 4 Tenants of Advice?
“Success isn’t luck. It’s a skill!” – Random guru.
When you start something new, everything will feel like luck. Everything new and where you’re not sure if it will work or not is luck. Playing poker and winning a hand may feel like luck to a new player, but really these things are skill disguised as luck.
For a newbie, they can’t tell the difference in results from luck vs skill.
It’s important to throw things out there that can at least give us the opportunity to be lucky. Meaning that you need to have the POTEINTIAL for someone to someone to come to your website and buy your product. The POTENTIAL for a poker hand to be a winning one, or a stock to be the one that skyrockets, or the potential for a call back for a dream job you applied for.
It’s simple – you lose when you have no potential surprises or strokes of luck that around the corner. You win when you do.
Put the video out there to get “lucky” when it goes viral. Put the product out there to get “lucky” when someone buys it. Put the resume in for the job you want to get “lucky” when they call you back. Put the order in to buy the stock to get “lucky” when it goes up.
People think they’re “lucky” and other’s aren’t. But lucky people simply put opportunities out into the world such that they can be lucky, and other “unlucky” people don’t.
“Write down 20 goals you have. Now mark your top 5. Scrap the remaining 15 goals because you’re going to just focus on the top 5!” – Random Guru
If life was a genie, it’d give you 1 wish, not 3. Because people negate their first wish with their 2nd or 3rd wish.
This advice might be good, it might be garbage, and the reason why is that people’s goals aren’t consistent with what’s real or possible. People will have a goal like, “I want to build a 7 figure business.” and “I want to spend more time with my family.” Well, you’re probably not spending more time with the family while trying to build a new multi-million dollar business. If these wishes were directly at a genie, the 2nd wish would destroy the 1st wish out of existence.
People’s goals don’t co-exist with one another and therefore cancel themselves out and nothing is achieved.
People will have 2 goals like saying they want to “Relax on a hammock sipping margaritas in the tropics and work from my laptop.” and also, “Become a body builder.” Bad news…you’re not drinking margaritas and lounging around while also becoming a bodybuilder.
People need to have one singular specific goal, and that’s it. Everything beyond 1 goal is inviting the chance that it’s not possible for your goals to coexist. This is also why it’s valuable that you find someone that is living a lifestyle similar to what you may like to experience, because you know it’s possible if they’re doing it. However, it’s a tricky situation, since Naval mentions the trick to eliminating envy is simply, “Imagine swapping lives entirely with the person you are jealous of.” You may be envious of that person’s bank account, but not nearly so much when you consider their awful relationships or whatever.
There’s a trap with modeling someone else: time.
It may be a situation where you need to achieve one goal and THEN the next for them to coexist. Meaning you CAN have a 7 figure business and spend a lot more time with your family, but perhaps striving for both of those goals at the same time is foolish. Also, the order matters – it’s easier to get the business going on autopilot and THEN spend more time with the family, rather than spending more time with the family and THEN trying to grow a business from scratch.
You can make life easy – focus on the most important goal. Sometimes, you have to balance things out between multiple goals, but sometimes you’re not going to get the goal you set out for either.
What goals do you have that may not be able to co-exist with one another?
What singular goal should you focus on?
What goals CAN co-exist, but need to be done in a certain order?
What order must be they be done in?
You need to change course and direction if you’re going to hit your goals! – Random Guru
While striving towards goals does involve being a bit off course a lot of the time, if you’re changing strategies too frequently to try to level up, it could actually cause failure.
The guy at the grocery store checkout line that wants to jump to another line that seems like it’s moving faster, only to realize his original lane was now going faster and jumps back, realizes he never makes any progress as he keeps hopping lines.
The guy in Office Space driving to work hops in the other lane that’s going faster only to immediately stop due to extra traffic.
