Averages are bad indicators because in extremism / non-linear situations you get major outliers that destroy the average.
What you study is frequently more important than how you study. You can spend a lot of time studying things you don’t need (learning “niece” in Spanish when you have no nieces).
Two lenses for viewing learning methods:
- Is the method effective? Have you narrowed down your material to the highest frequency?
- Is the method sustainable? Have you chosen a schedule and subject matter that you can stick with (or at least put up with) until reaching fluency? Will you actually swallow the pill you’ve prescribed yourself?
Use “DiSSS” and “CaFE” as frameworks for learning:
- Deconstruction: What are the minimal learning units, the lego blocks, that you should be starting with?
- Selection: Which 20% of the lego blocks will give me 80% of the results?
- Sequencing: In what order should I learn the blocks?
- Stakes: How can I create real stakes to make sure I follow through on the program I’ve prescribed myself?
- Compression: Can I compress the most important 20% into an easy to grasp 1 pager
- Frequency: How frequently should I practice? Can I cram? What walls will I hit? What’s the minimum effective dose for volume?
- Encoding: How do I anchor what I already know for rapid recall? Acronyms are an example.
You can break deconstruction down into 4 pieces:
Reducing: Figure out the composite parts that you can break the skill down to. E.g. the Kanji characters of Japanese.
Interviewing: Find someone near the top, or who was at the top, that you can talk to about the skill.
- Make a list of people to interview
- Contact them and find a way to provide value in exchange for their time (e.g. interviewing and featuring them)
- Ask the questions
Some example questions (for ultra endurance running):
- “Who is good at ultra-running despite being poorly built for it? Who’s good at this who shouldn’t be?”
- “Who are the most controversial or unorthodox runners or trainers? Why? What do you think of them?”
- “Who are the most impressive lesser-known teachers?” “What makes you different? Who trained you or influenced you?”
- “Have you trained others to do this? Have they replicated your results?”
- “What are the biggest mistakes and myths you see in ultra-running training? What are the biggest wastes of time?”
- “What are your favorite instructional books or resources on the subject? If people had to teach themselves, what would you suggest they use?”
- “If you were to train me for four weeks for a [fill in the blank] competition and had a million dollars on the line, what would the training look like? What if I trained for eight weeks?”
Reversal: What would happen if you did things in the reverse of common practices? The best fires are built upside down, largest logs on the bottom building up to kindling. Try googling “backward” or “reverse” plus whatever it is that you’re trying to do.
Translating: Finding a common way to explain all the composite parts of the skill (e.g. “deconstruction dozen”) is a great way to quickly immerse yourself in the composite parts when talking to someone who is more skilled. Look for the “helping verbs,” the little tricks of any skill that let you pick it up very quickly.
Simple works, complex fails. Focus on the most important pieces that will give you as much fluency in the skill as possible. 100 well selected words give you 50% of a language.
Whatever the skill is, find the pieces that will give you the most leverage fastest.
It’s the burden on working memory that makes something easy or hard, and good sequencing can reduce the burden on working memory by stringing things together.
Many effective chess players start by learning the end-game first.
There are many skills that are implicit, things the pros do without knowing it that they won’t think to teach you.
- What are commonalities among the best competitors?
- Which of these aren’t being actively taught (i.e., implicit) in most classes?
- Which neglected skills (answers to #2) could I get good at abnormally quickly?
How do you make failure as painful as possible? Sticks work better than carrots because of loss aversion.
The easiest way to avoid being overwhelmed is to create positive constraints: restrict whatever it is that you’re trying to do. Take advantage of Parkinson’s Law instead of having it work against you.
Create a prescriptive and practice one pagers:
- A “prescriptive” one of the things you need to do, the “rules”
- A “practice” one for real world things to practice that teach the elements
Compress as much as possible to keep it all in your head.
Skill learning will tend to follow a curve like this (as does company growth, relationships, other things):
Based on the curve, you can forecast setbacks, plateaus, etc.
Take breaks regularly: we remember things better at the beginnings and ends of sessions, so more breaks = more benefits from the serial position effect.
Encoding allows you to take things you’re not familiar with and make them familiar, turn them into pieces you can attach to your existing knowledge.
Chunk things into more memorable pieces, instead of trying to remember every individual piece, or the whole thing at once.
Use a “memory palace” to remember things like numbers, cards, etc.
At this point, the book turns into a cookbook and the “meta learning” info is done. I’d encourage you to get it for yourself.
Shout out to nateliason.com for doing this written summary
To buy the book, click the link in the image below to purchase from Amazon
IN A NUTSHELL
Rewards don’t work. People are more motivated by internal factors than by external drivers. Once basic financial needs are met, people are more motivated by having a desire for Mastery and a sense of Autonomy/self-direction towards a driving Purpose (MAP).
External motivating forces (esp. money) tends to kill intrinsic motivation, leading to reduced levels of motivation.
Many managers have a belief that extrinsic motivators work and they see them as a useful way to ‘control’ people. However, there is scientific evidence that these rarely provide long-term performance improvements.
Why carrot & stick approaches no longer work
Reduction in algorithmic work
Taylor in 1900’s saw workers as part of a complicated machine where desired behaviour was controlled through reward and punishment. This mindset still dominates the way many companies manage their people. But his principles
were born out of an era when most work was mechanical, repetitive labour (aka algorithmic i.e. a learned simple repeating pattern). For these types of jobs that still exist, evidence suggests extrinsic motivators are still effective.
Increase in complexity
These days many people’s work is more complex, constantly evolving, less routine, less directed and more interesting (aka heuristic). This requires a different approach to management and motivation.
Changing management structures
We are seeing a reduction in management levels in many organizations, requiring a less hands-on, more self-directed work patterns.
Internet driven open sourcing
Open sourcing (such as Wikipedia, Linux, Firefox, Apache, cookbooks, stock photography, legal briefs, medical research etc) is a radically different model. The reward is contribution and some recognition – but not £ in the short-term.
Lakhani & Wolf (Boston Consulting Group) surveyed 684 open-source developers. They found the primary motivation was the enjoyment from creating something in its own right (rather than any extrinsic rewards).
A change in corporate focus
In 2008, Vermont was first US state to allow a new type of ‘low profit limited liability’ company (aka L3C) to be set-up (versus the for-profit or not-for-profit social cause driven organizations). L3C aim to return modest profits to allow them to instead focus on their primary goal of social benefit.
The reality of what really drives behaviour
Rational driven economic theory predicts that in a world of prefect information and low transaction costs, parties will bargain to a position of wealth maximization. But this is not what happens in reality. People make decisions more on internal factors than external factors – we spend hours mastering an instrument for no external financial gain, we leave expensive jobs to work to become teachers, nurses or aid workers. As Frey writes, “It is inconceivable that people are motivated solely or even mainly by external incentives”
The 7 deadly flaws of extrinsic motivators
- They can extinguish intrinsic motivation
Once you get past basic threshold levels (of fairness and adequacy), carrots & sticks can achieve the opposite of their intended aims. Extrinsic rewards kill intrinsic rewards (cf Festinger’s cognitive dissonance – the reward becomes the key reason to do it and destroys the intrinsic enjoyment of the task itself.
Harlow (’49) found that monkeys enjoyed the intrinsic experience of solving puzzles – the joy of the task was its own reward. When given external motivation (extra food etc) it actually led to increased mistakes and slower time.
Lepper, Nisbett & Green (’78) observed how pre-school children choose to spend their free play. They divided the children into three groups:
Group 1 was told in advance they would get a reward for their drawings (‘If-then’). Group 2 were not offered any incentives up front. However, upon completion they were given an unexpected gift (‘now that..’). The third group were not promised anything for their efforts and nor did they receive anything. 2 weeks later the room was laid out with paper and pens during their free play period. Those who had been in the ‘If-then’ reward group drew less than the other two groups.
- They can diminish performance (esp. long-term)
Research has shown that extrinsic rewards caps growth – If bonused to achieve 10% growth, then why go for 15%?
In 2009, LSE analyzed 51 studies of corporate pay-for-performance plans. They concluded, “We find that financial incentives…can result in a negative impact on overall performance”
Deci (’69) discovered that if an incentive is no longer offered, it led to a reduction in commitment to the task. The original external motivating may provide short-term lifts in performance but can backfire when no longer offered.
Dan Airely conducted experiments where simple tasks were motivated by different sized incentives. He found those with very high incentive levels (equivalent to 5 months pay) fared worse. Too much was at stake leading them to ‘choke’.
- They can crush creativity
Bonuses etc drives functional fixedness, whereby the incentive so focuses action and attention, that it prevents wider perspectives to be taken into account, reducing potential creativity.
Artists commissioned to do work for people to set briefs often produce less creative work than when given free reign.
- They can crowd-out good behaviour
Sociologist, Richard Titmuss concluded that paying citizens to donate blood would actually lead to a reduction in donation rates as it would move the donation from a socially responsible act of altruism to being financially motivated.
Psychologists studied patterns of behaviour by parents in a childcare (which required the children to be picked up at 4pm). They found that when a fine was imposed for late pick-ups the number of ’offences’ doubled. It was hypothesized that the penalty removed the moral guilt and turned it into a purely financial transaction (of buying overtime).
- They can encourage cheating, shortcuts and unethical behaviour
Heavily bonused goals can lead to overly focused actions (which can compromise other areas of the organization e.g. NASA Apollo) – and in extreme case can encourage unethical behaviour (e.g. ENRON).
- They can become addictive
The study of drug abuse can be applied to extrinsic motivators – the more frequently they are given, the more we expect them. This leads to two consequences: 1) The same amount looses its motivational impact, requiring ever larger sums to be paid to extract a similar motivational effect. 2) When withdrawn, they lead to a slump in behaviour.
- They can foster short-term thinking
Researchers have found that companies that spend the most time guiding quarterly earnings deliver significantly lower long-term growth rates than other companies that do not.
Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic driven people
Pink defines two types of people: Type X (Extrinsic) are primarily driven by external factors, such as money, fame, status symbols etc. They can often be highly successful but can be troubled by an insatiable appetite for more ‘stuff’ (the joy of monetary success for example never fully satisfies. It quickly evaporates and is replaced by further longing for the next pay rise, the bigger car etc etc).
Type I’s (Intrinsic) motivation comes from within – to accomplish something meaningful to them. Success is measured by the task and not by an added-on reward.
They have been shown to have higher self-esteem, better interpersonal relationships and greater physical and mental well-being.
Type I’s will usually outperform a Type X in the long run.
Type I behaviour is fuelled by three factors: 1) Purpose 2) Mastery and 3) Autonomy. They have a clear purpose in mind – and that is often to master/excel in an area. They then desire the freedom to do it in their own way.
We will look at each of these three in more depth:
Passion behind a meaningful purpose makes us more motivated and engaged.
In 1962, Clare Boothe Luce, on of the first women to serve in the U.S. Congress, offered some advice to President John F. Kennedy. ‘A great man,’ she told him, ‘is one sentence.’ Abraham Lincoln’s was: ‘He preserved the union and freed the slaves.’ Franklin Roosevelt’s was: ‘He lifted us out of a great depression and helped us win a world war.’ So what is your one sentence?
Lack of inspiring purpose at work
Everyone benefits from a driving purpose. The issue is most organizations do not have a motivating purpose, Gary Hamel states, “As an emotional catalyst, wealth maximization lacks the power to fully mobilize human energies.”
Deci, Richman, Ryan & Niemic asked graduates at Rochester University about their life goals (and followed up with them 2 years later). They found that those with extrinsic goals (i.e. to be wealthy etc) had the same level of self-esteem and satisfaction as when at University, but their stress level was much higher.
However, those with intrinsic goals (e.g. to learn, to grow to help others etc) reported higher levels of satisfaction and lower anxiety than when at university. They concluded that extrinsic goals (whilst successful at helping one achieve those goals) do not tend to make people happy. Thus satisfaction is more to do with what goals you aim-for rather than the achievement of the goals themselves.
The changing demands of a new generation
Gen Y’s are demanding more corporate social responsibility.
Harvard’s MBA students have developed their own Hippocratic oath: “My purpose is to serve the greater good…I will strive to create sustainable economic, social and environmental prosperity worldwide.”
The development of teams is starting to change. Teams naturally form around natural leaders – i.e. those who have such a burning passion for a purpose – something that inspires others to self-organize around them.
At Gore-tex, anybody who wants to rise in the ranks and lead a team must assemble people willing to work for them – thus leadership is given by the people – not by management. Likewise, at Whole Foods, it’s the peers who decide if a person should be employed after their 30-day trial.
The Internet now allows geographically disparate people to come together to make a virtual team – hence the rapid escalation and potency of open-source projects.
We have an innate desire to grow and develop – to become really good at something. And this mastery leads to a sense of personal fulfillment. But without passion and engagement, mastery will not happen.
Gallup research has found that more than 50% of US people are not engaged at work (and 20% are actively disengaged). McKinsey have found that in some countries only 2- 3% are highly engaged in their work.
Mastery even for algorithmic roles
Wrzesniewski and Dutton have studied hospital cleaners, nurses and hairdressers and found many were finding areas of personal mastery that engaged them at work.
Three laws of Mastery
1) Mastery is a mindset – What people believe shapes what they can achieve.
