The Stories You Are Told Are Lies: Here Is The Awful Truth

You want to live a great story. A narrative in which you thrive outside of your comfort zone. A tale in which your time is owed to no one but you. An epic that is passion-fueled and purpose driven.

Roman philosopher Seneca meditates, “But man who spends all his time on his own needs, who organizes everyday as though it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the next day. For what new pleasures can any hour now bring him? He has tried everything, and enjoyed everything to repletion.”

Regrettably, you are a prisoner. A convict of an inter-subjective narrative which persuades, that you must follow your heart.

Author Yuval Noah Harari notes,“Friends giving advice often tell each other, “Follow your heart.” But the heart is a double agent that usually takes its instructions from the dominant myths of the day, and the very recommendation to “Follow your heart” was implanted in our minds by a combination of nineteenth-century romantic myths and twentieth century consumerist myths.”

When I followed my heart I found myself caught in a brutal uphill marathon. I was chasing the finish line, for me, that meant becoming a corporate lawyer or an NYC police officer. Why, because those were romantic and consumerist myths that were implanted in my mind, by friends and family.

As I got closer to the finish line, my feet got heavier, and my breathing became labored. Each step closer was agony but the myths kept pushing me not to fail. The pain became unbearable I surrendered. Exhausted, I fell to my knees and accepted failure.

What I have learned over time is that failure is not final, it’s life’s way of teaching you a valuable lesson. Robert of Wanderlust Worker writes, “In fact, failure is life’s great teacher; it’s nature’s chisel that chips away at all the excess, stripping down egos as it molds and shapes us through divine intentions.”

I began to understand that follow your heart was an epically terrible plan.

I needed to follow my effort. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban explains, “Because when you look at where you put in your time, where you put in your effort, that tends to be the things that you are good at. And if you put in enough time, you tend to get really good at it.”

Where are you placing your time, your energy? When I began to analyze what I enjoyed working on, the pain disappeared. That is not to say there is no struggle or that I am no longer in a brutal uphill marathon. I struggle everyday. I fail repeatedly.

What is different, primarily when you work on something you are good at, is that every failure is fuel.

Will you follow your heart or will you follow your effort? You have a limited amount of time in this life, live it so you can die without regret.

This One Staggering Habit Will Propel You Towards Success

You’ve always been impressed by people who were intelligent, accomplished and always seem to have the right answers. Privately, you would ask, “How did he become so wise?” While some part of you wanted to ask the question, a more substantial part of you refused. Why, perhaps you attributed their success to some natural gift of intelligence; even good genes.

Resistance Is Not Futile, It's Deadly

You are not alone. I also thought that people who were intelligent, accomplished and always seem to have the right answers, were gifted; and I felt I was not gifted at all. I spent the better part of my life accepting the narrative, “I would never be smart.” I was complicit with the Resistance in my self-sabotage, self-deception, and self-corruption.

Author Steven Pressfield doodles, “Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled.” Pressfield continues, “It's a repelling force. It's negative. It aims to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”

Beginning to understanding the mindset that leads me to believe “I was not good enough,” I started to search for people who would mentor me directly or indirectly. What I began to discover is that many of the successful people were not born smart they learned how to became smart.

How? The read, an obscene amount:

  • Bill Gates — reads about 50 books per year
  • Mark Cuban — reads more than 3 hours every day
  • Warren Buffett — reads 600 and 1000 pages per day

The Solution is Compound Interest

Yes, this is an obscene amount of reading, but it’s the corner-stones of their success. Warren Buffet explains, “That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

When I first read that quote I was mentally paralyzed, and I asked myself, “Could it be that fundamental?”

Seneca continues the argument, “If you apply yourself to study you will avoid all boredom with life, will not long for night because you are sick of daylight, you will be neither a burden to yourself nor useless to others, you will attract many to become your friends and the finest people will flock about you.”

The Only Believable Solution

Yes, knowledge accumulates from believable sources and people who are smarter than you. And while you can spend countless hours searching for mentors, people to help you grow, you can start small, at your pace by picking up a book.

But to build your knowledge-base you must be deliberate:

First. Always be reading — on the train, at your desk, waiting in line, in bed, etc. Second. Set a goal for how many books will you read this year. Third. Create a list of books you want to read. Once you are reading, sip the book. Take notes in the margin. Write questions at the bottom of the page. Research unfamiliar topics. Create an alternate index. Go to the bibliography a choose your next book to read. Rinse and repeat.

I read an inspirational quote from Mark S A Smith on Twitter, “Reading science, math, & philosophy 1 hour per day will put you at the upper echelon of human success within 7 years.” It’s a powerful statement but what if you took on the challenge? Who would you become? What opportunities would you encounter? When would you exceed your dreams? Where would you be?

Remember Buffett stated, “That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.” Why don’t you start compounding interest, now? Why not stop being impressed by people who are intelligent, accomplished and always seem to have the right answers; when you can be that person.

Originally Posted: Medium