Tag Archives: how to succeed

My Philosophy On Leadership

Picture of a boss sitting on a box labeled "business," which is being pulled by three workers.... and a picture of a leader pulling the box labeled "business" with his workers.

You don’t become a good leader by memorizing a list of management rules. All the lists of advice on leadership ultimately add up to one simple concept: respect people. If you don’t understand that, no amount of advice will help you.

I’ve met a lot of people who worked in leadership roles and thought of themselves as leaders, but in their minds, they were a higher form of life than the people “beneath” them. It doesn’t matter if you’re older, more experienced, educated or hold more credentials than another person. You’re not better than anyone else. Even if you were better than someone else on some level, you’re still equal from the cosmic perspective.

Leaders don’t manage peons. Dictators do that. Leaders should see themselves as being responsible for cultivating the rarest, most valuable entities in the universe. When you look at your role like this, you can’t help but treat your workers with respect. You can’t belittle, harass or threaten people you value so strongly. Instead, you’ll find yourself looking at life from their perspective and treating them with the dignity you expect to be treated with.

When you treat others with kindness and dignity, you’ll find that they’ll value you in return. When they value you for who you are and how you treat them, you won’t need to belittle, harass or threaten them to do what you want. They’ll want to go above and beyond the limit for you, and they’ll be more loyal to you.

Regardless of how nice you are to them, they won’t respect your authority if they see you sitting around all day and taking long breaks. As a leader, your work ethic sets the bar for your organization. This means you have to work harder than everyone else. When they see you working hard and picking up their slack, they won’t have any room to complain when you tell them to do something.

In addition to taking responsibility for your organization’s workload, you also have to take responsibility for being the brain of the operation. As powerful as the supercomputer inside every human being’s head is, people tend to think only as much as their role demands. They could answer the hard questions that need to be answered to make an organization function properly themselves, but that’s not their job. Their job is to do what they’re told. So they’ll rely on you to think for them. This isn’t laziness. This is instinctual. You need to be able to rise to this challenge and make wise decisions quickly. When people realize that they can rely on you to answer all their questions and make wise decisions, they’ll come to rely on you. When they’re able to rely on you, they’ll respect you because you make them feel safe and secure.

Even if you do all of these things correctly, you’ll still find some people will still do the bare minimum that’s expected of them. Part of being responsible for other people is setting limits and being firm. As long as you aren’t abusive about it, people will respect the fact that you won’t let them get away with anything. In fact, when a human being obeys another person, it reinforces in their mind that they should obey that person.

This is why militaries force enlisted troops to salute officers. They tell the troops they’re saluting out of respect, but they’re really saluting to keep them in the habit of obeying without question. Forcing one human being to salute another human being in order to manipulate them into maintaining a servile mindset is unethical (especially if you punish them with a dishonorable discharge for failing to subjugate themselves to their equals), but that doesn’t mean requiring people to follow rules is unethical. Structure makes people feel safe, and they respect anyone with the strength of character to lay down rules and stick to them.

At any rate, everyone knows they’re supposed to follow rules even when they try to break them. You don’t have to get philosophical about how to discipline people. You don’t have to yell or give big speeches. All you have to do is tell rule breakers what they did wrong, how you expect them to correct the problem, and in worst-case scenarios, what will happen if they continue to neglect their responsibilities. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred they’ll correct the problem simply because they know they’re supposed to. If they don’t, then you give them a few warnings and eventually let them go. You don’t have to raise your voice or tear them down to do that. You can do it as calmly as Buddha. When other people see you discipline others firmly and with dignity, they’ll respect your authority not out of fear but because you’ve demonstrated that you deserve to be respected.

There’s more to leadership than just this, but ultimately the only way to learn the little details of how to be a good leader is by being a leader. Every minute of leadership experience you get under your belt improves your skills. Like learning any other skill, it’s good to start off small and work your way up. Doing something like managing an amateur sports team or teaching an informal night class is a good way to build your leadership skills before managing a large number of people who do big important things that have severe consequences.

