About three years ago, I read the excellent book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. At that time, I made a list of the top 5-10 people in my life that I was to and had similar goals with. I sent out emails to them every once a month with what I was working on.
Eventually, I fell off from this habit. Not sure why - I'd had gotten good advice, stayed in touch with people I like, and it was a positive experience. I started re-thinking building my counsel a little over a year ago.
The challenge is, I've got a diverse set of goals and ideas. I write, I do business, I travel, I create art, I adventure, I'm looking to establish a strong family, and so on. I have friends who are writers or artists that aren't interested in business. I've got friends in business that pretty much always stick to their one city. I know guys who are pretty simple, work a normal job, don't make any art or do any entrepreneurship, but have very strong and good families. I know very successful businessmen who travel and adventure, but aren't interested in having kids.
So I was thinking - how do I balance this all on my counsel?
And eventually, the idea hits me. I need multiple, relevant counsels.
I'm amazed at what can be done in one focused day.
And we all get 24 hours each day.
It can hard to spend all that time on meaningful things, but I think if you gradually quit things you don't want to spend time on, you gradually spend time on more important things. If you systematically eliminate things that are a waste of time, pretty soon you're doing things with at least some value.
Tracking time helps a lot with this. Just jotting down on paper once an hour what you did the last hour or so. Often, when it seems like forever has passed when I'm trying to work out something frustrating, it's only been 5 or 7 minutes. On the other side, a lot of high-stimulation websites, it'll seem like 5 minutes have passed, but it's been three hours.
Try tracking your time sometimes. It's huge. I realized I was spending way too much time following sports, so I quit spectator sports. Haven't been back. Don't miss it.
I'd like to introduce you to my all-time favorite comic series, Lone Wolf and Cub. It's incredibly deep philosophically.
Ogami Itto, "Lone Wolf," is on a quest for revenge after something terrible happened to him. With him is his little son Daigoro. Itto is doing assassinations to raise money for his quest.
In book 3, "Flute of the Fallen Tiger," Itto comes across a fallen samurai named "Sakon." Sakon left being a samurai and now makes money begging and playing carnival games. With his money, he eats nice food and drinks, and he cares very much about people. He buys little Daigoro a toy.
Daigoro is in training by his father for the quest they're on. Itto cuts the toy in half with his sword:
Most people start feeling bad for themselves when something goes wrong in their life. The way I see it, something going wrong is an expensive lesson I already paid for - might as well take it.
A few years ago, I was doing squats in the gym with bad form and a fairly large amount of weight. I had two plates on each side and the bar... that's 4x45 + 35 lbs if I remember correctly = 205 lbs. That was fine, I had legs like tree trunks back then. But I had slightly bad form - when you do squats, you're supposed to push your ass backwards, not bend your knees forwards. Slight difference, but it wears on the cartilage.
One day my right leg started to buckle. I was in a power rack, and what you're supposed to do is drop the weight. But y'know, you don't necessarily think about that when your leg starts to buckle. So I threw all the weight onto my other leg and pushed up hard to re-rack the bar. Ripped some of the cartilage in my knee. Rehab, massive amounts of anti-inflammatories, and I have to stretch 5-10 minutes each day or my leg starts to hurt. Doctor said knees never fully heal, so it'll cause problems on and off forever. Ouch, kind of a bad thing to have happen in your 20's.
Last year, I was doing some Krav Maga. We were doing dry run drills of where you'd aim if you were hitting the other guy. These were common, but my shadow sparring partner was a little bit too macho and going really hard and fast and pretty close to me. Whish A fast elbow uppercut, almost connecting. Whish. Close again. But I didn't want to speak up, y'know, we're training martial arts here, not being soft.
First thing I gotta say is - wow, I appreciate all the people coming and visiting, commenting, sending an email. I've gotten 718 visits since I installed Google Analytics a few days ago, average time on site 2:36. That's over 31 hours of people's lives they're coming to share ideas with me, read what I write. Wow, that's so humbling. It might even be higher than that with people reading on RSS or instapaper. So, very big thanks to the people that are reading, commenting, and letting their friends know about the site. It's quite an honor to take off so fast.
A very pleasant surprise for me has been (1) I'm getting some pretty insightful comments already, and (2) no stupid/rude/idiotic comments. Is the internet evolving or do I just have an awesome crowd here? Both, maybe?
One such discussion is with Alessandro Orsi, who has kindly made some very thoughtful comments/discussion on Luck Doesn't Exist.
We talked back and forth about cause and effect a little bit, and then he made this comment most recently:
I see your point. You look at generations/human race and consider a new born as a ring in a long chain. So when people say bad luck, you say “There’s no bad luck, just previous actions that lead to present situation”. And that’s fine. Like a political analysis of the People of the World.
I needed a new word, so I just made one.
intek: hybrid of "internalize" and ancient Greek "teknik"
intek: To go from a state of knowing a craft or skill theoretically to knowing how to perform that craft or skill in the real world.
I was sitting in Pacific Coffee thinking about business. There's a lot of things I know in a theoretical sense right now, but I haven't built into myself to the point where they're running smoothly. The same concept could apply to anything that needs real world practice - you know something in theory, but in practice you're still doing it wrong.
As far as I know, there's no great word for this. Before "intek", you have theoretical knowledge. After intekking, you can now do in the real world and really know it at a deeper and more meaningful level.
I've been thinking about this for a while. I fancy myself a scientist, which means I use the Scientific Method to figure things out. So I make a hypothesis, and try like crazy to falsify it, and at the end maybe there's some interesting not-yet-falsified ideas.
