41 / 365: The Illusion Of Control.

Control.

In a way, this is something you strive all your life to have. From the moment you are born to the moment you die, the entire life is a futile pursuit for control. One in which you want to predict with as much certainty as possible what it is going to happen and you want life to follow a mathematical precision.

This sounds great but … it is an illusion.

After the events in the last month or so, most of which were positive, I’ve understood that there is no real control in life. That yes, you can have a direction and you can move towards that direction but circumstances won’t play out based on a single factor. Circumstances play out based on a combination of different processes and systems and at the end of the day you can try to have control (and fail) or you can simply roll with the punches.

Does this mean that you have no control over life whatsoever?

No. You can set goals and you can accomplish them. You can set intentions and you can follow them. You can say “I’m here and I’m going to get there” and you can do that. You have absolute control over the driver’s seat of your life, over the vehicle that gets you from A to B. But if life is a car, you have control over your car (at least most of the time) but you don’t control the road. Or the traffic. You don’t control if the road is going to be a smooth or a bumpy one. You don’t control how other drivers will act.

And once you understand this …

… it becomes very simple. Life becomes simple. It comes down to doing your best of what you can do and let the other factors be. You know, in a way, it is like the weather. You can’t control it. You can get dressed in shorts and a t-shirt and in five minutes, it can start raining. This actually happened a few days ago. You can’t control the rain. You can go back and get more clothes and an umbrella.

So it is with the metaphysical aspect of existence. You can’t control what really happens around you but you can control your reaction. You can’t really control how people are going to treat you but you can control how you can react to that. You can’t control circumstances so much but you can always or at least, most of the time, control your own reaction to circumstances.

Once you realize this … you simply let it go. Some people call this God, like a higher being, force, whatever that controls everything that happens. I’m an atheist so I just called it perceived randomness. It is not actually random though. Since the universe is not infinite (expanding to an infinite state doesn’t mean that it is infinite, it just means that it is heading there) there can be a limited number of states in which any object, any person, any particle and beam in the universe can exist. So since there is a limited number of options, this means that the universe is a predictable environment.

And if you take into account enough factors, everything can be predicted. I believe that in a few hundreds of thousands years, quantum computing will be so efficient that it will take into account everything to predict the future. But right now, you can’t do that. You know that what happens, happens because different cause and effects interact together but you can’t actually predict how and you shouldn’t even try. It’s just … life.

Anyway, getting back to the point …

… Reality is too much of a complex mechanism to actually predict how it is going to work. But your reactions are not. In every action there are a lot of possible reactions. Some will empower you, others will not. For example, let’s say that you will wake up tomorrow and it is raining outside. You can curse the weather or you can take a book and read. You can call a cab and go somewhere or you can simply walk through the rain. There are many possible reactions. You can’t change the rain but this doesn’t mean that you are stuck on a course of action. You are virtually limitless here.

Once I’ve accepted that I rarely have control over what is around me and my true control is over what I am and what I do, what is in my area of control, my life became a lot easier. I’ve realized that there are actions that are in my area of control … my area of influence and finally, that are out of my area of control. I can focus mostly on the first and a bit on the second and the most I focus on this small circle, I extend my area. But even so, I accept that absolute control over circumstances is a huge illusion and that you just let things to be.

Things are the way they are because they work this way on a cause and effect level. If something exists in a certain way it is because there are factors that make it to be that way. It is not random. It is as natural as 3 + 3 = 6. You can’t really change the state of the thing, you can change the factors that make it to be that way.

But everything is as it is supposed to be. You can’t wish things to be different because it is futile. Things, circumstances to be more specific are just an result of a complex equation of causes and effects that are happening all around you.

So the next time you ask “why is this happening to me?” the answer is simpler. It is happening to you, good or bad, because there are many factors that came together to make that happen. And when you’ll change enough factors to shift the direction, the circumstances will change. Maybe they’ll change dramatically, maybe not. It all comes down to the building blocks of reality and how they are working towards that effect.

Best regards,
Razvan Rogoz

40 / 365: Nietzsche was right …

From time to time, you get a paradigm shift. Not the kind of where you make an marginal improvement on a belief and now you know it a little bit better. Rather, the kind in which you are faced data that goes so much against your paradigm, against your beliefs that it feels alien … and yet, logically, you know that the data is right.