 

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My Short Theory On Responsibility

To be responsible is to take care of yourself. And you can’t take care of yourself without thinking about yourself. Think about it. Ultimately, being responsible for yourself means being selfish. Now, all teenagers are selfish, but their selfishness is short-sighted. Responsibility requires the kind of selfishness that takes into account the future and the rest of the world. Responsibility is being selfish in a way that returns the most amount of good possible. Looking at reality in that light it’s easy to see that getting an education, holding down a job, and saving money are far more selfishly gratifying than getting stoned and playing video games all decade.

 

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

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Leadership and Authority
My Tweets About Self-Help

(Comic) How The Economy Works

(Comic) How The Economy Works

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An old man sits on the steps to his apartment and explains life to an eight-year-old boy.

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Near an apple orchard, a little boy riding a tricycle is talking to a man in a business suit. 

Man #1: Hey, kid.

Boy: What’s up, mister?

Man #1: I’ll pay you $1 if you pick me 10 bushels of apples.

Boy: Awesome! I’ll be Oprah rich!

Man #1: But first you’ll have to pay my friend here $300 to go to apple picking school.

Just then, another man walks up.

Boy: I can’t wait to learn about apples.

Man #2: You’ll probably learn more about your teachers’ lives… that and how to be poor. The second part will be surprisingly useful.

Boy: But I don’t have $300 to pay for apple picking school.

Just then, another man walks up.

Man #2: Don’t worry. My friend here likes to do favors for poor people. He can give you a loan.

Man #3: I don’t actually have $300 either, but I can create it out of thin air and let you “borrow” it. After interest, you’ll only owe me $700 of actual money that you actually have to work to make.

Years later…

Boy: Here’s your 10 bushels of apples. It took half my life to gather. In that time I’ve watched seasons pass, friends die and nations fall. Yet I’m no closer to my dreams than when I started.

Man #1: Now pick me 11 bushels, and do it twice as fast or I’m only giving you 90 cents. I’m going to sell these for $100 a bushel to a country that doesn’t have apple trees. I’ll be so rich I’ll buy shit I don’t need just because I’m bored.

Boy: My rent is 95 cents. Fuck my life.

EPILOGUE

Boy: My retirement plan is death.

Man #2 and #3: Until then you’ll work for our friend and sign your paychecks over to us.

Man #1: Just be glad you didn’t take out a mortgage.

THE END

 


How To Become An Expert At Anything

1. State your goals.

The more specifically you identify your goal the more specifically you can focus on it. Saying your goal out loud or writing it down will help you refine your goal and stay focused. However, telling other people your goals can give your brain a false sense of achievement that will deduce your motivation to complete them.

 

 

2. Study other people’s research and mistakes, and do it efficiently.

Whatever you’re trying to do has probably already been mastered by someone else. Learn from their research and mistakes. Go read a book about it. Read every book you can find on the subject. Take a class on it. The more external help you can to get the less you have to reinvent the wheel.

 

 

3. Practice.

No matter how much you read up on a subject or listen to lectures, that’s only going to help you understand the theory. Take for example the simple skill of rolling a cigarette. I can fully explain everything there is to know about rolling a cigarette in one or two pages, but even if you memorize those instructions word for word you’re not going to be able to roll quality cigarettes quickly and consistently until you’ve rolled at least 200 cigarettes yourself.

Every time you do something the neural pathways your brain responsible for processing that action will grow stronger. The stronger those pathways become the more second-nature the thing you’re doing will become.

Not only that, but throughout your life, you’ve developed a unique and extensive list of good habits, bad habits and different predispositions to ways of thinking and acting. All of these factors influence everything you do. Nobody else knows what all of those factors are. So nobody else’s instructions will be tailor-made for you. The only way for you to understand how your predispositions affect what you’re trying to do is by doing the thing you want to do.

As you practice you’ll come to understand not only your strengths and weaknesses but also the subtle nuances of the task you’re trying to accomplish, and by giving yourself hands-on experience with the task you’ll fully understand why these nuances exist, how to fix/exploit them and eventually how to change them. But those subtleties can only be teased out through hands-on experience.