Dweck demonstrated that those who believe intelligence is genetically fixed are less likely to push themselves and consequently restrict their growth potential (for fear of finding out they are not as clever as they think). Conversely those who believe intelligence can be developed do take risks, do push themselves and in the end out-perform those with a more fixed mindset. Dweck therefore recommends we praise effort not talent.
2) Mastery is painful – It takes ‘grit’ (a key determinant for success at WestPoint) to overcome the inevitable set backs along the way to mastery.
3) Mastery is an asymptote –Total mastery is never fully realized (which keeps people constantly pushing on).
People want autonomy in four areas: Task, time, techniques and team.
Studies have shown that perceived control is an important component of one’s happiness. Lack of free-will and choice reduces a person’s vitality. Having a sense of autonomy has been shown to have a powerful effect on performance, attitude, job satisfaction, and causes less burn-out.
Cornell University studied 320 small businesses – half of which had granted their people autonomy. These businesses grew at four times the rate of the control oriented companies.
Economist, Francis Green points to individual lack of discretion at work as the main explanation for declining productivity and job satisfaction in the UK.
William Knight, 3M’s past president said, “Hire good people and leave them alone”. They pioneered the idea of allowing staff to spend up to 15% of their time pursuing projects that are of interest for themselves (which might benefit the company). Many companies have adopted the same principles – e.g. Google and Atlassian.
Once a quarter, Atlassian (an Australian software company) run a Fed-Ex day (it’s called Fed-Ex because the staff need to deliver the next day). The staff are given 24 hours to work on anything they want – and then show their results the next day. These Fed-Ex days have solved many of their software issues.
Autonomy even for mundane tasks
Even some quite simple roles can benefit from autonomy.
Call centres which have heavily scripted responses and carefully monitored response call times have turnover rates of 35% – double that of the UK average. Zappos, the US shoes on-line retailer do not monitor the calls and have no scripts.
They even pass down the discretion on how to address complaints. Their mission is to provide the best customer service possible. They often use homeshoring (where can have the calls diverted to their own homes). Turnover is minimal.
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Book 1: Introduction
Skin in the Game is about four topics in one: a) uncertainty and the reliability of knowledge (both practical and scientific, assuming there is a difference), or in less polite words bull***t detection, b) symmetry in human affairs, that is, fairness, justice, responsibility, and reciprocity, c) information sharing in transactions, and d) rationality in complex systems and in the real world. That these four cannot be disentangled is something that is obvious when one has…skin in the game.
To emit a Yogiberrism, in academia there is no difference between academia and the real world; in the real world, there is.
If you have the rewards, you must also get some of the risks, not let others pay the price of your mistakes.
Don’t tell me what you “think,” just tell me what’s in your portfolio.
The abrasions of your skin guide your learning and discovery, a mechanism of organic signaling, what the Greeks called pathemata mathemata (“guide your learning through pain,” something mothers of young children know rather well).
Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions.
But the worst casualty has been free markets, as the public, already prone to hating financiers, started conflating free markets and higher order forms of corruption and cronyism, when in fact it is the exact opposite: it is government, not markets, that makes these things possible by the mechanisms of bailouts. It is not just bailouts: government interference in general tends to remove skin in the game.
You will never fully convince someone that he is wrong; only reality can.
The curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding, or better at explaining than doing.
There is no evolution without skin in the game.
Rent-seeking is trying to use protective regulations or “rights” to derive income without adding anything to economic activity, not increasing the wealth of others.
Effectively, there is no democracy without such an unconditional symmetry in the rights to express yourself, and the gravest threat is the slippery slope in the attempts to limit speech on grounds that some of it may hurt some people’s feelings. Such restrictions do not necessarily come from the state itself, rather from the forceful establishment of an intellectual monoculture by an overactive thought police in the media and cultural life.
Avoid taking advice from someone who gives advice for a living, unless there is a penalty for their advice.
People’s “explanations” for what they do are just words, stories they tell themselves, not the business of proper science. What they do, on the other hand, is tangible and measurable and that’s what we should focus on.
By definition, what works cannot be irrational; about every single person I know who has chronically failed in business shares that mental block, the failure to realize that if something stupid works (and makes money), it cannot be stupid.
Intellectualism is the belief that one can separate an action from the results of such action, that one can separate theory from practice, and that one can always fix a complex system by hierarchical approaches, that is, in a (ceremonial) top-down manner.
Replacing the “natural,” that is age-old, processes that have survived trillions of high-dimensional stressors with something in a “peer-reviewed” journal that may not survive replication or statistical scrutiny is neither science nor good practice.
…architects today build to impress other architects, and we end up with strange—irreversible—structures that do not satisfy the well-being of their residents; it takes time and a lot of progressive tinkering for that.
If you do not take risks for your opinion, you are nothing.
As a Spartan mother tells her departing son: “With it or on it,” meaning either return with your shield or don’t come back alive (the custom was to carry the dead body flat on it); only cowards throw away their shields to run faster.
Anything you do to optimize your work, cut some corners, or squeeze more “efficiency” out of it (and out of your life) will eventually make you dislike it.
But owing to funding and current venture capital mechanisms, many people mistaken for entrepreneurs fail to have true skin in the game in the sense that their aim is to either cash out by selling the company they helped create to someone else, or “go public” by issuing shares in the stock market.
We can easily identify them by their ability to write a convincing business plan.
Products or companies that bear the owner’s name convey very valuable messages. They are shouting that they have something to lose.
For those familiar with the idea of nonlinear effects from Antifragile, learning is rooted in repetition and convexity, meaning that the reading of a single text twice is more profitable than reading two different things once, provided of course that said text has some depth of content.
Book 2: A First Look at Agency
Detecting that he was only invited to relieve them of the unwanted food, he forced them all to eat the turtles, thus establishing the principle that you need to eat what you feed others.
You can give advice, or you can sell (by advertising the quality of the product), and the two need to be kept separate.
It may not be ethically required, but the most effective, shame-free policy is maximal transparency, even transparency of intentions.
There is no problem if people have a conflict of interest if it is congruous with downside risk for themselves.
There is a tradeoff between laser surgery (a precise surgical procedure) and radiation therapy, which is toxic to both patient and cancer. Statistically, laser surgery may have worse five-year outcomes than radiation therapy, but the latter tends to create second tumors in the longer run and offers comparatively reduced twenty-year disease-specific survival. Given that the window used for the calculation of patient survival is five years, not twenty, the incentive is to shoot for radiation.
Should you drop dead a few weeks after the visit, a low probability event, the doctor can be sued for negligence, for not having prescribed the right medicine that is temporarily believed to be useful (as in the case of statins), but that we now know has been backed up by suspicious or incomplete studies.
But the pharmaceutical companies have managed to convince everyone that these unseen consequences are harmless, when the right precautionary approach is to consider the unseen as potentially harmful. In fact for most people except those that are very ill, the risks outweigh the benefits. Except that the long-term medical risks are hidden; they will play out in the long run, whereas the legal risk is immediate.
Now can one make medicine less asymmetric? Not directly; the solution, as I have argued in Antifragile and more technically elsewhere, is for the patient to avoid treatment when he or she is mildly ill, but use medicine for the “tail events,” that is, for rarely encountered severe conditions
Book 3: That Great Asymmetry
Studying individual ants will almost never give us a clear indication of how the ant colony operates. For that, one needs to understand an ant colony as an ant colony, no less, no more, not a collection of ants.
It suffices for an intransigent minority—a certain type of intransigent minority—with significant skin in the game (or, better, soul in the game) to reach a minutely small level, say 3 or 4 percent of the total population, for the entire population to have to submit to their preferences.
Let us apply the rule to domains where it can get entertaining: An honest person will never commit criminal acts, but a criminal will readily engage in legal acts. Let us call such minority an intransigent group, and the majority a flexible one. And their relationship rests on an asymmetry in choices.
Another example: do not think that the spread of automatic shifting cars is necessarily due to a majority preference; it could just be because those who can drive manual shifts can always drive automatic, but the reverse is not true.
When there are few choices, McDonald’s appears to be a safe bet. It is also a safe bet in shady places with few regulars where the food variance from expectation can be consequential—I am writing these lines in the Milan train station and, as offensive as it can be to someone who spent all this money to go to Italy, McDonald’s is one of the few restaurants there. And it is packed. Shockingly, Italians are seeking refuge there from a risky meal. They may hate McDonald’s, but they certainly hate uncertainty even more.
Pizza is the same story: it is a commonly accepted food, and, outside a gathering of pseudo-leftist caviar eaters, nobody will be blamed for ordering it.
“Once you have 10 percent or more women at a party, you cannot serve only beer. But most men will drink wine. So you only need one set of glasses if you serve only wine—the universal donor, to use the language of blood groups.”
First, under Islamic law, if a non-Muslim man marries a Muslim woman, he needs to convert to Islam—and if either parent of a child happens to be Muslim, the child will be Muslim. Second, becoming Muslim is irreversible, as apostasy is the heaviest crime under the religion, sanctioned by the death penalty.
The “persecution” of the Christians had vastly more to do with the intolerance of the Christians for the pantheon of local gods than the reverse. What we read is history written by the Christian side, not the Greco-Roman one.
Purely monotheistic religions such as Protestant Christianity, Salafi Islam, or fundamentalist atheism accommodate literalist and mediocre minds that cannot handle ambiguity.
Another attribute of decentralization, and one that the “intellectuals” opposing an exit of Britain from the European Union (Brexit) don’t get: if one needs, say, a 3 percent threshold in a political unit for the minority rule to take its effect, and on average the stubborn minority represents 3 percent of the population, with variations around the average, then some states will be subject to the rule, but not others. If, on the other hand, we merge all states in one, then the minority rule will prevail all across. This is the reason the U.S.A. works so well. As I have been repeating to everyone who listens, we are a federation, not a republic. To use the language of Antifragile, decentralization is convex to variations.
Let us conjecture that the formation of moral values in society doesn’t come from the evolution of the consensus. No, it is the most intolerant person who imposes virtue on others precisely because of that intolerance. The same can apply to civil rights.
we need to be more than intolerant with some intolerant minorities. Simply, they violate the Silver Rule. It is not permissible to use “American values” or “Western principles” in treating intolerant Salafism (which denies other peoples’ right to have their own religion). The West is currently in the process of committing suicide.
The market is like a large movie theater with a small door. And the best way to detect a sucker is to see if his focus is on the size of the theater rather than that of the door.
Revolutions are unarguably driven by an obsessive minority. And the entire growth of society, whether economic or moral, comes from a small number of people.
All it takes is, say, a 3 percent minority, for “Merry Christmas” to become “Happy Holidays.” But I suspect that should the minority rise in numbers, the effect would go away, as diverse societies are more syncretic. I grew up in Lebanon at the time when the population was about half Christian: people greeted one another in the Roman pagan way of sharing one another’s holidays. Today Shiites (and some Sunnis not yet brainwashed by Saudi Arabia) would wish a Christian “Merry Christmas.”
The psychological experiments on individuals showing “biases” do not allow us to automatically understand aggregates or collective behavior, nor do they enlighten us about the behavior of groups.
Understanding the genetic makeup of a unit will never allow us to understand the behavior of the unit itself.
The underlying structure of reality matters much more than the participants, something policymakers fail to understand. Under the right market structure, a collection of idiots produces a well-functioning market.
The researchers Dhananjay Gode and Shyam Sunder came to a surprising result in 1993. You populate markets with zero intelligence agents, that is buying and selling randomly, under some structure such that a proper auction process matches bids and offers in a regular way. And guess what? We get the same allocative efficiency as if market participants were intelligent.
Book 4: Wolves Among Dogs
By being employees they signal a certain type of domestication. Someone who has been employed for a while is giving you strong evidence of submission. Evidence of submission is displayed by the employee’s going through years depriving himself of his personal freedom for nine hours every day, his ritualistic and punctual arrival at an office, his denying himself his own schedule, and his not having beaten up anyone on the way back home after a bad day. He is an obedient, housebroken dog.
If the company man is, sort of, gone, he has been replaced by the companies person. For people are no longer owned by a company but by something worse: the idea that they need to be employable. The employable person is embedded in an industry, with fear of upsetting not just their employer, but other potential employers.
In the famous tale by Ahiqar, later picked up by Aesop (then again by La Fontaine), the dog boasts to the wolf all the contraptions of comfort and luxury he has, almost prompting the wolf to enlist. Until the wolf asks the dog about his collar and is terrified when he understands its use. “Of all your meals, I want nothing.” He ran away and is still running. The question is: what would you like to be, a dog or a wolf?
Whatever you do, just don’t be a dog claiming to be a wolf.
people like people, and they drop business when they get some generic and polite person on the phone in place of their warm and often exuberant salesperson-friend.
Those who use foul language on social networks (such as Twitter) are sending an expensive signal that they are free—and, ironically, competent. You don’t signal competence if you don’t take risks for it—there are few such low-risk strategies.
Ironically the highest status, that of a free man, is usually indicated by voluntarily adopting the mores of the lowest class.
Consider that English “manners” were imposed on the middle class as a way of domesticating them, along with instilling in them the fear of breaking rules and violating social norms.
What matters isn’t what a person has or doesn’t have; it is what he or she is afraid of losing.
