Happy New Year! And like every other year, we, as well as everyone else, try to become better or improve ourselves. And the most common way people try to achieve such improvements is by making New Year resolutions. However nobody ever sticks to their New Year resolutions, for instance, the lady whose New Year resolutions appeared on this blog last year didn’t keep any one of them. So this year I’ve come up with a different approach.. Here’s a list of truths that will make you a better person in 2013 but which most people won’t tell you.
6. The World Only Cares About What It Can Get from You
The simple truth is that the society is full of people who need things or are after their own selfish interest. They need houses built, they need food to eat, they need entertainment, and they need fulfilling sexual relationships. The moment you came into the world, you became part of a system designed purely to see to people’s needs.
so you have two options, Either you will go about the task of seeing to those needs by learning a unique set of skills, or the world will reject you , no matter how kind, giving and polite you are. You will be poor, you will be alone, and you will be left out in the cold.
Does that seem mean, or crass, or materialistic? What about love and kindness –don’t those things matter? Of course they do, as long as they result in you doing things for people that they can’t get elsewhere.
5. Bitter Vs. Motivated: Your Attitude To Your Job Determines How Successful You Will Be
Here’s the famous speech Alec Baldwin gives in the cinematic masterpiece Glengarry Glenn Ross:
“Nice guy? I don’t give a shit. Good father? Fuck you! Go home and play with your kids. If you want to work here, close.”
It’s brutal, rude, and also it is an honest and accurate expression of what the world is going to expect from you. The difference is that, in the real world, people consider it so wrong to talk to you that way that they’ve decided it’s better to simply let you keep failing.
The genius of that speech is that half of the people who watch it think that the point of the scene is “Wow, what must it be like to have such an asshole boss?” and the other half think, “Fuck yes, let’s go out and sell some goddamned real estate!”
Or some people in that room will get the message despite all the cursing and feed off the energy while others will take it personally and find a way to defend themselves or attack the man.
And the point is that the difference in those two attitudes — bitter vs. motivated — largely determines whether or not you’ll succeed in the world. Some people may say you are not your job, make no mistake: your “job” — the useful thing you do for other people — is all you are.
There is a reason your job will become your label if you happen to make the news (“fashion blogger gets married/Professional Basketballer Attempts Suicide”).
Don’t you ever wonder why a particular company or firm keeps being successful despite being very controversial, it’s because they do their job well. And that’s all that matters.
You don’t have to like it. People have needs and thus assign value to the people who meet them. These are simple mechanisms of the universe and they do not respond to our wishes.
You may not be your job but people judge you based on how well you do your job, if you have a job at all.
4. What You Produce Does Not Have to Make Money, But It Does Have to Benefit People
I read several dozen stories a year from miserable, lonely guys who insist that women won’t come near them despite the fact that they are just the nicest guys in the world. If you’re one of those guys; what do you bring to the table? The Scarlet Johanson lookalike in the bookstore that you’ve been daydreaming about moisturizes her face for an hour every night and feels guilty when she eats anything other than salad for lunch. She’s going to be a surgeon in 10 years. What do you do?
“Well, I’m fucking wicked at capture the flag.”
“What, so you’re saying that I can’t get girls like that unless I have a nice job and make lots of money?”
No, your brain jumps to that conclusion so you have an excuse to write off everyone who rejects you by thinking that they’re just being shallow and selfish. But really, what do you offer? Are you smart? Funny? Interesting? Talented? Ambitious? Creative? OK, now what do you do to demonstrate those attributes to the world? Don’t say that you’re a nice guy — that’s the bare minimum. Pretty girls have guys being nice to them 36 times a day. It’s up to you, but don’t complain about how girls fall for jerks; they fall for those jerks because those jerks have other things they can offer.”But I’m a great listener!” Are you? Because you’re willing to sit quietly in exchange for the chance to be in the proximity of a pretty girl (and spend every second imagining how soft her skin must be)? Well guess what, there’s another guy in her life who also knows how to do that, and he can play the guitar. Saying that you’re a nice guy is like a restaurant whose only selling point is that the food doesn’t make you sick.
3. You Hate Yourself Because You Don’t Do Anything
The step that often gets skipped — it’s always “How can I get a job?” and not “How can I become the type of person employers want?” It’s “How can I get pretty girls to like me?” instead of “How can I become the type of person that pretty girls like?” See, because that second one could very well require giving up many of your favorite hobbies and paying more attention to your appearance, and God knows what else. You might even have to change your personality.
“But why can’t I find someone who just likes me for me?” you ask. The answer is because humans need things.
“But I’m not good at anything!” Well, I have good news — throw enough hours of repetition at it and you can get sort of good at anything..
