What the Definition of Luck Really Is

 

 

Luck is a hard, complex thing. No successful person has ever (truthfully) said their success was all based around skill; there is always a wide amount of chance in every major victory. And yet, it’s hard to genuinely define this aspect – calling luck simply a factor of chance raises all sorts of complicated problems. What’s the “probability” of success? Is it the same as a flip of a coin? Can we statistically define luck? Is the probability of being “lucky” in starting a business really equivalent to the number of companies that last more than 5 years? More than 10 years? What about a heavily cited research paper? Or having a successful album release?

 

Of course, barely anyone truly believes that luck is purely a derivation of chance. And yet, I believe the fact that this is embroiled into the mindset of many people is precisely because of an improper definition of what luck truly is. The best definition of luck I’ve ever heard is that it is “created” with the help of two broad categories: consistency and opportunity. Opportunity itself is of many moving parts, and is responsible for most of the complexity of luck – things like current status, geography, education, network, etc. These pieces are mostly outside the scope of this article (though may be covered in detail in a later segment), so instead what I want to focus on is this first piece, consistency. Consistency, when executed properly, brings opportunity. The thing is that consistency isn’t quite an easy task in itself;  it takes more than a bit of operation. High-quality consistency requires exorbitant amounts of patience, proper long-term goal planning, and many, many extensions from the comfort zone. It also requires you to be able to tell if what you’re being consistent in is really worth you being consistent in it. Do you have the skill required for competitive advantage? Are you genuinely passionate about what you are doing? I feel as though all these questions, all these aspects, make up what luck really is. When people say luck, in reality, they’re giving a simple, generalized term for a variety of complex factors that are often hard to pinpoint. That being said, you’ll always find luck in opportunity, and you’ll always find opportunity inconsistency. Luck might feel like a hard thing to get, but remember; you only have to hit the home run once. And besides, if everyone was lucky, would any of it really matter?

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. You can subscribe to it here.

 

The Dangers of Obedience

 

 

One of the topics that interest me the most in psychology has to do with obedience, or otherwise the act of doing what we’re told. As humans, we’re designed to recognize figures of experts or leaders and follow their advice accordingly. It’s a natural instinct; the leader of the pack usually knows where to go for survival, and so we follow. However, like many of our natural instincts, it has now become mostly deprecated due to advancement in society.

 

One of the startling things about obedience is how easy it is construct a false figure of an authority and have people still believe it. Things like the Milgram experiment and the McDonalds strip call case intersect with micro-cases like lecture halls and national governments in the sake of people pretending to be someone they might not be. What I mean here is that much of what we’ve established in our society is based on this fundamental aspect of obedience; obedience to laws, or culture, or politics. And while there are obedience principles put in place that help all of us, there also exists many faults with principles. Some of the greatest tragedies, wars, cults, and scandals have occurred out of obedience, out of blindly following the pack without considering where the pack is going.

 

Always think before you act. It’s something you’ve probably been told since you were a kid, but let me throw an important spin on it; always think before you act on what someone says. Perhaps I’m a bit too individualist for some people’s tastes, but I believe you should always consider your own personal morals and principles before considering to act upon the will of others. I believe that with more active forethought we can avoid the dangers that come with obedience.

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. You can subscribe to it here.

3 Ways To Get Value Out Of Nature

Yes, houses are nice. Air conditioning is definitely good (especially coming from Arizona), alongside all the other amazing benefits of society and technology. That being said, there is massive value to nature that you can still find to this day. In this article, I wanted to talk about the three main positive benefits I think people can get from going out into the natural world just a little bit more.

Finding Calmness

There’s something eternally calming and meditative about being away from the bustle of the modern world. If a standard meditation exercise only takes us out of the world for a few moments, then being alone in nature is the ultimate meditation.

Learning from other species

People watching is fun, but watching the rest of the animal kingdom in its natural habitat is a wonder all of itself. There’s a lot you can learn from the strategies of other species; many technological advancements in subjects such as swarm intelligence and aerodynamics would not be made if not for observing how other animals do what they do. Of course, observing forest denizens isn’t just for finding an idea for your next invention; on a more philosophical level it can allow you to connect with others who call this world home.

