I’ve made the decision to stop blogging.

Hello,

This is the last post I’m posting here, or in general. This is because I’m officially out of the blogging game.

Why?

I’ve sat down and really thought about what a strategic direction means in my life. Yes, blogging is nice. It helps some people (even if the number of visitors I have to the website is low). It helps me clarify my thoughts.

However, from a leverage perspective, it is close to zero.

I’ve started this blog as a way to brand myself. By posting here, I would show the world who I am and what I do and therefore, invite rewarding connections. Those connections came but they were rarely as a consequence of the blog itself. Instead, they came as conversations on Skype … on the phone or in person.

It is hard to conceptualize this at first but no matter how appealing you are on a blog, you’re not going to automatically build rapport with a person. You need to take steps, manually, to create connections (or be a hot girl with few clothes on, that works too).

So while I have +200 articles here, in all honesty, if I would have invested this time into something else, something that was paying me, I would be better off. This is because even if I’ve got tens of comments of praise, writing on this blog is unprofitable. It brings me maybe $5/hour, at best. And having +200 articles is not really that helpful as nobody will read them. If I want a business card in form of a blog, I can simply create ten articles, make them really eye-catching and stay with that (which I’ll probably do).

In any case, in the last days, weeks, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of strategy, with the idea of macro and leverage. I’ve been obsessed with making the difference between feels important and is important.

Posting here feels important but it is not important. Important is to create connections and network in real life. Important is to write less and get my materials to the right people. Important is to be someone who is known by a few key right people, not by anyone who wants to visit this blog.

I’m sounding like a jerk. I’m sorry for that. It is not what I want to transmit. What I want to transmit is that even if I take great delight in writing here, I must train my mind to take great delight in accomplishing goals. Even if I love writing and I’ve put a lot of passion, energy and focus in this blog, I must learn to put a lot of passion, energy and focus in accomplishing goals that matter, in a quantifiable way, to show good, not just feel good.

Systematically, I’m closing all avenues of wasting time.

I’ve stopped posting on Quora a long time ago (but I’m considering using it again as a marketing machine). I’ve stopped using Facebook and my account is scheduled for deletion. I don’t even have Whatsup on my phone (I need to add it though). Now, I’m giving up on this blog and on its “sister” blog – studyinghappiness.org.

All life is a process of prioritization and elimination.

At first, we pick the good from the bad. Then we pick the very good from the good. Then we pick the exceptional from the very good.

It all comes down to narrowing down what you’re doing so one hour of your time values more and more.

This is not easy. A lot of the things that you need to give up are things you enjoy doing. I loved watching movies all day and night. Not so many years ago, I used to binge watch series up to five in the morning. I used to play video games a lot and I was a huge fan of killing time.

But … you only have 24 hours in a day. And you can pick only a few things that you can really do. For me, the magic number is six. Six rituals that I aim to do daily and even six is a very ambitious number. This means that you have to pick between what’s good and what’s great – which is never an easy choice.

I’ve made this choice many times in my life and I know that I’ll have to keep making it, day by day. And maybe, this is what you should do too. Maybe it is time to give up the bad for the good. The good for the great. The great for the excellent. When you watch a poor movie, you are missing on the chance of watching a great one (and no, you can’t say I’ll watch it tomorrow, as time is a zero sum game and this discussion would become almost philosophical in nature). When you do a low paid task, you’re giving up on doing the high paid task. When I was putting cigarettes in my mouth, I was giving up on the prospect of being healthy.

There’s always a pay price for action. Even writing this blog post has one – which is that I could be either working towards my rituals / reading something and learning / working on an important goal and this is why I don’t want to write anymore. Time to give up on the average for the good.

If there’s a single thing you’ve learned from this is to do the same – refine and prioritize so you always do what matters. The only time when it doesn’t apply is people, especially those who love you. You upgrade your activities and your rituals but you don’t upgrade the people in your life to a “better” model. You don’t exchange your 8 / 10 girlfriend for a 9.1 / 10 girlfriend. When you love people, you don’t judge them as objectively as I’ve wrote above. You just love them.

But for everything related to spending your time on, you have no excuse. Cut. Remove. Tear away. Leave the good for the best. Eliminate the coal and find the diamonds. No matter what you need to do tomorrow, you can prioritize. Something’s more important than something else. Put them in order. Start at the top. Let the natural attrition of not having enough time cut everything left. And even if this means killing a lot you enjoy doing now, well, you’ll learn to enjoy the new things too – when you see what benefits they bring to your life.

How do you do that? (after all, if I’m going to write this, I may as well write something educative).

It is not a science, it is more of an art. I guess one way is to take each two and ask “If I could do only one, which would be more important? Or you can simply sort them organically giving them a score. Or you can move them up and down a list.

Let me tell you a secret though. You don’t need to do this with the precision of a machine. That’s not the point. You need to learn how to prioritize and in practice, having the 2nd task as a 1st task is hardly a big mistake – or one that you should take into account. The idea is to have this mindset – of putting things in order, of ranking from high impact to low impact, even if you don’t have a mathematical formula to do this.

You know, in the last four days, I’ve woken up, showered, had breakfast and spent my days in the park. I’ve had my laptop, my iPad, my Kindle and my phone with me. It is amazing when you’re not cluttered by thoughts and things to do how easily you can focus on what you need to do. I’ve meditated. Like a lot. I’ve read about 300 pages in the last 3 days from a book on advance economics and game theory. It is not the kind of book you fly through but the kind of book that takes a toll on your mind. I’ve came to some important realizations. One day, I’ve even walked 20.000 steps (and biked at least 5000).

I haven’t become super focused or super productive just because now it is 2017. I’ve became this way and managed to focus and get a lot of VERY IMPORTANT stuff done (important for me anyway) because I’ve eliminated the distractions. I had no YouTube and comfortable bed and people to talk about. I was sitting there, on a bench, in the sun, or at a table in a 7 / 11 with nothing to do than focus on my daily goals.

So when it comes to improving your life and actually accomplishing what you want to accomplish, what you don’t do is just as important as what you do. Facebook takes more time than you think. YouTube takes more time than you think. Games take more time than you do. Arguing takes huge tolls on your time. If you added a dollar value to the time spent arguing with other people, you’d discover that you’re throwing hundreds of dollars in tantrums.

Costs are not only in time.

If you spend your energy on something else, you won’t have energy for your task at hand. If you feel emotionally tired, you won’t be in a good state for your task and so on. Time is just one of the costs you pay.

There is time in a day but there isn’t time for everything. So you must decide for what you have time and for what not. That’s the real secret to success and it is very hard to “get it”, on a level where you want to change something.

Best regards and good bye,
Razvan

Why Being Productive Is A Mistake …

I was browsing the iTunes app store and I saw how many apps claim to make you productive. That’s when I’ve asked myself “what does productive even means?”.

This is a word used by most people. We all want to be more productive. Saying about a person that is productive comes as praise. But it is one of those words that entered in our vocabulary without actually defining it.