People whose survival depends on qualitative “job assessments” by someone of higher rank in an organization cannot be trusted for critical decisions.
The only way we have left to control suicide-terrorists would be precisely to convince them that blowing themselves up is not the worst-case scenario for them, nor the end scenario at all. Making their families and loved ones bear a financial burden—just as Germans still pay for war crimes—would immediately add consequences to their actions. The penalty needs to be properly calibrated to be a true disincentive, without imparting any sense of heroism or martyrdom to the families in question.
Book 5: Being Alive Means Taking Certain Risks
Arguments that Trump was a failed entrepreneur, even if true, actually prop up this argument: you’d even rather have a failed real person than a successful one, as blemishes, scars, and character flaws increase the distance between a human and a ghost.
Before we end, take some Fat Tony wisdom: always do more than you talk. And precede talk with action. For it will always remain that action without talk supersedes talk without action.
With psychology studies replicating less than 40 percent of the time, dietary advice reversing after thirty years of dietary fat phobia, macroeconomics and financial economics (while trapped in an intricate Gargantuan patch of words) scientifically worse than astrology (this is what the reader of the Incerto has known since Fooled by Randomness), the reappointment of Bernanke (in 2010) who was less than clueless about financial risk as the Federal Reserve boss, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only a third of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instincts and to listen to their grandmothers (or to Montaigne and such filtered classical knowledge), who have a better track record than these policymaking goons.
While rich people believe in one tax dollar one vote, more humanistic ones in one man one vote, Monsanto in one lobbyist one vote, the IYI believes in one Ivy League degree one vote, with some equivalence for foreign elite schools and PhDs, as these are needed in the club. They are what Nietzsche called Bildungsphilisters—educated philistines.
He speaks of “equality of races” and “economic equality,” but never goes out drinking with a minority cab driver
He studies grammar before speaking a language;
The Intellectual Yet Idiot knows at any given point in time what his words or actions are doing to his reputation. But a much easier marker: he doesn’t even deadlift.
In this chapter, I will propose that what people resent—or should resent—is the person at the top who has no skin in the game, that is, because he doesn’t bear his allotted risk, he is immune to the possibility of falling from his pedestal, exiting his income or wealth bracket, and waiting in line outside the soup kitchen.
For instance, only 10 percent of the wealthiest five hundred American people or dynasties were so thirty years ago; more than 60 percent on the French list are heirs and a third of the richest Europeans were the richest centuries ago. In Florence, it was just revealed that things are even worse: the same handful of families have kept the wealth for five centuries.
The way to make society more equal is by forcing (through skin in the game) the rich to be subjected to the risk of exiting from the 1 percent.
So class envy doesn’t originate from a truck driver in South Alabama, but from a New York or Washington, D.C., Ivy League–educated IYI (say Paul Krugman or Joseph Stiglitz) with a sense of entitlement, upset some “less smart” persons are much richer.
Aristotle, in his Rhetoric, postulated that envy is something you are more likely to encounter in your own kin: lower classes are more likely to experience envy toward their cousins or the middle class than toward the very rich.
Traders, when they make profits, have short communications; when they lose they drown you in details, theories, and charts.
That which is “Lindy” is what ages in reverse, i.e., its life expectancy lengthens with time, conditional on survival.
The pre-Socratic thinker Periander of Corinth wrote, more than twenty-five hundred years ago: Use laws that are old but food that is fresh. Likewise, Alfonso X of Spain, nicknamed El Sabio, “the wise,” had as a maxim: Burn old logs. Drink old wine. Read old books. Keep old friends.
You can define a free person precisely as someone whose fate is not centrally or directly dependent on peer assessment.
And recall that, a free person does not need to win arguments—just win.
One should give more weight to research that, while being rigorous, contradicts other peers, particularly if it entails costs and reputational harm for its author. Further, Someone with a high public presence who is controversial and takes risks for his opinion is less likely to be a bull***t vendor.
The “turtles all the way down” expression expresses an infinite regress problem, as follows. The logician Bertrand Russell was once told that the world sits on turtles. “And what do these turtles stand on?” he asked. “It’s turtles all the way down,” was the answer.
Book 6: Deeper Into Agency
Simply the one who doesn’t look the part, conditional on having made a (sort of) successful career in his profession, had to have much to overcome in terms of perception. And if we are lucky enough to have people who do not look the part, it is thanks to the presence of some skin in the game, the contact with reality that filters out incompetence, as reality is blind to looks.
In any type of activity or business divorced from the direct filter of skin in the game, the great majority of people know the jargon, play the part, and are intimate with the cosmetic details, but are clueless about the subject.
Meanwhile, by contrast, the person who related the story went bankrupt while knowing every intimate detail about the green lumber. The fallacy is that what one may need to know in the real world does not necessarily match what one can perceive through intellect: it doesn’t mean that details are not relevant, only that those we tend (IYI-style) to believe are important can distract us from more central attributes of the price mechanism.
It took medicine a long time to realize that when a patient shows up with a headache, it is much better to give him aspirin or recommend a good night’s sleep than do brain surgery, although the latter appears to be more “scientific.” But most “consultants” and others paid by the hour are not there yet.
Third, we invoked the principle of simplicity, which was called antiscience. Why don’t we give these people rice and vitamins separately? After all, we don’t have genetically modified coffee that has milk with it.
But we have evidence that collectively society doesn’t advance with organized education, rather the reverse: the level of (formal) education in a country is the result of wealth.
The heuristic here would be to use education in reverse: hire, conditional on an equal set of skills, the person with the least label-oriented education. It means that the person had to succeed in spite of the credentialization of his competitors and overcome more serious hurdles. In addition, people who didn’t go to Harvard are easier to deal with in real life.
It would fail the Lindy effect: food does better through minute variations from Sicilian grandmother to Sicilian grandmother.
Further, the rich start using “experts” and “consultants.” An entire industry meant to swindle you will swindle you: financial consultants, diet advisors, exercise experts, lifestyle engineers, sleeping councilors, breathing specialists, etc.
Hamburgers, to many of us, are vastly tastier than filet mignon because of the higher fat content, but people have been convinced that the latter is better because it is more expensive to produce.
… most people, I am convinced, are happier in close quarters, in a real barrio-style neighborhood, where they can feel human warmth and company. But when they have big bucks they end up pressured to move into outsized, impersonal, and silent mansions, far away from neighbors.
To put it another way: if wealth is giving you fewer options instead of more (and more varied) options, you’re doing it wrong.
I am certain that if pizza were priced at $200, the people with corks plugged in their behinds would be lining up for it. But it is too easy to produce, so they opt for the costly, and pizza with fresh natural ingredients will be always cheaper than the complicated crap.
A well-dressed man with a wiry build and neurotic personality started heaping insults at me “for stopping.” Instead of hitting him as a conversation starter, as I would have done in 1921, I pulled my cell out and took his picture while calmly calling him a “mean idiot, abusive to lost persons.” He freaked out and ran away from me, hiding his face in his hands to prevent further photographs.
If we don’t understand something and it has a systemic effect, just avoid it. Models are error-prone, something I knew well with finance; most risks only appear in analyses after harm is done. As far as I know, we only have one planet. So the burden is on those who pollute—or who introduce new substances in larger than usual quantities—to show a lack of tail risk. In fact, the more uncertainty about the models, the more conservative one should be.
The divergence is evident in that journos worry considerably more about the opinion of other journalists than the judgment of their readers. Compare this to a healthy system, say, that of restaurants. As we saw in Chapter 8, restaurant owners worry about the opinion of their customers, not those of other restaurant owners, which keeps them in check and prevents the business from straying collectively away from its interests.
“Give me a few lines written by any man and I will find enough to get him hung” goes the saying attributed to Richelieu, Voltaire, Talleyrand
The principle of charity stipulates that you try to understand a message as if you were yourself its author.
It is immoral to be in opposition to the market system and not live (somewhere in Vermont or Northwestern Afghanistan) in a hut or cave isolated from it.
It is much more immoral to claim virtue without fully living with its direct consequences.
Kids with rich parents talk about “class privilege” at privileged colleges such as Amherst—but in one instance, one of them could not answer Dinesh D’Souza’s simple and logical suggestion: Why don’t you go to the registrar’s office and give your privileged spot to the minority student next in line?
Clearly the defense given by people under such a situation is that they want others to do so as well—they require a systemic solution to every local perceived problem of injustice. I find that immoral. I know of no ethical system that allows you to let someone drown without helping him because other people are not helping, no system that says, “I will save people from drowning only if others too save other people from drowning.”
Which brings us to the principle: If your private life conflicts with your intellectual opinion, it cancels your intellectual ideas, not your private life.
This is not strictly about ethics, but information. If a car salesman tries to sell you a Detroit car while driving a Honda, he is signaling that the wares he is touting may have a problem.
The investor Charlie Munger once said: “Look it. Would you rather be the world’s greatest lover, but have everyone think you’re the world’s worst lover? Or would you rather be the world’s worst lover but have everyone think you’re the world’s greatest lover?” As usual, if it makes sense, it has to be in the classics, where it is found under the name esse quam videri, which I translate as to be or to be seen as such. It can be found in Cicero, Sallust, even Machiavelli, who, characteristically, inverted it to videri quam esse, “show rather than be.”
So true virtue lies mostly in also being nice to those who are neglected by others, the less obvious cases, those people the grand charity business tends to miss. Or people who have no friends and would like someone once in while to just call them for a chat or a cup of fresh roasted Italian-style coffee.
Sticking up for truth when it is unpopular is far more of a virtue, because it costs you something—your reputation. If you are a journalist and act in a way that risks ostracism, you are virtuous.
mankind” come to me asking, “What should I do? I want to reduce poverty, save the world,” and similar noble aspirations at the macro-level, my suggestion is:
- Never engage in virtue signaling;
- Never engage in rent-seeking;
- You must start a business. Put yourself on the line, start a business.
But more than six hundred thousand Italians died in the Great War, during the “period of stability,” almost one order of magnitude higher than all the cumulative fatalities in the five hundred years preceding it.
I am almost always confronted with “Still, there were more wars and instability.” This is the Robert Rubin trade argument, that trades that lose money infrequently are more stable, even if they end up eventually wiping you out.
Reading a history book, without putting its events in perspective, offers a similar bias to reading an account of life in New York seen from an emergency room at Bellevue Hospital.
I accidentally discovered the book A History of Private Life (four volumes in English) by Paul Veyne, Philippe Ariès, and Georges Duby some thirty years ago. Volume 1 (Ancient Rome) has been at a comfortable distance from my bed ever since.
Book 7: Religion, Belief, and Skin in the Game
To summarize, in a Judeo-Christian place of worship, the focal point, where the priest stands, symbolizes skin in the game. The notion of belief without sacrifice, which is tangible proof, is new in history. The strength of a creed did not rest on “evidence” of the powers of its gods, but evidence of the skin in the game on the part of its worshippers.
At no point during the emergency period did the drivers of the ambulance consider taking John Paul the Second to a chapel for a prayer, or some equivalent form of intercession with the Lord, to give the sacred first right of refusal for the treatment.
while they devote less of their time to what they believe is not “religion,” many atheists engage in yoga and similar collective activities, or sit in concert halls in awe and silence (you can’t even smoke a cigar or shout buy orders on your cell phone), spending considerable time doing what to a Martian would look like similar ritualistic gestures.
Let us take stock here. There are people who are atheists in actions, religious in words (most Orthodox and Catholic Christians) and others who are religious in actions, religious in words (Salafi Islamists and suicide bombers) but I know of nobody who is atheist in both actions and words, completely devoid of rituals, respect for the dead, and superstitions (say a belief in economics, or in the miraculous powers of the mighty state and its institutions).
Book 8: Risk and Rationality
My friend Rory Sutherland claims that the real function of swimming pools is to allow the middle class to sit around in bathing suits without looking ridiculous. Same with New York restaurants: you think their mission is to feed people, but that’s not what they are about. They are in the business of overcharging you for liquor or Great Tuscan wines by the glass, yet get you in the door by serving you your low-carb (or low-something) dishes at break-even cost.
Survival comes first, truth, understanding, and science later. In other words, you do not need science to survive (we’ve survived for several hundred million years or more, depending on how you define the “we”), but you must survive to do science.
It is therefore my opinion that religion exists to enforce tail risk management across generations, as its binary and unconditional rules are easy to teach and enforce. We have survived in spite of tail risks; our survival cannot be that random.
The only definition of rationality that I’ve found that is practically, empirically, and mathematically rigorous is the following: what is rational is that which allows for survival. Unlike modern theories by psychosophasters, it maps to the classical way of thinking. Anything that hinders one’s survival at an individual, collective, tribal, or general level is, to me, irrational.
When you consider beliefs in evolutionary terms, do not look at how they compete with each other, but consider the survival of the populations that have them.
Or perhaps an ecological reason: pigs compete with humans in eating the same vegetables, while cows eat what we don’t eat.
Rationality does not depend on explicit verbalistic explanatory factors; it is only what aids survival, what avoids ruin. Why? Clearly as we saw in the Lindy discussion: Not everything that happens happens for a reason, but everything that survives survives for a reason.
