A very good guest post by Zac Cohn in response to this week's Get Some Victory newsletter. "Parkour," if you don't know the term, is similar to "free running" - it's very cool and check out a Youtube video if you've never seen it. Also, I got a chance to play the Chess variant with Zac he talks about - it's extremely fun. Here's a very good insight, grateful to Zac for sharing this:
A lot of people have self-inflected self-esteem issues. They don't think they're special, don't think they have a chance to succeed or break out of mediocrity and normalcy. They typically aren't very competitive by nature, but being around or hearing about people who are tends to reinforce their nature.
In my five years of experience with parkour, I've come to realize that I have done things that no other human being in history has done. There was a huge, magnificent tree in the city where I went to college, and there was a very difficult jump from one branch to another. I worked hard and built my skill up to the point where I made that jump, and then a few weeks later the tree was destroyed in a storm. I am the only person to have ever done that jump, and the only person who ever will.
Making that jump was exciting, but when I heard the tree was destroyed it was an earth shattering experience for me. I WAS THE ONLY PERSON TO DO THAT, I WILL ALWAYS BE THE ONLY PERSON TO HAVE DONE THAT.
After this experience, I've looked for other places to apply this idea. The idea that I am the only person to have ever done this. I am the best in the world at that. My friend recently developed a really fun chess variant we call Egyptian Laser Chess (no relation to the recent events in Egypt)- there have been maybe 20 games of it played (ever, by anyone), with maybe half a dozen people. Of those people, I've won a majority of the games - you can also see me as the highest ranked player of Egyptian Laser Chess on the planet.
One problem I've noticed with your blog (and other blogs that give similar types of advice) is that the target of the articles are people who know they want to improve, and are just looking for better ways to do that. A demographic that is largely untapped and left out is the huge number of people who need to realize that they can pull themselves out of mediocrity and normalcy. Maybe a blog entry won't be the earth-shattering moment they need, but maybe it can start to adjust their state of mind to help them realize that they are, in fact, the only or the best in the world at something.
Whether they're the first person to make a smiley face in sticky notes on their particular office window, or the best person in the world at finding paperclips on the ground, or the first person to jump from this curb to that curb, or the only person to have ever crawled through the gap in that handicap railing... everyone is the best, or the first, in the world to do SOMETHING. And once you realize that, you can be the best and the first to do more and more and bigger and bigger things and really push yourself to victory.
Good post. One small modification that I might make (I'd have to think about it a bit more) is that, "Can I be the best in the world of something meaningful?" There's the further question of, "Meaningful to whom?" If it's meaningful to me, that might be enough. If it's meaningful to me and others, so much the better. If it's meaningful to the world, I would count that as the best.
But at what cost? The most meaningful things have a much higher opportunity cost. Maybe your travels will keep you from settling down, joining a location-based community, and having your own family. Maybe. Then again, maybe that's part of the challenge.
A little comment to Zac's post regarding the "untapped" population who need to improve. The problem with it, and I lived it many times, is that those people believe that the Earth is flat and are happy with their beliefs and references. It is what they know and it secures them. They just don't want to change. It's too frightfull for them to stick the neck out. So if you come to them to say "Wait! There's another model to live by..." They just won't listen to you. If you insist, they will object and rationnalize. And if you insist hard enough, then they could unleash a full scale Witch hunt against you. And they will be happy only when you'll burn tied to the pole and their vision of the world re established. I recomment reading the "Alegory of the cave" from Plato. He explain it all better than me. Fo me, I came to the conclusion that I have no taste for a mother Theresa like life. And I prefer focusing on getting along with people that share a over atchieving philosophy of life. And hopefully, in the process, by my actions, will I inspire someone that will stick his/her neck out the hole, and be interested to evolve to see where it leads...
Dan Redford has built a life at the intersection of China/Michigan relations, doing international U.S./China business in raising millions of dollars of investment from Chinese clients into the United States. Knowing he wanted to be involved in U.S./China business, his first large opportunity came as a result of being a paid attendee covering the Shanghai Expo, and connecting with traditional media throughout Michigan as part of that trip. All along the way, he's connected with great people, lent a helping hand, and taken leadership roles in organizations.
In this interview to promote his GiveGetWin deal, a Group Class on Establishing Leadership and Influence, he tells his journey towards leadership and influence positions, and gives you extremely practical guidelines on doing that in your life.
"The Journey Through Fear To Influence" by Dan Redford, as told to Sebastian Marshall
My family really helped me become a leader. My younger brother is a famous basketball player where we're from. As the oldest of our family, it was a really big challenge for me. Seeing my younger brother rise as an athlete in the community and I didn't have to the skills to do that, it hurt.
I didn't pursue playing basketball in high school for a year because I anticipated my younger brother would be starting as a freshman and not wanting to compete with him.
My name is Zachary Cohn, and I've met a lot of people from the Internet. Most recently I met my doppelganger, Zachary Cohen.
[caption id="attachment_133" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="The Internet is a Series of Tubes"][/caption]Meeting people from the Internet is not a big deal to me anymore, although other people still freak out when I mention it. There have been three primary circles I've met people from: Massassi, Parkour, and The Rest of the Internet. The first two really helped me be comfortable with the last one.
Massassi.net started in 1997 and was dedicated to editing and modding a Star Wars game called Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight. The game is now 14 years old, and except for the occasional game for “old times sake” no one has played in five years. But everyone was such good friends and the community was so tight that most people have stayed around. I found Massassi in 2001, and have checked it daily since.
The first person I met from the Internet was through Massassi, and was probably Gebhoq. I found out he lived about 20 minutes away, so we saw a play and grabbed lunch together. After that, I visited Rochester Institute of Technology, where I was going to go to school. There were six people from Massassi that, by chance, all ended up there, so we met up and they showed me around. I've met a bunch more people from Massassi, but I had talked daily with most of them for years, so it was more like reuniting with a long-time friend.
The next circle of internet meetings is through Parkour. When I first started training, there was no one experienced in my area. I saw on some local parkour forums that a bunch of people meeting up to train in Washington DC, so I drove down to meet them. I showed up in this park to find a dozen teenage boys, mostly shirtless, jumping, climbing, and flipping around. I was a bit nervous at first - I didn't even know most of their handles, let alone names or anything about them. Five minutes after introducing myself, I felt we'd known each other for years. Since that first parkour jam, I've been great friends with Leonn, Psychosis, Doc_Ahk, Kipup, and RPG.[caption id="attachment_135" align="alignright" width="150" caption="David Belle - Parkour"][/caption]