The study of growing as a human being so as to be more productive, happier, more successful, and a better contributor to the rest of the world.
Look, we all have problems. All of us. Sure, they vary in size and severity, but we all have them. How we deal with them, how quickly we deal with them, and how committed we are to dealing with them will ultimately determine the role they play in our lives. Unfortunately, I know too many people who let problems linger (or pretend they don’t exist altogether) and find themselves in an insane pickle that is not easily remedied. So that inspired me to remind everyone about what I call “the rule of problems.”
Before we get started, let’s define “problem“.
1.a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.
The Rule of Problems
The Rule of Problems is stated as follows: If you have a small problem and choose to ignore it, the problem will grow. If your problem grows long enough, it will become a large problem. If your large problem goes unattended long enough, it will become chronic. When your large problem becomes a chronic problem, it will eventually explode. The longer you wait to deal with the problem, the more challenging it becomes to resolve. If you wait too long, it will become unsolvable.
This can be applied to anything. Financial neglect, personal neglect, mental neglect, health neglect, neglect of relationships, etc. If you know damn well that you have a problem and you’re closing your eyes, waiting for the “right time”, or wishing for it to resolve itself, you’re going to wake up one day with a chronic problem – or an explosion – that you’ll be forced to clean up.
It is so much easier to acknowledge and handle our problems today than in the future. Our weaknesses, stresses, anxieties, financial issues, weight, bad habits or lack of discipline are nothing compared to the mess created by neglect or procrastination compounded over time.
It may not be sexy to do the hard work necessary to handle your problems now. I know we all just want to be perfect little snowflakes. I know you don’t have the time. But look – you either handle your stuff now when you are in control, or you’ll have the opportunity to handle it later when you’re picking up the pieces.
So let’s go.
The best thing my parents ever did for my development, growth, and confidence was to cut me off.
At 20 years old, my parents told me to move out, fend for myself, and figure out my life. Not saying they weren’t there for me if I made a colossal mistake, but they forced me to find a crappy apartment on my own (with Mitchell Clemens), work 60 hours a week at a crappy job (RIP Circuit City), and learn how to live as a responsible adult.
Of course, as a 20-year-old I totally resented them for this. They could have easily carried me, coddled me, and enabled me, but instead, they made the hard decision – they forced me to grow. They knew it wouldn’t be easy, and they knew it would likely strain our relationship. But their #1 priority was to be parents – not popular.
But today, I am truly grateful that my parents didn’t treat me like a unique snowflake. I am so grateful they treated me like an adult, and forced me to grow up. I learned how to fend for myself, I learned how to hustle, I learned that I can count on myself. Those lessons are invaluable.
In an era of entitled brats, with people that want millions before they’ve earned thousands and people that want 6-packs without going to the gym, I’m so glad my parents taught me the value of hard work and self-reliance. Parenting is not about giving your kids everything they want – it’s giving them what they need so they can be their best selves.
Teaching anyone to think that activity is the same as achievement or that participation is the same as progress is a sure fire way to have an entire country full of people that think they should be rewarded for existing.
You don’t get rewarded just for being a human being, I’m sorry. You can’t just show up for work, spend all day on the Internet, and think somehow you deserve a promotion. Showing up is not “half the battle”…it’s worth zero. Exactly zero.
If you play a game poorly – any game – you should lose, experience the feeling of losing, and then do something about it. You should practice, study, work harder, and get better. You should be humbled and ask questions. Losing should make you sharper. And if you aren’t motivated enough to do something about losing, then you should just accept your life as a “loser” and be okay with it – you have no right to request a free pass, recognition, or a mulligan because you “sort of tried”.
It’s not my job, a parent’s job, and especially not the government’s or taxpayers’ job to make you feel better for losing. It’s not our job to pretend your laziness or lack of priorities isn’t the reason you are where you are.
You know what happens when you do that? Most people will just choose to be “losers” because they get the same rewards as the winners for doing no work, putting in no sweat, and never having to pass the test.
And who can blame them? Much like water will automatically flow to the lowest point, so too will humans (or any animal) if they are rewarded for doing less. Are you telling me that if your boss offered you the same income for only 10 hours a week you wouldn’t take it? Please.
The worst part about empowering this participation trophy culture is that it literally has the opposite of the intended effect. It creates dependent, weak people that will never be able to fend for themselves, will complain about everything that doesn’t go their way – and, worse of all – they will then blame you for it.
This isn’t some post about social services, people in poverty that need support due to systemic issues, or helping people get on their feet. I am all about providing a platform so people can learn to fish for themselves, provided it is a plan that teaches responsibility and accountability – not dependency.
No, I am talking about this culture where everyone feels like they deserve to “be somebody” even though they haven’t done something, anything. You are not a unique snowflake just because you were born. You have to earn it. And much like 90% of lottery winners going broke within a few years because they didn’t earn it, so too will our culture and country if we continue to reward and recognize people for doing nothing.
When trying to get what you want – whether it be health, wealth, relationships – you always have 3 priorities to choose from – but you can only pick two. The way you choose these options will dictate how happy and successful you are over the course of your life. I’ve learned this the hard way.
Your 3 options are:
• Long Term
You can have two. All three cannot exist simultaneously.
Want to get healthy? You can do it the fast and easy way – starve yourself, take drugs – but it won’t be long term. You can do the easy and long term way (diet/excercise/meditation), but it won’t be fast. You can do it fast and long term, sure, but it will be a very hard grind (alarm goes off at 4:30 am). Pick how you want.