Let us call the first set ensemble probability, and the second one time probability (since the first is concerned with a collection of people and the second with a single person through time). Now, when you read material by finance professors, finance gurus, or your local bank making investment recommendations based on the long-term returns of the market, beware. Even if their forecasts were true (they aren’t), no individual can get the same returns as the market unless he has infinite pockets and no uncle points.
Anyone who has survived in the risk-taking business more than a few years has some version of our by now familiar principle that “in order to succeed, you must first survive.” My own has been: “never cross a river if it is on average four feet deep.”
To take stock: a situation is deemed non-ergodic when observed past probabilities do not apply to future processes. There is a “stop” somewhere, an absorbing barrier that prevents people with skin in the game from emerging from it—and to which the system will invariably tend. Let us call these situations “ruin,” as there is no reversibility away from the condition. The central problem is that if there is a possibility of ruin, cost-benefit analyses are no longer possible.
Assume a collection of people play Russian roulette a single time for a million dollars—this is the central story in Fooled by Randomness. About five out of six will make money. If someone used a standard cost-benefit analysis, he would have claimed that one has an 83.33 percent chance of gains, for an “expected” average return per shot of $833,333. But if you keep playing Russian roulette, you will end up in the cemetery. Your expected return is…not computable.
In my war with the Monsanto machine, the advocates of genetically modified organisms (transgenics) kept countering me with benefit analyses (which were often bogus and doctored up), not tail risk analyses for repeated exposures.
Psychologists determine our “paranoia” or “risk aversion” by subjecting a person to a single experiment—then declare that humans are rationally challenged, as there is an innate tendency to “overestimate” small probabilities. They manage to believe that their subjects will never ever again take any personal tail risk!
Smoking a single cigarette is extremely benign, so a cost-benefit analysis would deem it irrational to give up so much pleasure for so little risk! But it is the act of smoking that kills, at a certain number of packs per year, or tens of thousand of cigarettes—in other words, repeated serial exposure.
in real life, every single bit of risk you take adds up to reduce your life expectancy. If you climb mountains and ride a motorcycle and hang around the mob and fly your own small plane and drink absinthe, and smoke cigarettes, and play parkour on Thursday night, your life expectancy is considerably reduced, although no single action will have a meaningful effect. This idea of repetition makes paranoia about some low-probability events, even that deemed “pathological,” perfectly rational.
I believe that risk aversion does not exist: what we observe is, simply, a residual of ergodicity. People are, simply, trying to avoid financial suicide and take a certain attitude to tail risks.
To use the ergodic framework: my death at Russian roulette is not ergodic for me but it is ergodic for the system.
I have a finite shelf life, humanity should have an infinite duration. Or, I am renewable, not humanity or the ecosystem.
Courage, according to the Greek ideal that Aristotle inherited from Homer (and conveyed by Solon, Pericles, and Thucydides) is never a selfish action: Courage is when you sacrifice your own well-being for the sake of the survival of a layer higher than yours.
All risks are not equal. We often hear that “Ebola is causing fewer deaths than people drowning in their bathtubs,” or something of the sort, based on “evidence.” This is another class of problems that your grandmother can get, but the semi-educated cannot. Never compare a multiplicative, systemic, and fat-tailed risk to a non-multiplicative, idiosyncratic, and thin-tailed one.
The Chernoff bound can be explained as follows. The probability that the number of people who drown in their bathtubs in the United States doubles next year—assuming no changes in population or bathtubs—is one per several trillions lifetimes of the universe. This cannot be said about the doubling of the number of people killed by terrorism over the same period.
Just consider that: it is impossible for a billion people to sleep with Kim Kardashian (even her), but that there is a non-zero probability that a multiplicative process (a pandemic) causes such a number of Ebola deaths.
One may be risk loving yet completely averse to ruin. The central asymmetry of life is: In a strategy that entails ruin, benefits never offset risks of ruin.
Ruin and other changes in condition are different animals.
Every single risk you take adds up to reduce your life expectancy.
Rationality is avoidance of systemic ruin.
No muscles without strength, friendship without trust, opinion without consequence, change without aesthetics, age without values, life without effort, water without thirst, food without nourishment, love without sacrifice, power without fairness, facts without rigor, statistics without logic, mathematics without proof, teaching without experience, politeness without warmth, values without embodiment, degrees without erudition, militarism without fortitude, progress without civilization, friendship without investment, virtue without risk, probability without ergodicity, wealth without exposure, complication without depth, fluency without content, decision without asymmetry, science without skepticism, religion without tolerance, and, most of all: nothing without skin in the game.
Shout out to nateliason.com for doing this written summary
To buy the book, click the link in the image below to purchase from Book Depository
The first chapter presents events happening before Malcolm’s birth, during the time his mother was pregnant with him. Then, his mother was attacked by white supremacists because Malcolm’s father, Earl Little, was involved in a movement that supported the return to Arica of those who wanted it. Malcolm was the lightest skinned child in the family and his father began to take him with him to the UNIA meetings. His mother meanwhile stayed and home and cooked and cleaned for the family because she was unable to find work despite being very light skinned.
The family then moves to Lansing in 1929 but they don’t escape the problems being black brings. Their home is burned to the ground by white extremists and when Malcolm turn six, his father is killed. The Great depression also starts during those times and Malcolm’s mother is sent to a mental hospital after she refuses to accept free pork claiming that they can’t eat it because they are members of the Seventh Day Adventists.
Malcolm moves with a white foster family names Swerlins in 1937. Despite being good at school, his teachers don’t think that he will be able to achieve his dreams of being a lawyer. Over the years, Malcolm works as a dish washer and visits his mother and siblings as often as he can. In 1940, Malcolm moves with his half-sister Ella in Boston in a wealthy black neighborhood. While the Swerlings don’t understand his decision, Malcolm feels that he will be stuck in a menial job if he remains with them and so he decides to leave. Malcolm is fifteen when he decides to look for a job, knowing that he will able to pass as being several years older.
Chapter three presents Malcolm in Boston, exploring the new city and observing the differences between the wealthier blacks and the poor blacks. Malcolm criticizes the wealthier blacks because they try to imitate the whites and thus Malcolm is drawn to the poor population that remained true to who they really are. Malcolm meets Shorty while frequenting a pool hall and Shorty gets Malcolm a job in a ballroom where he works.
At the Ballroom, Malcolm shines men’s shoes, tends the men’s bathroom, sells condoms and passes towels while also learning that the ballroom’s income comes primarily from selling marijuana and serving as an intermediary between black dealers and white customers.
During his stay there, Malcolm changes drastically and he begins to drink, use drugs and he also changes the way he used to dress until then. After a while, Malcolm quits his job there and becomes a regular customer.
Malcolm begins to work as a clerk at a drugstore and it there where he meets Laura. Malcolm tells Laura about his dreams of becoming a lawyer and she encourages him to follow his dreams. Laura likes dancing and during one time when Malcolm and Laura are dancing at the Roseland, Malcolm meets Sophia, a white woman. Malcolm dumps Laura for Sophia and he begins to enjoy the status he has by dating a white woman.
Malcolm moves in with Shorty and after a few years he finds that Laura never recovered after Malcolm dumped her and she eventually became a prostitute. Malcolm begins working various jobs washing dishes or selling sandwiches until he earns enough money in the numbers racket. Malcolm also meets Sammy the Pimp and they soon become friends.
Malcolm moves into a rooming house where he learns many things about men in general from prostitutes. Malcolm’s life takes a turn for the worst when he loses his job after offering a cop to take him to a prostitute and losing his job. Malcolm begins to sell marijuana but the police prevent him from expanding his business. Malcolm soon becomes addicted and because he is unable to sell the product in his area, Sammy suggests that he should try and alternate between trying to sell marijuana in one place and then move to another area.
World War II begins and because many white men left for war, the population is more reluctant to accept interracial relationships. Malcolm continues to meet in secret with a white woman named Sofia while also escaping being drafted by the military.
Malcolm becomes unable to travel by railroad after an incident where he threatened someone with a gun during a train ride and because the police began to know him and his drug dealing business, he also became unable to sell drugs. As a result, Malcolm begins to traffic guns and be involved in robberies while also starting to use harder drugs.
Malcolm’s brother Reginald moves in with him and Malcolm arranges for him to sell different products on the streets. Things changed drastically in Harlem and the Savoy Ballroom is shut down, riots take place and prostitutes and hustler remain with no other choice but to find a legal job. Malcolm is also affected by this changes and he finds himself forced to live on what Reginald makes on the streets.
Malcolm works various illegal jobs and even gets involved with bootlegging with a Jewish man but that didn’t last long either because the man soon disappeared. After a disagreement Malcolm had with a man against who he betted, Malcolm is forced to run away to Boston in order to save his life. Shorty and Ella are amazed to see how much Malcolm has changed and Malcolm continues his relationship with Sophia while Shorty starts seeing Sophia’s younger sister.
In order to earn some money, Malcolm, Shorty and an Italian man named Rudy form a burglary ring and they rob the houses of rich white people with Sophia’s help. Malcolm is caught when one day he sees Sophia on the streets with one of her husband’s friends and blows her cover. Malcolm is eventually sentenced to serve ten years in prison.
During his time spent inside the Massachusetts state prison, Malcolm meets Bimbi who helps Malcolm grow by pushing him to learn more and use the small library in the prison to learn about various subjects. When Malcolm is moved to another prison with a bigger library, he continues to teach himself using the books he has. Malcolm also becomes a Muslim in prison and accepts the Nation of Islam’s principles.
During his stay in prison Malcolm becomes a member of a debate group and during his debates he always finds a way to bring the theme of racism into his speeches and begins to be obsessed with the idea of converting as many as he can to Islamism.
Malcolm’s brother, Reginald, goes insane after he is thrown out of Nation of Islam for being caught sleeping with a secretary and Malcolm believes that Reginald was punished for his sins.
Malcolm is released in 1952 and he contacts the Nation of Islam. Malcolm is taken as an example and he asks Elijah Muhammad how to attract more people to the faith but has little success in Detroit. He attracts more people as time passes and thus Malcolm changes his last name to “X” to symbolize the names that were robed through slavery. Eventually Malcolm is named assistant minister in Detroit and is sent to different locations to start new temples and to attract more people to the faith. Malcolm marries a woman named Betty who joined the temple in 1956 and with whom he has five children. In 1958, Malcolm’s half-sister Ella also joins the Nation of Islam and by the year 1965, numerous temples exist in Chicago, New York and Detroit.
Starting from 1957, Malcolm, the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad begin to be attacked in the media. In 1959 Malcolm is sent as an emissary to other countries and it is also during those times when he begins to attack other black civil rights leaders. In 1960 mass rallies are being held by the Nation of Islam and even though at first they don’t allow white people to participate, they soon ease up and let them participate.
Malcolm also starts a newspaper and slowly he takes over the Nation of Islam when Elijah Muhammad becomes too old to travel as he did before. Malcolm also starts a circuit in which he held lectures at universities but because Elijah became jealous of his success, Malcolm gives up some of his activities.
The relationship between Elijah and Malcolm suffers again when Elijah becomes involved in two paternity suits. Elijah doesn’t confess and the relationship between Malcolm and the Nation of Islam breaks more. When Malcolm makes a comment towards president’s J.F. Kennedy’s assassination the temple is displeased and he soon starts to hear rumors about a possible warrant for his death. Because of this Malcolm moves to Florida temporally where he stays with a boxer names Cassius Clay who will take the name Muhammad Ali after his victory.
Malcolm forms his own religious group called the Muslim Mosque in Harlem and plans to make a trip to Mecca. Because Malcolm no longer has a job, Ella is willing to pay for his trip. Malcolm arrives in Cairo but there his passport is confiscated until it can be proven that he is indeed a Muslim. Omar Azzam, the friend of an influential Muslim helps him and Malcolm is able to continue his trip to Mecca where he is impressed to see everyone living in harmony. Malcolm changes his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and he continues his trip, going from Mecca to Lebanon, Liberia, Morocco and Senegal before returning to New York.
During his travels, black began to riot and the press implied that Malcolm may be the one responsible. Malcolm continues to travel and he also expresses his fears that he will suffer a violent death and that he will not be able to see the autobiography finished, this being also the last chapter narrated by Malcolm.
The last chapter in the autobiography is the epilogue told from Alex Haley’s point of view and he recalls how he gained Malcolm’s and Elijah’s trust that eventually led to the writing of the autobiography. He also describes the death threats Malcolm received in his last days and ended with his assassination. The autobiography ends with the sheikh’s words that were present at Malcolm’s funeral, hinting that Malcolm was accepted into heaven.
Shout out to Nicola Francisc and gradesaver.com for doing this written summary
To buy the book, click the link in the image below to purchase from Book Depository
Belief is the acceptance that something is true to us even though it may not be. I want to make it clear that the belief I want to explore is self-belief, not belief in religion. Believing in yourself and your dreams requires work. First, we practice daily faith then over time, our faith will turn into a belief that we can and will succeed in realizing our dreams. During the course of our lives we pick up unconscious negative beliefs from our environment, culture, TV, friends and even family. On your journey to success in manifesting your dreams, you will start rewiring new beliefs over the old ones. You will replace your old negative beliefs and install new positive beliefs into your mind through repetition and affirmation.
