Daily Reading Notes

February 12, 2019

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

A fun story about the life of Scott Admas that's filled with life lessons.

Passion is bullshit. Nobody has been passionate about something they are bad at. People are passionate about things they are good at.

People hate frustration. They will do anything to avoid embarrassment. That's why people enjoy things they are good at. It's not the passion that made them good at those things. It's being good that made them passionate.

Passion builds when they get excited about the prospects of what to come. That's when you want to put in the late hour. That's when you are willing to dedicate yourself to the task. However, passion dies if nothing good is coming from the activity. Passion is a great answer for how you got here.

No one wants to say they got here through dumb luck. They don't want to say they worked hard because it would make them rich. They don't want to come off overconfident and say it's because they are just that good. Passion is the easy response because it's something anyone can possess.

Setting goals is a sure way to feel like a failure most of the time. When you set a goal, at best you spend majority of your time anticipating the final moment when you get the goal accomplished. At worst, you working hard for a failure.

What happens when you accomplish your goal? You get to celebrate for a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days. Then you are left with a void to fill with another goal. This new goal could require years of work just to feel those few moments of celebration again.

Instead, create systems. Don't set specific goals with a milestone you want to hit. Come up with a method that is successful most of the time. Then practice that system daily. That way, you succeed every time you follow your system, not only when you accomplish a far off goal.

Your system should make you a little better every day. A perfect example is exercise. When you set out with a goal to lose 10 pounds, what happens when you lose it? You feel excited that you accomplished your goal! Then it's back to your old ways, because you deserve a reward after achieving goal. Soon enough, those 10 pounds are back.

A better approach to exercise is to create a system. Decide to workout every day for 10 minutes. This is different because it has no termination date. You are never done with a system. Instead, you get to accomplish a manageable goal every day. You will lose those 10 pounds with the system. Eventually you may even lose 15. But the weight you lost won't ever come back.

Which results would you rather have?

Hold yourself as the highest priority. If you don't take care of yourself first, you can't show up as your best self around others. You gain energy when you eat right, workout, and do what you enjoy. Think of this energy as a bank account.

Before you can buy something you want, you have to get enough money. If you don't have the money to afford it, you end up in debt. Your energy works the same way. Debt can help get through a tough time, but don't let it build up. Try to keep a positive balance of energy. That way, you have energy to spare when an energy draining even suddenly pops up, and don't need to go into energy debt.

This approach may seem selfish, but it's not. With more energy you can accomplish more, work faster, and be an overall more pleasant person. That will make you better at everything else.

However, don't take this too far and become egotistic. Your goal is to take enough time for yourself so that you don't feel drained at the end of the day. You succeeded when you wake up with anticipation and go to bed proud of your accomplishments.

Your brain isn't that different from a computer. You have the power to change it's state and train it to perform the way you want. The difference is the interface you use to control it.

Instead of using a keyboard and mouse, you have to use your actions, thoughts, and physical state. These are the tools that you can control to influence your mental state. Things like sitting up straight can completely change your mood. Slowly building up a habit can lead to you accomplishing amazing or abandoning addictions. Learn these tools and unlock the unlimited potential inside all of us.

Unless you have a superb natural talent that you cultivated from childhood, you can't be successful with a single skill. Instead, you need to focus on learning as many skills as you can. You don't have to master these skills, just become good or even mediocre at them. The more you know the more you are able to learn.

As you gather knowledge about a single topic, any topic related to it become easier to understand. You can see this in math. If you know how to add, multiplication become easy to explain in terms of addition. Learning it in those terms of something you already know makes it faster to teach and you can remember.

Once you start making connections between related topics, you start looking at things from a higher level. You get to see the thread connecting seemingly unrelated things. Most people only see the connections within their field.

Once you start seeing the connects between fields, you gain insight that puts you far ahead of others. In fact, throughout history some of the biggest breakthrough in most fields are attributed to outsiders of that field. These outsiders have a different perspective. That lets them come up with novel ideal others cannot imagine.

