In recent years, we’ve lost the feeling of mystery and wonder at the world around us. Other than the deep oceans, we’ve seemingly discovered every piece of the natural world.
I’ve often felt that there are no more grand secrets to be found in the world, and that the only remaining mysteries are left to the most brilliant scientists, thinkers, and engineers among us.
Peter Thiel describes this feeling in his book, Zero to One:
Why has so much of our society come to believe that there are no hard secrets left?
It might start with geography. There are no blank spaces left on the map anymore. If you grew up in the 18th century, there were still new places to go. After hearing tales of foreign adventure, you could become an explorer yourself.
Today, explorers are found mostly in history books or children’s tales.
But as Peter goes on to say, we’re not done finding secrets in the world around us. We haven’t yet solved all of the great mysteries and problems in the world.
From a business perspective, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp discovered the secret that people are eager for affordable and accessible ways to get where they need to go. This discovery led to the founding of Uber.
When secrets are found, what we’re discovering are opportunities for change and continued innovation.
We can’t let ourselves become cynical at our surroundings. When we open our minds to physical, mental, and spiritual ideas, we just may uncover new secrets.
What will you do with the secrets you discover?
Filed under: Life Lessons
Next time you strike up a conversation with someone, I would encourage you to play the following game:
Avoid talking about yourself for as long as possible. You can only talk about yourself if the other person asks you something about yourself.
You may be surprised at how much the other person enjoys this game (but only if they don’t know you’re playing).
If you haven’t already noticed, most people really enjoy talking about themselves. Even those who claim to hate talking about themselves simply haven’t had someone show genuine interest in what they have to say.
Once you get good at the game, you’ll notice a trend of great conversations. You may even start feeling icky when you have to talk about yourself.
If you get really good at the game, people may just start playing the game against you.
And that, my friends, is how you become great at conversation.
I’ve spent the past year writing about money. Here’s a list of the highlights that came out of it so far.
- Diversifying your income sources helps you sleep a bit better
- Having a cash buffer in your checking account is invaluable
- People get super weird when you talk about money
- Investing is much easier than you’d expect
- Your money habits are the best reflection of your personality
- It’s very possible to retire before you’re 65
- Being debt free amplifies wanderlust
- Paying off debt is just the beginning
- Market declines are normal and present some good opportunities
- Buying a house when you’re young isn’t always best
- Good money habits == happy marriage
Look at this picture.
Look at it.
That’s the view twenty minutes from our apartment, and it’s even more incredible in person. That cow has no freaking idea how good he has it.
Yet, even though it’s a great view, I’m ashamed to say that I felt like I had fully absorbed the grandeur after only about half an hour. As humans, we’re incredibly good at getting tired of things at an alarmingly fast rate.
Don’t be like me.
One of my most vivid memories from my teenage years was taking a hike through North Carolina up throughout Wesser Bald. Growing up in the south, I rarely saw so much as a green hill when it comes to majestic landscapes. I had no concept of how big the world around me really was.
As we hiked through the heavily wooded trail, we came to the famed Wesser Bald Fire Tower. Climbing up to the top gave me a view that stuck with me even to this day, and I attribute it to my aching wanderlust.
Green mountains blanketed by fog stretching far into the distance.
Through a quick Google search, this is the very best I could find that captures the view I saw. I won’t blame you if you’re not terribly impressed.
Impressed or not, it was my first taste of awe.
I’ve been continually chasing that feeling throughout my life, and that chase has served me well thus far. Without a desire to venture out, we risk missing out on some of life’s best experiences.
Take time to be in awe once in a while.
Take time to seek out those experiences that might scare the hell out of you.
You can’t absorb grandeur in thirty minutes.
Look for sights that might make you forget everything you think you know about the world around you.
Take time to seek out these things, and don’t stop searching.
The foolish investor works for every dollar. The wise investor lets every dollar work for them.
The foolish investor gambles. The wise investor doesn’t risk more than she’s willing to lose.
The foolish investor gains his investment knowledge through the news. The wise investor gains her investment knowledge through books.
The foolish investor sticks to minimal assets classes. The wise investor diversifies.
The foolish investor loses sleep over making money. The wise investor makes money in her sleep.
The foolish investor becomes fearful in market declines. The wise investor becomes greedy.
The foolish investor believes bull markets last forever. The wise investor knows that nothing lasts forever.
The foolish investor’s mood fluctuates with the stock price. The wise investor doesn’t let emotions get in the way.
The foolish investor questions when to start investing. The wise investor started investing yesterday.
The foolish investor blindly trusts investment advisors. The wise investor understands that investment advisors aren’t her friends.
The foolish investor follows fortune tellers. The wise investor follows fortune makers.
Sometimes, for true change to happen in our lives, we have to face the thing many of us fear the most.