Don’t like the prospect of pouring all of that time into a skill? Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the sheer act of practicing will help you come out of your shell. People quit because it takes too long to see results, because they can’t figure out that the process is the result.
The bad news is that you have no other choice. If you want to work here, close.
Because in my non-expert opinion, you don’t hate yourself because you have low self-esteem or because other people were mean to you. You hate yourself because you don’t do anything about it.
Step One: Get up.
Do the math: How much of your time is spent consuming things other people made (TV, music, video games, websites) versus making your own? Only one of those adds to your value as a human being.
2. What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do
See, there’s a common defense to everything I’ve said so far, and to every critical voice in your life. It’s the thing your ego is saying to you in order to prevent you from having to do the hard work of improving: “I know I’m a good person on the inside.” It may also be phrased as “I know who I am” or “I just have to be me.”
Don’t get me wrong; who you are inside is everything — the guy who built a house for his family from scratch did it because of who he was inside. Every bad thing you’ve ever done has started with a bad impulse, some thought ricocheting around inside your skull until you had to act on it. And every good thing you’ve done is the same — “who you are inside” is the metaphorical dirt from which your fruit grows.
But here’s what everyone needs to know, and what many of you can’t accept:
“You” are nothing but the fruit.
Nobody cares about your dirt. “Who you are inside” is meaningless aside from what it produces for other people.
Inside, you have great compassion for poor people. Great. Does that result in you doing anything about it? Do you hear about some terrible tragedy in your community and say, “Oh, those poor children. Let them know that they are in my thoughts”? Because fuck you if so — find out what they need and help provide it. A hundred million people watched that Kony video, virtually all of whom kept those poor African children “in their thoughts.” What did the collective power of those good thoughts provide? Nothing. Children die every day because millions of us tell ourselves that caring is just as good as doing. It’s an internal mechanism controlled by the lazy part of your brain to keep you from actually doing work.
“I just wanted to tell you that you’re in my thoughts. Good luck — let me know if that cured you.”
How many of you are walking around right now saying, “She/he would love me if she/he only knew what an interesting person I am!” Really? How do all of your interesting thoughts and ideas manifest themselves in the world? What do they cause you to do? If your dream girl or guy had a hidden camera that followed you around for a month, would they be impressed with what they saw? Remember, they can’t read your mind — they can only observe. Would they want to be a part of that life?
Because all I’m asking you to do is apply the same standard to yourself that you apply to everyone else. Don’t you have that annoying Christian friend whose only offer to help anyone ever is to “pray for them”? Doesn’t it drive you nuts? I’m not even commenting on whether or not prayer works; it doesn’t change the fact that they chose the one type of help that doesn’t require them to get off the sofa. They abstain from every vice, they think clean thoughts, their internal dirt is as pure as can be, but what fruit grows from it? But JESUS said, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
The people didn’t react well to being told that, just as the salesmen didn’t react well to Alec Baldwin telling them that they needed to grow some balls or resign themselves to shining his shoes.
1. Everything Inside You Will Fight Improvement
The human mind is a miracle, and you will never see it spring more beautifully into action than when it is fighting against evidence that it needs to change. Your psyche is equipped with layer after layer of defense mechanisms designed to shoot down anything that might keep things from staying exactly where they are — ask any addict.
So even now, some of you reading this are feeling your brain bombard you with knee-jerk reasons to reject it. From experience, I can say that these seem to come in the form of…
*Intentionally Interpreting Any Criticism as an Insult
*Focusing on the Messenger to Avoid Hearing the Message
*Focusing on the Tone to Avoid Hearing the Content
*Revising Your Own History
*Pretending That Any Self-Improvement Would Somehow Be Selling Out Your True Self
And so on. Remember, misery is comfortable. It’s why so many people prefer it. Happiness takes effort.
Also, courage. It’s incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don’t create anything in your life, then nobody can attack the thing you created.
It’s so much easier to just sit back and criticize other people’s creations. This movie is stupid. That couple’s kids are brats. That other couple’s relationship is a mess. That rich guy is shallow. This restaurant sucks. This Internet writer is an asshole.
Whatever you try to build or create — be it a poem, or a new skill, or a new relationship — you will find yourself immediately surrounded by non-creators who trash it. Maybe not to your face, but they’ll do it. Your drunk friends do not want you to get sober. Your fat friends do not want you to start a fitness regimen. Your jobless friends do not want to see you embark on a career.