There are two skills everyone should learn: psychology and holding a conversation. They are abundant fields which you can always improve in. Every time you learn more of either one, you gain a permanent improvement in your life.

Psychology helps you understand people. You start to see that people aren't as reasonable as you or they would think. People react to the various input and biases they built up. Understating this lets you avoid falling victim to the psychological traps all around you. You can even use what you learned to persuade others.

Becoming better at holding conversation might seem trivial, but it has an echoing benefit on your life. If you can have a good conversation, they will like you. When someone liked you, they are more likely to speak well about you, recommend you for a new position, or just help you out. The good news is you don't have to be born with this skill. You can learn it. The simple way to become better at holding conversations is to smile, ask questions, avoid complaining, and have some stories ready to tell.

With these skill you can boost your personal and professional life.

All the hard work, practice, and learn won't help you find success. It has to find you. Any amount success involves a great deal of luck. The best you can do is be prepared for when it comes.

This might sound discouraging. How long must you wait? This isn't the message you want to hear in a society of instant validation and reward. Nobody wants to wait until they are 60 to finally become successful. However, you can boost your chances of getting lucky by learning to recognize patterns.

When you see the every day patterns, you can take advantage of those patterns. Taking the route with the highest chance of success means you will succeed more often. You can let the odds fight in your favor. All you have to do is apply the skills you've learnt to the best of your ability.

Happiness is our ultimate goal in life. However, it can be tricky to achieve. We all think that different things will make us happy. A lot believe money is the answer. Others want a big family and great friendships. Some just want someone to be there for them on a lonely evening.

It's hard to nail down what will make you happy because it's tough to define what happiness actually is. If you treat happiness as the feeling you get when you feel good, confident, and full of energy, then it's pretty easy to achieve. 80 percent of it is physical.

The key to feeling better lies in sleep, exercise, and diet. These are the things that impact how you look and feel every day. Without getting them under control it's tough to feel good about yourself.

Once you start functioning and feeling better, you increase your chance of getting everything else you want. That's all you can really do to achieve those other goals. Most other goals depend on circumstances you don't have direct control over. You may never get some of them, but you can increase the odds.

Your behaviour and preferences are programmable. The most important method of getting rid of habits is to avoid leaving a gap. When you get rid of an old behavior, you need to replace it with a new behavior that's easier, more convenient, or make you feel better. This is why pairing quiting a behavior and starting a new one works well.

Let's use diet as an example. If you want to stop eating sweets, you should choose something you will eat instead. Let's replace it with fruit. It's close to the flavor profile of sweets but it has positive health benefits instead of negative ones. You get to replace a bad habit with a good one.

Having a replacement selected isn't enough. You need to make it easy for yourself to make the switch. Get rid of all the sweets in your house, making them hard to access. Replace them with fruit that you keep stocked, making it easy to access.

Then you give yourself permission to eat as much fruit as you want when you crave a snack. You will be too lazy to go to a store to pick up sweets when you have an alternative close by. This eliminates the willpower you would need if you had both around. Saving your limited amount of willpower means you are more likely to follow through with this and other habits you are trying to form.

When incorporating a new habit into your system, it's important to remember to do it daily. The duration or intensity doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that you do it.

Take working out for example. It's hard to build a workout habit without doing it every day. If you have rest days built into your habit, it's easy to treat any day as one of your rest days. You start negotiating with yourself about when you can take a rest day.

On the other hand, when you get ready to do your habit for the day, most of the time you will become motivated enough to see it through. There are even ways to increase the likelihood of following through. One of them is to set a regular time for your habit. This allows you to have the time do it and absolves you of needing to find room in your schedule to fit it.

You can use this method of habit creating for any type of habit. So go out and use it to create a system that moves your life in the right direction every day.

Copyright © Artem Chernyak 2020