Two Economic Tragedies

Two economic tragedies:

1. Refusing to acknowledge any forms of value that don’t make money.

(Ie. “Friendships and hobbies are a waste of time unless they advance your career.”)

2. Resenting markets for not rewarding all the things we value in terms of money.

(Ie. “I enjoy laughing, listening to music, and hanging out at the beach. It’s unfair that nobody wants to give me a job or pay me money for those things.”)

#1 = a failure to understand why money matters and how it relates to the pursuit of meaning.

#2 = a failure to understand how value-creation works and why people choose to pay for things at all.

The way out:

Understand your why.

Respect other people’s.

Figure out how to use the former to serve the latter.

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Your Future Is Not a Debate

Instead of pressuring yourself to discover and defend new dogmas, focus on exploring and experimenting with new mental models.

Self-improvement is an adventure, not a religion.

There’s no need to meet a belief-requirement, recite a creed, or pledge lifelong allegiance to a particular school of philosophy in order to better yourself.

Just choose to do more of what works for you and less of what doesn’t.

It’s that simple.

Don’t debate your future. Create your future.

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Develop a Rich Mind

Abundance doesn’t just mean “having a lot of things.”

It means “having a lot of ways to think about things.”

It’s possible to have a lot of talents, connections, advantages, and opportunities, but still feel like “it’s not enough” or “I’m not enough” if you only have 1-2 ways to think about what you have.

There’s no form of wealth that can’t easily be undermined by an impoverished imagination.

Become rich in thought by expanding your definition of abundance to include more things than obvious stereotypical examples of wealth.

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Try Before You Know

Conducting an experiment to explore what works > Making a religion out of every newly discovered self-improvement technique.

In design thinking, there’s a process known as “Proof of Concept.”

This is when you create a pilot version of a project in order gauge your idea against the feedback of some real world experience.

This works not only for developing products, but also for developing your self.

If there’s new book you’re on the fence about buying, find a podcast interview or YouTube video of the author talking about the ideas. If that experience makes you want more, then you have your proof of concept. You now have a better indication that you’ll enjoy the book. If the experience makes you bored or irritated by the author’s communication style, that might be a good indicator that your time is better spent elsewhere.

If you’re considering a new approach to exercising, commit to trying it out for one week. That might be too soon to notice visible results, but it’s not too soon to notice how it makes you feel. Does it make you want more? If so, try two weeks. Does it make you feel less inclined to work out? If so, maybe it’s time to put something new to the test.

Marriage is a wonderful practice, but not everything in life needs to be approached as if it’s a marriage.

Instead of making a lifetime vow to eat a certain way, to get up a certain amount of time, to read a certain number of books, to work a specific set of hours, and so on, try the art of trying things out.

There’s no need to declare a dogmatic opinion about all your strategies and techniques. Being open-minded is good enough. You can get the rest of the information you need by taking a little action and measuring how that makes you feel.

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You Already Have It

Some fantasize “If I were rich, I’d use the money for good causes.”

Why wait?

Instead of putting off generosity until you’ve accumulated more assets, find a way to make a difference with assets you might be undervaluing.

You don’t have to be rich to start practicing the mindset. Generosity is the willingness to share what you have to offer with confidence that someone will be enriched even by your smallest contribution.

It’s a way of declaring “I will not wait on more abundance before embracing the life-giving power of what I can share in this moment.”

Nathaniel Smith,  Fellow at The Mercatus Center, wrote :

We all have two hands and a heart…ears?…these are all in high demand. Undervalued assets indeed.

On the surface, Smith’s words might sound like just another way of saying “Accept everything crappy about your life and never strive for more.”

But it’s the opposite.

If you want to GET more, you have to use what you already have.

The same is true of generosity.

If you want to GIVE more. you have to use what you already have.

The path to a better life always leads through a willingness to affirm something in your life that’s already worth building on.

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The Difference That Difference Makes

Here’s what comes with the territory of being an individual.

What’s obvious to you will seem obscure to others.

This can be a source of great irritation and inconvenience in relationships.

It can also be a source of great purpose and power.

The difference is mostly a matter of decision.

In a talk I gave called “Dreams Don’t Come True, Decisions Do,” I make the following observation:

If everyone was inspired and irked by the same things as you, there wouldn’t be much of a need for you.

You can despise the differences that exist between yourself and others OR you can embrace those differences as evidence for the existence of a unique contribution that you’re here to make.

When others say “I don’t see things the way you do,” it might be more of an affirmation than an attack.

Another way to hear such words might be “I don’t see things the way you do AND that’s exactly why we need someone like you.”

I can only imagine how terrible music, art, literature, technology, and commerce would be if everyone was turned off and turned on by the same things as me.

It’s a good thing that we live in a world where there are people like you.

I hope you see it that way too.

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