I train myself in all sorts of science, I keep real genuine article scientists as friends and compatriots. But y'know, I probably wouldn't be called a Scientist by the vast majority of people in this day and age.
So I started thinking. What is someone who does science who doesn't have impressive scientific credentials? And I came to - a Cowboy Scientist.
Cowboy Science is trying to figure out how things for practical reasons or for curiosity, not for academic or institutional prestige.
A rancher who tries to figure out what the best mix of water and grazing and movement for his cattle by takes notes, making a guess at what'll work, and testing that guess - he's doing science. But no one would call him a Scientist with a capital S.
I like to kill two, three, four birds with one stone whenever I can. Produce and learn at the same time, consume and produce, learn and relax, connect with people and learn, learn/connect/relax/produce, etc. Every day I try to exercise and learn at the same time by listening to some smart audio while I walk, jog, or run. I like to do small projects with friends and acquaintances - it's a great way to connect with someone, get to know each other more, learn/knowledge exchange new skills, and maybe make some money in the process.
Mixing "walking around" into other time and paying attention goes a long way towards getting smarter. Sometimes when I want to think, I go walk or jog around a neighborhood I don't know. I figure if I pay attention, I can learn the layout of the neighborhood, what kind of people live there, what kind of businesses are there, what kind of businesses aren't there that could be.
I went for a three mile walk near Sheung Wan in Hong Kong yesterday. I walked through an area with lots of mechanics and other mech/craft shops. I kept walking, and as I climbed up some hills, I came suddenly into a really upscale neighborhood and the cars started looking nicer - I saw particularly quite a few BMW's. So I think - hmm, there's a lot of mechanics two miles away, but I'm not seeing a garage up here. I know in nice neighborhoods people will pay as much as a 2x premium to get their car serviced without driving far. (I made the mistake of going to "Bel Air Auto Care" once when I lived in Bel Air last year - yeah, 2x what it should have cost for some work). But that's a good deal for some people whose time is very precious to them, they'd rather get premium auto service fast than drive a couple miles to save a couple bucks.
So I start thinking, if I spoke Cantonese, was local to Hong Kong, and had money to invest, would it make sense to look for some space two miles up the hill in Sheung Wan in the nice neighborhood? I was impressed with the mechanics walking through - generally looked pretty skilled and hard working. In one shop there was a boy, maybe 8 years old, reading a book while his dad worked. So I think - these are smart, hard working people. If you could get a lease at the right price, you know there's already talented mechanics nearby you could hire with a pay increase. Could your auto shop make enough money to cover the lease and expenses? I think locking up a long term lease in Sheung Wan would be worth some money in and of itself, so if the business was slightly profitable you'd have a good thing going.
It was like a scavenger hunt trying to find good coffee when I was in Cambodia a few months ago. I thought to myself - hey, here's an opportunity to build a chain of cafes, starting in Siem Riep and Phnomh Penh. You could brand/gear it up like the coffee chains that tourists like - Starbucks, Pacific Coffee, Coffee Bean, etc. If you went a step further and branded it the right way, you could also make it the kind of place that's an experience to go to, that would be a fun activity for even a relatively poor Cambodian family to aspire to go every so often. I was thinking I'd call it the "Western Coffee Company", and brand it like the Old West a little bit. Wooden saloon type vibe, little brick mixed in, Old West-inspired dress, and maybe live guitar or fiddle once a day or once a week. It could be an aspirational, entertainment place for local Khmer people while serving tourists heading to Angkor Wat and exploring Cambodia. And again, that land's only going to go up in value. Someone's going to build or expand a coffee chain into Cambodia and make a mint.
I hear people talk about luck a lot. Straightup - luck doesn't exist.
If you believe in luck, then you believe either: (1) some people consistently defy probability, or, (2) some things aren't a result of cause and effect.
Life is a series of probability. Every day, there's a chance that a given set of things will happen. If you want to have a successful life, expose yourself to as much high-upside low-downside probability as you can. Any given thing you do might not work out, but if you expose yourself to high-upside low-downside, good things will happen. Read books, reach out to people, try to get projects working, keep trying to write and build things, keep learning new skills, keep treating people well.
If you want to fail at life, expose yourself to high-downside no-upside probability. This is short term gain at long term expense type stuff. Cigarettes. Unsecured debt for consumption. Most TV.
You'll keep getting "lucky" if you keep exposing yourself to things with upside and limited downside. If you get an amazing job or contract that you had a 1 in 1,000 chance of getting, were you lucky? No, especially not if you applied and pitched 1,000 other places. If you say, "Ok, I'm going to keep trying to get what I want until I do" you'll get it, as long as it's a positive sum game you're playing.
There was a pretty ferocious storm a couple days ago in Hong Kong that damaged some of the infrastructure up on Mount Davis. The internet was down due to a lightning strike and water went off for a while. That's fine, yesterday I went to down to HK Island and worked from Pacific Coffee. I had to hurry to grab the shuttle down the mountain and didn't get my morning walk/run in, so I went around 11PM when I came back until I found a well lit place to jog back and forth on the mountain, and I came back at midnight.
I'm sweaty, exhausted, and I think - oh, I hope the water's back on... I should've checked...
I went to the shower, turned the nob, and... the water started. Good.
But no hot water for some reason. And it was quite cold.
At first I flinch and tense up a little bit as I step into the water, and then I think - why should I flinch? Mind over matter. This will be cold,. and I'll enjoy it anyways.