You know that your own beliefs, experiences, points of references shaped what you think about X or Y and you take them for granted. After all, these are the lenses through which you look at the world. Yet, you realize that they are wrong … and right at the same time. And since A can’t equal B at the same space and time, you wonder who is wrong.

I’ve met some an example not so long ago and I’ve understood something critical. In the moment you simply let it go and stop judging what is right or wrong, you lose all your fear. After all, what shapes our behavior? Desire and fear. And if you do those things that may fear you, either on a emotionally or rationally level, you get rid of them. You don’t become pure but you become less vulnerable.

And then it comes to two phrases.

“Those who play with the devil’s toys will soon bear it’s sword”.

This Nietzsche-an like quote is about the fact that if we start wondering on a path, soon we’ll find ourselves doing it more and more. That it takes a single step in either direction, good or bad to build momentum and that there are only shades of grey between white and black.

I’ve been thinking about this and how it works in a self-reinforcing loop. If you do something, good or bad, whatever the hell that means, you’ll get feedback. That feedback is causal, it is not based on your values but it is based on reality, on cause and effect. With enough feedback, you build a momentum. In other words, it is enough to throw a single snowball for it to compound into an avalanche into the right conditions.

And when this happens, we have two choices. Either adapt our outer world or our inner world. In other words, we either move into an environment where are actions are rewarded or we rationalize our actions so there won’t be any cognitive dissonance, that there won’t be two concepts of good and evil at the same time.

Then is the quote from beyond good and evil by Nietzsche …

“If you stare enough into the abyss, the abyss will stare back at you”. It wasn’t actually like this but for all intents and purposes, it works.

What does it mean?

It means that you can conquer it. Fear. Anxiety. Anything. It is the equivalent metaphor of staring an eye into the eyes until the lion turns back and runs.

I’ve seen this recently and I was impressed, to say at least. I’ve seen how if an individual is at the edge, ready to lose everything and then just lets go, that individual will become fearless. No attachments. No fear. Nothing. After all, after staring fear into the eyes long enough, few things can scare you anymore.

Best regards,
Razvan

39 / 365: And all is good in the world today …

When I was 18 or 19, I’ve met a young, dreamy girl who told me one phrase – “all is good in the world today”. This phrase stuck with me, day by day, month by month, year by year and it means more to me than a lot of the things in my life.

And today, this was put to the test.

Today was the kind of day in which the past, the present, the absurd, the predictable and the future all collide to ruin my day. Not just to ruin it but to make it as awful as possible.

And so here I was, on a transfer bus shuttle, being hungry, being annoyed, being anxious, being sad, being all of these things at once. And then I’ve realized it.

There is no destination. I may die today. I may die during that ride actually. There may be no tomorrow or next year. There may be nothing. All I have is that particular moment not what will happen in T+60 minutes T+365 days.

It hit me, this is my life, this is all that there is, this experience, right here and now and while I have plans and goals, the only thing I can take for granted is this one. Everything else may or may not happen but the present is happening. The present is certain. The present is assured, nothing else is.

So I’ve just put myself some music and I’ve let it go. Yes, things can go very bad or things can become better or things may not change at all. I don’t know. What I do know is that what is now is not what it is going to be in the future. I may reach my goal or I may not. But the truth is that in the grander scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. I am here, I am now and I am grateful for this particular moment.

I don’t need to run from it by going to the past or the future. The present, this present, is marvelous.

And then all was good in the world once again.

I’ve decided to let it go a bit. To smile, to enjoy the moment as much as I’m capable without forcing myself. And it worked.

I don’t know how my life will be in a month but all is good in the world today and I’m grateful for it.

Best regards,
Razvan

PS: Thank you.

38 / 365: You are the sum of your choices.

I’ve realized something a long time ago. At the end of the day, it is not so much if you feel like doing something but if you do it. In other words, you can look at any given day and it doesn’t matter if it was a good or a bad day, but rather if you’ve put in the effort for the future.

