“You have to say, 'Well, why did it succeed where others did not?” — Elon Musk
One unstated premise of the self-help industry is that following the habits of successful people leads to success, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The reason that following the habits of successful people does not lead one to success is counterintuitive.
It has to do with the fact that habits are not about habits.
It has to do with the fact that habits are natural effects that take place and are not goals to be chased.
I would advise to read today's discourse with an open mind, read it very slowly, and revisit it often because the material is very dense and it goes against everything you have been told.
I made it as simple as possible, but I can not make it any simpler.
Without further ado.
The self-help industry says one should wake up at the crack of the dawn, drink coffee, go for a jog, take a cold shower, meditate, journal, work hard, read books, and do all those things that many successful people do.
The self-help industry says one should model this type of behavior because it is a key ingredient to success.
This premise is completely misguided. Having a certain set of habits and achieving success have to be viewed as natural effects that take place and not as goals to be chased. It has to be viewed that way because it is the truth and you are otherwise addressing symptoms and not root causes.
Mimicking the habits of successful people is terribly ineffective.
For example, what is often touted on social media are messages such as you have to work harder, do more, be more, make a commitment, be dedicated, be disciplined, be all-in, but it somehow seems to fall upon deaf ears. It falls upon deaf ears because the reason why some successful people work very hard is that they have a very high desire to succeed. It has nothing to do with working hard, but everything to do with having a high desire because working hard is a natural effect that takes place when the desire to succeed is high but it should never be approached as a goal. Hard work is a by-product of having a high desire to succeed.
Ask someone like Elon Musk if he could stop working for the next three weeks and it will probably be impossible for him because his desire to succeed is so high. It absolutely never had anything to do with Musk forcing himself to work hard. It also never had anything to do with reading a book about the habits of successful people, watching a motivational video on YouTube, reading an Instagram quote, or any of that.
Musk works hard because he can not do it otherwise and it is due to an innate obsession about his vision. He would fail miserably if he would approach having to work hard as a goal. He would fail miserably if he viewed it that way because he would address the symptom of not having a high enough desire to succeed, which is the key ingredient of being able to work hard.
Nobody who wants to succeed has to be told to work hard. Nobody who wants to succeed has to be told what kind of habits to adopt. Those things are for those who do not know any better and for the unserious masses. Everyone else works hard as a by-product of a true, authentic, and genuine desire to succeed and as a by-product of a certain level of understanding of the games they are playing.
Everything that comes easy to you is true and authentic to your nature and everything that is hard for you is inauthentic and false to your nature because you will not stick to it long term. And you have to stick to it long term and reap the rewards of compound interests because markets are efficient. There are a lot of agencies, bloggers, podcast hosts, etcetera out there, so our resources are constantly being fought over. The only way to succeed is by developing good judgment and you develop good judgment as a by-product of experimentation in your craft. You will then be able to use your judgment as a force multiplier to leverage code, media, capital, and people to eventually succeed. You do that in this exact order because people are the least important thing in today's environment with massive amounts of code and media being available to everyone. You do this in a long-term and sustainable way and not in a banker and crash the economy kind of way.
Remember this, if you are forcing yourself to do something, you do not really want to do it. Easy is right, hard is wrong.
A pattern that can be observed even in the highest echelon of every industry and niche is that the focus is unintentionally on addressing the symptoms but not the root causes. The focus is on the solution of the problem and thus the symptoms are addressed and not the root causes because the problem that you see is never the problem. The problem that you see is always a side effect of something deeper.
For instance, no one should address head-on "tonality issues" of a person when it comes down to sales problems. The wrong tonality is due to not believing in the product being sold. The product being sold can either be the person or a product in a business sense. But not believing in the product being sold is also a symptom and an issue of a deeper problem within the problem. Thus it makes no sense to give someone advice about their tonality but it should be about something much deeper and more fundamental than that. If the real problem is understood on a visceral and heartfelt level, the right tonality comes as a by-product without any effort because humans change by way of understanding and not by way of advice and instruction. The solution lies within the problem.
