Making Yourself Valuable

valuableWe all want the best things in our lives.

We want that perfect, well-paying job that lets us be creative, autonomous and do what we love. We want those millions of followers on Instagram. And we want that perfect partner who is not only good looking and smart, but also rich, funny, talented and great in bed.

Of course, these things are rare and valuable. So of course everyone wants these things in their lives.

But have you ever asked yourself; why in the seven hells should you get any of those rare and valuable things? There are a billion people like you out there competing for these same things – what makes you so different that you should be rewarded with the best the world has to offer?

I know, I know; we’ve all convinced ourselves that we’re perfect and that we should get everything we want from life simply because we’re unique little snowflakes who are special in our own little ways.

But then again, so is everyone else. I mean, let’s look at this from the other perspective.

Let’s say you’re the owner of a big corporation, and you need to hire someone for an extremely well-paying, fun position that also happens to allow for a lot of autonomy and creativity in the job.

Now who are you going to hire? You know that half the god damn world would love to have the job you’re offering. You’re offering something rare and valuable, and you have your pick of literally anyone.

Obviously, you’re going to pick a person who has a lot of rare and valuable traits to give in return – say, a master’s degree in such and such fields, a history of being trustworthy, and a track record of brilliant innovations.

That rare and valuable job won’t go to your random office worker who has done nothing to distinguish himself from the crowd. It will go to a rare and valuable employee who has something to offer in return. (more…)

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Achieving Excellence – Putting in the Work

(Note: this is the final part of a longer series of articles on the subject of Excellence. For some context and an explanation to why this whole thing is happening, check out part 1 – Excellence vs. Reason)

So far in the series we’ve talked about the various obstacles we need to overcome in order to have a chance at reaching excellence. We’ve looked into how making exclusively reasonable decisions is holding us back, how our irrational risk aversion severely limits our potential for success, and how our addiction to social support keeps us stuck at a mediocre level in life.

But there’s one aspect of reaching excellence that we haven’t even scratched the surface of yet. And it’s a pretty important component too: putting in the hard work.

Ugh, such an un-sexy phrase. Hard work. That’s not what we want to hear – give us some more tricks or life hacks that promise us instant success! Anything but hard work!

Unfortunately, there is no way around this. Hard work, more than anything, is what determines whether or not you will reach excellence. Because anyone can do what’s easy. Anyone can go for the low-hanging, mediocre fruits of life.

But to go past this low-hanging fruit and reach for that perfect apple at the top of the tree – that’s what separates the extraordinary from the ordinary. (more…)

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How to Master Almost Any Skill as a Byproduct of Your Life

skills as byproduct

Have you ever watched a world-class athlete, musician or craftsman of any kind and wished that you were that great at something?

Too bad it takes such an extreme amount of time and effort to achieve such a level of skill. Pushing those 10’000 hours of practice into your daily life is just impossible!

But what if there was an easier way to reach world-class proficiency in a skill? One that didn’t require squeezing in countless hours of practice into your already dense schedule?

What if there was a way to turn learning a skill into a byproduct of your already existing activities?

Fortunately, there is. And it’s a fairly simple way, too; All you have to do is make a few slight modifications to the activities you’re already doing – and then let time and compounding do the rest.

Take, for instance, your job.

Maybe you’ve heard this hypothetical question before; would you rather stare into a wall for 8 hours every day and get paid a shitload of money, or do something you really love while barely scraping by?

This question is designed to highlight our tendency to choose money over what we love. Greed vs. fun. Security vs. passion.

But I’d argue that this dilemma also raises a more interesting question; which option is really best for you in the long run?

Sure, in the first case, you’d earn a ton of money, which would give you a degree of financial security. But that’s also all you’d get out of it. You would stand there five, ten, twenty years from now, and all you could show for the countless hours you put in is your money.

In the second case, however, you’d be spending thousands of hours every year practicing your favorite craft – and perfecting the skills that go along with it. And given that your average full-time job adds up to about 2000 hours a year, you’d reach those 10’000 hours needed for mastering a skill in just five years (and those 10’000 hours won’t just land you at “really good” either – we’re talking world-class expertise at this point).

So after a five-year period, you could either have nothing but the money from case one – or you could have become a world-class professional in a highly valuable skill.