It would be nice to wake up each and every day focused, determined and motivated. It would be nice to feel every single day that you can take on the world. But the truth is that those are rare moments and you can’t rely on them alone. You need a routine. You need a ritual. You need a framework which you can follow both in good and bad times.

Every single person on this Earth think he / she is productive. But if people would actually track what they do, they would quickly realize that it is not the case. If you would keep a list daily of what you’ve accomplished vs. what you’ve set to accomplish, you’ll see that there are days, even weeks in which you haven’t got some things done. Being aware, tracking your workflow is the best way to actually stay on track.

For example, I track four things. If I wake up at 04:00, if I hit my work goal, if I hit my study goal, if I exercise. If I am to look at the past week, I am ashamed. There are a lot of red markers there and only a few green ones. But I’ve felt productive, I’ve felt good. Yet, in real life, I wasn’t. Just because I’ve did some things sporadically and I felt good about doing them this doesn’t mean that I was actually productive.

And what have I’ve done in the last week that “prevented” me from being productive?

  • Reading tens of travel blogs.
  • Watching House of Cards.
  • Watching videos on YouTube.
  • Last night I’ve stayed up late until 02:00 AM to watch “The Transporter”.
  • Wasting time on Facebook.

I can’t say that I’ve done a single good major thing instead of doing my rituals. I can’t say that I’ve read so much (I’ve started a book two weeks ago, haven’t finished it yet). I haven’t went outside to explore because it was raining and even this is only an excuse. I haven’t worked on my book. I haven’t watched motivational videos. I haven’t formed new meaningful connections. I’ve simply lost time. And this is not a good thing.

And now, I’ve realized how important is that time and that I don’t want to waste it anymore. I could be doing something meaningful in it. How can I complain that I don’t have time to call people that I love if I waste it? How can I complain that I don’t have time to go see a movie or at the Opera if I waste it? How can I complain that my life is not where I want it to be if I waste my time? How can I expect greatness from myself if I spend more time deciding if I want to buy the new iPhone vs actually doing something productive. After all, if I were to do something productive, the added gain would have been large enough to cover any mistake I would do with the above.

How can I value my time when I carry conversations with people who try to recruit me into MLM businesses? Who don’t know who I am, don’t care what I want yet they have “a deal of a lifetime” for me. How can I value my time when I spend hours carrying conversations that are meaningless in the end and do not add any value to my life nor to the other’s life person.

I’m not 14 anymore. I don’t have all the time in the world. Yet, I sometimes act like I’m a 14 year old dumb kid and I’m starting to appreciate more and more the people who invest just as much time as it is required in talking with me, who are not available at my whim, because they value their time. And I need to learn how to value mine too.

The rules of engagement are simple.

  • You have friends that are not going on the same path as you are. Find new friends.
  • You are doing things from momentum that are not bringing you what you want to have. Stop doing them and do what’s right for you instead.
  • You are carrying your life in a manner that leads to a lot of rationalization but few results. Stop doing this, take your excuses and shove them somewhere and do what brings you results.

And you know what’s stupid? At least when it came to people, I’ve picked convenience. I had these amazing people in my life with which I could spend hours and be sad at the end because I had to end the conversation.

  • There was this amazing girl once with which I’ve spent hours talking about life at a coffee shop, about her plans, about mine and she’s not in my life anymore.
  • There were these amazing two girls that were fun loving, adventure loving individuals and could simply push me outside of my comfort zone and yet, I haven’t talked with them for months, if not a year.
  • There was this girl with whom I’ve discussed about The Selfish Gene book and evolution and she’s not in my life anymore.
  • There was this amazing friend who was a soldier and now a network analyst with which I used to spend hours talking about things smoking and drinking beer and I haven’t called him in over a year.
  • There was this amazing girl that was a lot younger than me but impressed me with each conversation and left me inspired and determined each time we’ve talked but we’ve broke contact.

I’ve had so many diamonds in my life and yet, I’ve excluded most of them. Even those I still have, I spend far less time with them than with the people that don’t actually bring me a lot of value. I go out to coffee with folks that at the end of the day just leave me tired and in a state of apathy when I could buy a train ticket / plane ticket / bus and meet with folks that would change my life forever.

