It’s “meaning” you’re really after, not “success”
–there, I’ve summarized the entire article in the first headline.
There really is no need to read the rest if you’re pressed for time. Just bookmark my page, supply your e-mail, hit subscribe and start reading my eBook about my 15 years at Europe’s best hedge fund instead.
True grit beats IQ
Research shows that grit and perseverance, not talent or IQ, are the main determinants of success:
- There is the marshmallow test for kids.
- There is the 10 000 hour rule (all but debunked since all elites are talented and then hone their skills by practicing a lot,. However, you’ll still get a lot better if you stick to something for a long time, e.g. 10 000 hours).
- There is the high school grit questionnaire (Angela Duckworth on TED radio hour). Check your own grit score here.
- There are the motivational speakers, like Tony Robbins (gladly admitting to making three talks a day instead of one a week, to become the world’s best speaker)
The formula for success
Here is the formula:
- choose an area
- stick to it
- don’t let failure deter you
- believe you can change (Carol Dweck on TED, or check out Farnam Street’s run through of her book)
- invest for the long term (i.e., give something up today to get more tomorrow, e.g. a marshmallow)
- and you will achieve success
But who the f*** wants success? (at least if you mean money, fame and general status)
Why would you willingly spend years and years on something you don’t much care for, just to end up with a pile of money and a group of mostly annoying hang around gold-diggers and sycophants?
Go ahead, be a whore
I’m not completely against whoring out… for a while. If you know what you want, and the best way to get there is by first doing something you don’t like, then go ahead. Try Wall Street.
Actually, if you don’t know what you want, it might be a good idea to just follow the herd for a while, go to college, get a fancy job at Wall Street. Meanwhile you should reserve some time for soul searching and once you are sure you’re comfortable, and you know what it is that really makes you tick, get out from the money business and…
Do something meaningful
This is where life really is. This is where you face your emotions, your real driving forces and acknowledge them. Water pistol wars were fun as a kid. Fooling around with vintage champagne is exactly the same (if money is no object). There is no reason whatsoever to think it’s more fun to spray champagne than water (and definitely not if you are at all conscious about the cost).
I’ve been to Ocean Club Marbella’s champagne spray party (August 26, 2012, the bed next to mine and here is an official video). It’s wicked indeed, but why waste years becoming rich to afford what amounts to ridiculously expensive water pistols?
An other example: I’ve had my supercars (Ferrari and Lamborghini convertibles), but they are more beautiful from the outside and a bungy jump or a wave surf beats a ride in a car any day.
Money sure buys some fun, and without it you can’t eat or sleep, but very quickly you’ll pass a point where the best things in life are if not cheap then very inexpensive.
You want to find the activities, hobbies if you will, that grab a hold of you every waking hour, make you want to sleep as little as possible and keep going the next day, and the day after that. Activities that you enjoy without making a spectacle of it, without needing approval from an audience. That’s where your meaning is. That’s where your life is.
James Clear wrote a worthwhile article today on how to be a pro, doing something meaningful. He too emphasizes grit and consistency, but adds the dimension of focusing on something meaningful, rather than just going after the monayh.
The trouble is, it takes knowing yourself, it takes daring to be contrarian, it might even take breaking with today’s consumerism paradigm. It’s not a faster car you want, it’s the acceleration. It’s not a bigger house you want, it’s the quiet room. It’s not a Swiss tourbillon watch you want, it’s…
Nah, who am I kidding, of course you want a rose gold Swiss mechanical 20+ complication, 1000+ parts hand made precision instrument, a.k.a. a watch.
NO, you don’t! WTF?! If/when you have enough money that needs to be spent you might buy one, but it just can’t be your goal in life. Tell me it isn’t.
On making money
Making money to buy expensive stuff that other people want or envy is such an utter waste of your life that I lack the right words for it. This poor man, a 46 year old banker who has wasted his whole life tells it better. Don’t be that guy.
However, it’s still okay to use money as a gauge for the effectiveness of what you’re doing.
There is nothing wrong in becoming rich, or in optimizing whatever it is you do. What’s wrong is if money, fame and status are your primary objectives without a thought to why you want it or how you’re going to use it to fulfill your true desires.
Do you want to be healthy, have great and close friends, a partner to share everything with, sex, adrenaline, quiet, calm, a sea view, learn, explore, play, laugh? Then do all those things directly. Use your talent, grit, stamina, perseverance, and long-term disposition to get what you want, instead of taking the long (and sheepish) route through money and fame.
Owning up: Of course, I took the – cowardly – route through business school, the Swedish version of Wall Street and finally 15 years at a hedge fund, before I understood these things. That’s 25 years wasted on pursuing money and status instead of just doing what I really liked and getting good at it.
Despite what I’m saying about money as a goal in itself, money is still very useful and I’ll help as best I can guide you to making more of it, or at least protect what you already have.
Upcoming posts and books will be about, e.g., The Ultimate Guide To Investing In Stocks and How To Benefit From The Coming Super Recession.
Meanwhile, I think browsing my current book, The Retarded Hedge Fund Manager will give you a little taste of what’s coming.
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