Well, according to Webster, there are several definitions but this seems to be the most accurate:

“having the quality or power of producing especially in abundance <productive fishing waters>”

It means “creating, in a large quantity”. This seems to be a focus. Most of the apps on the App Store (and on the Internet in general) are tools to help you manage a large number of tasks so you can be “productive” (as in complete a large number of tasks). Some are very advanced, using GTD methodology and sorting based on context while others are list based like Wunderlist.

But here comes the kicker.

Everyone knows that the more things you have on a list, the less likely you are to do them. Most people know that it is human instinct to add on a list more than we can actually do in any given day – and that it takes an extraordinary kind of effort to complete a list. Yet, everyone focuses on the same things – add as many tasks as possible and find a better way to sort them, because doing more means being productive which means successful.

Which is completely false.

We know that this way doesn’t work. Yet, we keep doing the same thing because this is what we’ve always done. A successful person must get a lot of things done. Success is completing that list of to-dos.

The problem with this mindset is that at some point in time, a border was crossed. That was the border between “someone decides for me what to do or it is obvious” to “I must decide what must be done and must be strategic in my decisions”.

For most people, a to-do list simply works. Wunderlist works. Todoist works. If you have a boss to tell you what to do … or your wife tells you … or your husband … or if your role is clearly defined as a stay at home mom or retired senior or student, then you don’t really need to be strategic. You are reacting to the environment. You are reacting to the needs of your boss … your family … your school. When the teacher tells you that you must do exercise 3 and 4, then it is easy to manage this.

But this system falls in the moment that you need to self-manage. When you are an entrepreneur, a self-employed or you simply have control over your life (which is rare, very rare), you can’t rely on someone else telling you what to do. To make this clearer, as long as you are working on someone’s else goal or you are part of a goal (ex: employee or family member), then the goals are a given.

However, when your goals are individual, there is no hand holding. You must decide not only how much to do of something but what to do. For example, let’s say that you’re a programmer. You know JavaScript. You work at a small software company. They give you a list of goals and you work on it. Someone provides you with reviews and slowly directs you towards what you need to do. It is hard to not know what to do. That list of things to do will generally always be bigger than what you can do. However, you are paid to work on it, you are executing and that’s it.

But what if you are a small one person start-up? In this case, you need to decide what to build. Where to allocate your time and money. What approach to take. The goal is not to work the list so your manager is happy. The goal is to use your resources in the most effective way to achieve your desired goal.

When the goal is yours, you’re not working the list. You’re working the limits. You’re working the allocation. When the goal is yours you know that each task on the list has a potential reward value. Let’s define that value as dollars. You know that task A has a value of $7500 while task B has a value of $2000. You can do only once as you’re limited by time. You need to pick the first one because as compared to a job, you’re not going to get paid the same no matter if you do A or B. You’re going to lose $5500 if you do the second and not the first.

This is where the entire productivity field goes wrong. Tasks are not made equal. You can spend 10 hours of hard work on something that doesn’t matter. Or you can spend one hour on something that matters massively. Each task you have has a cost (time, money, energy, social capital, etc) and a reward (time saved, money gained, social capital gained, etc). Most productivity systems treat tasks as all of these are equal, as answering emails is the same as doing productive work.

But as every entrepreneur knows, that’s false. Answering your emails may be worth $50 but preparing your pitch for that VC may mean $50.000/hour. Okay, maybe this is too much of a dramatic example but creating systems tends to be a lot more effective in the long term than designing your business card. Training people tends to be higher leverage than doing it yourself, as you need to train a single time, freeing resources long term.

And very few people focus on this difference. Tasks are really not made equal. Right now, you have something that’s very important and something that’s trivial. The very important one can be done in a few minutes, requires little to no energy and little to no money. The trivial one can take weeks, requires tons of energy and money. The effort invested in a task doesn’t determine its impact. Its impact is only the ROI that comes from completing that task. You could work hard and get nothing and work light and get a lot. It is a false associating to consider that hard work leads to greater results. The effort required is the effort required and it is not correlated with any return whatsoever.

A simple email can make you tens of thousands of dollars while 300 hours of work on the right project can get you zero or even a negative.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t come down to doing as much as possible. It comes down to progressing as much as possible on your goal. It is a logical fallacy to think these two are actually correlated. You can work hard and progress little and you can work little and progress a lot. The progress is related only to the impact that task has to the goal at hand and that’s about it.

The 20 – 80 rule exemplifies this in a beautiful way. While many people are skeptical about this, 20% of the work usually creates 80% of the results. It is not always 20%, sometimes it is 30 – 70 or 10 – 90 but the rule can be dependent upon in most systems – a small section of the input will create most of the output.

For the purpose of our article, from ten tasks, two actually matter. Those two are the strategic ones. Those two are at the top of the pyramid when it comes to the impact and on those two you should focus. There is also the idea that if you can identify the 20%, you can spend all your time only on that but the 20 – 80 rule doesn’t work like this. In the moment that you spend 100% on your 20%, then 20% of the initial 20% generates 80% and so on. There is always going to be something at the end area in the bell curve, no matter how much you prioritize.

And people should focus on getting those two done. Nobody rewards you for getting stuff done. You are rewarded for progressing. Unless you’re paid per hour or no matter what you do, you get the same money, it makes no sense to focus on a low ROI. If you have ten things to do, then order them in order of IMPACT (as importance or urgency tend to be very subjective) and execute starting at the top.

Why impact? Because what you do should be judged by how much it progresses in that area of your life (be it financially, socially, emotionally, romantically, joy, physically, etc). That’s all. You don’t use how much time it takes to judge something. The effort required is almost zero or zero correlated to the impact. You don’t use urgency. What’s urgent is based on what pressures are put on us and unless those who put them are masters in setting impact, they are subjective as hell.

An action is to be judged only by the nature of that action. That’s all. Sport is to be judged by the impact it has to your health. Time spent with your loved ones is to be judged by the impact it has to your relationship. A business is to be judged by the impact it has over its mission statement and so on.

And unfortunately, few apps do this and more and more people need them. We are still stuck in the era of “I’m a superhero if I get a lot of things done”. SCRUM and lean methodology are relatively new solutions to this problem but a huge paradigm shift is required. We need to stop focusing on getting things done and instead of doing things that are actually making an impact to our goal.

I mean, put it this way. Let’s say that you’re in war and you have a battleship. You’re in conflict with another one. Your freedom and the safety of your nation depends on you sinking that other ship.

Are you going to fire your handgun at that ship? Or the small caliber rounds reserved for planes? No. You’re going to use the big guns and send shells and torpedoes that maximize the damage you do.

The same is with the “productivity” thing. Most people judge themselves by how many bullets they launched or small caliber shells. In practice, the only thing that matters is putting that goal down and for this it means you need to use that big cannon, which represents your strategic tasks and decisions. And even if you can put it down by firing the small ones, it will take infinitely longer than just going for a deep and strong impact.

In task management, the number of tasks you do is not relevant. The time you spent doing them is not relevant. The perceived urgency doesn’t matter. What matters is the impact it has on your goals or life.

Razvan

Why I’ve Quit Facebook …

I don’t think Facebook is evil. I really don’t care that Facebook knows so much about us. In all honesty, for 99% of all people, nobody is using Facebook as a source for open SIGNIT (signal intelligence).

