I’ve lost everything many times.
Many people in my life who’ve lost everything have done unfortunate stuff — like walk in front of trains.
Not me, thankfully. Losing everything forces me to become hungry. It’s an accelerator of growth rather than a limiter that leads to depression.
For a long time I didn’t understand it.
The title of this article comes from Gumroad founder Sahil. It helped me understand growth.
I then studied Venus and Serena Williams after watching a movie based on their life called “King Richard” starring Will Smith.
Throughout the movie the sisters are the underdogs. They don’t have money for coaching. They don’t have nice tennis gear. They play tennis at the local courts in Compton California, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods anywhere on earth.
Their dad gets beaten up by gangsters for protecting his daughters from likely rape in the near future. Racism is no doubt a huge factor early in their careers. One thing stands out.
Defeat makes them stronger, not weaker.
It’s like they want to lose. It increases their hunger. They become more determined. They grow or die in the game of tennis. It’s a beautiful story everybody should study.
Next time I fall flat on my face, I am going to channel the Williams sisters.
High-performers don’t get angry when they lose. They get more motivated.
Get your mind tight
Your thoughts are the architects of your destiny
— David McKay
Growth is a mind game.
Your mind doesn’t want you to grow. It wants you to be safe and not get killed by a grizzly bear on a morning walk in the park.
To grow you have to train your mind. Not once. Every day.
You have to program your mind with useful thoughts. It’s why I stay away from politics and the news. It pollutes my mind with someone else’s agenda. Things that are out of your control waste your potential.
It’s easy to stay comfortable. I did for years. I numbed the pain of mental illness by staying home and binge-watching Hollywood movies.
My routine on a Saturday was simple. Go to Grill’d Hamburger and get a Mighty Melbourne burger. Swing by 7-Eleven on the way home and get a 2L bottle of soda, a bag of Doritos, and plenty of lollies.
I’d get home and eat it all. Then at the end of the movie I’d start on a bottle of Jim Beam. It made me feel rebellious to drink while in bed, instead of going out with my friends to bars to drink with them. I couldn’t drink with them, though.
They didn’t know my dark secret.
They didn’t know how uncomfortable I got when I drank excessively in front of them. And would say too much about forbidden topics, followed by vomiting all over their nicely ironed shirts.
So I stayed home, comfortable.
I lived like this for a long time. I’d wake up the next day and watch kids’ cartoons to take me back to childhood. I just wanted adult life to stop. It was too hard.
At a certain point I got the hot tip to work on my mind. Not just to cure mental illness, but to get back in the game of life. I did the most basic thing known to humankind: I read books. Books messed up my thoughts. They changed the order. Books became the catalyst for everything that followed.
I started with finance books. That led to books about the Holocaust. Then I ended up reading straight self-help books.
Books you wouldn’t normally read start to invisibly change your thoughts.
The destroyer of growth
Society is plagued with the 7 deadly sins
Lust: Tinder Sloth: Netflix Pride: Twitter Greed: Amazon Envy: Instagram Wrath: Facebook Gluttony: Uber Eats
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.
— Dakota Robertson
Tech companies screw with our growth potential. They bring out the worst in us: lust, sloth, pride, greed, envy, wrath, gluttony.
What looks like an innocent app on your phone is so much more. It’s a temptation. Temptation can eventually become an addiction if you’re not careful.
I binged on p*rn and Tinder for years. Then when I had a successful business I spent money on Amazon like it was going out of fashion. All of the goods piled up in my home.
My best friend would come over. He’d take photos for social media of all my cool stuff. Then we’d order alcohol to get delivered and get loaded up on takeaway carbs. My belly started to hang over my pants. My growth potential disappeared.
The silent killer of a good life is the apps on our phones.
What happens when you don’t grow
If you wake up in the morning, with no sense of purpose or direction, you’re most likely to end up recycling your unproductive habits.
Purpose, the cure to life’s greatest pandem*c, ‘wasted lives.’
— George Blue Kelly
No growth equals no purpose.
When you have a solid purpose or meaning for your life it’s hard not to grow. A reason to wake up is what sets up your day.
I didn’t have one. All I cared about was buying dumb sh*t on Amazon and building some huge business, so I could flash the keys to a red Ferrari at a nightclub and pick up a 6-foot blonde to take home.
Shouldn’t admit that, but’s it’s the truth.
I stayed the same person for years. My childhood self was my adult self. That’s what happens when you don’t grow.
If you don’t completely feel sick at the person you were five years ago, it’s a red flag that can help you see the problem.
If you let a lack of growth continue for long enough you’ll start to feel numb. When bad stuff happens in the world you’ll feel indifferent. When tragedy strikes you’ll feel as if it’s guaranteed to happen and define bad luck as the reason.
Nobody is saying to grow from a normal person into a navy seal overnight. But if you’re not spending some time in discomfort so you can grow, you’re missing out on the enormous benefits.
Habits lead to unstoppable growth
You are your habits.
Your mind is a reflection of your habits.
Your body is a reflection of your habits.
Your bank account is a reflection of your habits.
Fix your habits first.
And everything else will follow.
So how do you grow? Start with habits.
What you do daily defines who you’ll be annually.
It’s the reason the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear is one of the best-selling books in history.
Habits are simple. What tasks are you doing every day? What tiny tasks could you add that act like seeds you plant in the garden?
If you plant enough habit seeds, at least one of them is bound to grow into an enormous tree and perhaps a forest after five years. The tiny seed I planted was reading books in the car late at night. It seemed so dumb. I told no one. The books didn’t cost a lot so my minimum wage salary could afford them.
Dissect your daily habits to predict your future growth.
Growth costs $0
It costs $0.00 to be an optimist.
It costs $0.00 to be kind.
It costs $0.00 to think long-term.
— Brian Feroldi
To grow requires optimism. To grow requires good people around you that kindness helps attract to you. To grow from who you are today to who you want to be in a year requires a long-term commitment.
All this is free.
There’s zero barrier to entry other than effort. Add creativity and you’ve got a growth trajectory that will blow you away.
The best type of work that will lead you to growth
Our best work is the work we find ourselves doing, when there is no obligation to do so — Naval Ravikant
Work is another path to growth. When we engage in an activity — like a side hustle — enough times, we learn a lot from the active experience. This goes against conventional wisdom. The normal path is to passively learn in a classroom and wait to be ready and given credentials.
Growth requires creativity. And when you do work you love, your creativity wakes up. It’s the kind of work you would do if you had all the free time in the world and never had to work another day in your life. Mine is writing.
Experiment with a new type of work, therefore, moving towards discomfort.