This dilemma, while only hypothetical, is a great example of how the things you’re already spending time on could end up giving you those awesome skills you’ve always wanted. And it all comes down to the choices you make early on. (more…)

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Are You Leaving Your Future to Chance?

change mathias östlund

Let’s go through a brief history of You;

A long, long time ago, you came into this world as a naked, screaming baby who couldn’t do shit. You didn’t know where, who, or even what you were, and your interaction with the world was limited to screaming, pooping, and angrily flailing your arms.

Fast-forward through a ton of changes, and we find the present-day You – a fully functioning adult who perfectly fills his role in society. There aren’t a lot of similarities left between you and that screaming poop-machine that once bore your name.

Countless tiny changes, both physical and mental, have all contributed to shaping you into the person you are today.

And odds are, these changes have kept on happening right up until this very moment. You’re not the same person you were last year, or even three months ago. And although it might not be apparent yet, you’re not even the same person you were five minutes ago.

You, as a person, have gone through these minor changes every single day of your life so far. And yet, for some reason, most people seem to believe that there won’t ever be any more of these changes in the future.

We believe that this version of ourselves is the end of the line; that we’re as smart as we’ll ever be; that our views on the world won’t ever change; and that everything will remain exactly the same as it is right now.

But alright, logically we might know that this is bullshit. On some rational level, most of us probably realize that we will keep on changing, just as we always have in the past. But intuitively, we just have a very hard time embracing this fact.

We can’t imagine how we’ll look at the world a decade from now. We can’t see ourselves ever changing our mind about politics. And we certainly can’t imagine ourselves being any smarter than we are right now.

And this inability to see ahead of ourselves has some very unfortunate consequences when it comes to any future changes we might encounter.

By ignoring the fact that we will continue to change, we are leaving this change entirely in the hands of external forces. We let chance encounters determine what experiences we have, we let the TV decide what new information we learn tonight, and we leave any political change of heart in the hands of the people campaigning for this party or that.

But by accepting that we will change – and embracing it – we can take charge of this change ourselves, and make it happen in the direction of our own choosing. (more…)

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The Unconventional Guide to Financial Security


A few years ago, as I was backpacking my way through New Zealand, I had a chance encounter with a guy who would come to change my life.

His name was Peter. And, for the most part, he was just your average backpacker. He was hitchhiking from place to place, going wherever he felt like, and with nothing but a backpack and a cool hat.

But it wasn’t what he was doing that caught my attention. I’d met a thousand other backpackers along the way who were doing the exact same thing.

No, what made Peter stand out from all the rest was his attitude. More specifically, his attitude towards financial security.

You see, this guy wasn’t your standard straight-out-of-high-school runaway backpacker, seeing the world for a bit before they get on with their studies and career building. Peter was well into his thirties, with a long career behind him as a business negotiator.

And he was currently traveling the world indefinitely, without any kind of solid plans for the future. He didn’t have anything secure to return to, and he didn’t have a huge pile of cash that would sustain him for the rest of his life.

Socially conditioned as I was, I had one thought when I heard his story; This is a guy who’s throwing his life away.

Because as laidback and negligent as the backpacking culture may seem, most backpackers still carry concerns for the future. And most of them have something secure to return to –a promised job, university, or even their parents’ basements.

But this guy had nothing – no form of security whatsoever! He seemed like one of the most irresponsible people I had ever met!

But that wasn’t how he thought of it.

In fact, he didn’t worry about the future at all. He didn’t worry about blowing every last penny he had, and it didn’t matter if he spent a decade or more on the road. He didn’t even care that the company he worked for had long-since hired a new guy to fill his job.

And no, he wasn’t just another pot-smoking, don’t-give-no-fucks modern-day hippie either. He still cared – he just didn’t worry.

He didn’t worry about the future, because he had created his own form of financial security. A form that didn’t consist of hoarding away a big pile of money to live off of.

He had created his security by building a unique skillset that would always be valuable on the job market.

That’s how he could afford not to worry – because he knew that no matter what happened, he would always have the skills and knowledge he needed to land him a new job whenever and wherever he wanted it.

He had found a much stronger security than money. (more…)

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