Nobody really cares where you live, what you do or whom you fuck, apart from how that data can be aggregated for advertising. Google does the same thing and so does every other service out there.

I’ve quit Facebook because I can do better.

It is like why I’ve quit on watching most movies. The plot is predictable. It is boring. It is far more exciting to read a book. It is far more emotionally and mentally stimulating. Or why I’ve quit spending time with people who bore me. Instead of going through the motions because that’s what everyone does / should do, I’ve decided that if I spend time with people, then that time should be made out of quality interactions.

For me, Facebook is the apogee of superficiality. It is driven by one major thing – the need to be validated. It doesn’t matter if you are posting self-development articles (me), naked photos of yourself (different girls and ladies) or photos of your vacation in Hawaii (some people), you want people to admire how smart, sexy, amazing you are.

I’ve been there. I know. I’ve posted everything from bags when shopping for new clothes to 2000 words articles on system theory. At one point I’ve posted a screenshot of the weather so those in the colder hemisphere could see how good it is for me. Don’t laugh. You’re doing the same thing in one manner or another.

And that’s all. That’s the big secret of Facebook. It appeals to one basic human needs and it does it well. On Facebook, you can feel important and you can get other to pay attention to you. This is true both if you are a Porsche driving, suit wearer, gym goer in real life or someone who failed in most areas. Facebook is an equally provider of attention opportunity.

Facebook is for the ego what porn sites are for your genitalia, a way to get instant gratification without a lot of effort. And even if Facebook can’t be considered evil or bad, after all, it is a platform, nothing more, there are better alternatives. Whatever you do on Facebook, there is a far more effective way outside of it.

I don’t want to come as preachy. I just want to point out that Facebook is mediocrity. That’s all. Not the people who use it are mediocre but that’s what it pulls out of you and me, mediocrity. It rewards shallow thinking … shallow conversations … and attention grabbing techniques.

It rewards a pair of boobs vs a well written post.

It rewards short, meaningless chats vs phone calls or face to face meeting.

It rewards short forms of entertainment vs those with real substance.

It rewards entertainment in general versus any form of education.

It rewards instant gratification vs hard work (why do you need to work hard in life if you can appear already successful on Facebook)

Facebook is mediocrity. It is the equivalent of a late night B grade movie. It is the equivalent of that average burger with those average fries.

You could have real meaningful relationships outside of it.

You could meet with your friends and talk about what happened, not watch it in a feed.

You could read books that contain actual wisdom instead of reading random crap on Facebook.

You could take photos because they mean something to you and share it with those you love instead of posting for others to see how good your life is.

You could do something else with your free time than checking notifications and checking crap that you don’t even want to know.

Facebook is nothing wrong but it is the enemy of a good life and a good character because it shapes you to take the easy way. Facebook is like the guy who says “don’t study for the exam, let’s go and drink” or the guy who says “don’t worry about it, it is going to solve itself out”.

I quit Facebook because I know that there are better alternatives for my life. In the last three days, I’ve spent almost all my time outdoors (unrelated to Facebook). I’ve spent hours in the park on a bench reading. I’ve meditated in a park where there were hundreds of people. I’ve walked 10.000 … 15.000 and even 20.000 steps. I’ve sat on the grass and ate Oreo.

This did not happen because I’ve quit Facebook. This happened because I chose something else. It happened because I’ve understood that I have choices. And while there were many moments in which I wanted to snap a photo and brag a bit about my day … I’m glad that I’ve blocked Facebook in the hosts file and started the deletion process.

I’m glad because by giving up on it, I at least considered better things in my life.

If you want to give up on FB, it is not going to be easy. I’ve battled addictions in many forms. The two primary ones were video games and smoking.

When I was playing 10 hours a day, my eyes red, I said I don’t have a problem. When I was smoking a pack a day, I said I don’t have a problem. Believe me, we suck at admitting that we’re fucking things up. In all honesty, unless someone puts a gun to our head, we’ll rationalize most of the things we do. It is very rare for someone, me, you, anyone, to say it clear “I’m doing this wrong”.

Instead, we’ll always say that it is not a big deal, that we’re not addicted or that it is not that bad. It is our brain’s way of protecting us – self-deception. This is going to change only when that protection becomes self-awareness so you understand how harmful it is.

But anyway … it is not going to be easy. It is worth it though. And believe me, the world is not going to crash. Facebook is not the only communication method in the world. You have email. You have a great app called Skype. Those are great for keeping in touch. You know what’s better? Meeting for a coffee. That’s amazing. It is something Facebook will never accomplish, satisfaction wise. You can live without knowing every five minutes what X did or what Y thinks.

You can live without seeing photos of girls in bikini on Facebook and fantasizing about them (just visit a porn site, really). You can live without getting photo posts about relationship or emotions that you automatically like. If you think those are educative, keep in mind that there are millions of book on Amazon.

You can live without posting where you are and what you’re doing. Yes, it is great that you can go to that fancy new night club but honestly, you should be more concerned with whom you are going and what you’re doing there then gaining the admiration of strangers or near strangers.

You can live without checking in every time you go on vacation, directly from the airport. In all honesty, if someone wants to rob you and you do that, you’re making their jobs very easy. But at the same time, it is a bit ironic and hypocritical for us, as a species to argue about privacy, about how NSA spies on us and how Facebook collects data when we reveal dates, places, behavioral patterns, known associates, interests, even photos of our cars (and license plates) on our profiles. We provide far more direct, precise data then NSA can ever collect. For most people, it is not hard to deduct where they work or where they’ll be at a certain hour just by analyzing post history.

You can live without Candy Crush and all the crap that’s there to play. Mine was poker. I suck at it. I shouldn’t play poker to start with. Really. If you want to play something, buy an Xbox One and just play. Don’t waste your time with that.

You can live without Facebook.

Facebook is not the best the world has to offer. It is not the worst it has to offer. It is the mediocre, the average, the common. It is a place that mostly lack any substance but it appeals to our human basic needs and that’s why it is so addictive.

Facebook is like smoking. A smoker can’t consider living without smoking. Yet, there was a time when he didn’t smoked and he was better off. And there will be a time when he won’t smoke and it will be better off. So it is Facebook. It became such an integral part of our life that the true fear comes from the pain of giving up on it than on missing any particular benefit.

Razvan

The Power Of Bad Mental Habits

Hi,

I was sitting today and I was looking at my goals. I was frustrated.

“Damn, I can’t come with a plan to them because in all honesty, I have no idea on how to accomplish them”. Really frustrated.

A few hours passed. Then through a stroke of genius, I’ve asked myself a question.

“What would be ONE thing that I can do to advance on this goal?” (after deleting the step by step plans on which I’ve worked for one hour).

I could come with the answers with ease. I felt like I’ve made a huge discovery. However, the problem was that I’ve wrote about this just a few days ago. It is not a huge discovery. It is just reminding about a previous “a-ha” moment (http://razvanrogoz.com/2017/01/01/focus-on-the-macro-the-micro-will-take-care-of-itself-and-even-if-it-doesnt-it-is-okay/).