Want to get wealthy? Sure, you can do it the fast and easy way (steal, cheat, lie), but it won’t be long term. You can do it the fast and long term way, but get ready to dig in hard and work 7 days a week. Want to get wealthy the easy way? Simple. Work hard, save, invest wisely, learn, pay attention to opportunities, and don’t give into the consumerism plague that is whispering to buy new shit that you don’t need all the time.
I was a fool in my 20s for driving cars that cost nearly 50% of my annual income. Could have been saving and investing instead of trying to “prove myself” to a bunch of people who aren’t even in my life in my 30s.
Want to find a partner? Fast and easy would be to hop on Tinder…but we all know how long those things last. It takes patience to go through the slog of dating to find your perfect match. But is it worth it? Up to you. Depends how badly you want a partner.
I guess the reason why am talking about this is because it is so plain to see that we are in a time in this country where people are always looking for “fast, temporary relief”, as opposed to addressing the root of the problem. Look at the opioid epidemic. People go from high to high. Other people get high off spending money, or Instagram likes. Everyone that isn’t playing for the long term has their drug du jour.
Unfortunately, the problem with temporary relief is just that…it’s temporary. Whether people use alcohol to get fast temporary relief, sleep around to get fast temporary relief, or spend hours taking the perfect selfie for a few hundred likes, this compulsive need to “feel better now” is the result of a society that values now pleasure over planting seeds for the big victory over the long haul.
Ultimately, the only way to long-term health, wealth, and success is through mastery. It is through the day in and day out discipline of planting seeds for your career or business, to win the day every day for your health, spending time learning every day, and to be honest with yourself about your problems and to deal with them head on.
And while discipline always sounds hard, I’m here to remind you (because you know) that it’s far easier than always having to start over, constantly having to meet someone new, being broke, or taking a dozen prescription medications to keep your body working.
Ignoring our problems – problems we all have – only makes them worse. Don’t be the person who knows this truth and does nothing about it.
It’s fascinating to watch the various supercharged political friends I have on social media and their strikingly different opinions.
It’s shocking how hyper-partisan and hypocritical people get about politics.
The same people that condemned Bill Clinton for cheating on Hillary are coming to Trump’s defense, pitchforks in hand.
The same people that love Bill Clinton and sweep his infidelity/perjury under the rug (as well as JFK & FDR) are using this Stormy Daniels thing as more ammo about Trump’s misogynism and his inability to be a President.
It’s partially hilarious, mostly scary.
We’ve got people who have no clue what an assault rifle is marching through the streets demanding to overturn the 2nd amendment (AR-15’s are not “assault rifles”). Did you know less than 2% of gun deaths in the US are a result of the AR-15-like rifle? Less. Than. Two. Percent. Is that really where the main focus should be in the gun control debate?
On the other side, we’ve got people who literally think anyone should be able to have guns, whether they’re mentally deranged or not, and that performing a basic mental check (like the military) so we don’t sell weapons to crazy people is some egregious violation of the Constitution. Really? Is it really that inconceivable that there are people in our country that probably shouldn’t have access to unlimited weapons? Really? This isn’t hard.
I feel like I’m in the middle of a shouting match between 300 million four-year-olds.
The lesson: Most people are so hopelessly entrenched in their viewpoint – their “party”, their “people”, their bias – that they will literally contradict themselves – and justify it – just to preserve their identity.
It’s this same rigidity that keeps people exactly where they have been. It keeps people angry. Makes them insufferably self-righteous. Keeps us at a standstill as a country. Come on guys, we have shit to do. We don’t have time for all of this.
Someone, tell me I’m not alone. Tell me there are other reasonable people out there that have the ability to see more than one side. If you’re out there, please join what I like to call the “Coalition of Reason”. It’s a lonely group, but we need to stick together.
The only way humanity is going to make any headway is if we all can recognize the need to be radically open-minded, and if still at odds after being open-minded, to thoughtfully and respectfully disagree.
Being closed-minded could be the single worst trait you could possibly have, as it will shut you off from dozens of choices, opportunities, experiences, ideas, people, and hell, even food, that you otherwise would never have known.
Here are a few cues to honestly assess whether or not you are closed minded:
• Closed-minded people don’t want their ideas challenged.
• Closed-minded people are more likely to make statements than to ask questions.
• Closed-minded people focus MUCH more on being understood than trying to understand others.
• Closed-minded people block others from speaking.
• Closed-minded people lack a deep sense of humility.
On the contrary, if you’re really going to try to be open-minded, here’s what you have to do:
• Open-minded people are truly curious about why there may be a disagreement, and are not angry just because someone else doesn’t agree with them. They understand deeply that the other individual (or group, or race, or whatever) has a history that has shaped their belief structure and that to them it is absolutely reasonable.
• Open-minded people genuinely accept and believe they could be wrong, and the questions they ask are genuinely trying to understand. They aren’t asking questions for a confirmation of their righteousness.
• Open-minded people always feel compelled to see things through others’ eyes.
• Open-minded people encourage other people to share their views, especially if they are different than their own.
• Open-minded people acknowledge that in opposing discussions that there is a very real chance that they are wrong, and would rather hash out a conversation and discover they are wrong than to live ignorant.
I’ve been absolutely average at being open-minded throughout my life, but I can take comfort knowing that I am constantly working on it and that just by considering the fact that I could be closed-minded is a pretty open-minded trait. Let’s all work on it together.
This little note was inspired by today’s reading in Principles by Ray Dalio.