Posts in Growth
Evil Geniuses, #FakeNews, and Why You Aren't Free

The reason that so many people love to talk about freedom in the national political conversation is that, deep down, they do not feel a sense of personal freedom in their own lives. They know that they lack the discipline and value structure to achieve real freedom. Attributing this lack of agency and self-control to laws and political forces makes for a far easier pill to swallow than the reality that they chose their current state by living at the whim of their emotional impulses. The tendency to point to external factors rather than the role that they hold in their own life is the precise reason that they do not feel free.

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Are You Letting the World Make You a Lesser Version?

Technology will redefine the way we work, think, and live over and over again. Industries will rise and fall, social patterns will shift, but all the while you will be at the center of your experience. This is the essential point societies have repeatedly failed to honor following past changes, most notably in regards to the disruption that followed ubiquitous smartphone use. How well you weather this chaotic new world is completely dependent on your individual self-mastery. Regardless of how much technology shifts the landscape, you are still a human, driven by a hunter-gatherer brain and hunter-gatherer needs.  

The modern mental and physical health epidemics are spurred by technology that promotes immaturity. As we rely less on ourselves we remain lesser versions. Suddenly it becomes normal for adults to have donuts or fast food for breakfast every morning, to scan social media all day and night, and to spend money they don’t have on stuff they don’t need. To transcend these patterns, we have to intentionally craft a plan for daily self-development. The 30x30 Challenge is that daily plan.

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7 Rules for Creating Empowered, Antifragile Young Adults

The new school year is here and with it come brand new hopes and dreams. Yet, success is not a destination but, rather, a path that the most fulfilled people have internalized. We all have a vested interest in this path, but especially those parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors who would like to see their protégés flourish. Our mentees simply won’t outperform our model. Your disposition becomes theirs; your energy, theirs; and, most importantly, any of your own self-limiting patterns of thought will be internalized and become theirs. Do as I say only works if we do.

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You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself

This is where the current narrative on shame has it all backwards. Just because it feels bad, doesn’t mean it is bad. Just because it hurts, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Shame isn’t some bug in our emotional programming left over from a more primitive time. It’s not a flaw in the human condition whose eradication spells progress. It’s an alarm built into our system that serves a vital purpose. Shame is on your team and aims to help you grow. It is painful, but that is the only language it speaks to inspire change. Just as the burning sensation on your hand aims to protect you from keeping your hand in the fire, shame only wants to show the areas where you need to direct your work.

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The Costs of Utopian Delusions

We’d like an end to all prejudice, bullying, crime, and painful accidents. These are seen as obvious positives, yet we rarely stop to consider the immense costs of these pursuits. Good intentions often do more harm than good particularly when it comes to creating an environment of human flourishing. What we think we want is rarely in our best interest and, even when it is, the path there is usually full of unintended consequences that dwarf the intended good.

Ironically, if there is any sort of utopia that is possible in our lifetime it won’t be built through greater ease and convenience, but by a culture that demands effort, growth, personal responsibility, and an understanding of the essential role of discomfort and risk. Instead of asking the world to eliminate all pain and expand pleasure infinitely, we should be asking what societal structure pulls us to be better humans? For that we’ll need to embrace imperfect social constructions such as shame and honor.

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Do You Contribute to the Awesomeness or Do You Just Talk About It?

Rights were invented to eliminate as many obstacles to personal freedom as possible. They were not meant to give or grant us anything, only to remove as many obstructions as possible from the path forward. Rights were invented in parallel with a sense of duty. Our early founding thinkers understood that the idea of rights is only possible when everyone feels a sense of obligation and duty to the collective good. Rights are not meant to hold your hand or coddle you. They are meant to support your desire to stand tall with a sense of duty to yourself and your community.

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The Land of the "Free" and Home of the Depressed

Few phrases captivate the modern mind like “the pursuit of happiness.” With life and liberty are assured, this becomes the de facto point of most people’s existence. Yet for something so central to our choices, it is surprising how little we understand about what will make us “happy.”

Nationally, the number of school shootings, drug overdoses, and suicides have been growing steadily for years. We have less inequality, less violence, more medications, more mandatory sensitivity trainings, more pleasure, and fewer pains. So what the hell is wrong with us?

As life grants more and more of our wishes people are finding that what they want is the problem. Pursuing happiness might not be such a great idea after all.

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Be the Weirdo: Why Fulfilling Values Require Us To Behave Differently

The most important thing that can do to remain committed to your values is to embrace being a weirdo. This is a beautiful thing. Nearly every influential person in history was a weirdo. That’s exactly why we know their name. They dared to poke their head above the crowd, take a look around, and decide what direction they truly wanted to walk. They chose their own path, often with heavy opposition from those around them.

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Transformative Experience: Changing Thoughts and Feelings Through Action

Our large, highly-developed infrastructures preclude the need for rising to any occasion or banding together to get a job done. We’re conditioned to expect the government or AAA to step in and solve each problem. We are able to live completely insulated from the community contribution and frequent challenge that once defined human existence. This convenience comes at a price. More than any self-help workbook, it is powerful experiences that build confidence, embed good values, and foster a sense of purpose. Today our physical needs are met so effortlessly that we are rarely prompted to essential experiences that make us capable of meeting our emotional needs. Fortunately, those experiences are well documented and accessible to us all.

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Nobody’s Perfect: Why Relationships Depend on Making the Charitable Assumption

Even with the best of intentions, people accidentally hurt. We all put our foot in our mouth, step across the line from critique to insult, or make ill-timed or distasteful jokes. Our default position must be to never assume malicious intent. When friends, loved ones, or even a perfect stranger hurt our feelings we must assume that they were simply incompetent, ignorant to our feelings, and ill-equipped to navigate the emotional terrain.

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