The shame is on me. These were my choices and I’m glad I’m realizing them sooner than later. I’ve excluded, disappointed, rejected the truly valuable people and I was left with those that I don’t need in this stage of my life. And now, I need to start from zero and build this network again.

Making the right choices, when it comes to actions, when it comes to people is not easy. It is usually very counter-intuitive as the right choices are the hard choices and as people, we tend to take the path of least resistance. For example, just right now, I’ve received a request to answer a question on Quora. I can spend 10 minutes or more answering it which is what I do from momentum or I can invest 10 minutes into something that will actually bring me value in my life.

At the end of the day, we are the consequences of our actions. Nothing less and nothing more. And slowly but surely, we learn to take new decisions, decisions that are more likely to bring us the life that we desire than the one that we don’t want.

Best regards,
Razvan

37 / 365: A pragmatic perspective on social constructs & social dynamics.

Here’s a newsflash.

People don’t see the world as it is. They see it as they are. In extension, people don’t see you as you are. They see you, as they are. Their entire world is seen through the filters of their own self and that self is made through years, decades of experiences and feedback loops.

So it made me wonder. I’m a persuasive person. After all, I’ve became a specialist in compliance. However, I don’t have a lot of strong connections and I’m breaking them faster than I’m building new ones.

If I am to think, the people who supported me, the people who have been there for me are people who look at the world the same way as I do. It is not so much about what awesome, amazing, whatever person I am as it is the fact that they see their own projection in me and I see my own projection in them. In other words, we mirror each other.

And this works on a universal level. People tend to hang out with similar people. Folks tend to like, to have rapport with similar folks. For example, I’m a capitalist, I can’t possible have rapport with a socialist. We see the world in a different way.

I’ve thought about this today for a long, long time. I’ve had a reasonably high number of romantic relationships. The only ones that actually worked were the ones that were congruent on a deep level. Maybe we were different people but our inner operating systems, our deep values were very similar or the same. It is interesting how two people can look very different but deep down, to be lead by similar, even identical values and to connect at that level.

So it is with the amazing people in my life. The people who actually gives a fuck and who I actually care about are not based on time spent together. Some I know for days or months. Others I know for years. I can connect with someone who I’ve met today on a deep level if I am congruent with that person on a value level than with someone I know for 10 years if I’m not.

But again. People don’t see the world as it is. They see it as they are. So when you are a person’s projection of the world, when you are what that person considers to be right in the world, on an authentic level, it is impossible not to be liked. This is real charisma and this is how strong friendships and emotional connections are formed.

I am looking at the people I know and I wonder with how many I actually have what to talk about. With how many I need to fake my interest in order to appease them but at a real level, I don’t feel any actual connection. The answer is many, too many.

So based on this realization, I’ve took a simple decision. There are many people in this world. Statistically, I can find as many as I need that are congruent with my own projection of the world. Those who are already in my life but do not fit my model of the world do not deserve to be there. After all, I’m not interested in how they see the world, they are not interested in mine. All that is left in this case is a polite acceptance but no real rapport. So, it is a more productive approach to simply say good bye and find new ones.

Each time I read an article about leaving, about traveling, about starting new, I find a phrase like “the pain of losing contact with old friends” and I wonder, what pain? A person’s value relative in a subjective social construct is not based on how much time that person has been. A person is not a fine wine that gets better with time. It is based on how much value that person brings in your life.

For example, I have a female friend that I know since I was in primary school. We talk sometimes but that’s about it. She doesn’t bring value in my life, I don’t bring value in her. To be honest, we are very different people. So does it mean anything that I’ve known her for so long? No. It doesn’t. Time doesn’t mean anything.

It may have mean something in the past when building new connections was rather hard. However, in a fast moving, fast evolving social construct like ours, where you are seconds away from meeting virtually any person in the world, it doesn’t mean anything. Value added to one’s life is the only thing that really matters and the “old friendships value” is just a relic of a past where social mobility was not that important.

Or to drop the fancy language, this kind of veteran mattered when it was hard to meet new people. The easier is to meet someone, the less important is how long you’ve known a person, on a pure time basis.