My mental habit is to create step by step goals. It is to be tactical, to be sequential, to be detail oriented. My new direction in life is to be macro oriented, to focus on the “WHAT” not on the “HOW”, to focus on the big image and understand that it is normal to not know how to accomplish something – because this is why it is a growth goal – to help you grow. If it was inside your area of comfort, it wouldn’t have been one to start with – doh.

However, after almost a decade of being focused on the tactical approach to life, it is a bit hard to change. It is like knowing all your life that north is that side and then reversing it with south. Or like using your right hand to write and then learning how to write with your left one.

So when you learn a new way of doing things, you also have a hidden, almost invisible enemy. You’re battling yourself or to be more specific, your old way of doing things. This is why even if I lived in an English speaking country (United Kingdom) and I find it easier to express myself in my native language, I still make stupid past and future tense mistakes.

It is not that I don’t speak in English, I have no one with whom I can actually speak Romanian, especially since I’m not on Facebook anymore. Instead is that I’ve used certain grammatical patterns for so long that doing them any other way feels simply wrong. It is something I must learn to pay special attention.

What about your own habits? How are your own mental habits keeping you stuck in the past? It is very easy to revert to how you’ve always done things, especially mentally and emotionally. The real solution to this is to be aware but it is an uphill battle. It can be won, it is worth it but keep in mind that learning something new is not enough – you must also suppress and eventually eliminate your old patterns.

Best regards,

Razvan

Probabilistic Validation & The Road To Success

Here’s some food for thought.

Personal growth is hardly linear or even geometrical in nature. Yes, it is true that if you average ROI over a longer period, you’ll end up with a steady progress from A to B. And yes, it is true that the more you are engaged into an activity, the more leverage you’re gaining from it, until margin territory gains anyway.

However, I think that growth is a process of validation. From what I have noticed so far, all the great successes in my life came as a consequence of a few key actions. These actions could have easily existed in a void too. They were not tied to the greater picture. This is true to the 20 – 80 rule, where 20% of input represents 80% of output.

So in a rough form, from 100 hours invested, 80 exist there just to get to the last 20 hours. Those 20 hours are the ones that create the magic.

This is not fuzzy logic. It is a probabilistic system. It is when only a small percentage of what you do matters but all your effort is required to pick up, to isolate that 20% from the many existing different options. It is in a way life minesweeper, you eliminate options so you end up with where the mines could be.

So it is with life. The idea of fail faster that is so promoted among my Silicon Valley buddies is so popular because of this. You fail faster so from 10 or 50 or 100 or 1000 different potential approaches, you develop rules to eliminate everything that doesn’t work or has a low potential of working.

It reminds me of childhood when each teacher had a certain way to be approached. Some liked flattery. Others liked direct approaches. Others liked shyness. A certain type of behavior was rewarded in that circumstance and only by trying different types of behavior and by validating what worked you could end up with something effective.

I’ve heard of very few people using probabilistic systems to explain progress. It is a popular system in business where the core idea of a start-up is to prototype as soon as possible so you can discover what works and what doesn’t but not so much in self-development. I guess in self-development, simple ideas sell more so this is why it was avoided. I guess. Some people talk about it. Anyway …

… it is a bit mind-fucking to see life as this. In this particular scenario, you are not actually progressing towards anything. You have choices, some similar, some conflicting and your efforts are validating or invalidating those choices. You discover what works from a sea of potential approaches. At the end, that action that wins the game was there all the time. However, you’ve validated it through trial and error. Wisdom is knowing which decision is correct or at least, how to identify it faster.

In my mind, fail faster meant for a long time something different. I knew that fail faster meant that people shouldn’t fear failure and they would work more. This was the linear growth model where hard work lead to better results, therefore, leading to growth. However, after thinking about the model better, I’ve realized that it was designed as a validation machine.

Success in life is not dependent on factors like hard work or luck or even intelligence. Sorry to burst your bubble but everything you’ve heard about life is incorrect.

Success in life is based on doing what works. Hard work helps you find it, luck is a shortcut and intelligence helps you validate faster. But success has little to do with how many hours you put in or how many sacrifices you make. In this case (hours and sacrifices) the only related connection is that it validates processes so you can increase the value of your actions with each new unit invest. If you don’t learn and if you keep doing the same things that were validated not to work, you’ll never progress. Don’t confuse the mechanism with the outcome.

Rich people do work hard. However, this doesn’t mean that they are rich because they work hard. They are rich because by working hard, they can play the numbers game better. Warren Buffet reads 500 pages of financial data each day. 99% is discarded. 1% is used towards an opportunity. 99% of the effort is validation and 1% is the actual cause of his success.

Good salesman do the same. A good salesman knows that his success comes down to two factors – how many people he sees and how many people he sells (conversion). So he plays the probabilistic number game. The more he does something, the more likely he is to isolate those opportunities which will help him meet his quota.

Even Facebook does this. When you see a change in how Facebook looks, it is because they’ve tested tens of changes, internally and externally and this won. This is not something that an engineer thought about and then they’ve deployed on a few thousands servers. That simple tweak that takes 30 minutes to implement is the validation of a few tens or hundreds of hours of highly paid engineers, psychologists, marketers, system engineers and so on.

Progress is if today you’re not making the mistakes of yesterday in pursuit of your goal. The truth is that in every possible circumstance, there is a very limited number of options you can pursue. So if you make enough mistakes and use those mistakes as validation (to do mistakes it means you’re doing something, you’re taking action), you’re better and better at validating at what works. You see patterns. You learn to make connections. Eventually, you find something that works (or a few things that work) and tens of things that don’t work. In that moment, what you know is valuable for a week, a month or a lifetime.

Of course this is not true in every possible circumstance. There are fields where a probabilistic approach has little value. If the work is repetitive, if the instructions are clear, if clear workflows are in place, then probabilistic based approaches are close to useless. At McDonalds, you don’t need to discover what to do. You just follow a validated process.

The problem is that the higher you go into the food chain, the more complex the system is. There are clear procedures for making a burger but there aren’t very clear procedures for building a quantum computer or splitting atoms. In those cases, there are principles and systems and approaches and the system is too complicated to summarize it to step 1, step 2, step 3.

Even in sales where it should be rather straight forward, it is not as simple as buying a sales book and following everything ad-literam to become very successful. Circumstances influence systems. What works in one country may be different from another, your age, your gender, your confidence level and many other factors determine how an optimized procedure actually delivers for you.

This is why the probabilistic system becomes more valuable the more increase in the overall complexity. But don’t worry about this. This is just the philosophical look over it. The theoretical one. The practical one is that the more you do, the more you get closer to what actually works and delivers what you want / need. It is a bit depressing to know that 80% of what you do is just noise but if you don’t do that 80%, you couldn’t find the 20% that is signal apart from blind luck / mentoring or coaching.

At the end of the day, it averages with the 80% having a value close to 0.0 while the 20% having a value close to 1.0. The morale from this story? Keep your eyes opened because every time you do something, you’re refining your understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

And if you tie this to the macro perspective, you understand something fascinating. You see, we rarely take strategic decisions. Strategy means big things like where we work, study, live, date, fuck, travel, etc. These things are rather uncommon and as with everything uncommon, we become risk adverse. So we specialize in the micro things, the small decisions that we take daily.