Just remember, they’re only expressing their own fear, since trashing other people’s work is another excuse to do nothing. As long as they never produce anything, it will forever be perfect and beyond reproach. Or if they do produce something, they’ll make sure they do it with detached irony. They’ll make it intentionally bad to make it clear to everyone else that this isn’t their real effort. Their real effort would have been amazing. Not like the shit you made.
Don’t be that person. If you are that person, don’t be that person any more. This is what’s making people hate you. This is what’s making you hate yourself.
So how about this: one year. The end of 2013,that’s our deadline. Or a year from whenever you read this. While other people are telling you “Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to lose 15 pounds this year!” I’m going to say let’s pledge to do fucking anything — add any skill, any improvement to your human tool set, and get good enough at it to impress people. But the key is, I don’t want you to focus on something great that you’re going to make happen to you (“I’m going to find a girlfriend, I’m going to make lots of money …”). I want you to purely focus on giving yourself a skill that would make you ever so slightly more interesting and valuable to other people.
Damn it, you have to kill those excuses. Or they will kill you.
You have nothing to lose, and the world needs you.
BONUS: 15 Success Tips For 2013
They use lists. High achievers organize their thinking with lists, they organize their time with lists, and when they want to spur their creativity, the best tool they have is to force themselves out of the comfort of their list.
They use pharmaceuticals. Adderall is de rigueur for the high-powered jobs in high-powered cities to the point that there is a shortage of available Adderall, (and a site to monitor the shortage). Pharmaceutical frenzy is nothing new forgen-yers who used prescription drugs to get a leg up on everything. New York magazine’s ode to Xanax lets you diagnose the type of overachiever you are with the type of pharmaceutical you like best.
They let doors shut all the time. Overachievers know their mom was lying when she said they could be anything. So it’s not that big a deal when they see doors shut. They pick a specialty, they give stuff up to get stuff, and they know life is about making tough choices.
They talk about their weaknesses. Not in a stupid way, like, “I wish I could not be so perfect.”But in a real way, because every strength comes with weaknesses and we’re not good at everything. Overachievers know they aren’t being hired for their weakness, so they let people know that they see themselves clearly by talking about weaknesses.
They work for free. Internships that are (illegally) unpaid, startups that are not (yet) funded speeches and blog posts that help you do the (unavoidable) work of building your brand. These are all acceptable paths to greatness, you just need to know when it’s okay to work for free.
They drop out of school. Most powerful people go to the same small group of schools. For all other schools, college is a ponzi scheme. Besides, today the top-tier schools are set up to favor homeschoolers over kids who go to conventional school. And don’t even get me started on grad school: it’s so bad for your career that you’ll have to leave it off your resume.
They get tons of coaching. High-performers get coaching—they pay for it themselves, and their companies pay for some as well, because corporations know that high-potential employees only get to full potential with coaching. Also, people who are on their way to the top ranks enlist mentors to help them get there. (What’s the difference between a mentor and a coach? The type of access you have.)
They get pregnant at 25. If they’re a woman, that is. It’s clear that only a very small, anomalous group of women can have a high-powered job when they have young kids. So women should make a plan to have kids early, and then they can position themselves for a high-powered job once their kids are all grown up.
They come out of the closet. If they’re gay. People who are openly gay at work do better than people who hide it. Probably because, people who hide that they’re gay cannot make true connections with people at work. The photographer Jeff Shenghas done amazing work around the importance of coming out. (Most recently, his Fearless project documents overachiever athletes coming out, and the photos in this post are from that project.)
They don’t talk about being well-rounded. Top performers are people who focused on something to get great at it. As kids, it means they stop learning to meet national standards because the standards create mediocre learners. And as adults it means you find a specialty so you remain employable.
They don’t get divorced. Sure, the divorce rate is really high. But not for rich, educated parents. (Example: divorce rate among Asian college graduates is around 1%.) Divorce decreases your resources by half. But more importantly, divorce selfishly messes up the kids’ lives, and overachiever parents want to raise overachiever kids.
They don’t write books. The book industry is dead. They have no control over distribution channels and they have no control over author publicity, so the value publishers add in the book business is pretty much zero. Amazon so completely dominates the book industry that Forbes declared that Amazon is now ripe for disruption—they are the publishing model to beat. So for now, if you have an idea, put it in a blog. Harvard Business Review says that people who are serious about ideas are blogging.
They don’t let themselves get fat. The Economist reports that obesity in the US is largely something that does not affect rich, educated people, (which is consistent with research that shows good-looking people make more money.)
They sell out. High achievers sell out all the time.
They steal stuff. Overachievers know they have tons of ideas so they don’t care if people steal some of theirs. Overachievers are more likely to bend the rules to make life easier for themselves. That’s why I stole the idea for this post from another blog.