For a large part of our existence as humans, we were forced to stick in one location. We did this for security mostly. Now, we have almost complete mobility. A person 10.000 miles away can bring us more security and pleasure than a person 500 meters away from you. We have options. And when we have options, the status quo is lost.

Therefore, in conclusion, I don’t see any logical reason why we should keep people in our lives for friendship sake. If it is not justified, we are one Facebook request / phone call / Whatsup chat / plane ticket away from finding and accepting someone new in our lives.

 

36 / 365: How I’ve Stopped Worrying And Started Loving Life

It is hard to really know when you make a switch in who you are. It happens slowly and one day, you realize that you are a different person.

This is what happened to me.

I used to worry. A lot. I used to worry how people perceive me. If they do accept me or not. If they like me. I used to take most things very personally.

I used to worry about big and small things, from paying the bills to my near and far future. About what it is going to happen next month, next year. About a future that never came which though seemed very predictable.

And I’ve started to stop worrying. I don’t know how. It simply happened.

I’ve learned that if people don’t like me, that is OK. There are many people in this world and some will like me, others won’t. I’m not going to try to appeal to a popularity contest anymore. It simply makes no sense for me. I’ve lost several friends in less than a week and while I thought this to be devastating, it is not. I think it is worse that there were amazing people in my childhood with which I haven’t kept in touch.

I’ve learned that I don’t know what will be in the future but the future it is not near. It may be good or it may be bad. The only thing I’m sure of is that it is not going to be the same. After all, why would I even want to know what the future reserves for me? Life is a roller-coaster. The only reason why we try is because we believe we can make it better. If I simply knew what will happen in my life, I would not care about trying anymore. I would like to know the stock-market evolution though.

I’ve learned that people can’t really harm you. They may dislike you, they may leave, they may betray but that’s about it. What can someone do to me? Kill me? That’s laughable. And in a way, I’ve understood that I don’t need to like someone in order to feel positive or to hate someone in order to feel negative. We’re all people. Some better than others but even if I’ve been an elitist for years, a decade now, I don’t care about it anymore. People are more complex than our own view of them, no matter if it is negative or positive.

Yes, tomorrow may be uncertain. I don’t know what will bring. Maybe it will bring beautiful things, exciting adventures and great rewards or more challenges. But it is not tomorrow yet. It is today. And today I have a great book to read and a funny movie at TV. I have a day in which I gave my best and even if I know that I could have done better, I’ve tried. I have a pack of cigarettes and a comfy bed where I can sit, put some good music, light up a cigarette and close my eyes.

Tomorrow, for all intents and purposes, I may not even be here. I know that I will be, I hope so (otherwise 80% of my action oriented actions are useless) but I don’t really know. So even if virtually every day I’m investing towards a brighter future, that future may never come so worrying about it is simply ludicrous.

The important thing is to be grateful and to thank existence for going through this day and when I wake up tomorrow, to thank existence for giving me another day. I don’t believe in a God (I’m an atheist) but I can thank to the deterministic, causal system called existence.

I don’t know but I’m grateful to be here now. I’m grateful for the fact that a wonderful books await me on my Kindle. That I can watch the new House of Cards. I’m grateful that I’ve stopped putting myself into an early grave by worrying about everything, every-time up to the level where I was never in the moment.

So, whatever factors made me grow up, thank you, I am grateful.

Best regards,
Razvan

 

Last blog post for a while …

It is 00:08 and I should be sleeping.

However, I’ve had an “a-ha” moment, one that came in the strangest of times. I’ve finally realized why I have failed in so many of my attempts so far and why I’m not where I want to be, not even close.

The answer is simple. The key in life is to not make the same mistakes again and again. In other words, you must observe what you do, understand what you did good and understand what you did wrong and then stop doing the wrong part.

This “a-ha” moment first came while I was watching a chess game recording. I’ve realized that in chess, it is as simple as seeing what happens if a certain setup is on the table and then learn to react properly. pawn in front of king is almost always the best move as white for example.

Anyway, a few hours later, I’ve understood that I am making the same damn mistakes again and again until the pain becomes so big, some bothering, so burning that I change. Usually I need to get smacked in the head to realize this as I’m rarely (or was) capable of changing in a proactive manner.