This is better than nothing but in reality, the most successful people are those who applied the probabilistic validation system to the macro dimension. They’ve took many life decisions and they’ve changed as soon as they’ve seen it doesn’t work. Got into a job, didn’t work, got out. Got into a new job, didn’t worked, got out and so on. They’ve quickly validated what works and what doesn’t in life based on big decisions. For example, an investor may lose $1.000.000 on Wall Street but he learns a very good lesson of what works and drawing him closer to the state of a successful one.

The probabilistic validation system has the best effects when it is applied on a strategic level, even if it works on all levels. However, since the more you move up with your decision level, the more leverage that decision carries (what to eat for dinner tonight is insignificant compared to your decision to pursue law school or not), the faster you can determine what works big level (as in terms of big decisions), the more successful you’ll become.

So this leads to a logical extension. Progress in life is tied to the ability to take good decisions. These good decisions have a good cause and effect ratio (they do what you expect them to do). Bad decisions, in reverse, have a bad ratio (you do something and you get something completely different, generally, in a negative manner). I’ll just assume that everyone wants an advantageous outcome.

If we define the ability to take decisions from low to high, the higher your ability is, the better progress you’re going to have. The bigger the decision is (as in terms of impact to your life), the bigger the reward is going to be. So success comes down to your quality in taking the right actions multiplied by the level at which you apply that quality, in terms of impact.

And this leads to another conclusion – validate what works in life fast. Validate for big things as mastery in small things will give you a mastery in getting small results. Get mastery in big things. Then keep doing what works to reduce the time required to validate. Accept that 80% of what you do in any given scenario is just validation but keep in mind that no matter your situation, there is a 20% that generates the desired outcome. You just need to find it. And if you’re going to bother with a probabilistic validation method, use it where it matters.

Use it to launch a business or have a great relationship or transform your body or make some major contribution to the world. Don’t use a probabilistic validation model for a small problem, it is simply wasted effort. Be strategic, not tactical. Focus on “WHAT MUST BE DONE” not “HOW TO DO IT”.

Best regards,

Razvan

Focus On The Macro & The Micro Will Take Care Of Itself (And Even If It Doesn’t, It Is Okay …)

Here’s something they don’t teach you in school – your strategic decisions matter a lot more than your tactical ones. 

How different your life would be now if your parents, your school, your society taught you this at an early age?

Macro and micro are terms that most people know from macro and micro economics. It means “the big picture” and “the small picture”. The macro is usually made out of a lot of micros. It also comes from chess where macro is the big strategy while macro is the tactical, situational one.

For me macro means the big decisions that you take in life and where they are heading you. The school you go too. The partner you have. The job you take. The projects you work on. The habits you tend to repeat again and again. Anything that imprints a long term direction in your life is a macro aspect.

The micro is how you do things. How you manage your time. What you do in your morning routine. What type of words you use. How you approach your work. Anything that is considered a technique enters here.

  • Macro answers the question “What is your work?”. Micro answers the question “How do you do your work?”.
  • Macro answers the question “What do you read?”. Micro answers the question “How do you read it?”.
  • Macro answers the question “What is important to you?”. Micro answers the question of “What do you do today?”.

And what I’ve realized is that macro matters a lot more than micro. Not only that, but they tend to be a bit incompatible as focusing on the big picture while focusing on the small picture tends to be emotionally draining and overwhelming.

The decisions you take in your life that shape your life, the decisions that enter a format of …

  • I am …
  • I want …
  • I perceive …
  • I become …

Are far more important than the tactical approach you execute on it. The big decisions you take in your life will have far more leverage than how efficient you are in your life. In other words, it is better to take a great direction and to be mediocre at it than to take a mediocre direction and to be average. This is because every system has limits and all other things being equal, good decisions lead to a far better ROI than good execution.

This is one of my directions in 2017, a macro approach. Instead of being system oriented, where the goal is effectiveness, I’ve decided to focus on the macro aspect. Or to put it simply, I’ve decided to focus more on doing the right things than doing things right, to be more in a leadership than managerial role.

Even if both should be done, there is a huge chasm between the leadership perspective and the managerial one. The leadership one gives a direction while the managerial one optimizes the execution in that direction. I’ve decided that while optimizing the execution is important, the right direction is a lot more critical. Going on a bike in the right direction is better than going on an airplane in the wrong one. It doesn’t matter how good you are at something if that particular something is not the right direction for your life or business.

I see a lot of people being really good at what they do. They kick ass, from an operational perspective. Yet, they hardly accomplish anything. They are good at something that is not high leverage or they shouldn’t be doing at all. It is like the employee with a 150 IQ and top notch skills working in a dead end job. He’s good at his dead end job so he can be called good from a tactical or operational perspective. However, he’s not good at a strategic perspective because if money is his goal, he can earn a lot more being in business for himself.

Doing the bad things right doesn’t make them good and nobody, especially those who are obsessed by self-development can understand this. Yes, it helps you build a skill and it is better than doing the bad things bad but at the same time, you’re not accomplishing your goals. You need to do the good things right or mediocre or even bad because moving at 10 km / h in the right direction is better than moving at 50 km / h in the wrong one.

If I am in London and I need to get to Glasgow, then the train that does 25 kilometers per hour moving towards that direction is better than the high speed line towards Brighton Beach that goes 100 kilometers per hour. Traveling was not the goal, getting to Glasgow was and this is in essence the difference between macro and micro. Macro, even done poorly, moves you in the right direction. Micro, done great but with bad macro is just operational effectiveness but not actually accomplishing anything.

One example of a low macro, high micro strategy I’m doing is posting on Facebook. I have 45 friends. That’s all. I get maybe 7 to 10% engagement rate which means that in average, for a post, about 3 to 4 people will engage. I’m great at writing engaging content and I’m great at getting that engagement rate. From an operational point of view, I rock.

But the problem is that I have 45 people. So no matter how good I am, my reach is extremely limited. The output is extremely limited. I win at that level but I lose at the ultimate goal which is personal branding. Since my goal is to build a network and meet the right people, my focus must be a lot more on developing a list and getting access to as many people as possible as opposed to writing highly engaging content.

The same can be said about my occupation. Yes, I do it in a great manner. I’m good at it. I study it and I optimize it. At the same time, the macro is all wrong. If my purpose is earning money then my strategic call is to move to a field where leverage matters and where my skills, my time, my action can earn me ten times as much. It is not about being good at your job, it is about earning money.

It is like being great at Java and get paid $20/hour when average JavaScript coders get paid $50/hour. Being a big fish in a small lake is not a big deal because no matter what you do, no matter how big you grow, you are still in a very small lake. But being a small fish in a big ocean matters because even as a small fish, the opportunities are bigger, the growth is faster, the environment is simply better.

This is a big hurdle for me. I’ve been rewarded again and again for being “good at it”. For being fast, witty, smart and effective. That’s my identity. I judge myself by being effective at what I do. Yet, the identity is all wrong. My job is not to be effective. My job is to win. And to win, you focus on taking the right decisions and making them work as opposed as taking the wrong decisions and being good in that wrong context.