Sierra On-Line games co-founder Ken Williams talks about how massively successful they were when they started making computer games and dominated in that. Then jumped ship by trying to make video games for consoles and failed miserably in the early 1980s. Ken says he should have never deviated from his original path, despite the allure of video games being much more favorable. Sometimes chasing after a slice of a billion dollar pie is much harder than getting the entire pie if the pie is only $10M.
As an aside, it’s a common lesson we hear repeatedly that it’s better to be the best in a niche more than to be “a part of a billion dollar industry.”
Be impatient with getting into line. Be impatient with getting your niche carved out. Be patient with staying in your niche and growing, more than jumping to a newer broader niche or a different market altogether.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing. Stay in line, stay in your own niche, and keep grinding out that plan. When to switch vs stick it out is an art, but usually tied to progression. If you’re progressing bit by bit, maybe you should stick with it. If you’re not progressing at all, maybe it’s time to switch.
How many things would have gone better for you in the past, if you just stuck with it all the way through as opposed to jumping into something else seemingly more lucrative or exciting?
“Thinking of going to college or taking a trip around the world? College can wait. Travel the world!” – Gary Vee
Gary is probably right about most things. However, there’s 2 biases that are in play with his advice.
Tell me what I want to hear bias (eg Confirmation Bias):
The bias to want to hear what you feel. I wrote about this in another article where gurus become popular not because they’re effective or give good advice, but because those gurus tell you to chase 6 passions simultaneously (and that’s what you wanted to hear). It may not be good advice to derail your employment career for your jaunt across Europe, but when Gary tells you it’s ok, it suddenly is now confirmed that dropping out of school is a good idea.
The Scarcity Effect:
The bias that something that is scarce is valuable. People think this is a bias that deals with physical things, but it’s rampant in non tangible things too. The problem is that because you can only go on a Europe trip this one time and then it’s going to be nearly impossible to do it later is now somehow, magically, and incorrectly, thought to be a better decision because “you can always go back to school” or “you can always find another job.”
This process is bad where we are giving priority for doing things that can only be done now AND giving them a ‘bonus’ over something that isn’t scarce (ie. getting a job, going back to school, etc). It MIGHT actually be a good idea to go on your jaunt across Europe. But it’s NOT a good idea simply because the alternatives could be pushed off.
Things that can be pushed off aren’t inherently a bad idea.
This logic goes down a slippery slope, “Hey Gary, should I start that diet to get ripped or should I eat this cake made by an amazing chef?” To which Gary will say, “Fuck those abs man, you can always start a diet anytime. This is CAKE we’re talking about. Don’t you love cake? I know tons of people with 6 pack abs that are miserable! Don’t you want to be happy?!”
His advice is seductive, and in fairness, it propagates because it’s OFTEN right. But lurking in the bushes near his good advice is are 2 biases waiting to latch people to him: 1) I’ll tell you to do whatever you want, and 2) Procrastination is ok. It’s hidden in his mantras about “patience” and the unreasonable premium on decisions that have an expiration date to them.
Gary helps people make the right decision a lot of times (starting your business, etc), but for the wrong reasons (“because other things can wait”).
Do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because there’s an easy way to bail and jump ship to another idea (ie school, job). – Truth Cake
As an aside, Naval is the only person that I’ve seen describe advice on patience fully which is, “Be patient with results and impatient with the execution.”
If you’re trying to decide between things and you catch yourself saying, “Well, if X doesn’t work out, I can always go back…” Just stop. You’re making a biased decision based on the Scarcity Effect, and your conclusion is likely to be wrong.
What decisions have you made that you made because you felt that this was your “ONE shot” vs simply making a decision because it was the best decision to make?
Jeff Bezos spends money better than you or I do. When we spend money, we’re basically influencing what someone else does with their time. There are certain tasks that are better for humanity than others, one would argue having someone spend their time to build a house, or cook a meal, is more valuable than banging buckets as drums on a downtown sidewalk or cooking meth.
In the book Bold, the authors mention that to fix developing countries you can fix certain problems such as giving a place electricity or better ovens and this solves a pile of other problems. This is in contrast to solving a problem like hunger by giving a free meal, which doesn’t really solve a problem for very long and also creates more problems when well fed people then have the strength to reproduce and create even more mouths to feed.
