When your life becomes the message, words become secondary.
Your words, although powerful and creative, are only meaningful to people if your experience matches what you have to say.
Listening to a teacher talk about World War 2 is rarely as engaging as listening to the emotions of a holocaust survivor. Hearing a lecture about biology is nowhere as captivating as interacting with a biologist.
Talking will only get you so far, because the most effective learning is not based on words, but experience. Only when someone has experience to validate their words are people willing to listen.
The reasons why personal stories are so great at engaging audiences is because it reveals experience. When someone has an idea and shares a story, the idea becomes credible if the story validates the idea. When a story validates an idea, the audience is given a real example of how the idea works, and has an easier time accepting the idea.
Words should never be the message, they should merely deliver the message. Effective words reveal the heart and character of the speaker. Teaching should come out of experience, not simply words. When your life becomes the message, your words simply deliver the message.
Your work, art, creativity, passion, and dreams are expressions of your identity. They do not reign as your identity, but are merely expressions of it.
People who are hesitant about broadcasting their work often do so because they are afraid of what might happen. They are afraid of how the might fail, and the attacks that might come their way. They have a fear that people might attack the core of who they are.
But the truth is, if your work is nothing more than an expression of your identity, the most that people can attack is the expression. The only person that can attack your identity is yourself, and that comes through choice.
When you choose to accept yourself, regardless of the calls that people make on your expressions, that’s when you get true freedom to be yourself. That’s when you have the freedom to stand up and say, “Here I made this. I’m not sure if it’ll work or if it’s even a good idea, but that doesn’t matter.”
“If you’re going to be loved anyway, your behavior doesn’t have to be driven by your yearn for an outcome; it can be driven by something deeper.” – Seth Godin
Vulnerability then, is being open and transparent with your audience about who you are and what you do, not to seek approval from them, but to step out of the bounds of comfort to make new discoveries.
And when vulnerability comes from a place of already being accepted, fear vanishes.
Children are forced to attend school because we are afraid to let them learn on their own, make their own choices, and do whatever they want.
High schoolers are forced to take standardized tests because we cannot trust a personal and individualized measurement of creativity.
People often find themselves trapped in rigid, organized systems that don’t trust the individual.
Many of the systems that exist today are built on feelings of mistrust. However, there are other systems that are beginning to operate from a place of trust.
Trust brings human connection and innovation. Much of the business world is beginning to understand trust. Wikipedia trusts any individual to edit their knowledge base, Quora is trusting individuals to answer questions, Craigslist is trusting individuals to exchange goods.
But while trust brings authenticity, creativity, and personality, it also means vulnerability and inconsistency.
It means that people will no longer have systems and programs to hide behind, and really expose themselves to the world. It means that people will have to take command of their own learning and creating, and building for themselves what they dream in their heart.
When we learn how to trust other people by default, creativity will create innovation at a much faster rate.
I’m weird. While most people study different subjects, I study different ways of studying.
After reading things from Tim Ferris, Michael Ellsburg, and others, I have found that the 80/20 rule applies practically anywhere.
The idea is that 20% of the work produces 80% of the results.
The challenge then, is deconstructing and figuring out which 20% gives you the most results. For example, in every language there are words that are the most commonly used words, which often make up a large majority of the whole language. If you are able to supercharge your learning by learning what matters, everything else comes a lot easier.
This concept has saved me countless hours of academic work, by prioritizing material to learn. In my most recent writing class, I experimented on how to read and analyze multiple articles and write a two to three page response in less than half an hour. With the end paper in mind, I began typing my response to the articles while I was reading them, knowing that all my teacher wanted was a thoughtful response to the articles.
This concept explains how people like Tim Ferris are able to master skills in extremely short periods of time. (Look him up if you’ve never heard of him)
Therefore, it is no longer about how you study, how long you study, but also what you study and the order you study it in.
I hate excuses. Especially when people use excuses to excuse themselves from responsibility. It’s much more effective to work through whatever inadequacies you may think you have than to be crippled by an excuse for the rest of your life.
People like giving excuses cause it’s easier than learning how to overcome inadequacy. We find it easier to complain than to gain.
So today, released onto the very pages of this blog, is a big, fat, red pill. This post will contain some of the most common excuses that I hear, and how to overcome them. You’ve been warned. After reading this, do not ever use these excuses ever again.
“I suck with names” – I used to say this one all the time myself, telling people I met up front that I probably wasn’t going to remember their name. Then I realized how stupid that statement was, because I was essentially giving up the possibility of learning someone’s name by saying that. Remembering people’s names, even if you’ve only met them once, isn’t even that difficult, but most people just give up.
- Be motivated to remember people’s names. The main reason why we don’t remember names is because we don’t care enough. If I were to tell you that you would get $100 for remembering my name, I bet you wouldn’t forget my name even if you tried.
- Use the person’s name. It becomes easier to remember someone’s name if you say it verbally yourself.
- Ask the person about their name. This is especially helpful if you meet someone who has a name you may not be used to. Asking them the history / meaning / spelling of their name are all ways to help you remember their name.
- Link the face to the name. Faces are always easier to remember than names. Therefore, it helps to visualize people’s faces while trying to remember their name.
