Over the last while, I’ve been promoting the idea that perspective and effort are key ingredients to your success. Fair enough, how could one argue that? With respect to that, this letter will hopefully bring into focus why I think this is a critical stage in life for you.
What an ambiguous word. It indicates reachability, but lacks the context of expanded capability. In other words, the more effort you put toward reaching your potential, the more potential your reach is capable. “Impossible” is more clear isn’t it? It says that regardless of your effort, you’re not going to get there. Where does possible and impossible intersect? What are you capable of?
You are at the stage in life where you are deciding where possible and impossible meet. It’s different for different people. A quote last week expressed that – “In Nature, we are all born unfree and unequal; subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group; diversely endowed in health and strength, in mental capacity and qualities of character.” (Will Durant). That is the backdrop of you contemplating what is in store for you. For you to compete in life – “win” in economics (income and wealth creation), “win” a woman’s heart, “win” in sports and health, and “win” in creating a life of well-being, you must pursue this question of what’s possible for your life.
What I mean by that is you see your current self in a certain way, your future life in a certain way. That idea is somewhere on the scale of accurate, very or not very. That’s your starting point. As you move forward with effort, you get feedback on how accurate your self perception is. That should be encouraging even if you were naively inaccurate. Because now you can adjust your perspectives and adjust your efforts. For example, if you want to be wealthy with the freedoms to have a family that travels and enjoys all the positive aspects of wealth and be able to experience the fullness of life but haven’t made any progress towards understanding how money accrues to individuals (value goes to value), then you could be delusionally thinking that some future effort will save your dreams. No, only current effort will save your dreams. Now, money isn’t everything for sure. So another example, if you had dreams of running the Boston Marathon, but your training schedule isn’t going to get you under 4 hours, again, you’re fooling yourself. If your dream is to bring 10,000 people to a spiritual awakening, then you’d better start practicing your communication skills. These examples illustrate how reality provides feedback so you can adjust your thinking and actions so you can better achieve your goals.
Here’s the thing: Between 25 and 35 years of age, you are at the peak of your life’s ability to define yourself. Thereafter, you’re refining and improving on the choices you’ve made. Gross overgeneralization, but largely true. In your 20’s, you’re exploring, developing early stage skill development, learning personal autonomy, meeting Miss Right, graduating from your parents’ mindset and developing your own by dreaming about and acting on where you’re going in life. In your 30’s, you are on the long road, making a family with Mrs. Right, becoming an adult by practicing the skill of balancing competing demands on your time, energy, and resources. In your 30’s, you increasingly solidify in your mind as to what’s possible. In your 40’s, you’ve climbed up the mountain and attained a degree of freedom; however, in some ways the errors in your past judgments must be resolved. You are at the fulcrum of youth and wisdom thereby further adjusting what’s possible.
So in today’s stage it’s important to recognize that you are building your capacity for attaining your potential. Perspective and effort are factors for success. Yet there are two subsets to those that can prevent you from moving forward more aggressively in building a rewarding life – stalled momentum and cynicism. You get a car going by accelerating. But when you’re no longer accelerating, then you’re coasting. It’s ok to harvest the momentum you’ve already created for a short while; but if coasting becomes your lifestyle, then what’s possible is diminished. Sure, coasting, which looks very similar to drifting, is ok to a reasonable extent; but coast too long and that becomes the style you’re ingraining. Your capacity for growth will adjust to that effort. Don’t let Someday Isle be a shore where your ship lies at anchor.
Coasting can be bad, but cynicism is worse. I think we have an epidemic societal problem with this. It is negative belief in micro and macro. In the micro, cynicism puts a negative tinge to every piece of information that comes your way – “Oh, they’re just profiting from this and don’t really care about me, just the dollars”. Cynicism, which leads to pessimism, colors your view of human nature. Optimism and good naturedness are replaced by self protection. Self protection is good to an extent, but too much cynical filter and you attract to you more of what you expect. In the macro, individual man needs mankind to be good in order to build teams, build trust, build a community that thrives. Cynicism is enemy to genuine goodness.
Therefore men, (perspective and effort) if you’re reading this letter with only an intellectual curiosity and are not compelled to look at yourself and your actions, then maybe you value momentum too much, maybe you’ve become cynical to some degree in your heart. Maybe you think you’re doing well enough (and maybe you are), but maybe there’s more “possible” for you. I’m pretty sure there isn’t one person out there that couldn’t benefit from the addition of one positive habit added to their day where 6 months from now you’d look back and see how much more was possible in your life and how your dreams can intersect with reality. For you, now is the stage in life where it’s the easiest to increase your capacity for what’s possible.
Get after it.
To your continued success,
P.S. This year we’ve added a bunch of new guys in the conversation. Make yourself known by sending me an email (yes, old school) and introduce yourself. Guys in London, Panama, Illinois, Colorado, Japan, Nebraska, and Louisiana to name a few, give me a shout.