Everything Will Be Revealed

One of my favorite sayings and one of my wife’s least favorite sayings in our lives is “everything will be revealed.”

This highlights one of our key differences that makes our relationship work so well.

On my side of the coin there are those that don’t ask enough questions.  We prepare ourselves as best we can as we forge into the unknown, because we know when we get there everything will be revealed.  If we happen to lack something that we could have easily packed if we had asked the right questions, we quickly adopt our next favorite motto: “Learn to do without.”

To us it is almost worth not asking the questions in the first place.

On the other side of that coin there are those that ask a lot of questions. They don’t want any surprises. Even when the course you are taking will not change upon knowing the answer these type of people ask anyway. They just need to know.

There is a really happy middle ground that we pull each other into. I could definitely benefit from asking a few more questions and communicating my intentions. She could probably benefit from living on the edge a little, and not having all of her questions answered.

It is one of the many reasons our relationship works so well. We are the ying and yang for each other when I believe everything will be revealed. 

Questions from Tim: Part III

In Questions from Tim, Part 1 and Questions from Tim, Part II, I answered the following questions:

  • What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
  • In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
  • What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?
  • How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
  • What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

In Part III, I will address

  • If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it – metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions – what would it say and why?
  • What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
  • What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it – metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions – what would it say and why?

I think putting this poster of outer space with the caption “Don’t take stuff so seriously, remember… You are here” with an arrow pointing at nothing you can see with any clarity.  We should have a constant reminder of how insignificant we are in this universe.

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

When I measure out my coffee in the morning I take extra care in getting my coffee beans to be exactly 42 grams. There is really no reason for doing so, as I could probably not tell the difference between a Chemex pot of coffee made with anything in the 40-44 gram region when brewing coffee using the same amount of water.

Since I’m waiting for the water to get to a specific temperature anyway, I’ll sometimes take single individual beans out in order to hit 42 grams. There are times when I even switch out big beans with little or vice versa once I get within hundredths of a gram.  It is ridiculous, I know.

I also love trying things that I read about that are good for me, but sound awful. As an example, I may get in the shower and decide on a whim to just stand under the shower and turn it on cold turkey! It is quite a shock to the system, and is not really that pleasant. But I read that it is good for you somewhere so I do it from time to time just for that reason alone.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

If you forget everything you learned in college you’ll still be OK if you can learn and pick up a few decent habits.

  • Learn how to become ultra organized and efficient. Don’t ever believe you are organized enough and have nothing more to learn on how to be any more organized. You can be organized even more.
  • Never stop reading.
  • Write, write, and write some more. This can be done in the form of a journal, blog, etc. or a combination of any.
  • Seek novelty.
  • Do not be afraid to take charge and lead how you believe is best. On the same note, don’t be afraid to fail. Embrace the failure and learn from it.

Honestly, if you can get the first bullet point down, you will be set for life. Everything else will follow accordingly.

While taking a class again through Washburn, I was shocked at the idea that people could not get an A. If you have the ability to organize your day so that you attend class, have time outside class set aside for reading and working on the material – and then the follow through to actually use that time for what you set it aside for – you can achieve anything. 

Ignore the idea that your career should be in something you love to do. This is not necessarily true, as if you make your career out of something you love you will most likely lose the love.  Instead, find a career of something at which you are good at or would like to be really good at.  Save your passions for your free time!

Embrace The Suck: What Jiu-Jitsu, Learning Guitar, And Exam IFM Has Taught Me About Life

“Wow! I suck.”

This statement is both thought and uttered often. Those with a growth mindset, who understand what it takes to continuously improve, embrace the idea. The moment that we think or believe “Wow! I’m awesome,” is when we stop improving. Our mindset becomes fixed, and we lose all forward momentum.

Exam IFM: Investment and Financial Markets, is one of many exams given by the Society of Actuaries that provide a path to becoming an Associate in the Society of Actuaries (ASA).  I’m taking this on November 20th and in the final stretch of my intense study.

Finishing a third mock exam through Coaching Actuaries, I found out I had did a little worse than the first two. This could potentially be defeating. However, I understood that the first mock exam was at an easier level, the second at a level higher, and the third even higher still. They keep increasing the difficulty, which makes it seem that you’re making no progress.

Jiu-Jitsu is very similar. Although the classes and the technique we learn is not getting any more difficult, each of my teammates are getting better and better at their technique, and stronger and stronger with each class.  When you roll with these teammates and they roll with you, it can really seem like we’re not getting any better.  The truth is we’re all getting better incrementally.

Embrace the suck.

