Imagine life is a game. How do you tell who is the best? Is it the person with the most points? In a game where everyone starts off with the same amount of points, that’s the easiest way to determine the champ. However, if someone was born with a million times as many points as you were, you would have an infinitesimally small chance of getting more points than them. That’s not really a fair way to evaluate it.
Because this game is has so much luck involved, with some people being dealt a royal flush at birth while others are simply promised that one day they might get dealt a hand if they work hard, judging skill at this game by the amount of points a player has is ridiculous. Especially if that player just steals points from other people.
Instead, it’s more accurate to judge a player’s skill by what they are able to accomplish with the hand they were dealt. Seeing the world in a way where having a lot of points=good, having few points=bad is intellectual laziness and is exactly what people who stole or were born with a lot of points want you to think because it makes them look good.
(Bear with me as I take this analogy a little further.)
Say there’s a person who, from the outside, seems to be doing well at this game. He does decently well at pretending that he’s got the game figured out, but deep down he hates where he’s at. He became so obsessed with getting more points that he completely forgot that he started playing this game to have fun. And now he’s dug himself such a big hole that he’s scared of all the effort it’s going to take to get himself out of his soulless world that’s been built up almost completely around accumulating points.
Fortunately for him, in this game, everything is easier if you have a lot of points, granted you know how to use them wisely.
What I’m trying to demonstrate with this analogy is that success comes in two parts, inner and outer. External success is about how much better you make other people’s lives, inner success is about how awesome you feel. However, these two things are interrelated. Inner success, i.e., enjoying life, is contagious. Happy people are more likely to bring out happiness in others, which makes the world a better place. Just like outer success, i.e., solving problems, makes it easier for people to enjoy themselves and lessens the stress in their lives.
While these are two parts, they are really two sides of the same coin. If you’re familiar with the yin yang symbol, you will know that there is a little bit of yin in the yang and a little bit of yang in the yin. You can’t fully separate the two. In this analogy, inner success is yin, outer success is yang.
Society strongly pressures us to focus on external success as the solution to our inner struggles, leading to thoughts like, “If I just accomplish x, y and z, then I’ll be happy,” and, “If I just work this crap job for 30 years, then I can retire, and then I can be happy.” Because of how strong this pressure is, it’s not surprising that a counter-culture has arisen called New Age, epitomized by the movie The Secret, which says it’s all about feeling good now. However, it goes too far in the opposite direction, suggesting that you don’t really need to take action, you just need to think better and you can manifest all of your greedy heart’s desires. If you just don’t think about the problems they don’t exist!
There is truth and B.S. in both sides. What we really want is to feel good. Feeling good is an inner sensation, it happens based on how you perceive and interpret things that happen in your life. If you try and solve inner problems by searching for peace outside you, you will never find it. Some people spend the majority of their lives thinking that making good money is the solution to all of their problems. Then, if and when they achieve this goal, they eventually realize that it’s not as great as they thought it was going to be. And sometimes, instead of changing their approach and admitting they may be going about it the wrong way, they think the solution to the emptiness they feel inside is more money and they double down on the same approach.
The point of making money is to more effectively meet our needs. Yet some people get so lost in making money for its own sake that they neglect every other need they have. The point of outer success is to make it easier to feel good on the inside. Thinking that if we just make more money or gain more power we’ll feel happier is not seeing the whole picture. Money in and of itself doesn’t make us happier for long[1a]. Instead, money will make us happier if we use it in a way that allows us to reduce the stress in our lives, frees up more time for us to do the things that make us healthy and happy, allows us to go to places, events to form authentic connections with likeminded people, and to pay people help us improve better and faster.
The most effective way to use money to increase our quality of life is by learning a couple of acronyms, TIM and AMP. We want work that has AMP and we want to get paid in TIM.
AMP comes from Daniel Pink, author of the book, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. He found that the most motivating work, i.e. work that is intrinsically rewarding, has these three qualities:
Autonomy is having control over what you do, not having someone micromanage you all the time but having the space, trust and respect to do what you believe will be most effective.
Mastery is having the opportunity to continually get better at your work, it’s not a dead end job that feels like Groundhog Day.
Purpose is where your work is not just about making money but legitimately making the world a better place, where your clients shower you with praise and appreciation because of how much you’re helping them. It’s not a job where you’re constantly having to put out fires, deflect criticism, apologize for bad service and deal with angry clients because the company is focused on transactional business.
The other acronym, TIM, was coined by the lifestyle entrepreneurs, Dan and Ian from the Tropical MBA Podcast. Dan and Ian talk about how most jobs only compensate people with money. But money is not the only currency to be remunerated with. There are three:
If you make a ton of money, but have no free time, how much is your money really worth? Likewise, if you make good money but are stuck in one place, you have a limit on what you can spend your money on.