The first major belief we need to install is that the majority of people on this planet are well intent and good, not ill-intent and bad. I myself wasted many years with this wrong belief that the world was negative. It can sometimes seem like that, but what I discovered was that I was negative and so I was looking at the world through a lens of negativity. Once I changed my belief, to reflect that the majority of people are well intent, good and want nothing but peace, my world view changed purely by my new belief. Beliefs are the filter of our reality. If we change our beliefs, we change our reality.
BELIEVE IN YOUR DREAMS
A major part of the population goes through life with the weight of dead dreams never actualized in reality because they gave up on their belief that their dreams weren’t possible. They once had a thought that turned into a dream and they silently carried around with them in their head, never uttering their dream to another soul. Then one day they spoke of their dream to another unwitting soul, who listened unattentively and mutter back “That seems quite difficult, what about this and what about that.” And that person that spoke of their dream to another thought, “his right, this is difficult, I didn’t think about this or that,” “I can’t do this, what was I thinking” and never thought of that dream again, and continued a life unfulfilled. Can you relate to this story? Can you see that the dreamer accepted someone else’s belief about their dream and not their own? You must stand guard to the opinions of people and society and have unwavering belief in yourself and your dreams 100%.
GROW YOUR BELIEF THROUGH ACTION
Take the seed of a mighty oak tree. Place it in soil and everyday speak motivating words to it to grow and prosper. Continue this for a month 28 days without water and fertilizer. And abracadabra you end up with a dead seed and no tree. Instead, take the seed (thought), implant in the fertile soil (mind) and this time water the seed daily (take daily action) say, 5 to 10 years. And abracadabra you have an oak tree. An oak tree takes about 50 years to produce acorns and over the next hundred years, the young tree matures into a majestic adult. Things of importance in life don’t happen overnight, they take time to mature and grow, just like a baby takes decades to become an adult. Your belief’s grow and come alive through action, action, action. They die and wither away through inaction. The difference in growth and death is action vs inaction. Grow your belief through action.
QUOTES ON BELIEF
- A thought becomes a belief when you’ve worked on it reportedly, not when you simply try it once and use your initial inability as the rationale for giving up. (Wayne Dyer)
- Always remember, believing is seeing, not the other way around. (Bob Proctor)
- Ambition is, believing in yourself when no one else does. (Unknown)
- As you believe, so shall it be done unto you. (Earl Nightingale)
- Belief is any guiding principle, dictum, faith or passion that can provide meaning and direction in life. Beliefs are prearranged filters to our perceptions of the world. (Anthony Robbins)
- Belief is the motivating force that enables you to achieve your goal. (Claude M. Bristol)
- Belief is the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life. (David Schwartz)
- Belief itself has amazing powers. (Claude M. Bristol)
- Beliefs are picked up by the subconscious mind, and translated into its physical (Napoleon Hill)
- Beliefs are what makes us different. (Ben Stein)
- Believe big. The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief. Think little goals and expect little achievements. Think big goals and win big success. Big ideas and big plans are often easier-certainly no more difficult-than small ideas and small plans. (David Schwartz)
- Believe in yourself, there isn’t a skill you can’t learn, there isn’t a discipline you can’t try, there isn’t a class you couldn’t take, there isn’t a book you couldn’t read. (Jim Rohn)
- Believe it is possible to solve your problem. Tremendous things happen to the believer. So believe the answer will come, it will. (Norman Vincent Peale)
- Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. (William James)
- Believe that what you imagine is possible for you. Go to work and make it real. (Jim Rohn)
- Believing it can be done becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Anthony Robbins)
- Choose beliefs that serve your soul, choose beliefs that serve the grander dream of who you choose to be. (Joy Page)
- Cultivated trust becomes belief. (Osho)
- Dehypnotize yourself from false beliefs. (Maxwell Matlz)
- Develop an unshakeable belief in your ability to overcome all obstacles and reach some great height. (Brian Tracy)
- Environment may be the single most potent generator of belief, but it’s not the only one. (Anthony Robbins)
- Have the simple belief that “you can do it.” (Richard Branson)
- He does not believe that does not live according to his belief. (Sigmund Freud)
- I suspend my belief in opposites by seeing myself in all. (Wayne Dyer)
- If you believe it strongly enough, it becomes your reality. (Brian Tracy)
- If you believe that you can do a thing, or if you believe you cannot, in either case, you are right. (Henry Ford)
- If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won’t, you most assuredly won’t. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad. (Denis Waitley)
- If you believe, you will keep coming back until you succeed. (Anthony Robbins)
- If you change your beliefs in any area of your life, you begin immediately to change in that area. Your expectations, your attitudes, your behavior and your results all change. (Brian Tracy)
- If you develop the absolute sense of certainty that powerful beliefs provide, than you can get yourself to accomplish virtually anything, including those things that other people are certain are impossible. (William Phelps)
- If you don’t have solid beliefs you cannot build a stable life. Beliefs are like the foundation of a building, and they are the foundation to build your life upon. (Alfred A. Montapert)
- It is what you believe in that will determine the course of your life, what happens to you and your ultimate destiny. (Earl Nightingale)
- It takes a lot more energy to fail than to succeed, since it takes a lot of concentrated energy to hold on to beliefs that don’t work. (Jerry Gillies)
- Labels that are accepted and dwelt upon become believed. (Tom Hopkins)
- Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later the man who wins is the man who believes he can. (Napoleon Hill)
- Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
- Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning. (Mahatma Gandhi)
- Most of our beliefs are generalizations about our past, based on our interpretations of painful and pleasurable experiences. (Anthony Robbins)
- Most of the sustained and continuing manifestations come as a result of belief. It is through this belief with its strange power that miracles happen. I refer now to deep-seated belief a firm and positive conviction that goes through every fiber of your being – when you believe it “heart and soul.” (Claude M. Bristol)
- Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance. (Bruce Barton)
- Once accepted, our beliefs become unquestioned commands to our nervous system, and they have the power to expand or destroy the possibilities of our present and future. (Anthony Robbins)
- One comes to believe whatsoever one repeats to one’s self whether the statement be true or false. (Napoleon Hill)
- One must marry one’s feelings to one’s beliefs and ideas. That is probably the only way to achieve a measure of harmony in one’s life. (Napoleon Hill)
- One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interest. (John Stuart Mill)
- Our beliefs affect our biology. The irrefutable scientific fact that stress causes disease, that positive emotions such as love and compassion cause a feeling of well-being and promote good health, are evidence that what we believe is directly connected to our physical state. It is also the foundation of what we think and do. (Bruce Lipton)
- Pain is the ultimate tool for shifting a belief. (Anthony Robbins)
- People who succeed are people who believe they can succeed. Success, until it has been won, is a mental thing. A man has only his mental picture and his belief, until he has achieved his goal. Belief in himself is one of man’s most difficult accomplishments. (Earl Nightingale)
- Perhaps the biggest mental roadblocks that you will ever have to overcome are those contained in your self-limiting beliefs. These are beliefs you have that limit you in some way. They hold you back by stopping you from even trying. (Brian Tracy)
- Personal breakthroughs begin with a change in beliefs. (Anthony Robbins)
- Personal experiences causes one’s beliefs to evolve into one’s knowledge. (Unknown)
- Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality. (Les Brown)
- The force of belief cannot really work in our favor until the belief becomes literally part of us, settled in the subconscious mind as a fact. (Claude M. Bristol)
- The law of belief says that your beliefs determine your reality because you always see the world through a screen of prejudices formed by your belief structure. (Brian Tracy)
- The more we believe we can accomplish something, the more we’re usually willing to invest in its achievement. (Anthony Robbins)
- The more you believe in yourself, the greater will be your achievements. (Claude M. Bristol)
- The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs. (James Allen)
- The strongest factor for success is self-esteem; believing you can do, believing you deserve it, believing you will get it. (Bob Proctor)
- The word “belief” is a difficult thing for me. I don’t believe. I must have a reason for a certain hypothesis. Either I know a thing and then I know it. I don’t need to believe it (Carl Jung)
- The writer had at some point decided to believe that he was among the best, and so he acted and performed accordingly. (David Schwartz)
- There is a difference between wishing for a thing and being ready to receive it. No one is ready for a thing, until he believes he can acquire it. The state of mind must be belief, not mere hope or wish. Open-mindedness is essential for belief. Closed minds do not inspire faith, courage, and belief. (Napoleon Hill)
- To believe in the things you can see and touch is no belief at all; but to believe in the unseen is a triumph and a blessing. (Abraham Lincoln)
- Under all that we think, lives all we believe, like the ultimate veil of our spirits. (Antonio Machado)
- We do not achieve deeply felt goals by action alone, but are helped along depending on the quality and intensity of our belief that they will be achieved. (Claude M. Bristol)
- What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. (Napoleon Hill)
- What you believe about yourself, the world will believe about you. (Sun Tzu)
- What you believe is what will happen to you. For belief is faith, and faith is still the greatest power on earth. (Earl Nightingale)
- You always act in a manner consistent with your self-concept, consistent with the bundle of beliefs that you have acquired from infancy onward. (Brian Tracy)
- You do not necessarily believe what you see but you see what you believe. (Brian Tracy)
- Your belief determines your action and your action determines your results, but first you have to believe. (Mark Victor Hansen)
- Your beliefs give you a form of tunnel vision. They edit out or cause you to ignore incoming information that is inconsistent with what you have decided to believe. (Brian Tracy)
That’s a wrap on
50 Words to Your Dreams
Chapter 14: Belief
Let me know your thoughts on Chapter 14
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Stay tuned for Chapter 15 in the series “ATTITUDE”
Brian Tracey says that if you are completely fluent in closing and absolutely confident in your ability to ask for the order you will be more aggressive in prospecting in the first place and have higher self esteem.
Because you know you can do what it takes to close the sale, you will feel like a winner most of the times.
This self confidence will even affect your prospects, making them in turn even more likely to buy from you.
Brian Tracey says that your personality constitute 80% of your success.
He says that top sales people have high level of self confidence and self esteem. Self confidence is the natural growth of liking and respecting yourself.
I liked how The Art of Closing The Sale stresses that mental fitness is like physical fitness. It requires a good mental diet and practice. And once you develop it, it will go beyond sales because how you feel about yourself is the single most determinant of the success of all of your relationships.
It’s a simple rule: like and care about yourself, and you will like and care about others.
You’re Self Employed
If you have been reading Brian Tracey you are likely to have heard this one before because it’s a big mantra for him. He says that no matter where you are employed, you should always consider yourself as self employed.
You are the president of your own company!
He says that top salespeople accept 100% responsibility for everything they do.
And the top 3% of people in every organization look at themselves as self employed. Not in the sense that they don’t belong to the company, but the opposite: they treat the company as if it belonged to them. And they took everything which happened to the company as if it happened to them.
Ambition And Empathy
Brian Tracey also restates that EQ more important than IQ.
A person with empathy will try to put himself in the shoes of the other person to see what he feels. And the author emphatically adds “if you can see John through John’s eyes you can sell John what John wants to buy”.
Empathy requires a long term thinking, and Brian Tracey says that a balance between ambition and empathy is what you should strive for. Too ambition and you’re too focused on the short term, don’t care about the customers and they will sense that. On the other hand if a salesperson is too empathetic he will not be assertive enough to ask for the close.
Believe In: You, Your Company, Your Product
Here’s another high impact, simple rule Brian Tracey brings to the table: your customer can never believe in your product anymore than you do.
There’s a relation between how much you believe in your product and your capability to convince your customer to believe in it.
When you get into business you will make a living. But when the business gets into you, you will make a great life.
What You Did Good, What Can You Do Different
Brian Tracey suggests to note down immediately after each sales call / meeting what you did good and what you can do different.
Notice that it’s “what can you do different” and not “what you did wrong”. By focusing on the positives and on what you can do different you program into your subconscious mind the best behaviour -like having a totally new interaction- and they’ll be ready at your disposal on the next call.
100 Calls Warm Up Period Program
The author recommends that for every new job / task or product you start, you should make an effort to have 100 calls and face to face interactions as soon as possible.
The focus of these calls is not necessarily to sell, but to get face to face time with prospects and tell them about your product or services.
And without focusing on sales it’s even possible you will make sales more easily.
In any case, the 100 calls warm up period will teach you much more than most people will learn in years (questions, customers feedback, customer issues etc etc).
And in the next two years you’ll find yourself doing sales to those 100 people you had calls with as it was easier to build a friendly vibe since you were not actively selling and didn’t put them under any pressure.
Sales Key Result Areas :
The Art of Closing The Sale goes into the major skills needed for selling. Any weakness in one of these areas will hold you back. And if you keep improving in each one of them, you’ll quickly get to the top.
- Establishing trust and rapport
- Identify customers’ problems and needs
- Present your product as the ideal solution
- Answering objections and concerns
- Getting agreement to proceed
- Obtain resales and referrals
Brian Tracey says that your goal is to make the closing as smooth as possible for the customer.
It should be quick and your whole presentation should be structured with the close in mind.
Top sales people know what they’re gonna say word for word and rehearse. Poor sales people wing it and sweat as they say whatever comes to their mind and hope.