The point of practicing is to understand the logic of the system better. The more logically and systematically you understand the logic of the system the better you’ll be able to master the system. As you practice, break down the system into its component parts and write a how-to manual for how to do the thing. It doesn’t matter if anyone else will ever read it. It will force you to fully articulate how to do what you’re doing and allow you to take a step back and look at what you know and find the holes in it.

Also, practice all the time. You can’t get good at anything if you only do it once a month. In between practice sessions you’ll forget everything you learned last time and the neural pathways you’ve strengthened in your brain through practice will atrophy. It’s a common misconception that some people are born experts. Mozart and Beethoven are often cited as examples, but in reality, they only appeared to be child prodigies because they devoted their entire childhood to practicing constantly. If you want to master something then practice it every day, preferably several times a day. If you can, devote your whole day to it every day.

 

 

4. Learn from your mistakes.

It’s human nature to feel bad when you fail or make mistakes. We tend to beat ourselves up real bad for it, but you never hear about baseball or basketball players beating themselves up for missing swings or throws. That’s because, in their line of work, it’s obvious that the only way to practice is by failing. This is true in any walk of life. It’s simply impossible to master a skill without failing, because failing is practicing, and practicing is the path to success.

 

 

5. Constantly ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”

If you have to force yourself to practice then you’re not doing something you’re passionate about. Oh, you may be passionate about achieving the end goal of becoming rich and famous, but you’re not passionate about the task. So performing the task makes you miserable, and your brain constantly tells you to stop. You can push yourself through that wall for a while, but you’re not going to be able to keep pushing yourself against your will for the decades it’s going to take to master a skill. If you hate practicing them do yourself the biggest favor of your life and quit whatever it is you’re doing, and find something you enjoy doing.

You should want to practice several times a day every day. You should want desperately to cut other time-consuming activities out of your life to give you more time to do what you really want to do: practice. If you’re not like a crack addict going through withdrawals when you can’t practice then you’ve set the wrong goal. Find the thing you can’t live without and practice that, because if you do something you’re not passionate about enough to master it, you’re likely going to grow to hate it and become miserable.

If nothing else, life is short. You’re running out of time to follow your real dream…the dream you would do just for the sake of doing it regardless of whether or not you’ll ever master it.

 

 

6. Make crap.

What do you think Leonardo Da Vinci’s first picture looked like? What do you think Mozart’s first song sounded like? I guarantee you it was crap. The road to perfection is paved with crap. Rolling crappy cigarettes is discouraging. Every crappy cigarette you roll is proof that you’ll never be able to roll a perfect cigarette. Even if that’s true, you should keep rolling crappy cigarettes not because your goal is to become a master cigarette roller but because you want to roll cigarettes, and you enjoy the crappy cigarettes you’ve rolled until one day they start coming out perfect, and that day will come quicker than you expected because you weren’t constantly stressing about becoming a master. You were just doing what you want to do and enjoying yourself and learning along the way without measuring success by the end product.

 

 

7. Constantly ask yourself, “Should I be doing this?”

Maybe you want to learn how to roll cigarettes perfectly. It’s great that you have a goal, but you picked the wrong goal. All cigarettes do is get you addicted to poison and then kill you slowly and painfully. Life is short (especially if you smoke). Are you making the most of your time? Are the things you’re getting better at really important? Are they worth the time and stress? Are they contributing to your demise or the demise of society at large? Are they a waste of time? If you’re not asking yourself these questions then you might be wasting your life mastering a counter-productive skill.

 

 

8. Break the rules and cheat.

Here’s a motto you can live by, “By definition, the quickest and most efficient way to do anything is to cheat.” By “cheat” I mean break the rules. What are the rules anyway? They’re just the standard way of doing things that the people before you established. They’re not written in the fabric of space/time. They’re not like the laws of physics. They’re not even moral imperatives. Rules are just words people said. In order to do something better, you have to do it differently. That means you have to change the rules, and in order to change the rules, you have to break them.

 

 

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