Pervading the life coaching scene are certain beaten to death concepts that are understood only in theory. I’ve written before on the various common traits and habits of self-made men: persistence, an intense dedication to self-education, a god complex, and a surfeit of psychosexual energy to name a few.
But a question posed by a recent colleague of mine made me realize how little the more abstract concepts are understood. He asked me to name some of the distinct characteristics I saw in men of ambition, but more importantly, asked me to DEFINE them in a clear manner. The latter part I had trouble with, but eventually after a bit of thinking I figured out a reasonable way to do so. I hope to express that same clarity in this post, and perhaps give you a more transparent understanding of said concepts.
Most of these abstract qualities you already know, but you do not understand. You know them, but you are numb to them. To give a quick example, your parents tell you “never give up.” But that saying has become a dead cliche. You’ve never even had the opportunity to truly give up, so how could you know what it means? That choice was never yours to make.
Whether you’re working or studying, you’re always only giving 60% of your effort. Which means, your subconscious is always able to blame your lack of success on a lack of effort, not ability. For you, giving up is meaningless because you were set on that path since the day you started. Contrast this with if you had truly put 100% of your effort into something.
Have you ever thought, “Oh fuck… maybe I just CAN’T do this?” No, because your CAN’T and my CAN’T are two very different things. Your CAN’T is a lack of discipline, my CAN’T is a lack of ability.
Until you’re at the point where you truly feel inadequate, not because you have ADHD while trying to focus or some other retarded excuse you shitted out, but because you’re already focusing and it STILL seems to be impossible, you never need to apply the advice “never give up.”
Your challenge was never one of persistence. It is a childish one, simply of discipline. Your choice was never “Should I give up or keep going?” Your choice was a parody, “should I get up and work, or fap it to Paula Abdul just one last time?”
Trait the first: Being a Visionary.
Visionaries = Empire Builders. Why? Well, because Entrepreneur.com and Forbes lists it in their “top 10 traits to be successful,” right? But what does it really mean? Should you go to car shows and picture yourself in all the Lamborghini’s and Veyrons they have? Should you subscribe to all the money magazines available in your region and start fapping to pictures of gold bars instead of lesbian porn? Should you sketch a picture of your new mansion house? Sleep on a bed of cash?
Is it just an exercise of visuals? You just picture yourself somewhere, make that vision clear, and then work to get there?
These are parts of being a visionary (somewhat exaggerated), but it’s not the whole picture. The quality can be broken down to a few dimensions:
You must be able to think long term instead of short term.
To give a simple demonstration, if I give you a choice between a cookie now or two cookies tomorrow, which would you choose? How about a cookie now or 10 cookies in 5 weeks? An intuitive understanding of depreciation over time, NOT A MATHEMATICAL ONE, is important, as is the ability to sustain your will power to wait.
Being patient enough to wait for power, is as important as being compulsive enough to pursue it.
The cookie demonstration, as banal as it was, functioned to simplify things for you. Because in the real world, this shit gets murky. A man with no skill, no degree, no education, no abilities, who is 20 years old, can be well off in his 30’s, perhaps even a millionaire in his mid thirties, if he works 2 odd jobs and focuses on building his financial intelligence and assets.
This is a fact, not a theory. But, does anyone do this? Of course not, because the end of this decade seems so far away that it becomes impossible to appreciate benefits on a scale like that.
Instead, he squanders any potential for wealth on short-term goals, never realizing the things that he truly wanted. It takes not only a vision, but a discipline ADHERENCE to a vision to be successful at anything. You cannot just picture yourself somewhere, you need to be able to hold onto that picture steadfastly.
And even that is a pretty simple example. There are other activities that bless you with benefits beyond what you could conceive, but those benefits are themselves beyond conceivable.
Take reading. I can tell you almost every self made man considers his self education through books and other mediums to rank among the the top 5 biggest payoffs in his life, but how do you feel when reading a bunch of books for a week versus working at another part time job for a week? Do you get a paycheck from the library at the end of the week for reading a bunch of books?
Do you FEEL a substantial amount of progress, beyond the page # you see at the corner? Of course not, hence it is far more difficult to maintain these things as habits. And is it a coincidence then, that the things people want to do the least are the things that will pay off the most?
It is so easy to get caught up in winning small victories that we tend to forget our larger goals, and this is why you need to have a vision. This is why you need to be able to see with the vision of a commander, not a soldier. To see how everything in your life is playing out in the larger scheme of things, not how the tiny struggles are progressing in their superfluous details.
It is the essence of triage. You have 24 hours in a day and a given number of days; you cannot complete everything. So what DO you want to do? What ARE your goals, not just the ones you have within the coming year? And then think… is everything that you are doing now bringing you closer to those goals? Or are they auxiliary endeavors, things you’ve chosen to do to substitute for the things you don’t actually WANT to do?
Trait the Second: Forging your own identity.