So now, I’ve decided on a simple mindset. Mistakes, I’m going to do tons of them. But I’m going to act – observe – improve. That’s about it. Act in a way that I think is productive for me. Observe the effects of my action and see if they are what I really want. Improve on my action, tweaking, eliminating it, boosting it, etc. And while it seems logical, I swear to God, this comes extremely unnatural to me.

In any case, I’ll have this be my last blog post for a long, long time. I have discovered something that does work and I’d rather spend one hour there than here.

Razvan

35 / 365: You are special. Here’s why.

Hello,

Maybe you don’t realize (yet), but you are capable of amazing things. You were born a virtually limitless person. You were born without fears, without anxiety, without frustration. From the moment you came to this world, you had and still have the potential to truly make a dent in the universe.

So if this is the case, then you may ask yourself why you haven’t done this yet?

In a way, it is not your fault and I will explain why. We are all responsible for our actions. For our actions, there are consequences and we will benefit or pay from them.

However, the person you are now was influenced by many factors. Maybe you are a brilliant person, the next Einstein but you’ve had no one ever believe in you and so, you’ve never uncovered your potential. Maybe you are a great artist but your parents / caretakers tried to “shut this down” and have you focus on other areas. Maybe you are a great writer but since those around you haven’t shown interest in what you write, you thought that you are not good enough, that nobody is going to read what you write and you … quit.

But let me ask you this. Who says that you are not limitless? Who says that you can’t have it all? Who says that you can’t be beautiful / handsome, smart, wise, rich, loved, loving, grateful, peaceful? Who? Nobody.

Nobody in this world can determine what you will not become. You can be whatever you want, whenever you want, if you’re willing to stick to your dreams and to your guns.

I know that you may not believe me. After all, you wake up in the morning just to feel anxiety for events that are going to follow in the day. This is what most people feel. Even if you don’t feel that anxiety, you may don’t really feel excited upon the upcoming events.

However, I must tell you, you can do it. You can be it. You can have it all. You are special but years or decades of comparing yourself with others made you thought that you are not so. Years of building limiting beliefs limited what you think you can do in this world. Years of hearing “no, you can’t”, made you believe that no, you can’t.

Because if I’ve noticed something in life is that anyone can reach the stars but not anyone has the power to go through all the negativism, all the pain, all the “no, you can’t do that” influence of the world around.

However … you know who is the biggest bully? Not just the world around. You are, with yourself. You say things to yourself that you wouldn’t even dare saying to someone else. You attack yourself in such an aggressive manner that your inner self starts to doubt about its own value.

Self love is required for performance and success, no matter if you realize it or not. But self-love starts with your own person then the environment around you.

Because my dear friend … let me ask you, if you don’t believe in yourself, who will? If you don’t actually love yourself? Who will? If you don’t believe in your dreams? Who will? And even if others will, before you, you will dismiss their claims.

You can’t love for the world to show you that you are valuable and important. The world may show you or it may show you not. You must do this yourself and then the rest of your environment will follow suit. Do you understand what am I saying?

You must treat yourself with the same love and care that you would treat someone you love. You can’t be a loving person of humanity while dismissing and even hating yourself.

So, in the end, I must ask you again …

Why do you think you can’t do it? Because you can and your dream, your goal, your vision is within your reach.

Best regards,
Razvan Rogoz

34 / 365: Your expectations of an event can actually influence its outcome.

We people think we are great at predicting how something is going to make us feel. The truth is that we suck at it. We can predict rationally, based on past patterns but that’s about it.

Think about it for a second. Someone invites you for a night out. You think to yourself “nah, it will be boring, I’d rather stay at home on Facebook”. Finally, you decide to go. You have the time of your life and you are grateful for going. Or it can work the other way, you think that doing, having something will bring you huge amounts of happiness. You get there. It is a lukewarm satisfaction at best.

I’ve learned not to trust my future prediction of how I will feel about something. This prevents me from saying no too often. The truth is that apart from some extremes, I don’t really know what emotions an circumstance will trigger. I’ve been in situation where I expected happiness and ended up sad and the reverse.