My entire identity is built around “getting things done”. This served me to some measure and I can’t say I have a bad life. However, I can say that there’s a lot more to be had out there, a lot easier and I’d rather take the easy way in life. So I’m trying to rewire my brain to be about “grand strategist”, “making the right calls”, “taking the right decisions”. I don’t want to judge myself by how much I work, get done, produce, by my output but rather, by the quality of my macro, strategic decisions, where big level thinking and strategy trumps tactics and operational effectiveness.

It is hard. It takes a different way of looking at life. It takes less work and more thinking. It takes that ability to step back, get yourself a coffee and ask yourself questions like “If I were to accomplish my ten year goal in six months, what would I do?” or “If I were to achieve this particular goal with only the resources I have right now, by next week, what would I do?”. It focuses a lot more what if thinking and on scenario based brainstorming. It focuses not so much on being a good friend but having the right friends. It focuses not so much on doing my work right but rather, doing the right job. It focuses not so much on optimizing my expenses as it is on what my expenses are going on.

And maybe this should be your focus too. Don’t get attached to your processes. Don’t get so attached to how you do it. Focus on what you do. Remember, doing the wrong job the right way is kind of useless. You can’t turn a chicken into a lion no matter how much training but at the same time, a lion will be a lion no matter what happens. Focus on the strategy for a fulfilling and accomplished life and less on the operational effectiveness. Pick the right direction and 80% of the battle is won.

Best regards,

Razvan

PS: A large part of my strategic shift is based on the idea of developing happiness. You can find out more at my new blog found at www.studyinghappiness.org. I’ll keep both blog actives but the ideas relating to being a happy human being and how this relates to the greater picture will be posted there.

Bonus: The Six Human Needs (Personal Power 2 – Tony Robbins)

Hello,

Doing things is one thing but how do you pick what to do? After all, life is a game of trade-offs. You can’t do anything. You pick something from multiple options.

This lesson answered my question and in all honesty, it may just be the most important one so far. Why? Because it provides a quantifiable, replicable system for determining a direction in your life.

People are different. You have different stories, different circumstances, different destinies. However, we are all united by one important element – our fundamental human needs. We are driven by six needs and what we do at any given time is designed to fulfill one or more of these needs. It is like pleasure and pain but a lot more nuanced, like pleasure and pain associated to different parts of our psyche.

The first need is the one for certainty and security.  We like to know that tomorrow is going to come and nothing bad will happen. Or if something bad to happen, we’d rather know it. it is important for us, as humans, to feel in control. This control can come over ourselves, over other people, over circumstances. It can be OCD or it can be an obsessive discipline.

Two notes here. Each of these needs has been named by one philosopher or another as “the most fundamental need in the human psyche”. Nietzsche considered that power (which is certainty and significance combined) is the most powerful need. Others said it is contribution. Others said it is love and connection. In practice, people are different and all needs are present in one amount of another.

The second note is that the way we fulfill these needs is not positive or negative. It is. For some people, the need for certainty and security means owning a gun. For others it means holding a regular job. For some it means living in a bunker as a survivalist. Yet for others it means playing computer games all day because it is predictable and safe. So avoid seeing them as good or bad. They are us. You and me. They are the conceptual parts of pain and pleasure in our brain in a way that is too complex to explain in a single blog post.

The second need is the need for variety and uncertainty. It is exactly the opposite of the first one. How can you have two needs at the same time? Doesn’t it violate the law of identity, A = A and A can’t be equal to B at the same place and time? Not really unless you think in absolutes.

We do want security but at the same time, we don’t want to be bored. We want variety. It is like in the nice guy / bad boy paradox of relationships. Girls like bad boys but want the stability of a nice guy. Nice guys offer them a stable framework but are always so predictable so they long for the bad boy. It is not really a contradiction in terms as it is a feature of the human psyche.

For some people, variety means eating different foods each day. For others it means reading. For others it means climbing Everest. For others it means traveling. Some activities provide both security and diversity, when you do something that is diverse and somehow unexpected but in a safe environment. Traveling is one of those.

Being in a war zone, like in Afghanistan or Iraq will rank higher on the uncertainty scale than certainty. But traveling in Central Europe fulfills both needs. A relationship also fulfills both needs (or should be) because you get the certainty and stability of the relationship with the variety that comes with another human being. Playing poker for real money is a bit more in the uncertainty, diversity area but playing poker for fake money offers both a safe environment and a safe at the same time. It is always going to be a trade-off between them, with very few activities being in the extreme but it is relatively easy to fulfill both. Absolute security is death and absolute variety and diversity would drive you insane as your brain wouldn’t be able to operate without some net, without some framework.

The third need is for significance. We want to feel important, usually towards other people but also towards ourselves. We want to feel that we matter. This again can be accomplished in many ways. Criminals find great significance in their acts and that’s not a really good place to be. You can feel significant putting a gun to someone’s head or you can feel significant by finding a cure for cancer, winning a Nobel prize or simply helping someone get up after fainting on the street.

A large part of consumerism is driven by significance as we want to feel important in front of other people. While the functional industries offer several benefits, the luxury industries like luxury watches, jewels and luxury clothes are generally driven almost entirely by our need to feel that we matter.

Even Internet trolls do what they do out of a feeling of significance. Anything that answers the question of “will this get me noticed? Will this get me to show up on people’s radar?”, positive or negative is driven by the need of significance.

The fourth one is the need for connection and love. Just as we want to feel important, we also want to feel connected. We don’t want to be alone. We hate this. This goes back to the tribal mindset where being alone was bad, really bad. As far as I know, there aren’t many ways to connect but actually connect. Be it with another person or a pet, we feel the need to give and receive love. Love is not just romantic love but a more complex process of “I want to have you next to me” and “I want me to be important to you”. I mean, you know what love and connection is and even the most nihilistic person will suffer from being completely alone.

These are the main four human needs. Fulfilling them is a must if we are to function in a healthy manner. The next two are not primary but are just as important. Just as in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the following are higher level needs.

The fifth one is the need for growth. Without this need, we would just be comfortable where we are. We would not aim to have more money, a better car, a better job. Yes, significance, growth, comfort, all are involved but we have an innate need to be further tomorrow than we are yesterday.

So if this is true, why isn’t everyone trying to grow? Well, the truth is that everyone does try to grow but growth means something different for each person. What’s important for you may not be important for others and some people may consider growth visiting a new night club while another learning German. It is subjective. We all aim to be more – we don’t all have the best method for achieving this. It takes a special type of dedication to be contempt with where you are and few people are ignoring this need.

The sixth need is of contribution. We want our tribe to do well. This again goes back to the tribal mindset but the idea is simple – we feel pleasure when we help those around us because this is linked to our own survival and replication.

Contribution can come in many ways. Some people decide to be teachers. Others to be in the military. Some decide to contribute by helping millions of people as journalists. Others write a book to help contribute their story. Others contribute only to their family or a few closed friends. Some dedicate their life to contributing to society while some contribute to a single person.

At the end of the day, even those who hate everyone and are extremely selfish feel the need to contribute somewhere. Contribution has nothing to do with scale, only with the intent of contribution.

These needs are always present in you and me. Some of these needs are more powerful than others. This scaling between the needs is a large part of what gives us a sense of identity. A person may like to climb mountains while another may like to play computer games. Each person just finds a way to contribute to his fundamental needs. For someone, growth may not be important but love and connection may be anything. This person may tend to sacrifice himself / herself in the name of love. For another person control may be everything, leading to a very anal-retentive behavior.