I thought this was self explanatory until I realized its rational shortcomings. Considering at least some degree of tabula rasa, it’s impossible to ever eliminate a conscious not socially reinforced. I can tell you, “all the great people in the world found their callings, made their own identities,” but it would be a logical fallacy.
You could say Andrew Carnegie forged his own identity because he stopped thinking like a follower and started thinking like a leader. You could say he stopped thinking like a laborer, and started thinking like a capitalist. But that would beg the question of the identity of a leader, and whether it’s even possible to “formulate” your own identity. It presupposes that some ideal form of self identity, a true form, exists.
Because really… isn’t a capitalist ALSO another cog in the industrial machine? Isn’t a leader ALSO another socially constructed identity? Any person who succeeds in some great endeavor, no matter what that endeavor is, nurtures their passion because of how they were influenced by their environment on their formative years.
A natural with women, a savvy businessman, a competitive athlete; these are all social constructions, albeit ones more preferable than the idyllic ones most other people play out.
Hence now we have too opposing theories: is being successful a process of finding yourself, actualizing your OWN identity, or just adopting whatever identity allows you to best exploit and adapt to your environment? Food for thought.
But whatever the case, the one recurring theme is struggle. You are to struggle FOR an identity. Whether that means creating a new one or adopting a favorable one is irrelevant.
Conflict must always be a motif. Always a sense of creation and destruction, building anew and breaking apart. You never take on an identity handed to you and then feel self entitled because of it. You never sit along idly waiting for your role in the world to be sent to you in a scroll of duty; you are to choose that path yourself.
Trait the third: Be an Opportunist.
A very applicable quote I came upon recently which could shed some light for us:
“Dear optimists, pessimists, and realists. While you were all arguing over the glass of water, I just drank it. Sincerely, an opportunist.”
A wealth of wisdom in these words. You must always culture a compulsive desire to act after you’ve thought sufficiently. To put it plainly in the case above, if you know there is no poison in the glass of water, just drink it. If you know you find the girl next to you attractive or interesting, just talk to her. Do not bog yourself down thinking optimistically, “I’m the man! I can do this!”
Don’t bother yourself pessimistically with approach anxiety, “Shit… what if she rejects me in front of everyone?” Don’t disturb your resolution with too much realist analysis, “ok… game told me I should do XYZ when I talk to her. My approach anxiety is illusory. I need to focus… blah blah blah.”
Self thought, in ANY form, is a lack of immersion. It is a manifestation of your insecurities, your doubts creeping up on your thoughts, clouding your judgment, and crippling your audacity.
You think how much needs to be thought.
“Ok, she is attractive.” That’s it. You’re done. Approach.
“Ok, penis needs to go into this hole.” That’s it. You’re done. No thinking of performance, or outlasting her last partner. Nothing.
Artificially bolstering your confidence may be necessary in the beginning stages of development, but do not turn it into a permanent crutch. It’s not just other people who have to believe that you are who you want to be; you need to believe it too. It should not be something that requires a reminder.
Rick’s Comments About Successful Traits
I love it when Shark gets into the big picture lessons. While learning the smaller, detailed stuff is good and helpful, it’s these big picture lessons that develop your mentality and attitude into a successful person.
It’s like his example with reading. Sure, you won’t see results immediately upon reading something. But as you read a dozen books, and then a hundred books, and then a thousand books, you’re a completely different person than when you begin.
The knowledge you learn slowly seeps into your skulls and shapes your identity. Those who never grow or change are those who are stagnant in their learning. They never read or take courses or study. The most they do is read a wikipedia article and a Reddit thread.
Reading various articles on the internet will never be enough to change your way of thinking and lead you to the success that you desire. It just won’t happen.
It takes thousands and thousands of pages and studying to shape your identity and grow as a person.
Sounds crazy, but I really believe the internet has made people dumber over time. We have all this access to as much information as we need, but this in itself has caused people to be very inconsistent and sporadic with their growth.
Instead of finishing books written by the greats of society, we instead read articles and blogs and forum posts. This will never be enough as pointed out above. As a result, people never commit to reading books or completing courses, and are thus dumber as a result.
People try to substitute podcasting in for their learning. While I think podcasting is a great way to learn, unfortunately most people listen to podcasts while doing other activities like working out or driving or working on the computer. Unlike a book which forces you to sit down and focus on the words you see on the pages, a podcast can play in the background while your mind is distracted by something else.
So I really believe the best trait anyone would need to find success in life is the trait of consistency. When you pick up that book, will you make it a habit and commit to finishing it? Set some time of 15-20 minutes per day of reading. That’s all you need to do to ensure that you complete the book you have chosen.
And, if you pick out books that are extremely good, that one book alone could set you on the path towards success.
There’s plenty more I could add about approach anxiety and discipline and all that, but I’ve talked in other articles about how approaching isn’t necessary. If you end up becoming a successful man, you won’t ever have to approach again because the women will come to you. Hence why I believe that “game” is a waste of time because you would be better off utilizing that time to build your empire.
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