Let’s consider a quote from Mark Twain:
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
I generally hate being wrong. In fact, I’ve worked hard to weed out most of the wrong ideas and behaviors that I’m aware of up to this point in my life. At this moment, I can only think few small things that I might be wrong about.
And yet, in reality, I’m still wrong about over half of everything I know.
You don’t grow as a person, improve your mindset, refine processes, or become in any way better by being right all the time. It’s not until we realize our mistakes and admit them to ourselves that we can begin to make improvements in our lives.
Take pleasure in realizing you’re wrong, even when it’s difficult.
When someone calls you out on your mistake, they deserve your thanks.
Revel in your wrongness, and earn your ability to be right.
Filed under: Life Lessons
Here’s a great rule to adopt in your own life.
A quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
The heart of this message is in showing the confidence necessary to accomplish something difficult. Whether or not you believe in your ability to carry it out, it’s important to realize that, given enough time, anyone can solve almost any problem.
But it begins with confidence.
Never before have we lived in a time when we’re most equipped to gain the knowledge necessary to accomplish almost any task. Having access to Google is one of the key tools of some of the smartest people I know.
Want to learn to change your own oil? There’s hundreds of YouTube videos for that.
Want to learn a new language?
Want to learn to code?
Next time you’re faced with a difficult task and the question of whether or not you can do it, there’s a simple answer.
Certainly I can.
Filed under: Life Lessons
There have been dozens of books written on the topic of professional success and optimizing your goals and career path, but I’ve realized that there’s actually only two steps that are necessary to developing a successful career.
I’m going to say something that you might not like, but you need to hear it.
Most people don’t care about your life.
With the rise of social media, we’ve become increasingly self-centered. Look at your Twitter timeline, and you’ll regularly see dozens of “look at me and what I’m doing and what I like!” tweets. I’m guilty of it, too.
If you too join in on this trend of constant self-promotion, you’ll often be greeted with the same amount of attention you give the majority of those other self-promoting folks – silence.
It’s not just a social media problem. Look at most of the conversations we have with one another, and you’ll see how often we instantly jump into talk about ourselves as a way to fill the silence. Most of us don’t know any other way of carrying a conversation. When you continuously attempt to build connections and friendships this way – totally devoid of interest in others – you’re doomed to start making enemies out of people over time.
There’s actually a very simple solution to this problem. It takes the form of becoming truly interested in other people, and showing this in our behaviors and conversations.
Dale Carnegie describes this in his famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:
So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. As Mrs. Charles Northam Lee puts it: “To be interesting, be interested.” Ask questions that the other man will enjoy answering. Encourage him to talk about himself and his accomplishments.
Remember that the man you are talking to is a hundred times more interested in himself and his wants and his problems than he is in you and your problems. His toothache means more to him than a famine in China that kills a million people. A boil on his neck interests him more than forty earthquakes in Africa. Think of that next time you start a conversation.
So if you want people to like you, be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Taking interest in others is one of the healthiest social behaviors that you can develop in your own life. When we train ourselves to truly look at things from other peoples’ point of view, work towards understanding these views, and maintain a genuine interest in them, you’ll learn more about yourself and the world around you.
Filed under: Life Lessons
When my wife and I got married, we were given a piece of advice by a trusted mentor.
“The very best thing you can do when you first get married is to move away from home and forge your own path.”
It stuck with us.
Within a year of receiving this advice, we headed out on our way to a new home several hours from where we grew up. We put a good bit of distance between ourselves and our family and childhood friends. Though it was a scary step in our lives, we soon discovered why this advice was so important.
A few months after settling into our new home, we met a wonderful group of friends, several of whom hadn’t taken the chance to move away from home beyond going away to college. We noticed something hanging over these people – pressure. Pressure to keep up with the example set by nearby family members. Pressure to keep up with friendships that should’ve faded a long time ago. Pressure to accomplish the goals they set out to accomplish in the eyes of the peers they grew up with.
In my view, it’s incredibly important for all of us to see how we handle life without any of these pressures or influences.
You need to see how you react to your car breaking down 400 miles from the nearest friend or family member (it sucks).
You need to experience building relationships without those initial connections to assist in the process (it’s hard).
You need to know what it’s like to be missed by those you love.
You need to have the opportunity to let failing friendships die gracefully.
By never moving away, we lose the chance to learn more about ourselves in these scenarios.
All of this is especially true if you’re married. For my wife and me, moving away has given us the opportunity to maintain strong relationships with our families while also providing the distance necessary to form our own married life and build our own experiences.
When we fight, we resolve it head on. When faced with a tough choices, we make those together. When it comes to big decisions like having children, we’ve been fortunate to make those judgments without influence or pressure from 3rd parties. After all, being 2000 miles away from family means that at the end of the day, the only people we can lean on are each other, and for us, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Move away. It’s ok to come back, but you need the time to discover who you really are away from the influences that built you.