6 major requirements to close
- Positive, enthusiastic and eager to close the sales : emotions are contagious
- prospect requirements must be clear to you -as a result of asking questions –
- the prospect must understand your product and its value for him
- prospect must believe and trust you (and have faith your company will deliver)
- the prospect must desire and want what you’re selling
- product must be suited for your customer
Close at the right time (avoid high pressure)
Make sure the prospect :
- Wants it
- Need it
- Can afford it
- Be able to use it and get full value out of it
Signals the closing time has come
These are some signals that your prospect is ready to move:
- Talking faster, becoming more upbeat and cheerful (from thoughtful and critical)
- Sudden friendliness – relax and maybe ask a personal question (answer warmly and close question)
- Chin rubbing – he’s probably thinking how to use your product. Stop talking, and when he comes up, ask a closing question
- Price, terms and delivery questions. Ask another question and you’ve made the sale
Him: How much does it cost ; You: how soon do you need it
Him: How soon can I get this ; You: how many do you want
- Any changes in attitude, posture or voice
Brian Tracey says you should be able to master at least 10 different closing techniques to be used depending on the person and the situation and the kind of objections you get.
Try them out multiple times and practice them more than once until you perfect them.
And you’re on your way to excellence.
You agree on the minor details so the customer implicitly decides on the major one. You help through the moment of indecision.
For example: would you prefer this in blue or green / would you prefer it on 60 or 90 days / would you like it delivered or would you like to take it with you today
You can ask “test closes questions” like “does this make sense to you” and if they say yes, assume they said yes to the sales and say “then the next step is this”.
It allows you to keep control of the interaction: the customer either goes along or raises another objection that you can address.
Selling past the sales
You begin talking about the joy of using the product and what will happen with it.
Tell (happy / sad) stories
Tell a happy story of a customer using your product. Or the sad story of a customer NOT using your product.
You can start with “BTW, this reminds me of Susan Smith, one of our customers.. “ . Once you talk about happy customers, you trigger an unconscious desire by customers.
If the customer is walking away saying he wants to shop around, tell him most people did that before coming back and shopping from you.
You can tell him: You can go out but why don’t you save that time and make a decision now. We can wrap up the deal right now and you’ll spare yourself all that researching time and happily go on with your life.
If he still insists he wants to go:
Only today close
It’s the last day of sales contest so you can make a discount.
This is only to be done AT THE END of the selling. Save it until the last moment.
Always ask for a referral.
One way is to visit each year customers of yours to make sure they are happy and then asking for a referral.
It was an impressive statement in The Art of Closing The Sale that made me think: most people work only a couple hours a day making the first phone call at 11 and the last at 3.
Sometimes it’s true indeed.
Brian Tracey says that if you think of your goals on a yearly basis like most people do it’s easy to waste time like that. The solution? You should instead think about your income goals in terms of hours.
And if you’re doing sales then prospecting, presenting and closing are the only 3 activities that pay you money. All the rest is waste.
Shout out to thepowermoves.com for doing this written summary
To buy the book, click the link in the image below to purchase from Book Depository
Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
The Book in Three Sentences
Human history has been shaped by three major revolutions: the Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), the Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago), and the Scientific Revolution (500 years ago).
These revolutions have empowered humans to do something no other form of life has done, which is to create and connect around ideas that do not physically exist (think religion, capitalism, and politics).
These shared “myths” have enabled humans to take over the globe and have put humankind on the verge of overcoming the forces of natural selection.
- Human cultures began to take shape about 70,000 years ago.
- There have been three major revolutions in human history: the cognitive revolution, the agricultural revolution, and the scientific revolution.
- Prehistoric humans (2 million years old or so) were no more important and impressive than other mammals.
- Homo Sapiens means “wise man.”
- Humans first evolved in Africa about 2.5 million years ago.
- The author believes it is unlikely Homo sapiens will survive for another 1,000 years.
- From about 2 million years ago until 10,000 years ago, multiple human species roamed the earth together. The depiction of man evolving from hunched over to upright incorrectly displays human evolution as a linear trajectory. In fact, the species lived simultaneously.
- Humans have huge brains for their body size.
- Human brains account for 2-3 percent of body size, but use 25 percent of energy.
- Human kind was very much in the middle of the food chain until 400,000 years ago and didn’t leap to the top of the food chain until 100,000 years ago.
- Most animals at the top of the food chain made it there gradually over millions of years. Humans, however, jumped to the top relatively rapidly. This means that the rest of the food chain wasn’t ready and neither were we. Hence we feel anxious and stressed because we aren’t used to being at the top.
- The advent of fire and cooking food may have opened the way for the evolution of a smaller intestinal track and a larger brain.
- There are two theories of how Homo sapiens evolved: Interbreeding theory and Replacement theory. The reality is probably a combination of both theories.
- Perhaps this is why Homo sapiens wiped out the Neanderthals: “They were too familiar to ignore, but too different to tolerate.”
- The last dwarf species of humans died out 12,000 years ago.
- Homo sapiens conquered the world because of its unique language.
- The Cognitive Revolution occurred between 70,000 to 30,000 years ago. It allowed Homo sapiens to communicate at a level never seen before in language.
- As far as we know, only Homo sapiens can talk about things we have never seen, touched, or smelled. Think religions, myths, legends, and fantasies.
- The telling of myths and stories allow Homo sapiens to collaborate in large numbers in extremely flexible ways.
- This separates us from all other animals.
- Chimps can’t form groups of more than 50 or so. For humans, the group size is usually 150 or so. Beyond that, you can’t rely on gossip and personal communication. You need something more to get large numbers of people working together.
- Large numbers of people can collaborate by sharing common myths and beliefs.
- In academic circles, stories are known as fictions, social constructs, or imagined realities.
- An imagined reality is not a lie because the entire group believes it.
- Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, humans have been living in a dual reality: the physical reality and the imagined reality.
- The way people cooperate can be changed by changing the stories as myths we tell.
- Because Homo sapiens shared myths were not genetically based, they could adapt and change their behavior as soon as they adapted their new belief. They didn’t have to wait millions of years for a genetic change.
- Homo sapiens are the only animals that conduct trade.
As far as we know, the humans of 30,000 years ago had the same physical, emotional, and intellectual capabilities that we have today.
- Evolutionary psychology claims that most of our psychology was developed during the period before the
- Agricultural Revolution about 10,000 years ago.
- The instinct to gorge on high calorie food is wired into our DNA.
- Ever since the Agricultural Revolution, there hasn’t been one predominant way of life for all humans. There have only been options from a variety of cultures.
- The dog was the first animal domesticated by humans around 15,000 years ago.
- In ancient human groups (over 10,000 years ago) there was very little privacy, but also very little loneliness.
- Most of our ancient ancestors had much wider and deeper knowledge of their physical surroundings than we do. They were not unintelligent at all.
- The human collective today knows far more overall than the whole population of 15,000 years ago. However, at the individual level we are much more specialized today. Ancient foragers were the most knowledgable and skillful people in history.
- It is far easier to pass “unremarkable” genes along today than it was 10,000 years ago.
- Our lack of knowledge about prehistoric religions and beliefs is one of the biggest holes in our understanding of human history.
- Humans traveling across the sea and landing in Australia was one of the most important expeditions in history.
- It marked the moment humans cemented themselves at the top of the food chain.
- Homo sapiens first made it to America about 16,000 years ago.
- The settling of America – across the Siberian peninsula through Alaska into Canada and the United States down through Mexico and Central America into the Andes and the Amazon and all the way to the tip of South America – was one of the most rapid and incredible invasions by a single species the world had ever seen.
- Incredibly, the Agricultural Revolution sprang up independently in many different parts of the world.
- There is no evidence modern humans have become more intelligent with time.
The Agricultural Revolution actually didn’t make the life of the average human better at first. It did, however, allow humans to collect more food per unit area and thus the overall population multiplied exponentially.
- Fascinatingly, the first few thousand years of the Agricultural Revolution actually made life harder for humans by creating more work, less leisure, and a ballooning population that created more mouths to feed. Each individual generation didn’t see how their life was becoming worse because the small changes were so tiny.
- One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people begin to enjoy new luxuries they tend to become expected and then count on them.
- The evolutionary success of the Agricultural Revolution (greater population) was actually cause for much suffering on the individual level. Not just for humans, but for domesticated animals like cows, sheep, and chickens as well.
- The advent of the Agricultural Revolution marked the time when worries of the future became prevalent: the weather, the crop yield this year, etc.
- The myths that surround us and make up our lives dictate so much of what we believe and what we do.
- Like the ancient Egyptians, most people dedicate their lives to building pyramids. It’s just that the names, shapes, and sizes of the pyramids change from one culture to another.
- In order to change the imagined order, you must first find a group that believes in a current imagined order.
- New myths must build upon or evolve from previous myths.
- The main purpose of writing is to record numbers, which our brains did not evolve to manage well. Our brains are much better at remembering biological, zoological, and social information.
- There is an ancient writing system used by the Incas known as a quipu. They are not written words at all, but a series of knots of different colors and strings that represent words and numbers.
- Writing has actually changed the way humans think. We can use writing and record keeping to think far more categorically than ever before.
- Numbers are the world’s most prevalent language.
- Social hierarchies, inequality, and so on are human inventions.
- Most rich people are rich because they were born into rich families. Most poor people are poor because they were born into poor families.
- Unjust discrimination often gets worse, not better, with time.
- As of 2006, there were still 53 countries where a husband could not be legally prosecuted for raping his wife.
- When it comes to gender inequality: biology enables, culture forbids. The idea of “unnatural” behaviors is actually a result of Christian theology, not biology.
- If it is possible biologically, then it is natural. From a scientific perspective, two men having sex is natural.
- Traveling at the speed of light is not natural.
- Why are men valued in many cultures more than women?
- All human cultures are filled with inconsistencies. For example, America currently values individual freedom and equality. But these two ideals don’t always play nicely. It is part of the human experience to reconcile them.
- These inconsistencies aren’t necessarily bad. They force us to think critically. Consistency is the playground of dull minds.
- History is moving relentlessly toward unity. The whole planet is moving toward one world culture.
- The creation of money was purely an intellectual revolution. It doesn’t exist except in our minds.
- More than 90 percent of all money is just electronic data, not physical money.
- Everyone always wants money precisely because everyone else always wants money.
- Empires have been the world’s most common form of political organization for the last 2,500 years.
- In general, empires do not fall because of uprisings. They almost always succumb to outside invasion or splits from within the empower class.
- Most of what we firmly believe is part of “our culture” was actually forced upon us by other empires who conquered our ancestors.
- Despite the obvious negatives of empires taking over a culture, there are many benefits too. Art, music, governance, and more are the result of empires forming. Often, they blended new together with the conquered people to create a new culture.
- It seems obvious that we are moving fast toward a singe global empire. Global markets, global warming, and commonly accepted concepts like human rights make it clear we all need one collective entity, not man states and countries.
- Religion is the third great unifier of humankind, alongside money and empires.
- The Agricultural Revolution was accompanied by a Religious Revolution.
- Interestingly, polytheism is more open and accepting of multiple beliefs even though we often look at it as more barbarian and uneducated than our current beliefs.
- Monotheism seems to push away polytheism, but actually is very similar to polytheistic gods with the use of patron saints. Praying to the patron saints of farmers isn’t much different than praying to the god of rain.
- The central tension with monotheism is how to deal with the fact that there is evil in the world while the omnipotent God is believed to be good and caring. If God is good why would he allow evil things to happen?
- Even the rich and famous are rarely satisfied.
- According to Buddhist tradition: the mind naturally craves more in all situations. And all suffering arrives from craving.
- There are a variety of “natural law religions” that are popular today like communism, capitalism, and liberalism.
- Over the last 200 years, science has increasingly revealed that human behavior is determined by hormones, genes, and neurological synapses. If this is true, then for how much longer will we ignore that biology does not agree with the concept of free will?
- To describe how something happened means to reconstruct the series of specific events that led from one point to another.
- To describe why something happened means to find causal connections that led to this particular series of events to the exclusion of all others.
- The deeper your knowledge of a particular area of history, the harder it becomes to explain why one particular outcome occurred and not another.
- It is an inevitable rule of history that what seems obvious in hindsight is impossible to predict beforehand.
- The are level one and level two Chaotic Systems. Level one does not respond to predictions about it, like the weather and weather forecasts. Level two does respond to predictions about it, like the stock market and analyst reports about rising oil prices.
- There is no proof that history is working for the benefit of humans or that human well being increases overtime. It’s good for the victors, but is it good for us all?
- The Scientific Revolution started in Europe around 500 years ago. The last 500 years have witnessed an unprecedented growth of human impact.
- One difference between religion and science is that science assumes humankind does not know the answers to many of life’s biggest questions. Religion, however, assumes that the important stuff is already known. Science assumes human ignorance.
- Modern culture has been able to admit ignorance more than any previous culture.
- Previous cultures and belief systems compiled their theories using stories. Science compiles its theories using mathematics.
- The story of how Scottish Widows was founded is an awesome example of the power of probability.
- Scientists generally agree that no theory is 100 percent correct. Thus, the real test of knowledge is not truth, but utility. Science gives us power. The more useful that power, the better the science.
- The military arms race drives science forward in rapid fashion. The truth is war prompts many scientific discoveries.
- In the past, the best minds of the day worked on finding ways to give meaning to death. Today, our best minds work on preventing death through biological, hormonal, and genetic means. Science does not take death as an inevitability.
- The economic, religious, and political interests that impact the flow of money into scientific and technological research have a huge impact on the output of science.