What I mean by understanding the real problem on a visceral and heartfelt level and everything else being changed as a by-product without any effort can be illustrated with another example.
Think back to a past, bad relationship that you had. If you were in a bad relationship, probably a lot of friends told you that you should break up with this person or that the person is bad for you, but somehow you could not stop spending time with this person. Why? Because talk is cheap and advice nor instruction never change behavior, no matter how clever or good it sounds. But what really changed the game was the moment that you truly realized that the relationship would go nowhere. No advice prior to this truly visceral and heartfelt realization helped you to end the relationship with this person but the visceral and heartfelt realization of the person being a bad person indeed did. You understood it genuinely and not only intellectually. Everything else after this realization happened on its own accord and were mostly details.
It never was and never will be about advice or instructions because we do not change our behavior that easily. If our behavior would change that easily, why are psychologists and the authors of habit books who devoted their entire life to changing human behavior are still struggling with their own habits? It is because no one changes their behavior by way of tips, tricks, techniques, or the latest "science" hacks.
It is about examining the real problem and not attempting to directly change the behavior or subdue the behavior because the human mind does not work like that. If one tries to force the mind to do something it works for a couple of days, or a couple of weeks but it then regresses to its normal state. Remember this, man always defaults to his defaults.
The behavior can only be changed by a genuine desire to knowing and understanding the real problem. It can only be changed by an honest examination and exploration of one’s problem.
Nothing that is being said should be believed because I do not subscribe to the concept of belief myself, but I am only interested in true knowing. Just ask yourself if you have been able to change your behavior by reading a book, going to a seminar, or anything along those lines. Also, do not even follow what I said because if you follow what I said as a piece of advice or instruction it will do nothing for you. It has to come from a place of true genuineness, sincerity, and seriousness because everything that is not genuine will fail. No one can trick himself into any permanent behavior modification. It all starts with genuineness, sincerity, and seriousness.
Once you really get a grip of what has been said, you will recognize that even in the highest echelons of every industry and niche everyone is addressing symptoms and not root causes. Everyone is putting out fires and no one is asking themselves, why is it even burning in the first place?
You will also recognize that nothing is about the thing that is being talked about and therefore everyone uses terribly ineffective methods. You will also recognize that every problem is a side effect of something much deeper than it seems on a surface level and that even the best coaches and consultants in the world do not know what they are talking about. You will also recognize that every worthwhile endeavor in life is achieved by way of a by-product and not by way of a goal.
What also has to be told is that the solution to a problem has to be approached backwards. It is not about searching for answers but about asking the right questions. If you know how to ask the right questions, the right solutions will come to you. Also, answers are limiting by their nature because once you have an answer, a new problem will appear. This creates a form of bondage and dependency between the advice receiver and the advice giver. Thus you are better of knowing how to ask questions than knowing how to look for answers.
This type of thinking is even exceedingly rare amongst the highest of high achievers who generated hundreds of millions in revenue because most successful people are geniuses at their craft but are not interested in the truth for world-class performance. Nothing wrong with that, their priorities are just different.
One can succeed despite knowing such things because the most important ingredient to achieving success is having the desire to succeed, but knowing such things makes one able to use absolutely, completely, and radically more effective methods for one's life and work.
The self-help industry approaches providing advice completely backwards and thus everyone suffers from mediocre results due to ineffective methods being used.
If you knew your next travel destination were The Seychelles, you would then book the best flight, a nice hotel room, you would organize a reliable car, and you would look for fun activities and events. Everything would be pretty much self-explanatory once you know your destination.
The self-help industry is talking about the best flights, hotel rooms, cars, and so on and so forth before ensuring the most important first step. And the most important first step is knowing where the individual wants to go because the destination creates the avenue. By the way, that is why it is about the destination and not the journey. The destination creates the journey.
The journey of one entrepreneur wanting to smoke pot and drink beer on the beaches in Thailand looks very different than the journey of Sidney and I wanting to build one the largest media conglomerates and ad agencies in the world, generating billions of dollars in sales, and having a minimum net-worth of fifty to a hundred million during our lifetimes.