Understanding the World

We make a lot of stuff up. Sometimes, it’s hard to realize that. In a world full of music, and deadlines, and business and governments, we take such abstract concepts very seriously; perhaps a bit too seriously sometimes. When you go into the forest (or whatever other natural environment you happen to be in), you’re matched with what the world was in the beginning, before we had constructed all these concepts. The only pieces of the puzzle that are real are the ones that are out there; the way the creek flows, the rustling of the leaves, and the games of survival among the animals who live there. These are the only hard and fast rules in life; the ones that we’ve created are mostly derivations. I can find some solace in this, and I bet some of you could as well.

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. You can subscribe to it here.

3 Tips for Avoiding Project Burnout

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Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

For ambitious people, burnout can be a real problem. I can speak from experience when I say that I would love to do ten times more than I actually do, but simply physically cannot. Even then, I try futilely, only to realize the stress builds up and you notice you all of a sudden aren’t have quite as much fun as you used to.

So, in this post, I wanted to give some tips for avoiding burnout. These tips are mostly things that I have found helpful for me, and so hopefully you’ll find them helpful as well.

1. Recognize you have burnout

Yup. When it comes to something like this, recognition is oftentimes half the battle. Sometimes burnout can be confused with just plain stress; both are negative factors, but one has much worse long-term repercussions. Keep cognizant of whether there’s something specific that you’ve been working on that’s been causing all your fatigue, and you’ll be able to better pinpoint your burnout.

2. Give yourself a break

Once you’ve recognized that you’re feeling the effects of burnout, take an hour or two to relax. Many times this can be surprisingly hard; when you’ve been working on a project for a long time, it can be hard to quit. The urge to “be productive” takes a hold of you, and you can’t easily let it down. However, the facts are that you are actually much, much more productive if you take regular breaks than if you stay laser-focused on a project for an extended period of time; your ability to perform tasks well grows logarithmically over time, and can only be refreshed with the occasional break. This is by far the best way to fix short-term burnout.

3. Take out the non-essential

For long-term burnout, we’ll have to take some different, more extreme measures. Sometimes it isn’t that you’ve been working on a specific project for a long time in a given day; sometimes its that you’ve been working on many different projects for a long time in a given week, month, etc. In this case, it might be best for you to think of what to cut out.

One of my personal favorite quotes is from Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who said that “perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”. I love strategically quitting projects. Whenever I work on something long enough and begin to feel it hitting a dead-end, I think to myself whether or not working on it would really help me progress to one of my long-term goals; if it does not, I stop working on it. Now take in mind that strategic quitting really is a skill; it’s hard to just give up on something, especially when you’ve made decent progress on it. But when that project is hurting you more than helping you, then its time to kill it off. Only then will the burnout cease.

Anyway, that’s all for this one. I do want to point out that we have a brand new newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff going on, with the first issue coming out this Saturday. You can subscribe to it here.

Finding Adventure in 2019

 

 

It’s true. You were born too late to discover Earth, and too early to discover Space. I mean, technically you could discover the depths of the ocean, but who the hell would want to do that?

It can seem like especially in our current age of the Internet that adventure and discovery is a now, for the most part, dead concept. I remember as a kid I used to be really excited to discover new paths, easter eggs, and mysteries in the video games I used to play; however, now thanks to the unfortunate creation of data-mining, all of these secrets are ruined on day one or two. All the mystery is gone. So, how do we find adventure in our upcoming year?

Well, I think the first thing we have to do is discover what “discover” means. I think discovery, and therefore adventure and exploration come in phases. First, there is an initial breakthrough, such as when Europe discovered the Americas at the turn of the 16th century. Sure someone had set foot on it, but that didn’t mean that data was easily transmitted to the rest of the world. What did it look like? What sounds were there? What did the people and animals appear as? You could, if you were lucky, get this information second-hand from either knowing someone who went to the continent or otherwise read it being described, but beyond that, no one had truly discovered the Americas besides the people who went there.

Then, as time came on, we got pictures. And then video. And then Google Earth. Now, all of a sudden, I can pick a random spot in Russia and tell you exactly what it looks like. I can find a video of Thailand and figure out what it would be like (approximately) to live there. This second form of discovery I like to call impersonal discovery; even though you’ve never been there, thanks to technology you can get a very good understanding and estimation of what its like. I’ve never set foot on the moon, but if I view pictures and video of it enough, combined with second-hand experiences like reading, I can pretty much know what it’s like to set foot on the moon.

