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.

 

How to develop intellectual success in future generations

 

 

Intellect is a complicated problem, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous posts. There is really no good heuristic or measure out there for what makes a person truly “intelligent” (if you say IQ is a valid example, I’m going to be mad; more on that in approximately 10 weeks). However, I do believe there is a method behind allowing for the intellectual success of a person, especially at a young age.

Let me give a bit of an example so what I’m saying here actually makes sense: let’s say you have a person who was born “very smart” (we’ll say high logical-mathematical intelligence) but was born into a situation where perhaps resources are thin; say a poorer neighborhood with parents who have not really succeeded too much historically in education or otherwise. Because of this, it is going to be really hard for the said person to now “unlock” their intelligence and go on to utilize it cause they’ve never really had a chance to. Because of this, the edge of their ability gets duller as time goes on, and the competitive advantage is lost.

Extrapolating this slightly, I think now that this same problem is very much correlated with the mindset problem I discussed a few months back. You can’t get into a healthy mindset as easily if you aren’t surrounded by people who have this mindset. It doesn’t just have to be parents; it also includes friends, teachers, and a general outside support group. Since it is so hard to have the mindset to “unlock” potential or intelligence, I feel as though this is an overwhelming problem; people don’t just ignore following a healthy mindset, some outwardly reject its existence and mock people who try following it. This all comes back to how intellectual success is so hard to come by in general; if generation after generation is actively pushing against it, other people are going to fall off and fail.

I wish I had a better solution to this problem rather than “just stop doing this”, but I don’t. I do think the internet has helped a lot in this capacity – it certainly helped me – in the way that educational resources are easy to come by and that people can more readily make “mentors” out of people they might not necessarily know but be able to read the blog or watch the podcast of. Still, most people don’t use the internet for this; they use it instead for cat pictures and video game streams. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, it can provide a more “medicated” view of the world and distract us from these alternate entryways into intellectual success.

Despite the fact that I do not have a clear answer, I do think things will get better. I do believe as more people learn – as more people get out of the vicious cycle – that this problem will begin to mitigate. I just don’t know when it will happen.

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.

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!

Getting out of an Unhealthy Mindset

 

 

 

I’ve spent a lot of time as of late thinking about how to change someone’s mind. Not how to change their mind on a topic, or on an argument, but how to fundamentally change their perspective. I see a lot of people out there with unhealthy mindsets, whether they be depressive, arrogant, or otherwise. I think back in my own experience to how I got out of my unhealthy mind, and I find that it’s pretty incredible that it happened at all.

I think fundamentally what helped me get out of it was keeping myself open to other possibilities. And yet, if you are in an unhealthy mindset, this can be very difficult; you aren’t going to believe that things will be better if you are in a depressive mindset, because that statement fundamentally conflicts with what you currently believe, thus generating cognitive dissonance.

So how do we avoid this cognitive dissonance barrier and get people out of these states? I believe the best answer is to do it over the long-term and focus on making incremental changes. This relates to how my own progress came about, and so I believe it could be a model that would help others as well. For example, if we instead ask the person in a depressive mindset to think about simple things like cute puppies or a good joke every time they get upset, and then slowly move that over to “well look at all these people who went through the same thing that you are going through, and got out fine” then move to “look at these charts that say the world is getting better” and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll see their mind open and begin to take on better ways of looking at the world.

Now that’s just an example, and I’ll be the first to admit that those specific steps probably wouldn’t work. Finding out a strategy that will work I leave to the reader to consider. Another big caveat (and I’ll mention this since I’ve been focusing specifically on the depressive mindset, though there are many different types of mindsets one could consider unhealthy) is that this will not work with mindsets that are caused by disorders based on chemical imbalances, as those are caused by circumstances far beyond the individual’s control and my area of expertise.

I’d also be interested in anyone else’s opinion on this theory – if you do have one, feel free to post it I the comments below. You can also (as always) take out my Twitter  for more miscellaneous musings.

Getting Past the Bump

 

 

 

I wanted to talk about something that I noticed in both of my previous projects: the 100DaysofCode and Startup Challenge. It’s about the Bump.

The bump goes something like this: you’ve decided to learn a new skill. As you always do, you check out the tutorials for it online. Things go very smoothly. This thing goes there, this goes here, and it all fits. You can even apply it to! It actually works outside the tutorial! Wow, this is fantastic; you feel productive, valuable, all sorts of… wait… what the hell? What is that thing? How are you supposed to do that? Is that even possible? Well, what if you put in… nope, that didn’t work. It’s not how to learn, but you can always copy and paste from the tutorial and … oh my. This is not an error that the tutorial mentioned. And looking it up in google gives zero results. Wow. This sucks.

Everyone’s had to deal with the Bump at some point. Perhaps not like that specific example, but the same idea applies. I’ve been dealing with the Bump when it comes to programming for quite a while now, in various shapes and forms. I know that programming isn’t my strong suit; at the same time, I recognize programming as an essential skill for the future. So, how do I get past the Bump?

 

For the most part, I’ve found the one thing that’s been the most helpful to also be the most ironic: brute force. Trying out as many problems, tutorials, etc. that I can find and trying to complete each one until I hit a point where its truly impossible to complete. Still, I’ll be the first to say that this isn’t the best strategy to go for. Building up momentum for a short while only to have it all collapse again can make you demotivated to finish the job as well as further lower your opinion of your own abilities. So, post-100DaysofCode, I’ve decided to draft up a new theory when it comes to tackling the Bump.

The first thing is this: execution matters above all. I now believe that it matters less that you spread out on a bunch of different tutorials and learn bits and pieces from each. When you hit a roadblock in a project and then actually get past that roadblock¸ it feels INFINITELY more rewarding and grants you with much more knowledge. Instead of avoiding roadblocks, you should focus on tackling them head-on. Make the goal less of finishing the project, and more of beating the roadblock. Once you realign your focus on the challenge like this, I hypothesize, you’ll come in with a much healthier mindset.

A second major piece of it is that just because you struggle doesn’t mean you can’t come out the other side. I think programming is one of the most notorious things out there in terms of the struggle. I see a constant stream of posts on Medium, Reddit, etc. about people banging their head on the wall because they just can’t get coding. This makes me feel a lot better about my own position. What also makes me feel good is recognizing that, when they stuck to it, the majority of these people successfully ended up making it to the other side. And if they can do it, why can’t we?

Overall, I’d still say that my level of programming mastery is novice. I left 100DaysofCode disappointed in expecting more progress, but at the same time I got a new goal out of it: to break past the Bump and get on to the next level.

That’s all for now. Feel free to follow this blog or my Twitter if you wish to see more. New posts should be up every Monday!