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The Myth of the Self-Made Man

Arnold Schwarzenegger on being a self-made man:

“I always tell people that you can call me anything that you want, but don’t ever, ever call me a self-made man. It gives the wrong impression, that we can do it alone. None of us can. The whole concept of the self-made man or woman is a myth. I would have never made it in my life without the help.

I want you to understand this because as soon as you know you are here because of a lot of help, then you also understand that now it’s time to help others. That’s what this is all about.”

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”If You Can Invest in Someone Else’s Company, You Can Invest in Yourself”

On an upcoming episode of Side Hustle School, I tell the story of someone who obtained a patent for a special kind of mittens for runners. Unlike a $100 Startup, getting a patent is not an easy or cheap process. It look several years and more than $5,000.

Still, she stuck with it because she believed in the idea and was convinced of its value. When she asked one friend where she was going to get the money, he said, “Do you own any stocks?” She said yes.

“If you can invest in someone else’s company,” he told her, "you can invest in yourself. Sell the stocks!”

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The Change of Loss

"It feels very old-timey and theatrical to say 'This experience has changed me' but still things do happen that change us. When those things happen we can’t go back in time, we can only go forward or face the uncertain ambivalence between the past, present and the future."

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The Impact of Age on Happiness, Especially In Times of Crisis

New research reveals that situational happiness or sadness may relate partly to age.

"Long ago, when I was 30 and he was 66, the late Donald Richie, the greatest writer I have known, told me: 'Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, Is this all? And it ends about 10 years later, when you look at your life again and think, Actually, this is pretty good.'

In my 50s, thinking back, his words strike me as exactly right. To no one’s surprise as much as my own, I have begun to feel again the sense of adventure that I recall from my 20s and 30s. I wake up thinking about the day ahead rather than the five decades past. Gratitude has returned."

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“What do you do for a living?” “I confound expectations.”

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Bob Dylan gave a rare 35-minute speech at a MusiCares event for the Grammys last night. It's all interesting, but here's my favorite part:

"Critics have made a career out of accusing me of having a career of confounding expectations. Really? Because that's all I do. That's how I think about it. Confounding expectations."

"What do you do for a living, man?"

"Oh, I confound expectations."

You're going to get a job, the man says, "What do you do?" "Oh, confound expectations."

And the man says, "Well, we already have that spot filled. Call us back. Or actually, don't call us, we'll call you."

Here’s the full transcript.

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“In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart”

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From The Diary of Anne Frank:

"In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death.

I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”

Part of why I believe this too is that the alternative is too depressing to consider. So what happens when people hurt us, or when someone else does something to us that's totally unexpected? I guess we have to think about context, try to see it from their perspective, and so on.

And even when we’re wronged, I think we have to have grace. Again, what’s the alternative To refuse grace only hurts us in the end.

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Lessons from Don Miller: Success Is More Difficult to Manage than Failure

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Don Miller is the kind of guy that I implicitly trusted the first time I met. Not to psychoanalyze too much, but in general I’m not a very trusting person. I believe that most people are good, but I don’t necessarily trust a lot of people. With Don, though, I felt comfortable discussing personal stuff right away.

After a lunch meeting, he wrote me an email with more advice. I asked him if I could share part of it, and he agreed. Maybe it helps some of you, too? Here's Don:

"Rapid success is much more difficult to manage than failure, I believe. It's just like walking a tight rope. I think the thing is, success changes you radically, but nothing around you from the old life changes, so now you're a different person and to some degree larger than the small walls you've been living in.

But it's all a bunch of tricks and lies. What matters in the end is taking the folks who loved you early with you into the new life as gingerly as possible."

Check out Don's book, Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy.

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“Acceptance Isn’t Agreement”: A Lesson from Chris Brogan

Acceptance

Normally I’m not an auditory learner and have a hard time paying attention to lectures or podcasts. In the case of the “Brave New Year” program by Chris Brogan (not an affiliate link; I purchased it for regular price), however, I was able to go through the whole thing.

I particularly like what Chris had to say about the subject of acceptance. Here’s an excerpt:

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How to Think About People Who Disagree with You

And other ways of applying perspective. “Guy from Minnesota says it’s cold in the winter. Guy from Mexico disagrees, says it’s hot in the winter. Both have a hard time realizing they’re each right based on their own unique life experiences. They call each other idiots in the comments section of news article that has…

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Writing depends on the superficiality of one’s days

Graham Green on writing a book: “I was trying to write a book that simply would not come. I did my daily five hundred words, but the characters never began to live. So much in writing depends on the superficiality of one’s days. One may be preoccupied with shopping and income tax returns and chance…

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