We don’t judge this. We are humans, we have needs and we find different ways to meet them. Just like we need food, water, sleep and sex, we need:

  • Certainty / comfort.
  • Uncertainty / variety.
  • Significance.
  • Connection / love.
  • Growth.
  • Contribution.

We don’t need them equally but we do need them. Suffering usually comes, actually, it always comes from not fulfilling a need to the level it needs to be fulfilled. A balanced satisfaction of all these needs is the secret to a happy and fulfilling life.

But how do you use this on a practical level?

Well, you use them as a filter to determine where to head in your life. Take it this way. The more of the above an activity fulfills, the better it tends to be for you. There is a second filter, that I’m going to introduce in a second but keep this in mind – you can judge activities based on how they fulfill the above.

Will activities fulfill all six? Not really, but it is not hard to find activities that fulfill at least four.

Let’s take traveling for example. As long as you do it in a conflict free part of the world and you have money in your pocket, you’ll feel secure. Since you’re traveling everywhere and all these things happen, you’ll feel your life is diverse. Since you’re such a cultured and experienced person now and people look up to you, you’ll feel significant. Since you’ll meet all these people who treat you like their friend and even find romantic interests, you’ll feel love. Now if you also learn courage, self-confidence, self-esteem and useful skills, you’ll grow. And if you use your traveling to bring awareness to a problem or to better the lives of those around you in a way, it contributes. A single activity, six fulfilling needs. No wonder traveling is so addicting.

For some people, joining the army fulfills all six. Security comes from being in a structure, in a unit, in a tribe. Diversity – you never know what’s going to happen. Significance, you’re a warrior, you’re fighting for freedom, you’re fighting for ideals. Tons of significance there and in part, the entire military recruitment strategy is based on significance. Connection comes from knowing that your military partners will die for you and you would die for them, a band of brothers.

I can’t tell you what activities are good or bad, because joining the army or joining Toastmasters fulfills needs just as joining a band of criminals do. This is morally neutral, at least until you introduce a second filter. What I can say is that the “value” you feel an activity brings to your life is the total sum of how it fulfills your needs. If you want to do more of something, just make sure it fulfills more needs and you’re good to go.

This leads me to the second filter. All activities can be organized in four groups.

  • Class A experience.
    • Feels good to do.
    • Is good to you.
    • Is good to others.
    • Serves the greater good.
  • Class B experience.
    • Doesn’t feel good to do.
    • Is good to you.
    • Is good to others.
    • Serves the greater good.
  • Class C experience.
    • Feels good to do.
    • Is not good for you.
    • Is not good for others.
    • Doesn’t serve the greater good.
  • Class D experience.
    • Doesn’t feel good for you.
    • Is not good for you.
    • Is not good for others.
    • Doesn’t serve the greater good.

If the first one determined what subjective value you’ll feel you’re going to get, morally positive or negative, this determines what is the objective value from the activity. Together, you can use them to determine goals and to understand why you’re not doing them.

For example, I’ve recently determined that joining a Toastmaster group ranks high on all criteria.

  • Gives me the variety of meeting amazing people with similar interests.
  • Makes me feel significant since I can share my ideas with people who’ll appreciate me for them.
  • I’d make tons of new friendships as this always happens when I go to events.
  • I’d grow in terms of persuasive power and in terms of self-esteem.
  • I’d be able to help others grow too by sharing what I’ve learned.

The problem? Security. I’m scared to do it because it is outside of my comfort zone. And since it doesn’t rank high in security and comfort, I don’t do it. So the key is to find a way to increase my security and comfort in doing it and then the rest will take care for itself.

And chances are that if there’s something you know you should be doing but you’re not, it is because there’s a need that is not meet and acts as a bottleneck.

  • It is scary or …
  • It is boring or …
  • You don’t matter if you do it or …
  • You feel lonely doing it or …
  • You don’t feel it helps you develop as a person or …
  • You don’t feel it adds anything to other people.

In order for you to actually go for something, without forcing yourself, an activity must feel …

  • Comfortable and relatively safe.
  • Diverse and interesting.
  • That you doing it will make you matter in your eyes and the eyes of others.
  • Leads to a connection, tangible or intangible with other people.
  • Helps you grow and you can feel growing.
  • Adds tangible or intangible value to people’s lives.

Most activities will fail marking all six. HOWEVER, once you know what is the bottleneck, you can just ask yourself “How can I increase the <insert need here> if I were to do this?”. You’ll find that any activity can be tweaked to accommodate what’s missing and that any lifestyle can be designed to fulfill these six needs.

You don’t need now to fulfill all the needs through the same thing and some activities fulfill just one need or two but you need to build a life in which you’re fulfilling all six needs using level one or level two experiences.

Best regards,
Razvan

PS: There was one more CD remaining, from PowerTalk. To be honest, after 30 minutes, I felt I was wasting my time. The information was trivial to say at least, it was delivered in small chunks without context and I’ve decided to drop it. The Tim Ferris show is far better than this. In any case, I’ve officially completed Personal Power 2. Good to me. Now let’s update how this blog looks like.

27.12.2016 – Five AM Thoughts

Hello,

I’m starting a new section called “Five AM Thoughts”.

Simply, these are thoughts that are relevant to you and your development and which are running through my head very early in the morning. It is that uncensored dialogue that simply appears when you’re sleepy and grumpy but awake.

  1. There’s a special type of feeling when you wake up so early. Personally, I associate waking up early with being on a train as being awake at 04:00 AM is usually something reserved for when I was traveling. This usually means a train, which for me means a new beginning or change. This morning, feeling the cold air on my face, the sound of the night (it has a distinct pattern made out of cars in the distance, air conditioning machines and other devices) it reminded me of the times when I’ve took a train, the train reached the destination and a new adventure awaited me.
  2. I don’t think weekly goals are the solution. Pick up three tasks that you want to finish today. Then three to stay in reserve if you finish the first three too fast. Those three can also act as what you’re going to do tomorrow. They are queued. In this way, you can retain your flexibility. You’re working towards your goals but how is arbitrary picking three goals any given week a good thing? What if you come up with a good idea mid-week? Have goals and have a list of them and then daily, pick up on what you consider the best goal and work on it. Have some flexibility while working in a system.
  3. Usually the things that must be done are not those that are on a to-do list. They are hard to define or hard to put on paper (emotionally) but are of critical importance. This can mean an discussion with your significant other, going to Toastmasters if you haven’t been in a while, cleaning up your suit and so on. They look trivial when you’ve got so many “high leverage tasks” on your list but this is only because you’re judging from a certain perspective. You’re judging from a high dollar per hour perspective or you’re doing things as you’ve always done them. But many of the things that you know you should do yet you don’t are high lifetime value, which comes above anything else, even above those that earn you tons of money.
  4. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said “I haven’t come here to compete. I’ve came here to win”. I like this mindset and it is healthier than my “I’m doing my best and I’m disassociating myself from the outcome” type of belief but I honestly don’t know how to build the above belief. However, it is a good goal to have.
  5. I must stop rushing through things. I associate massive pleasure with getting things done which is a good thing in the grand scheme of things. However, getting things done means getting things done, not accomplishing. It is checking down a yes next to a task. I don’t want to rush through my tasks just to say they are complete because if I don’t do them right or if I don’t do them properly, I’ll not maximize value created per hour. My goal is that if I have a book, I want to impact my life the maximum amount I can in one hour, not read as many pages as possible. It is like going to the gym and asking yourself “would you rather maximize muscular growth or how many reps you do?”. The answer is muscular growth.
  6. I’m starting to believe there is more than mechanics to live. I have this belief that it doesn’t matter how you feel or believe, if you do the work, you’ll get the reward. However, I’m starting to feel that your standards, beliefs and what you expect for yourself have a lot more to do with what you get than you’ve thought, like they are a force in themselves. Or better said, they are a force in themselves. This is relatively strange to explain but I think that passion, self-belief, confidence, self-worth, self-esteem, etc are quantifiable forces too in the equation of self success.