The advice for this one guy, and my brother and I would look very different.
In the first case, you might say that the entrepreneur should look into affiliate marketing to generate a passive income of a thousand dollars per month. What kind of product, what kind of website, all of this does not really matter as long as he gets to work and does a few experiments here and there. Getting media coverage, building a brand, connecting and collaborating with key people in one's industry is absolutely irrelevant if one wants to generate a thousand dollars per month because this can be done in a matter of weeks and is not a herculean effort.
In the other case, you would tell those two guys something completely different. You would tell them to get media coverage as soon as possible to build up momentum and credibility. You would tell those two guys to build a world-class brand and connect x collaborate with power players in their industry within arms' length. You would tell them to build valuable relationships with those power players over the next 25 to 50 years to be able to seize exclusive opportunities not available otherwise. You would tell those two guys to build a holding organization with five to fifteen subsidiary companies under management to sell complementary services throughout those holding companies to upsell and cross-sell like crazy, so that those two are able to get an insane CLV. You would tell them that through having an insane CLV, they will be able to outcompete everybody in the entire marketplace and have a real shot at being #1 within ten to twenty-five years because they can then acquire customers at a much higher cost than almost all of their competitors.
See? That is why one can almost always throw generic advice out of the window because this one guy needed completely different advice than we did because our destinations thus our journeys look completely different.
The one guy needs a very basic understanding of building a business and we need a very thorough and in-depth understanding of building businesses. The one guy needs a very basic "go-getter mentality" because he is only interested in limited, short-term success. We need to plan everything very carefully and need to think through second-order and third-order effects because we want to build one of the biggest skyscrapers in the world over the next 50 years.
What is important to understand is that there are no shoulds or should nots here. It is about being honest with oneself and knowing what one wants and does not want. For example, it is cool to build a small business and it is cool to build an empire. Both things have upsides and downsides and you have to know what you are getting yourself into.
And it does not matter one iota what others want or others tell you you should want. Stop listening to that crap! Nobody is great for having a big vision and nobody is bad for having a small vision. We are all different and those things do not mean anything because nobody can consciously decide to being attracted to what they are attracted to. Some are attracted to being the world's greatest and some just want to live a normal life. Do not believe me but ask yourself if you could consciously decide into liking an ice cream you hate. See? Life does not work life that.
Remember this, living for others is the biggest sin in the world because it is a surefire way to misery.
Think for yourself and have your own vision.
The habits of successful people address nonsense.
A big problem that I see especially with young founders, athletes, and artists is that they are always more fascinated by who says something than what is being said. They are more fascinated by the form than by the essence. And if you really pay attention to the essence, I think you will then ask yourself why the habits of successful people are even a popular topic to begin with and how it could have been a favorite amongst the giants of the self-help industry for the past forty years.
Who cares if someone wakes up at 6am or 10am in the morning? Who cares if someone has Kellogg's or Reese's Puffs for breakfast? Who cares if someone goes for a morning jog or does some weird meditation after waking up? I do not mean to be insulting, but you can go to your neighbor and ask how his daily routine looks like because knowing his daily routine has the same value as knowing the daily routine of a billionaire. Not even kidding.
It is not about that. . .
Should I never research the habits of successful people?
Should and should not do not exist. Do what you want to do but what I will say is that a long time ago I was geeking out on the habits of successful people, morning routines, evening routines, doing this, doing that, but if you are smart you will quickly realize that there are no magical habits. Thus you will realize that you are wasting your time caring about those things.
One might find some inspiration here and there to do certain things, there might be some habits that might have a sentimental value to some people but this is about it.
Where does success arise, what is success about, and how does one become successful?
Success is a by-product of having a sufficient level of desire and talent. The higher the desire and/or talent of a given individual, the faster and bigger success will naturally come to him.
Success is about learning and understanding the root causes of the effects that one wishes to have in order to create foolproof outcomes. It never has and never will be about focusing on achieving success, habits, hard work, or any of that because those things are a natural by-product of an irrational obsession about wanting to succeed.