What I mean by that is to embrace the illusion of your suckiness, because you are getting better.

In early August I began learning how to play the guitar using Justin Guitar. It has been going well. Earlier last week, however, was the lesson on the F chord. It felt like I had just picked up the guitar for the first time.

I embraced the suck, and persisted in getting my fingers in the right place. After several days, I’m still nowhere near being able to play the full F chord with the bass string. I’m playing the simpler version with 5 strings which is challenge enough.

What usually happens when I learn something new with the guitar each day, is that I learn about at least two things that I need to learn and practice.  To get a little mathematical now, that means that if we take that bare minimum value of only learning two new things that we don’t know each time we learn one new thing, then the amount of “things” we know that we don’t know will always be one greater than the amount of “things” we do know.

This, too, can be defeating. It can be even more defeating when we try and think about all the things that we don’t even know we don’t know.  Oh, my!

The same is true in jiu-jitsu. Each time I learn and begin practicing a technique, I learn about a few others that I will need to practice in the future. It never ends.

Embrace the suck.

In this case, I mean the illusion that you suck even more than you did previously since the quantity that you know you don’t know increases faster than the quantity that you do know.

Life in general is a series of these moments. Wow! We all really suck. You can let it stop you in your tracks, or you can embrace it and let it propel you to the next level.

I say we all embrace the suck, and level up.

Think Stoically on Election Day

A Daily Stoic email arrived in my inbox within the last week that stuck with me. You can browse the Daily Stoic website here, and even sign up for their daily emails if you might find joy and meaning in them. The one of which I’m speaking was a shortened version of the larger interview with Robert Greene, the author of The Laws of Human Nature among several other books you can find listed on that link.

In the short email that I received, it challenged me to look at the entire human species from a biological perspective at the beginning of our lives, and understand how we all started out the same. We all started with a clean slate, no experiences, and no memories. We all start out experiencing the world as we have been since our prehistoric ancestors.

So, what is it that makes some of us go into the voting booth today and select one way, and others select another way? What is it that brings that anger of the other side’s opinions and beliefs to the forefront? All of us have experienced life and have held onto memories of those experiences differently.

It is not because someone is stupid, irrational, or weak minded.  Their unique experiences have led them to this moment in their life much differently than yours have. Should we be angry at them for it?  A stoic would suggest not.

Think stoically on this election day.

Questions from Tim, Part II

Fall break was yesterday and today, giving my wife and me a 4 day weekend in which to celebrate our 8th anniversary (which was on 10/16).  Since we are traveling, I prepared some answers to Tim Ferriss’s questions he poses to many world class performers, millionaires and billionaires in his book, Tribe of Mentors.

In Questions from Tim, Part 1, I answered

  • What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
  • In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

For Part 2, I will tackle the following.

  • What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?
  • How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
  • What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? 

Purchases to commit to something or try something out for a while have been very rewarding!  I started jiu jitsu in late December of 2017, and was fortunately given the rest of December to see how it went before my coach began collecting monthly dues. Those monthly dues (under $100) have positively impacted my life for all of 2018.

Along those same lines, I have been using an app called Justin Guitar to learn guitar.  Once I got past Stage 2, there was an $8.99/month charge to continue through the stages of learning.  I did not balk at that and paid it immediately.  The value that this monthly fee will provide is far more than that price tag.

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours? 

I can’t think of a favorite failure of mine, but the collection of all the failures I’ve made since I have identified the growth mindset (vs. the fixed mindset) described in detail in Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, and since I’ve identified the idea of investment in loss described in Josh Waitzkin’s book, The Art of Learning. I’ve written about this in my previous blog post Seeking Failure.

Now, my failures are all very good learning tools, each failure presenting new techniques to learn and bad habits to avoid.  So, it is the collection of failures that all lead to further and further improvement, and therefore, success.

Failing Exam MLC through the Society of Actuaries the first time was a hard but important hit.  It really sucked to find out that I had not attained a level of mastery with the material in order to pass it.  Learning from this failure, and using the strong foundation I had already laid out for myself, I rebounded and passed on the next time around.

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

Investing my time in the constant pursuit of personal improvement and growth is definitely up there. We all know what it takes to be successful professionally and personally. However, we are not all good at actually doing those things we know to do. Recognizing this, admitting it to myself, and then investing my time and energy into finding out ways I can motivate myself to get things done has been extremely worthwhile.

I now invest my time into very selective reading. I invest time into scheduling my time, which at first glance may seem like a waste, but will in fact produce more time, amazingly.  This investment was slow at first, and, like a freight train, gained momentum and is speeding along nicely.