- It is not enough to consider science in a vacuum. Economic and capitalistic interests, for example, determine what we research and what to do with the research findings.
- Why did Europeans discover and conquer the Americas? Why not the Chinese or those from India or the Middle East who possessed just as much knowledge and technology as the Europeans? The European ideology to explore the world was the primary difference.
- For most of human history, per capita production remained the same. Since the launch of capitalism, however, per capita production has skyrocketed.
- Modern capitalism has exploded the growth of humankind thanks to the creation of credit, which allows you to borrow money now because we collectively trust that the future will be better than the present.
- Adam Smith’s brilliant insight about capitalism in The Wealth of Nations was that increasing private profits is the basis for increasing collective wealth and prosperity. In other words, by becoming richer you benefit everyone, not just yourself. Both parties get a bigger slice of pie. (Note: this only works if profits get reinvested, not hoarded.)
- For capitalism to work, profits must be reinvested in new production.
- The “religion” of capitalism says economic growth is the supreme because justice, freedom, and happiness requires economic growth.
- All credit is based on the idea that science and technology will advance. Scientists ultimately foot the bill of capitalism.
- The annual sugar intake of the average Englishman rose from nearly zero in the early 17th century to 18 pounds in the early 19th century.
- The life expectancy, child mortality, and calorie intake are significantly improved for the average person in 2014 compared to 1914, despite exponential population growth.
- Until the industrial revolution, human behavior was largely dictated by solar energy and plant growth. Day and night. Summer and winter. Everything was determined by man power and animal power, which were determined by food, which is determined by photosynthesis.
- “This is the basic lesson of evolutionary psychology: a need shaped in the wild continues to be felt subjectively even if it is no longer really necessary for survival and reproduction.”
- Harlow’s infant monkey studies from the 1950s (and a variety of follow up studies) have shown that animals have strong psychological needs as well as purgative physical needs. Note to self: never disregard your psychological needs.
- Each year the United States population spends more money on diets than the amount needed to feed all the hungry in the rest of the world.
- Most people don’t realize just how peaceful of the times are we live in.
- In recent years, more people die from suicide each year than from war and violent crime. The same can be said for car accidents.
- Live a safe community, drive as little as possible, and love yourself. Violent local crime, car accidents, and suicide are some of the biggest killers of humans.
- War is at an all time low because the costs of war have increased because of nuclear weapons, the benefits of war have decreased because physical resources drive less of the economy and international trade is more lucrative than conquest, and the tightening of international connections because a worldwide culture is less likely to battle itself.
- Our view of the past is heavily influenced by recent events.
- Researchers have investigated nearly all aspects of history, but have rarely have asked whether historical changes have made humans happier.
- Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
- If happiness is based on pleasurable feelings, then increasing our happiness is a matter of increases biochemical release. If happiness is based on meaning, then increasing our happiness is a matter of deluding ourselves about the meaning of our lives.
- One uncommonly cited benefit of religion: belief in the afterlife gives meaning to your life in the present.
- Buddhism has studied happiness for over 2,000 years. Interestingly, Buddhism shares many viewpoints on happiness with science. Most notably, that happiness results from processes within the body and not from the outside world.
- The Buddhist philosophy of happiness centers around the idea that you are not the events that happen to you, but you are also not the feelings you have. You are not your feelings. They are just feelings. Thus, if you understand this, you can release the needs to keep chasing the need to feel happy or to not feel angry or to not feel sad. In other words, you have to understand yourself.
- For close to 4 billion years, every organism developed according to evolution. But in recent decades, humans have begun to evolve according to intelligent design. In other words, there are people who would have been selected out of the gene pool millennia ago, but not today.
- Genetic engineering is allowing humans to break the laws of natural selection.
- The next stage of human history will not only involve biological and technological changes, but also changes in human consciousness and identity. Changes that are this fundamental will call the very term “human” into question.
- Many people think the question we should ask to guide our scientific pursuits is, “What do we want to become?” However, because we seem to be on the path to genetically engineering and programming nearly every facets of our wants, desires, and consciousness, the real question we should ask is, “What do we want to want?”
- In the past 1000 years, humans have evolved to take over the world and are on the verge of overcoming natural selection and becoming gods. Yet, we still seem unhappy in many ways and we are unsure of what we want. Is there anything more dangerous that dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?
Shout out to jamesclear.com for doing this written summary
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Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz : Book Summary
”The science of Cybernetics does not tell us that “man” is a machine but that man has and uses a machine. Moreover, it tells us how that machine functions and how it can be used.”
”Creative striving for a goal that is important to you as a result of your own deep-felt needs, aspirations and talents (and not symbols which the “Joneses” expect you to display) brings happiness as well as success because you will be functioning as you were meant to function. Man is by nature a goal-striving being. And because man is “built that way” he is not happy unless he is functioning as he was made to function – as a goal-striver. Thus true success and true happiness not only go together but each enhances the other.”
”Whatever your definition of happiness may be, you will experience happiness only as you experience more life. More living means among other things more accomplishment, the attainment of worthwhile goals, more love experienced and given, more health and enjoyment, more happiness for both yourself and others.”
THE BIG IDEAS
- Experience Is Important
“Human beings always act and feel and perform in accordance with what they imagine to be true about themselves and their environment.”
Dr. Maltz begins with a preface describing a bit of the background behind his book. As a plastic surgeon, he saw example after example of patients who would have their outward appearance transformed (via plastic surgery), but wouldn’t end up any happier as a result of having had their surgeries. In short: their outward appearance would change, but their internal feelings and attitudes would remain the same.
In his investigations he discovered cybernetics—the actions and requirements of machines in accomplishing tasks. This field of cybernetics was then applied to people, resulting in an application of how people achieve success, or failure.
People’s experiences are similar to a machine’s programming. Both lead to certain outcomes, and both can be changed. As the field of psychology developed, it became clear that even in a controlled laboratory, people could use experiences “imagined vividly and in detail” to change outcomes.
The book Psycho Cybernetics was written to be experienced. Each chapter should be read actively, making notes about the points that appeal to you, and creating your own summaries and analysis. There are practice exercises to complete throughout the book. As you take action, remember this point; “It usually requires a minimum of about 21 days to effect any perceptible change in a mental image.” So keep practicing the exercises, and working through the knowledge you’re gaining.
- You Can Change Your Self-Image And Success Mechanism
“Whether we realize it or not, each of us carries about with us a mental blueprint or picture of ourselves…It has been built up from our own beliefs about ourselves. But most of these beliefs about ourselves have unconsciously been formed from our past experiences, our success and failures, our humiliations, our triumphs, and the way other people have reacted to us, especially in early childhood.”
Although you are not conscious of it, your self-image has developed as a result of your past experiences. You tend to believe this self-image, and live your life based on this belief of yourself. This explains how some people seem to always be successful, and others constantly fail. Their subsequent experiences will support the self-image they have of themselves.
Many people’s attempts at changing their self-image are external—as witnessed by Dr. Maltz in his plastic surgery practice. Some have tried positive thinking about the future, without actually addressing their beliefs about their self-image. This is where Dr. Maltz discovered the great potential for change—in directing activity at your self-image. He discovered that true happiness and satisfaction in life comes from “an adequate and realistic self-image that you can live with.”
The secret, Maltz tells us, is this: “To really live, that is to find life reasonably satisfying, you must have an adequate and realistic self-image that you can live with. You must find your self acceptable to you.”
Dr. Maltz sees the subconscious as a mechanism that the mind controls. He calls this our Creative Mechanism. It will function based on the goals it is given. These goals are based on your self-image. This self-image dictates the limits of your accomplishments—what you believe you can do. The Creative Mechanism uses past memories as structure for solving current problems.
Within all of us is also a Success Mechanism. This is the structure and function designed for any “activity which is intimately tied in to [your] “living” or makes for a fuller life.”
There are many ways that your brain and nervous system operate as a machine. Although Dr. Maltz is clear in that you are NOT a machine, he makes numerous analyses that show how the brain and nervous system are machine-like in their operation. He calls these “servo-mechanisms”. The field of Psycho Cybernetics seeks to understand how the brain works in these machine/mind terms.
In addition to your brain’s amazing capabilities, there is support to the concept that your brain can access subconscious knowledge outside of its own experiences. This access to universal knowledge is acquired through analysis, contemplation, and striving for answers. “Science has now confirmed what philosophers, mystics, and other intuitive people have long declared: every human being has been literally “engineered for success” by his Creator. Every human being has access to a power greater than himself.”
The first practical applications involve internalizing the following five concepts:
- Your success mechanism must have a goal or target that you believe already exists (it can exist in actuality, or in potential).
- Your mechanism focuses on the END, NOT the MEANS. When you supply the goal, your mechanism finds a way.
- Making mistakes helps to direct you toward your goal. It provides an autocorrect that helps you redirect towards your goal.
- You gain skill by redirecting your errors until you are heading in the right direction. Then, you must FORGET the past (the errors), and focus on the final successful choice that led you in the right direction.
- Trust in the process without worrying about it or trying to adjust it. “You must “let it” work, rather than “make it” work.” Your success comes as you act, and the proof of your success follows, so you can’t look for success before actions.
- The Importance Of Imagination
“For imagination sets the goal “picture” which our automatic mechanism works on. We act or fail to act, not because of “will,” as is so commonly believed, but because of imagination.”
Your thoughts and actions are based on what you imagine as truth. Hypnosis is an excellent example of this in action. “Your nervous system reacts appropriately to what “you” think or imagine to be true.”
You often react automatically to your environment. Seeing a bear will make you feel fear and run. It’s not something you need to think about first. You automatically react to the environment based on what your nervous system tells you, regardless of whether this information is true or not. It is what you believe to be true that causes the reaction. Numerous studies have shown that mental practice improves actual performance. The key is to practice the correct mental image of the actual action.
Remember that “your physical brain and body functions as a machine which “YOU” operate.” When you practice something in your mind, you are establishing the goal to aim for. This activity is far more successful than employing will power, or ‘trying harder’. You are able to relax, picture the process, and enjoy the journey.
You can also use this method to develop an excellent self-image. Seeing yourself differently will lead to acting differently, and improving yourself. Some have called this self-image “the strongest force within you.” Although this is only achieved when you create an honest picture of yourself (not arrogant or egotistic), many people underrate themselves, so seek the best in yourself, and aim high!
You’ve already build a self-image based on past experiences. “Now you are to use the same method to build an adequate self-image that you previously used to build an inadequate one.” Use 30 minutes a day to relax, close your eyes, and imagine you are watching a movie of you. Get detailed. This is your mental practice for life. View positive interactions, opportunities, responses and dreams. Don’t worry if you don’t believe it—that will come. Think about how each of your senses will experience what you are imagining. Imagine positive feelings that you will experience. And remember that it may take you at least 21 days of practicing this before you notice changes. Practice will lead to new, automatic responses based on the self-image you are developing.
When you are successfully hypnotized, it is because you believe what the hypnotist is saying. In this sense, you have been hypnotized throughout your life. You believe what someone has said to you or about you, and this belief has led to certain actions. Perhaps you’ve been told you are dumb, ugly, or bad at math. You have accepted these statements and then felt obligated to act them out in order to ‘be yourself’.
The reverse of being hypnotized into negative beliefs is also possible. People have been hypnotized and behaved far beyond what their conscious restrictions would allow them. In a sense they were dehypnotized so that they could achieve what they were truly capable of. As Maltz tells us: “Within you right now is the power to do things you never dreamed possible.”
Inferiority comes when we measure ourselves against someone else’s ‘normal’ rather than our own. We believe we should be what they are, and determine that we are unworthy… NOT true. “We have allowed ourselves to be hypnotized by the entirely erroneous idea that “I should be like so-and-so”. This leads to more striving, more inferiority, and a miserable life.
The solution lies in knowing that you are uniquely you, and will never be someone else. You’re not supposed to be. Your uniqueness is valuable, and only yours to have.
So how do you undo these types of negative beliefs about yourself if you’re holding onto them?
In order to undo a negative belief or behavior, we need to begin by relaxing.
This leads to Dr. Maltz’ second practice exercise in the book—using imagination to relax. Get comfortable, and consciously relax each muscle group in your body. Don’t let this be work—just do what you can easily do. Move through mental images of relaxation.
Practice going through all of these mental images over and over again. You will develop stronger connections between mental images and how you feel physically, and become better at relaxation.
- Using Rational Thinking And Relaxation
”Scientific experiments have shown that it is absolutely impossible to feel fear, anger, anxiety, or negative emotions of any kind while the muscles of the body are kept perfectly relaxed.”
Rational thinking works for changing beliefs and behaviors. You do not have to unbury every negative unconscious thought in order to change. Focusing on a mistake or guilty feelings can make the mistake the actual goal. Instead, remember that negative experiences helped you orient towards your goals, and then can be forgotten as you practice traveling in the right direction towards your goals.
It has been theorized that those who are successfully hypnotized to do amazing things have simply had negative memories purged so they could achieve greatness. It follows that you can consciously purge negative memories and unlock your own innate success. When you begin to feel negative, look for the cause, and dismiss this cause as absurd. Determine that the irrational will not control you. Repeat this practice whenever negative thoughts and memories start to surface. Look for new, rational, positive beliefs that resonate with you.