Many people think they want a raise when they would have a much higher quality of life if they had a four day work week and more vacation time rather than more money.
The main goal of money is so that you don’t have to do what you don’t want to do. Does your work make you happy? Do you work because you like it or do you simply put up with the work as best as you can because you like the paycheck?
One of the biggest changes in how successful you feel comes from doing work that is intrinsically rewarding, pays you well, and allows you to take time off when you want to. But you wouldn’t want to take too much time off because you enjoy doing the work.
Most people in our current paradigm don’t understand how fulfilling the right type of work can be. They think, why would I work if I didn’t have to? This line of thinking is because of a negative association to work. They see work as simply a means to an end, mainly making money. But what if you’re work also helped you fulfill all of your other needs?
What if your work was helping you become smarter, more in touch with your emotions, more financially secure, helped you eat better, exercise more, make more authentic connections with amazing people, enhanced your sex and romantic life, helped you increase your self-esteem and led to a more fulfilling life? Why would you ever want to retire?
Depending on how successful you are at meeting the above needs will reflect how possible you think it is to find this type of work. The better you are at being smart, being in touch with your emotions, being financially secure, being physically healthy, making authentic connections, being sexually fulfilled, having high self-esteem and working towards making the world a better place, the easier it will be for you to find work that does all of these things, directly or indirectly.
This is because people who are successful at life, not just making money, are like magnets to each other. They pull each other in and want to surround themselves with other people who are similarly successful. They focus on relational win-win-win2 business. They help each other be more successful at meeting all of their needs. They fire clients and choose carefully who they work with.
Because of how highly they value referrals, this type of group is difficult to penetrate. They can smell lack of authenticity a mile away. When they gather for fun, they don’t advertise about it, they try and keep it quite and invite-only so only the best people attend. They aren’t interested in people who aren’t looking for them and they’re also not interested in certain people who are looking for them.
Instead of yelling for attention, they find creative ways to lead the right people to them. They operate in the background, away from all the noise begging for your attention, softly soliciting people who want to experience more out of life than just the surface.
There is a movement happening right now, but it’s underground, below the surface. Most people have no idea it exists. And that’s how we want it, for now. We want to keep it under the radar for as long as we can, until it’s grown to such a critical mass that it can’t help but envelope all of society, like what happened in the 60s, but far more organized and intentional.
The 60s were mostly about the awakening of the freedom of the self, which was a breeding ground for narcissistic and hedonistic behavior. What’s happening now is the awakening of the self in relation to the whole. Yes, it’s still about having the most amazingly awesome life, but, at the same time, doing the work that fixes this corrupt system that turns people into economic slaves and rewards anti-social behavior.
We’re not interested in radical self-absorption hedonism. We’re not interested in a self-obsessive power struggle. We’re interested in manifesting the highest good of all while laughing, dancing, singing and playing our way to a better world.
As I mentioned, this is an invite-only kind of thing. And the only way you get invited is by proving you’ve done a good amount of the work and are continuing to do so. If you aren’t comfortable with yourself, we won’t be comfortable with you. If you don’t love yourself, it’s real hard for us to love you. If you can’t be vulnerable with us, we’ll keep you a safe distance away, too. If you don’t welcome feedback, we won’t have much interest in trying to help you. If you aren’t in touch with your own emotions, you damned well won’t be able to hold us in ours. If you too afraid to laugh, dance and sing, then why would we invite you to play with us? If you don’t know how to befriend women and can’t help but leak your objectifying sexual energy onto them, how the hell can you expect me to invite you to cuddle, dance and play with them?
You may think it’s not that obvious, but to us it’s crystal clear. A few people can put on a good front, but it’s impossible to hide for long. The scariest thing about being with people who are successful at life is that we see you. If you’re awkward, we’ll notice. If you easily get jealous and intimidated, we’ll notice. If you’re perceived self-esteem is higher than you’re real self-esteem—i.e., you have a big ego—it’s obvious. If you objectify women, we’ll notice. The best thing you can do for yourself is own it, apologize and ask for help. The only way you get better at anything is admitting you have a problem and asking for help.
This is where I come in; I help you do the work. I’ve spent almost my entire life studying, learning and practicing these fundamentals on how to live. I’m here to help you. I don’t profess to know everything, but I know what I don’t know and can point you in the right direction if your needs fall outside of my area of expertise.
1. People with sociopathic and narcissistic tendencies believe this is success. [return to text]
2. Win-win-win is when both parties and the planet win. [return to text]