More brilliance from Scott Adams: “You want the grinder, not the guy who loves his job”

I’m re-reading his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big [Kindle]. Along with Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You [Kindle], they present a fantastic one-two punch against the overhyped and underskilled enemy that is passion.

This great gem, about the value of grit and the mirage of passion:

You often hear advice from successful people that you should “follow your passion.” That sounds perfectly reasonable the first time you hear it. Passion will presumably give you high energy, high resistance to rejection, and high determination. Passionate people are more persuasive, too. Those are all good things, right? Here’s the counterargument: When I was a commercial loan officer for a large bank in San Francisco, my boss taught us that you should never make a loan to someone who is following his passion. For example, you don’t want to give money to a sports enthusiast who is starting a sports store to pursue his passion for all things sporty. That guy is a bad bet, passion and all. He’s in business for the wrong reason. My boss, who had been a commercial lender for over thirty years, said the best loan customer is one who has no passion whatsoever, just a desire to work hard at something that looks good on a spreadsheet. Maybe the loan customer wants to start a dry-cleaning store or invest in a fast-food franchise—boring stuff. That’s the person you bet on. You want the grinder, not the guy who loves his job.

If you’re interested in Scott (he created Dilbert), here are some of my past posts about him:

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.

Law 28: Enter Action With Boldness

If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid. – Robert Greene

I am reading Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power [Kindle] for the second time. A selection of his 48 rules are in my personal bible. I’m a strong believer in re-reading and reviewing your favorite content. You always learn something new. Not unlike the way your experience evolves as you appreciate a favorite song or movie.

This time Law 28 really spoke to me. The power of audacity and boldness. Whatever your politics, Trump has it in spades. Softbank founder Masayoshi Son. Of course Elon Musk.

Here’s an excerpt from Law 28: Enter Action With Boldness:

Most of us are timid. We want to avoid tension and conflict and we want to be liked by all. We may contemplate a bold action but we rarely bring it to life. We are terrified of the consequences, of what others might think of us, of the hostility we will stir up if we dare go beyond our usual place.

Although we may disguise our timidity as a concern for others, a desire not to hurt or offend them, in fact it is the opposite – we are really self-absorbed, worried about ourselves and how others perceive us. Boldness, on the other hand, is outer-directed, and often makes people feel more at ease, since it is less self-conscious and less repressed.

[…]

Few are born bold. Even Napoleon had to cultivate the habit on the battlefield, where he knew it was a matter of life and death. In social settings he was awkward and timid, but he overcame this and practiced boldness in every part of his life because he saw its tremendous power, how it could literally enlarge a man (even one who, like Napoleon, was in fact conspicuously small). We also see this change in Ivan the Terrible: A harmless boy suddenly transforms himself into a powerful young man who commands authority, simply by pointing a finger and taking bold action.

You must practice and develop your boldness. You will often find uses for it. The best place to begin is often the delicate world of negotiation, particularly those discussions in which you are asked to set your own price. How often we put ourselves down by asking for too little. When Christopher Columbus proposed that the Spanish court finance his voyage to the Americas, he also made the insanely bold demand that he be called “Grand Admiral of the Ocean.” The court agreed. The price he set was the price he received – he demanded to be treated with respect, and so he was. Henry Kissinger too knew that in negotiation, bold demands work better than starting off with piecemeal concessions and trying to meet the other person halfway. Set your value high, and then, as Count Lustig did, set it higher.

Understand: If boldness is not natural, neither is timidity. It is an acquired habit, picked up out of a desire to avoid conflict. If timidity has taken hold of you, then, root it out. Your fears of the consequences of a bold action are way out of proportion to reality, and in fact the consequences of timidity are worse. Your value is lowered and you create a self-fulfilling cycle of doubt and disaster.

Remember: The problems created by an audacious move can be disguised, even remedied, by more and greater audacity.

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.

“The keys to life are running and reading”

will-smith-running“The keys to life are running and reading. Why running? When your running there’s a little person that talks to you and that little person says, oh I’m tired, my lungs are about to pop off, I’m so hurt, I’m so tired, there’s no way i could possibly continue, and you want to quit, right? That person, if you learn how to defeat that person, when you’re running, you will learn how to not quit when times get hard in your life. […] The reason that reading is so important, there have mean millions and billions and billions and gazillions of people that have lived before all of us, there’s no new problem you can have, with your parents, with school, with a bully, with anything. There’s no problem you can have that someone hasn’t already solved and wrote about it in a book.” – Will Smith

If you’d like to kill two birds with one stone, read the book Spark, about the power of – and science behind – running.

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.

Are we in a time of growing anomie?

Anomie is the condition of a society in which there are no clear rules, norms, or standards of value. In an anomic society, people can do as they please; but without any clear standards or respected social institutions to enforce those standards, it is harder for people to find things they want to do. Anomie breeds feelings of rootlessness and anxiety and leads to an increase in amoral and antisocial behavior. Modern sociological research strongly supports Durkheim: One of the best predictors of the health of an American neighborhood is the degree to which adults respond to the misdeeds of other people’s children. When community standards are enforced, there is constraint and cooperation. When everyone minds his own business and looks the other way, there is freedom and anomie.

We sure as hell don’t discipline other peoples’ children. Instead we vent and whine and shame bad parents on Twitter. Perhaps the social medias are today’s standards and institutions, stepping forward as governments and religions slide back. Both of these trends worry me, and I’m trying to understand why.

The quote is from Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis [Kindle]. I’m re-reading this book for the third time, and I’m learning more than the first two times combined. In the past I was happy by default, and now happiness takes effort. So I understand and appreciate his findings and suggestions in a new light. Similar to how you empathize with and are grateful for your parents as you start to adult.

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.

Tolstoy finds God: “I saw before me nothing but destruction, towards which I was rushing and which I feared”

I was put into a boat (I do not remember when) and pushed off from an unknown shore, shown the direction of the opposite shore, had oars put into my unpractised hands, and was left alone. I rowed as best I could and moved forward; but the further I advanced towards the middle of the stream the more rapid grew the current bearing me away from my goal and the more frequently did I encounter others, like myself, borne away by the stream. There were a few rowers who continued to row, there were others who had abandoned their oars; there were large boats and immense vessels full of people. Some struggled against the current, others yielded to it. And the further I went the more, seeing the progress down the current of all those who were adrift, I forgot the direction given me. In the very centre of the stream, amid the crowd of boats and vessels which were being borne down stream, I quite lost my direction and abandoned my oars. Around me on all sides, with mirth and rejoicing, people with sails and oars were borne down the stream, assuring me and each other that no other direction was possible. And I believed them and floated with them. And I was carried far; so far that I heard the roar of the rapids in which I must be shattered, and I saw boats shattered in them. And I recollected myself. I was long unable to understand what had happened to me. I saw before me nothing but destruction, towards which I was rushing and which I feared. I saw no safety anywhere and did not know what to do; but, looking back, I perceived innumerable boats which unceasingly and strenuously pushed across the stream, and I remembered about the shore, the oars, and the direction, and began to pull back upwards against the stream and towards the shore. That shore was God; that direction was tradition; the oars were the freedom given me to pull for the shore and unite with God. And so the force of life was renewed in me and I again began to live.

…from Tolstoy’s A Confession [Kindle].

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.