When a hobo is given $20, then that money commands more liquor store owners to keep showing up, make new stores, or brewers to get more barrels to brew booze in. When Elon Musk is given $20, that money commands a kid to stay in school to keep studying rocket science in hopes that Musk will hire him to help get us to Mars. Getting to Mars is likely better for the human race than brewing more booze.
This is why the government doesn’t want certain people to pay any taxes. The government knows that business owner will spend that money better than the government can. A regular wage earner will likely not spend the money in a good way that benefits a lot of the economy and society, and therefore the government takes it and spends it the best it can to encourage more people that CAN spend the money than them to emerge (ie. the entrepreneurs). The only reason we have a job working for some company where the CEO pays no taxes is BECAUSE the CEO pays no taxes. This is a highly incomplete view of this economic theory, but the point is to think about how money influences others to make humanity better (or worse).
Also, in terms of making things better, we should consider what things make us better vs not. If you have a hobby, like singing, drawing, painting, this may seem like a selfish thing, but many of these things can be performed or done for others and that brings joy to those other people enjoying the fruits of that person’s hobby and practice. Even things like philosophy, which are usually unemployable skillsets, may bring some value to others in terms of helping people see ways to progress mentally.
It’s probably worth considering the scale of what’s valuable and not. An example is knowing different languages is probably one of the worst things humans do in terms of making the world productive and better, and we’d all be better off if we just picked one language and everyone was taught that. Learning how to write in funny ways like cursive might be exceptionally low value. But learning government, even if someone isn’t going into politics, is probably higher value to make sure we’re not going down the path of a tyrannical government that destroys a society’s productivity. And maybe higher is learning digital arts like movie production, animations and image editing. And maybe the highest is learning chemistry, building trades, engineering, and software development.
It’s also interesting to note that some things may have nearly no value whatsoever. Like memorizing the latin names of animals, or perhaps even knowing how to identify certain bird sounds with certain birds. Does it make the world a better place to know how many eggs a sea turtle lays in a season? Probably not. This isn’t to be confused with whether something is profitable to know. Philosophy may not have much profitability associated with it, but if you meet Jeff Bezos and tell him some philosophical story of how people that do great things receive a lot of criticism at first from skeptics, and that’s the story that keeps him going, then philosophy is highly valuable to a growing society.
Even harder sciences don’t necessarily make the cut such as paleontology. If someone spends their days with a paintbrush delicately brushing away dirt from a bone, and we see that bone and then make predictions about it (ie. “It’s 20,000 years old!”), does it really matter? Granted, on some level everything matters, and also perhaps, nothing matters. But some things will matter to more people than other things. If you learn how to make a seed that yields 5x the crops, there’s a lot more people that such a discovery will matter to than finding another old bone. If someone discovers a technology and builds a business around it that comes to town and has 10,000 jobs, that may matter more than knowing how long a whale can grow to be.
The point is that there’s some things in life that matter to more people than others, and maybe we should focus on those things as a society. Beware of the piles of infinite information that don’t do anything for society or you, and simply clog your brain. And consider how when you spend a $1 how it can affect the world and how spending in certain ways vs others, controls whether humanity progresses or regresses.
If you consider yourself a little microcosm society, what things should it learn the most? What things should it try to compel others to do via spending money? What behaviors can start a flywheel of prosperity or happiness to begin to spin up?
What is this site?
Self improvement for smart people.
I follow business leaders, gurus, and philosophers and note things others missed that I’ve found valuable.
This site is my precious treasure chest of ideas on business, philosophy and life. And hopefully during your pillaging here, you get your mind blown.
My life’s goals are to help summarize the human knowledge base, dispel self improvement myths, and achieve a resultant and unrelenting state of 24/7 euphoria. I’m kidding, but we’ll still try!
Follow along on my journey!