Alright, well that’s two generations of discovery down that we’ve already missed. What’s next? Well, fortunately for you, this final realm of discovery can never be fully absorbed by anyone but you. Which is why it gets the name personal discovery. You see, being born in Arizona, I was exposed to the Grand Canyon a lot. I saw many videos of it, even more pictures, and like any good child I flew through it in the Google Earth Flight Simulator numerous times. So, when I heard I was finally going to go to it when I was 14, I wasn’t really expecting to get anything new. Boy was I wrong.

There was this ethereal majesty to the canyon that I really could not get from anything I had previously experienced about it. Things like depth and length were awe-striking attributes that could not be condensed into any current technology. And, guess what? There are many types of these attributes, and they run across all life experiences; not just canyons.

Our brains are wired to thrive on new experiences. The more we can learn about the world by exploring it ourselves, the more we become rewarded. It doesn’t have to be the Grand Canyon anymore than it has to be the new coffee shop down the street. As long as we are constantly switching from routine, and discovering things on our own, we will stay just as happy and wise as the people who explored Earth long ago.

Well, that’s it for now. Have any thoughts about how people can crack their own adventure for the upcoming year? Have any plans of your own? Feel free to comment about them down below. If you liked this post, feel free to follow the blog or my personal Twitter to stay updated. I will be having a newsletter for my content (hopefully) pretty soon, so look forward to that as well!

The Rise of the Personal Brand

 

 

 

The internet revolution has caused a wide range of massive changes throughout the different industries of the world. From music and movie streaming to e-commerce and grocery delivery, the world is vastly different than it was even a few years before. For this post, I’m primarily interested in one specific section of the industries the internet has changed; the job industry.

People used to work at one company, get promoted a few times, and then retire. Switching companies mid-career, especially to different industries, usually spelled certain doom; provided you could even get the job, you were working at a much lower position for much lower pay. However, things nowadays aren’t quite as simple.

Sure, lateral career switching still is a tricky balancing act. But in a world where companies are focusing more on raw skills than experience, things are a bit different. Numerous success stories have come out of people pulling from a job, learning an entirely new skill set, and getting another high paying job in a separate industry in less than a year or two. Much of this, internet-wise, can be attributed to the rise of educational resource access and easier access to job postings. However, I think that there’s something much bigger at work here too. I think this is a sign of the rise of the personal brand.

One of the biggest advancements have been with social media; I’m not just talking Facebook and Twitter here, I’m talking Youtube, Linkedin, and Medium as well. These last three specifically allow you to post expert-level content about the fields your interested in and share it with a wider world. This, in turn, gives you the ability to have a following; people who are interested specifically in the same sort of topics you post about. Now, call me crazy, but I believe in the future that this following is going to be vital; I believe that those who have the highest quality content with the highest amount of followers will begin to become the most attractive potential recruits to companies.

Let me unpack this a bit. I’ll start off by saying that it’s very likely that the people who are at the absolute top will find some way to become self-employed and not need to take on a job at a company; fair enough. But if I have around ten thousand subscribers on my channel where I make various coding projects and tutorials, I’m going to look better as a software engineer candidate. Why is this? Well, for starters, the way I work and the skill I have is already right there in front of you; there’s no need to go through the work of a formal interview because you can just see the quality of my code in the videos I produce. Secondly, my amount of subscribers – though it may seem modest – shows two things; not only do I have enough of a unique slant for ten thousand people to be interested in following me, but it also shows that I grinded hard enough to get to ten thousand people in the first place. This shows dedication and determination as well; skills that are essential in any career.

In fact, let’s go down a partial list of the most sought out job skills and see what form of media they would coincide to. Written communication? Blog posts. Verbal communication? Youtube videos. Organization? All of the above. Teamwork skills? Podcasts and collaborations. Punctuality? Livestreams. Creativity? All of the above. Emotional Intelligence? Q and A sessions.

Before the internet, all I had was a piece of paper and a thirty-minute conversation to determine whether I was going to hire you. Now, I have a whole wealth of content that you’ve made that can work for (or, to be fair, against) you. And, if you have no content, it makes things a lot harder on me, and so I might not look into your direction as much. So, what are you waiting for?

 

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