Identify a belief about not being able to do something. Evaluate it using the following questions: 1. “Is there any rational reason for such a belief?” 2. “Could it be that I am mistaken in this belief?” 3. “Would I come to the same conclusion about some other person in a similar situation?” 4. “Why should I continue to act and feel as if this were true if there is no good reason to believe it?” Really evaluate your responses. Get mad about beliefs that have interfered with your success and happiness. Allow this anger to spur you on to new beliefs and great success.
Rational thoughts must be joined by feelings and desires. Long for who you want to be, and what you want to have. Get excited about these desires. This process is exactly like worrying, except that now you are dwelling on positive, desirable things instead of negative things. As you change your goal picture and engage your positive emotions the possibilities will become more real.
“It is the job of conscious rational thought to decide what you want, select the goals you wish to achieve – and concentrate upon these rather than upon what you do not want.” Focus on the current task. Do everything you can under the best of assumptions, and then let the results happen.
There is a limit to rational thought. If you focus on achieving results with rational thought, you begin to develop anxiety and feelings of stress. Instead, once you have determined your goals and you are taking action towards them, let go of making success happen. You can see how that works when examining the lives of very creative individuals. Their creative breakthroughs come from spontaneity when their rational mind has relaxed. They have a goal, a question, or a need for a solution that they have consciously examined. But once they have done what they can, they ‘let go’ and inspiration comes. We are all creative, and too much “conscious effort inhibits and “jams” the automatic creative mechanism.” Releasing this inhibition of your creative mechanism can lead to creativity, spontaneity, and truly being yourself.
Take the time to research, prepare, and make good decisions. And then, once the wheels are in motion, relax. You’ve done what you can. Give your attention now to this moment you are in. Live in today without worrying about the future, or mulling over the past. Your attention to this moment allows your creative mechanism to respond at its best. Allow your senses to absorb the experiences of this moment. Avoid multitasking, as this takes the focus away from the moment. Do one thing at a time. “Even on the busiest day the crowded hours come to use one moment at a time”. Taking this approach relieves worry, stress, and feeling overwhelmed.
Let problems go at the end of the day. Sleep on it, and allow your creative mechanism time to work without your conscious getting in the way. Dreams often lead to amazing breakthroughs. Write down what you need to do the next day, make a plan, or identify your problem, and then go to sleep. Have a pen and paper ready beside your bed to record your morning insights.
Use your relaxing practice to ‘remember’ how to achieve a feeling of relaxation in the middle of your day. Just take a moment, and recall the details and sensations of your relaxation practice. This reduces fatigue and increases coping skills and creativity.
- Making Happy Habits And Having A Successful View
“Happiness is not something that is earned or deserved. Happiness is not a moral issue, any more than the circulation of the blood is a moral issue…Happiness is simply a “state of mind in which our thinking is pleasant a good share of the time.” If you wait until you “deserve” to think pleasant thoughts, you are likely to think unpleasant thoughts concerning your own unworthiness.”
Happiness is not selfish, wrong, or something to be earned. Being happy leads to unselfishness, creativity, and helpfulness – naturally. Unhappiness leads to terrible, even criminal behavior.
Happiness is learned behavior and thoughts. It must be practiced in the present moment, and cannot “be made contingent upon solving some external problem.” Learning to be happy means being free from the habit of responding negatively to the external things around us.
Part of being happy involves separating facts from opinions. Losing your savings in the stock market is a fact, being embarrassed and destroyed by it is an opinion—an unhelpful opinion that you, yourself choose to accept. Many things that are seen as impossible are opinions, not facts. The key here, is to recognize when to separate one from the other.
Working towards goals often leads to feeling happy. It is your thoughts about events that lead to your feelings. If bad things happen, see them as challenges; then, get yourself a goal and start working towards it. As Maltz tells us, “Form the habit of reacting aggressively and positively toward threats and problems. Form the habit of keeping goal-oriented all the time, regardless of what happens.” Use your imagination to picture yourself handling challenges in positive, smart ways.
Happiness is something you do and something you choose. Consciously choose to think pleasant thoughts. Perform surgery on your negative thoughts – cut them out – and replace them with beautiful thoughts. Changing your self-image will impact your habits, and changing your habits will impact your self-image. “When we consciously and deliberately develop new and better habits, our self-image tends to outgrow the old habits and grow into the new pattern.” Most of your actions, feelings, and responses are habit. That means they can be changed.
The following practice exercise starts at your feet. Put your shoes on opposite to usual, and tie them differently. Use this as a reminder for change, saying “I am beginning the day in a new and better way.” In your day, choose to be cheerful, more friendly, less critical, more tolerant, focused on success, separating opinions and facts, smiling, reacting calmly and practice for 21 days.
In order to be successful you need to be clear about what success looks like. Use this acronym:
- S-ense of direction
Sense of direction is about maintaining your own personal focus and goals, rather than trying to go where other people think you should. It’s also about always having a goal you are working for.
Understanding comes when you can separate fact from opinion. This often means taking a step back, and seeing a situation/memory/feeling for what it really is, rather than from a biased viewpoint. “Admit your mistakes and errors but don’t cry over them. Correct them and go forward.”
Having courage to act on your goals and beliefs can make them reality. You can practice courage by taking small steps every day in little things, like striking up a random, friendly conversation with a stranger.
Charity can start with treating other people with more kindness. This leads to treating yourself with more kindness. Charity recognizes that people are valuable and important. Appreciate others, care about them, and treat them with care.
Esteem involves having a healthy, good mental picture of yourself and treating the people around you with appreciation.
Self-confidence grows as successful experiences increase. You can develop this by “remembering past successes, and forgetting failures.”
Self-acceptance is accepting yourself right now for who you are, and remembering that, “Creating a better self-image does not create new abilities, talents, powers – it releases and utilizes them.”
- Get An Emotional Face Lift And Unlock Your Real Personality
Someone with a good self-image will not easily become emotionally damaged. The same for someone with a self-reliant attitude. “Assume responsibility for your own life and emotional needs.”
It is your response to experiences that can leave emotional scars. Practice relaxation, and focusing on peaceful images. This will help prevent these scars.
In order to lose emotional scars, they have to be removed. “Forgiveness, when it is real and genuine and complete, and forgotten – is the scalpel which can remove the pus from old emotional wounds, heal them, and eliminate scar tissue.” This means forgiving, and forgetting. Forgiveness happens when you recognize that the ‘debt’ (the purpose for the unforgiveness) is invalid. Condemnation and hatred should not have been given any place in your life. “We ourselves err when we hate a person because of his mistakes, or when we condemn him, or classify him as a certain type of person, confusing his person with his behavior”.
You must also forgive yourself. You’ve made mistakes, but hating yourself for them is futile. “So remember “You” make mistakes. Mistakes don’t make “You” – anything.” You may have failed at something, but you are not a failure. Carrying judgment and living with scars happens when you live in the past. Instead, relax, practice forgiveness, have flexible but strong ‘skin’, be creative, and let yourself be a little vulnerable.
Unlocking your real personality is about showing outwardly your “unique and creative self”. When people are inhibited they keep their real personality locked up. Often this is because they are over-experiencing negative feedback. Instead of using negative feedback to correct course, they over-correct, or cease taking any action at all. It can also occur when people are excessively careful. A solution is to practice relaxation. This enables you to be freer, less tense, and less inhibited.
Self-consciousness can also lead to inhibition. Being self-conscious is really about being too conscious of others. You monitor everything you do and say because you are concerned with how others might see you. You can begin to deal with self-consciousness by (again!) relaxing. Remember a time and place when you were with people who made you feel comfortable and supported. Recreate this feeling when you are with others, and your self-consciousness will begin to fade. Practice disinhibition – “being less careful, less concerned, less conscientious.”
- Self Tranquilizing
Often your responses to stimuli are conditioned – things you have learned to do, and now do automatically. An example is picking up your phone whenever you hear a notification. You can undo this condition. If you can’t ignore the stimulus, start by delaying your response to it. As you learn to not respond, you are actually practicing relaxation. This state of relaxation encourages positive feelings, which is a natural form of tranquilizer. Remember the relaxation exercises at the beginning of the book. “Protect yourself from disturbing stimuli by maintaining the relaxed attitude.”
Mentally create a quiet room – a place of total relaxation in your mind. Go to this mental place to rest, have a break from stimulus, and renew yourself. Practice going to this room before sleep, and before tackling challenges. You will begin to carry this calmness to other parts of your life – with positive benefits.
Another calming practice is to refuse to respond to all of the negative possibilities you might think of during the day. Instead, focus on your goals, and dismiss ‘what ifs’ as unreasonable and not worthy of a response.
- Finding The Good In Crisis And Feelings
“A “crisis” is a situation which can either make you or break you. If you react properly to the situation, a “crisis” can give you strength, power, wisdom you do not ordinarily possess.”
To learn to turn crisis into opportunity, you first need to practice reacting to challenges without the pressure of a crisis situation. This is similar to practicing fire drills before a fire. You learn the actions without stress so you can take those same actions when the pressure is on. You also carry over an attitude of calmness and competence. Learn to react to crisis with an active (rather than a passive) response. Finally, evaluate ‘crisis’ situations so you can identify the true ones from ones that are not true crises.
When you face a crisis, be confident and assertive. “This means maintaining an aggressive, a goal-directed attitude, rather than a defensive, evasive, negative one: “No matter what happens, I can handle it, or I can see it through,” rather than, “I hope nothing happens.”
There are times when your greatest challenge may be making a goal you can get excited about. Since your brain can’t tell the difference between real and vividly imagined experiences, you brain will coordinate negative feelings if you are focusing on the failures that might come of goal setting.
Bring to mind feelings of success by focusing on positive things. These feelings lead to successful actions and outcomes. You can also take time to recall successes in your past. The imprinting in the brain is strong for these, and becomes stronger with recall. The winning feeling accompanying those past successes will carry over into your current goal seeking activity.
If you haven’t experienced a great deal of success, begin with small measures you are successful at, and build on these, both with repeats of the success, and growing memories. Gradually increase the challenges and successes, as if you are weight-training. You will become accustomed to success.
Negative feelings (“fear, anxiety, lack of self-confidence”) are “indicative only of attitudes of mind within you – not of external facts which are rigged against you. They mean only that you are underestimating your own abilities, overestimating and exaggerating the nature of the difficulty before you, and that you are reactivating memories of past failures rather than memories of past successes.” You can counteract these feelings by directly confronting them, or by substituting them with positive feelings.
If you tend to be a worrier, your solution is to practice “immediately substituting pleasant, wholesome, mental images, for unpleasant “worry images.”” You replace the habit of worry with a habit of wholesome positive thinking.
You can change your thinking from negative to positive. It takes a great deal of practice to create this new habit. Using vivid mental images in your replacements will increase your success. Instead of focusing on will power, focus on positive images that generate great feelings.
- Better Days, Better Life
“I believe that there is ONE LIFE, one ultimate source, but that this ONE LIFE has many channels of expression and manifests itself in many forms. If we are to “Get More Living out of Life,” we should not limit the channels through which life may come to us. We must accept it, whether it comes in the form of science, religion, psychology, or what not.”
Living with a failure mechanism in place can slow healing, and lead to overall poor health. Resentment and hatred are also bad for your health. Dr. Maltz found that his patients that recovered faster were optimistic, positive thinkers who had a reason to get better – some goal, or something good in their future. “Mental attitudes can influence the body’s healing mechanisms.” This is even obvious with the success of placebo treatments. People who believe they are receiving healing medication improve.
What you believe works in your life will very often work for you. Even your views of aging will impact how you age. There are seven needs that, when fulfilled, lead to a better life. These needs are for love, security, creative expression, recognition, new experiences, self-esteem, and the need for “more life – the need to look forward to tomorrow and to the future with gladness and anticipation.”
This desire for more life leads to more life. “I believe that we establish this need by looking forward to the future with joy and anticipation, when we expect to enjoy tomorrow, and above all, when we have something important (to us) to do and somewhere to go.”
Creativity also leads to a longer life. Many creative people produce their greatest works after eighty. It may also explain why some men die soon after they retire. They no longer have a creative/productive outlet.
Your life is like a machine that you can develop, control, and change through your thoughts and beliefs.
- Develop a healthy self-image based on facts
- Work with a success mechanism, believing and thinking about great possibilities you can achieve
- Use the power of your imagination to learn complete relaxation, successful imagery, and mental practice of future physical actions
- Develop happy habits, practice self-hypnosis, and turn crisis into opportunity
- Embrace opportunities to live a long, happy, healthy life
BONUS NOTES + CRUCIAL QUOTES:
- “The imagination, aimless, may provide pleasant entertainment. Applied purposefully, it can effectively program your self-image and, in turn, your Automatic Success Mechanism to realize whatever goals you choose.”
- “You can give problem-solving or idea-getting tasks to your servo-mechanism, send it off on a search while you do other things, even while you sleep, and have it return with useful material you didn’t know you knew and might never have obtained through conscious thought or worry.”
- “You act and feel not according to what things are really like, but according to the image your mind holds of what they are like. You have certain mental images of yourself, your world, and the people around you, and you behave as though these images were the truth, the reality, rather than the things they represent.”
Shout out to meaningfulhq.com for doing this written summary
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