Things I believe to be true.
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Things I believe to be true.

Sept 2, 2023

Here are a few things that I believe to be true, at least in my life.

Many of these, I learned the hard way.

Happiness is a choice, and it comes from saying “no”

Our environment conditions us to live a life of “ought-tos”. We’re not encouraged to act for ourselves, to the extent of the word “selfish” being a negative verb, with implied victims. Often, it is a mentality derived of family, community tradition, economic class, etc.

As a result, our lives slowly fill up with things that we “ought to” do, until we become fully enslaved to that expectation.

Choosing happiness is uncomfortable, because to live the way uniquely your own, you must reject the way of being that you were born into.

Friends and loved ones likely will not understand, and view it as personal offense. Your pursuit of happiness will seem like a rejection of them as a person.

This is hard.

On a positive note, when you take the “selfish route” and discover your own happiness, you either:

  • Bring a better version of yourself to your relationships
  • Realize the people you’d been satisfying weren’t worth it in the first place

If you don’t take the selfish route and say no to more, you become a martyr for a cause that you never actively chose to support.

You have limited fucks to give.

I don’t care enough to explain this one further. Go read this book.

You have no idea what the “next level” of the game is like.

You’d expect human ambition and ability separates into levels:

[1, 2, 3, 4]

Someone at Level 1 can reasonably guess at what Level 2 looks like.

I’ve found that life doesn’t work like this.

The gap between levels are more profound, like:

[1, 10, 100, 1000]

Someone at Level 1 would have no idea what Level 10 would look like.

The times in my life where I’ve felt significant progress has been when I’ve realized that a whole new game exists beyond what I could have imagined. These are frame breaking moments, where you jump from a Level 1 to a Level 10.

The upside of this is that if something feels impossible, it’s comforting and motivating to know that there’s likely a group of people out there who treat that impossible thing as normal. You just need to break your current frame and allow those people to rebuild that frame at the 10x higher level.

I’ve seen this plenty of times in my startup career, but perhaps a more understandable anecdote would be distance running:

In my rural midwest upbringing, most people could run a mile, but a 26.2 mile marathon was an unfathomable distance. Completely untouchable!

It took one friend treating a marathon as a totally doable thing for me to break the frame and run my first one. Now, I regularly run marathons and longer distance, surrounded by people who treat that as totally normal.

Linear effort would have been to run a 5k or a 10k. But I chose the “impossible goal”, broke the frame, and learned what the next level looks like.

You make your own luck.

If you’re reading this, you already have your own opinions on this topic, so I won’t talk too much on it.

Maybe it’s all hard work.

Maybe it’s all luck.

Maybe luck is all privilege (which I have other writing on).

Maybe luck is something you can manifest.

I personally believe that given your starting point of privilege, the luck beyond that is the result of hard work.

Why? Just think about incentives for good things happening to you.

There’s no incentive for anyone to help you unless you’re able to provide some form of value back in the moment that the opportunity arises.

So, given that lucky moments happen regularly, and will come regardless of what you do, it’s best to spend your time preparing to grab onto one!

To benefit from luck, you need to be prepared.

Why do anything? “Because It’s There”

George Mallory was an early Everest climber who lost his life trying to be the first person to summit the mountain. His cited motivation:

“Because it’s there”

As my need for extrinsic motivation has reduced over time, I’ve found that my motivation boils down to:

If something is physically possible, and I want to do it, I have a responsibility to myself and the world to make it happen.

Many SF tech people cite their motivation as:

  • “I just want to create a positive impact on the world”

or the more honest:

  • “I want to make a bunch of money”

I don’t feel drawn by these.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to make a shit ton of positive impact, and a shit ton of money. But not because I care about those specific outcomes.

It is because those outcomes are both possible and within my control, therefore it’d be a huge shame for me to not do them!

Fun is a necessary ingredient for outstanding results.

Outstanding results require significant time.

Significant time requires significant motivation.

On a long enough time horizon, it’s awfully hard to have significant motivation if it’s not fun.

So have fun!

(and yes, Type 2 fun counts)

No one is more capable than someone having fun.

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