But if you don’t know at all if it is good or bad, you are stuck. You have no inner balance. You have no compass. Since nothing pulls you towards emotionally, you don’t move anyway.

So here’s a better way to do things. Understand that everything will eventually bring you happiness. Obstacles that you overcome will bring you satisfaction. Accomplishing your goal will bring you happiness, maybe in that moment, maybe six months down the path. The worst thing you can do is not make a emotional prediction but to do nothing. It is better to move forward than stay in the same place, no matter what expects you on the other side.

You don’t know what life it is going to bring it. It is like the script of a good movie. It may be comedy, drama, achievement, love, whatever it may bring you. All you can do is to decide to play, to take the stage. Apart from this, many things become out of your control and the only thing you can do is to play your role as well as you are capable.

It is easy to say “oh well, nothing good is going to happen today, it is going to be just like yesterday”. This may be true or false. But if you take it at face value, you won’t do anything. At the end of the day, it may not be a completely self-fulfilling prophecy but it is close by. Your actions + causal, deterministic action of events happening outside of you will determine what will happen today. If you don’t do your part, then you decrease the chances for that to happen dramatically. In other words, you put half, life puts half. It is a collaboration between your own efforts and of circumstances outside of you.

I wish I could tell you that you are 100% in control of your life, that your life is like a car and you are in the driver’s seat. That’s not entirely true. Yes, your life may be the car but you’re not building the roads too. The roads are there as a consequence of your actions and the actions of others. You can decide on what road to drive but that’s about it. In other words, you are in control but only partially. There is a lot out there happening behind the scenes that influences the direction of your life.

Let me give you another example or better said, framework.

In order to get from A to B in life, you need to put in the effort. Even if I want to get a glass of water, I still need to expand effort. There is difference between a goal that takes 500 hours and one that takes 50 seconds but they work the same way.

Consider A to B to be a path. The better this path is, the faster you’ll get there.

You’ll start with a dirt path which means you’ll move rather slow. You don’t know what you’re doing, luck doesn’t exist there yet but you can move forward. You’re just extending large amounts of energy to do it.

The part where you can on the path is execution.

Now, you understand a few things and you build a brick road in order to walk easier on it. This is production capabilities. This is where you don’t just do more, you improve how you do things. You walk again until you realize that you are again moving too slow. So you invest again into the road and you make it an asphalt road now. You walk, you upgrade – now it is a highway. You walk, you upgrade, now it is a high speed train rail.

Do you see the pattern? Everything in life is divided into two categories. You have execution, putting the work and you have production capabilities – how well can you execute. If you prepare a sandwich, that’s execution. If you learn how to prepare the sandwich better, faster, easier, cheaper, that’s production capabilities. If you drive, that’s execution. If you learn defensive driving, that’s an improvement in PC.

Now, these two are working in a feedback loop. Execution is passive practice and improves PC. PC is active practice and improves execution. It is best to keep a balance between these two.

There is a third factor though. It is not randomness, it is how the environment interacts with you. In theory, everything should be a gradual improvement. In truth, this can only happen in a void. Sometimes you’ll be in a place where you need to put in more effort than usual to get the same effort. Other times, you’ll be in the right place and the right time where you need to extend none. These things tend to cancel themselves out so in general, you are in the middle. For every time circumstances were unfair, there is a time where there are fair. At the end of the day, the balance between effort and results tend to be exactly 1.0 or around it.

Returning to the earlier point – you don’t know what will happen. Maybe today it is going to be an awesome day. Maybe not. But put in the effort. Go your distance of the road and let life come with the construction workers and build the others. Because this is how it works. You travel up to a point and you think the road is done. Then, life comes with a team of workers and builds the rest of the road together with you.

Unless you’re on a lost island. That may be more difficult.

Best regards,
Razvan

33 / 365: Show up. Do the work.

Good morning,

Keeping momentum. Why is this so important?

Because short bursts of activity rarely can lead to long term results. Life is like weaving a rope. Sometimes you can weave it rather fast. Other times slow. But in the moment that you stop doing it, it will break down under tension.