“I suck at time management / I’m too busy” – The reason why most of us have problems managing our time is because we’re used to other people managing our time for us. So when we don’t have somebody to tell us what to do, we often end up wasting a lot of time. Time management has a direct relationship with what activities you do and your motivation for doing them.
- Learn to do things because you love to do them, not because you’re forced to. In terms of education and schoolwork, view your education as an opportunity to learn and invest into yourself, even if you may not enjoy the particular subject at hand.
- Stay focused on the purpose behind everything you do. Looking at the bigger picture will help you stay motivated on a day to day basis, and keep you from burying your face too closely in the details.
- Try different time management strategies. Most of us probably keep some sort of todo list somewhere, but if that isn’t enough for you, there are also tools such as Evernote and the GTD method using Evernote. The Pomodoro Technique is another strategies that a couple of my friends swear by.
“I’m not ready” – Then get ready. Whenever I hear something like this, it usually means much more than not being ready. People who use this excuse often are not even in the process of getting ready, and it actually reveals a lack of effort or determination to get ready.
- Figure out what it means to be ready. It is always helpful to have a goal that you want to achieve. Having clear, defined goals is always the first step to scoring. It’s hard to score a goal you can’t see.
- Take active steps to get ready. Take intentional actions in order to achieve the goal in the aforementioned step.
“I’m too lazy” – A lack of motivation will always discourage you from doing something. Strangely enough, the people who say that they are too lazy to do things are the ones that complain that they are bored. Either way, this excuse reveals a lack of motivation.
- Decide objectively whether the action at hand is worth your time. Consider many points of view. Sometimes these actions are things that we know we should do, but we just lack the motivation to do them. Hopefully assessing the value of an action is enough to get you to stop being lazy.
- Find motivation and accountability. If you want to do something, but often struggle with actually doing it, finding a community that you can run (metaphorically or physically) with is often the best motivation and accountability you can find. It is even more effective when the community you find is already doing the things you want to do.
“Not my fault” – Okay. Things that happen sometimes will not be your fault. But using this excuse with someone else is often pushing full responsibility onto someone else, which hopefully will turn out fine. But if you care at all, it would be smart to communicate what you know and help clear things up instead of taking the three word escape pod.
- There is no such thing as over-communication (which is much different than repetition, aka “nagging”). If something is unclear, it is always better to verbalize what you are thinking instead of operating off of assumptions.
- Talk directly to the person in question. Gossiping about a problem only creates false assumptions and unnecessary antagonism. If you have a problem with someone, communicate with them.
“I don’t have enough money” – Poor you. People are always complaining that they don’t have enough resources to accomplish what they want to do. But it’s stupid to complain about what you don’t have when you aren’t even utilizing what you do have.
- Spend consciously. This is not necessarily being stingy with your money, this is about being aware of where your money is going and being sure that you are spending efficiently on what you actually need / truly care about. Prioritize the things you buy.
- Educate yourself on how to manage your finances and be conscious with your spending. I recommend “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi.
“I’m too tired / didn’t get enough sleep” – I’ve heard this often, especially because I’ve been surrounded by overachieving Asians most of my life. This is usually a indication of poor time management or poor priority management.
- If you wouldn’t wake up early for it, you shouldn’t stay up late for it. If you find yourself wasting time online instead of going to sleep at night, and then feeling extremely tired the next morning, it would probably be smart to consider whether your night surfing is worth your time.
- If you’re just actually too busy, take time to reconsider the things you invest your time in, and revisit the “I’m too busy” excuse above.
“YOLO” – This is actually an excellent excuse to go on adventures.
What are other excuses you need to stop using? Let’s hear about them in the comments.
One of the major factors of making a decision is security. Oftentimes, one decision is viewed as safe, and the other viewed as a risk.
For example, going to school or work everyday is a choice. One can decide to cut class or ditch work, but often that comes with a risk of a penalty. Or perhaps on a larger scale, one can decide to become a doctor or become an artist. Becoming a doctor seems like a safe path with a lot of money, while becoming an artist means you might starve for the rest of your life.
But consider all of the people who have ever become famous. Consider the ones that have made it into history books, and celebrated all around the world. Practically all of those people would say that they made a difference because of a risk that they took. You can’t make a difference by doing what someone else has already done because they’ve probably already done it. No one can just come out with an iPod in 2012 and impact the music industry the way Apple did in the early 2000s.
But just taking a risk doesn’t automatically make you a famous hero. Just because you have dropped out of college to start a company doesn’t automatically mean that you will be on the next Forbes magazine. Taking a risk, for an extremely large portion, involves failure.
But does the safe, beaten come without risks either? Of course not. There is perhaps an even greater risk that comes with going with the beaten path, that is, regret. Forcing yourself to do something that you don’t really care for and don’t really have a passion for comes with the risk that you will regret life when you lay on your deathbed one day. According to a recent study, the number one regret for people on their deathbed is that they wished they had lived a life true to themselves, not the life others expected of them. In the end, people wished that they had honored their dreams and passions, not simply taken the path that was easiest.
It’s a conscious choice that you have to make, and if you are not aware of the difference, it’s easy to subconsciously follow the path that everyone else is taking.