Razvan

Why I Haven’t Read Tools Of Titans By Tim Ferris (Yet)

Hi,

Tim Ferris, the author behind The Four Hour Work Week, The Four Hour Body and The Four Hour Chef launched a new amazing book called “Tools of Titans”. It is a 700 page book that contains the distilled wisdom of over 200 entrepreneurs, coaches, investors, athletes, doctors and thought leaders. It is like the “Cliff Notes” of what works.

However, while I have it on my Kindle and I’ve scanned it a bit, I won’t read it now. Actually, I think I’ll read it in a year or two. Why?

First of all, let me tell you that the information is top notch. These people are actually telling you their secrets to success with no fluff whatsoever. From how they meditate to how they journal to what they do first thing in the morning, it is all there.

However, it is not a good fit for me at this point in life. Why? Because what I’m looking to build is a structure, a framework and Tim Ferris offers a toolkit.

A framework is a set of rules, assumptions, cause and effect relationships after which you can govern a system. Waking up in the morning, going to work, coming back and watching TV is a framework. Going to the gym five times a week is again a framework. A framework is like a rulebook, something you can repeat day in and day out, more than a ritual but rather, a set of rituals.

A toolkit on the other hand are the specific strategies to put in that framework. The framework says “go to the gym four times a week”. The toolkit gives you a way to maximize your muscle growth or how to recover faster by using a sauna. A toolkit gives you a specific strategy that fits a bigger system.

Now you may wonder – okay Razvan, so why not just build a framework out of the toolkit? I’ve tried. It doesn’t work, at least for me. Every single thing you do in your day interacts with every other thing. Life is not a static mechanism but rather a living organism. Do you drink water now? Your hydration will impact your focus which will impact your state which will impact something else. Have you’ve had a chocolate bar in the morning? This will raise your blood sugar which will determine something else.

Actions have consequences and when you add a single action to an existing system, it is easy to judge. For example, if I add a single thing to my morning ritual, I can easily see if it has a positive or negative effect over my body and my life. As an example, about two years ago, I used to walk 10.000 steps (or run) after waking up at 06:00. Sounds great right?

Well, this lead to shocking my body and I could hardly get anything done for the rest of the day. This was even worst when I didn’t had breakfast. Yes, walking is good for you but depleting your body of all its energy is not. I could notice this because it was a simple A vs B test, if I do this what happens? What happens if I don’t do it?

But with a book like the one from Ferris, you have tens or hundreds of strategies and all sound good. How do you fit them together? They don’t form a puzzle together. Remember that these are strategies from 200+ people, not from a single one. It is not what one person does but what 200 different people, with different bodies and personalities do. You’ll get many different pieces interacting with each other and you have no guarantee that they interact in a positive manner.

I remember that a few years ago, I’ve got a book with 88 strategies to be healthier. These strategies ranged from common sense like drinking water to taking fish oil pills and others. Guess what? At the end of my study I had like 55 daily actionable items on my to-do list. All made sense but without a specific knowledge in human physiology, I did not know what worked and what was redundant. From all of those I could do only 5 or so on a consistent basis and even then, those five needed to form a system.

You can’t take a random set of strategies and hope they form a cohesive system in your life. For example, when I was living close to a gym, it made a lot of sense to exercise there. When I was traveling, it made zero sense to go to a gym as the economy of scale (paying per session) wasn’t profitable for me. When I had a kitchen, it made a lot of sense to prepare myself a shake every morning but without a kitchen or blender and always on the move, this became unpractical.

This is why I’m not going to study it YET. I want to have a framework that works, a set of rules from how I start my day, to how I end it, to how I exercise, when I meditate, through what, what I eat and so on, something sustainable before I start adding strategies. Before I can add an amazing strategy to meditate used by some world class champion, I must have a framework that makes meditation possible to start with. Before I can add the strategy of using saunas for recovery, I must have a strategy where a sauna is available, where I go to the gym and where I can do it without spending hundreds of dollars per month (or whatever is reasonable).

A framework under which to live your life gives you structure. It gives you the certainty that you know what you need to do next. That next can be improved but before you can improve it, you must find what actually needs to be done.

So while I appreciate his work and it is amazing as always, I’m going to wait until I have a stable framework for success. Then I can learn from the giants. In any case, buy it. Read it now, read it later, but buy it.

Best regards,
Razvan

CD 20 from Personal Power 2 by Tony Robbins

I’m done or almost done. I still have two bonus CDs and the subliminals but the program is officially done.

  • I’ve first started listening to this program when I was 16 years old. I’ve stopped after two sessions.
  • Then I’ve started again when I was 20. I’ve stopped somewhere at CD 5 or 6.
  • I’ve tried to listen it again about two years ago. The pattern repeated.

Why? It is a complicated conversation to start.

However, this year I’ve decided to actually do it and listen to all of it, all 25 CDs. I remember that I was sitting at McDonalds, listening to CD 9 when a voice in my head said “STOP. You’re doing it wrong. Go back and do the exercises. Take notes. You’re wasting it”. It was like my consciousness preventing me from self-sabotage.

So I’ve did. I’ve started from the first one again. Taking notes. Doing the exercises. And guess what? It was one of the wise decisions I’ve took in my life. If I did this six years ago, I would have eliminated a lot of the drama and suffering in my life. If I did this ten years ago, I would have achieved my results of now at least 50% faster.

Take this as my endorsement of the program but not only that – take it as an endorsement of taking studying seriously. Don’t read a book. Study it. Take notes. Get engrossed in it. You’re not reading for the sake of reading. You’re reading for the sake of change and improvement.

I’ve promised to myself that I’m never going to read a non fiction book again without studying, doing the exercises and applying a lot of thought on how to put that information to use. I’m going to continue studying Tony Robbins (and other courses) but I’m going to apply myself to it. I am listening to podcasts without taking notes and I won’t take notes on on audiobooks but now that I’ve realized the power of taking this seriously, of applying, of reflecting, of studying, of teaching, I don’t want to read for reading’s sake ever again.

This 20 days added more wisdom than I’ve learned in years of my life. And now, with 300 books read, I know that I would rather have 30 books studied, systemized and applied then 300 in total.

Razvan