I think this is the best possible metaphor you can use when thinking about life in general. That no matter what you do, want, are, it comes down to a long rope that is stretched between where you want to be and where you are right now. As long as you keep working on it, it will get you to the other side. If you skip one day, the rope may not break. If you skip one week, it may still hold. But if you skip too much time, it becomes thinner and thinner so in the end, you have to start again. Of course, you’ll still regain the knowledge, the lessons, the benefits of your progress and you can apply this in your second trial. But even so, you will have to start again and you will have to invest a lot more effort than you should have just keeping that rope strong.

As I’m sitting here, in my bed, with this laptop on my legs, I am realizing how important is to wake up early. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by doing it. I’m not depriving myself. I’m not sleepy and I haven’t even had coffee. I think I haven’t drank coffee for three weeks now. I am a bit hungry and my body is a bit aching but I’m OK. I’m awake. I’ve been awake since 04:00. I’ve listened to an audiobook for one hour. I’ve watched some interesting YouTube videos. I’m writing this at an hour at which most people are still sleeping. I’ve started the day with a victory and I’m happy for this. I’m paying my dues for success.

Leaving this aside, I think enthusiasm is very important. If you can keep yourself determined and happy about your course, you can achieve virtually almost anything. Of course, positive emotions are not enough – you still need to maintain discipline. It is not positive thinking or discipline. They work together. But if you wake up early in the morning, determined to make a dent in your life and in the world around you, it is hard not to do it.

The world we live in today is a bit strange. We don’t evolve as we used too. In the past, people embarked on great adventures. They used to get on a ship and leave for the United States, not knowing anyone, not knowing where they’ll work – they’ll go to live the American dream. But now, when do we evolve? We finish school – we go to college – job – family – that’s about it. Oh, and the driver’s license. We are not taking risks anymore. We are not striving anymore and this is sad.

What keeps you from being great? Tell me. What keeps you? Obstacles? Logistics? You can overcome them. The real obstacle is in your mind. Now, this doesn’t mean that if you think that you can do something, you can actually do it. There are actual limitations to your capabilities. But if you think you can do it, you can try, you can improve until you can actually do it. We all started at zero and the people who got to 100 are those who took the steps required to get there. Those who tried, failed, learned from their efforts, failed again but with each subsequent trial, they became better. That’s what makes the difference.

Everything you’ve ever wanted is out there. It is yours. It is up for the taking. But you’ve got to put in the effort and you’ve got to wake up early knowing that what you do matters. Or if not knowing, then at least believing. Lying to yourself if you have too because at the end of the day, it is not a lie if it works.

Because if you don’t think that anything can change, why do you live? You know you can’t be happy, you know that you can’t reach your outcome. So why live? You live not because of momentum but because deep down inside, you still strive towards your destination. The difference between failures and successes is that the second category does this in an active manner.

I know that I can’t be an astronaut. I know that I can’t be a teen anymore. I know that some people are gone from my life forever and getting them back is highly unlikely. I know that there are actual limitations and no amount of positive thinking is going to change that. But I also know that there are still many prizes that I can win and I focus on them – on what I can be, get, have, do and not on what I can’t.

Succeeding in life is not a one size fits all solution. I’ve seen good people fail and I’ve seen less than good people succeed. We tend to use an attribution bias. When things go wrong, it is because of circumstances, when things go right it is because of our effort and wits. The truth is that there are many factors ranging from your age, gender, background, luck and even the color of your eyes. But at the end of the day, this doesn’t even matter. If you do your best, you’ll win. Yes, you may marginal advantages based on some factors but I’ve yet to see someone determined, focused and hard-working towards a goal not to achieve it. Even if luck is involved, luck tends to be there for all of us and it doesn’t work in a vacuum. You can be lucky and prepared or lucky and unprepared. So even if random chance matters, be prepared when that random chance hits.

So what’s the lesson from all of this?

I don’t know how your life will turn out. However, I know that you can show up and do the work. You can participate. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose. You’ll always learn, in both cases, you’ll progress. And then, maybe you’ll get that opportunity right away. Maybe it will take some time. But amazing things happen when random chance is combined with being prepared.

So, get to work :)

Best regards,
Razvan