Success, habits, hard work, and everything that is being talked about should never be the focus because what really matters is the manic exploration and exploitation of a better and more effective understanding of the game that one is playing. This better and more effective understanding of the game that one is playing will make one stand out from the pack and give one the real possibility of achieving success as a by-product of one's identity. In extremely rare cases, one in a hundred million, one might even have the possibility to becoming one of the world's greatest at his craft.
Here is a short and sweet version of how ideally achieving success might look like:
At first, the given individual will be very ineffective compared to later stages of his development because he does not have the understanding and capabilities yet, that he will develop throughout his journey via experimentation and thereby gaining experience. He will try many vehicles until he finds something where his talents and interests intersect and where he has a real shot at being one of the best at his craft. Through a lot of experiments, not through hard work, but through a lot of experiments, gradually and in bursts he will gain a better and deeper understanding of the game he is in.
It might look like from the outside that he is working hard as a goal, but it is a by-product of his manic obsession to succeed. The goal seems to be learning the ins and outs of his craft but even learning this is a by-product of understanding that this is what will propel his success. Through gathering a larger body of knowledge, and through acquiring a real understanding of cause and effect within his domain, he will then be able to leverage this understanding of the game he is in, as well as the understanding of the games within the game that he is in, to maximize his success.
Success has next to nothing to do with luck or chance.
Success is very deterministic especially if observed on a time scale of 5 years, 10 years, and 25 years.
If one has a sufficient level of desire and talent, one is already a success because it is just a matter of time before the inevitable happens.
The Achilles heel of the one who wants to achieve success for success' sake is that he will constantly suffer from his desire to succeed. The side effect of desiring, hoping, and needing to succeed is a life in constant turmoil because the circumstances that one has to have are never how one has to have them. Thus he will not have peace from mind and therefore will be ineffective in his actions because his actions are impure. His actions are contaminated by anxiety, fear, and stress.
That is why the greatest CEOs, professional athletes, and performing artists are devoting themselves to conquering their mind. Not because they "should" or because it is "good" or because it is "spiritual" but because it is an absolute must to becoming world-class.
They realized how not conquering their mind limited their potential to becoming one of the world's greatest. The consequences of not conquering their mind made them realize that they have suffered from it in the past thirty years and not in an imaginary future. They realized that finding peace from mind would increase their effectiveness tenfold.
When going on this journey of conquering one's mind, it has to be understood that one can not get the world's most valuable treasures for a coconut. It has be understood that one needs to be able to leave desire, hope, and need behind. It has to be understood that one needs to leave the idea for achieving success for success' sake behind. All this has to be left behind because those are the exact reasons why one has a raging monkey mind and not peace from mind.
After this has been understood, most ruminate about their past. . .
They made unbelievable amounts of money and yet they still suffer from anxiety, fear, and stress. They have been watched by tens of millions on the Television screens and yet they still suffer from anxiety, fear, and stress. They have been adored by millions and yet they still suffer from anxiety, fear, and stress. . . Is it worth it to leave all of this behind for peace from mind?
Most then ruminate even more about their past. . .
They reflect on all their achievements during their lifetime. All the little small doses of good feelings that they tried to capture but that never lived up to their promises.
Most then ruminate where real freedom has been in their past. . .
Building businesses according to one's own uncompromising vision of building businesses instead of building businesses according to how others want one to build them. Playing sports according to one's own uncompromising vision of playing sports instead of playing sports according to how the media wants one to play. Creating art according to one's own uncompromising vision of creating art instead of creating art according to what followers on social media expect one to create.
In short, the greatest CEOs, professional athletes, and performing artists realized that the only way out of anxiety, fear, and stress would be to leave the game of striving, hoping, and needing success behind. They realized that they had to return home and devote themselves to what really mattered along the way which has been playing the game without any ulterior motives.
And when they returned home and devoted themselves to what really mattered which has been playing the game without any ulterior motives, something happened that they thought would never happen. . .
Not only did they exceed their previous achievements beyond their wildest imaginations, but they also found true freedom from mind.
Thank you for reading,