They pump weights and pump up their egos. I found a guy like this on X. But he was different. While he loved fitness he had some unusual ideas about mixing business, spirituality, productivity, and writing.
I quickly realized Dan Koe isn’t a gym bro.
No. He’s one of the smartest writers I’ve ever met. When he announced he had his first book coming out, I got an advanced copy.
Here are the lessons I learned from Dan Koe’s book “The Art of Focus” — that’ll make you more money, and steal back your attention from big tech and their algorithms.
The most important skill in the world: focus
“The New Rich” is a phrase I’m starting to hear a lot.
It has nothing to do with Lambos and Hollywood mansions. Dan’s book describes the new rich as a group of people who use their creativity and minds to make enough money to experience freedom.
That means they don’t need jobs or college to succeed.
Some still think this lifestyle is silly. It’s because they are trapped in a mindless life where their attention is stolen from them & they don’t even realize. They’re so busy being stuck doing mindless tasks they can’t think.
Dan says the new rich focus on mastery, which sets you apart in a world where everyone is focused on surface-level bullsh*t. Masters believe the repetition of the boring fundamentals isn’t boring at all.
These same masters believe the idea of balance is misunderstood.
Work-life balance has distorted where rest and relaxation fit in. People have become so obsessed with self-care that they’ve traded it for their goals, purpose, dreams, and vision. Sad. And they’re not even aware.
Dan taught me a big lesson:
Balance isn’t about finding some messy spot in the middle. Real balance is about a dance between extremes in an often chaotic moment in time.
When there are no extremes all you have is default mediocrity.
If you don’t have a plan, society does, and it’s been planning your life for decades — Dan Koe
Focus can’t exist without a plan of what you’ll focus on.
Too many people have no focus and, therefore no goals. It’s tragic. When there’s no plan for your life society gives you one through a memorization education and a default job that lacks any form of creativity.
The real learning happens when we struggle — not memorize other people’s lessons, or study facts.
In the book Dan talks about a beautiful place. He says we come alive when we have one foot in the known and the other in the unknown. Yet the average person only lives in a place that is comfortable and known.
The mindset we’re assigned by default
Mindset is everything.
It’s what determines our behavior and what we will focus on. In the book I was reminded that 99% of people have a closed mind, quick-fix mindset.
They’re so busy looking for shortcuts and jumping at clickbait, outrage shadows…that their mind quietly works against them. The antidote is to seek out hard problems. It’s to find a struggle you want to focus on.
This kind of advice is rare. We’re told to do the opposite. “Relax. Take a load off. You’ve worked hard.”
Most of us are hardly working and deluded into thinking we are. And if you don’t work hard then nothing works, therefore, you’re hypnotized by shortcuts and get-rich-quick schemes that don’t work.
How the mind bizarrely works
You can’t understand focus until you understand the mind.
I’m not a genius, so I hadn’t heard much about the concept of entropy before reading The Art of Focus. Entropy is the idea that the mind and reality always lean toward disorder and chaos.
Unless you cultivate focus and direct it towards a meaningful goal, you’ll likely be swept up in the tornado of everyday entropy. The solution is to turn your life into a video game.
This helps create structure in your mind and focus your attention, so you don’t get screwed by entropy.
It’s why video gamers are becoming some of the most successful people in society. They use the gaming way of life to direct their focus toward a set goal.
Once you have a game that creates structure, you hold the missing piece of life-changing success (in any field you want).
The imagination age is here
The information age is dying.
ChatGPT and AI flooded the internet with even more information. Now we’re drowning in information. Dan says we’re moving into the imagination age.
It’s where human creativity that can’t be replicated by AI will come at a premium.
That means writers will stop getting paid peanuts. Musicians will see their music become more valuable. And those who can use their creativity to connect the dots between ideas and make sense of a world that’s trending more toward chaos will join the new rich.
If you can apply focus, flow states, and the habit of deep work to the imagination age then you’ll never feel like you’ve worked a day in your life again. What a time to be alive!
It’s a form of digital renaissance.
The key objective of the imagination age is to fix problems associated with consciousness. Because most humans live an unconscious life and aren’t aware of their existence or haven’t come to terms with the fact they will die.
Dan blows my mind with this idea:
Business is about transferring consciousness into your customer.
I’d argue writing, too, is transferring consciousness into readers’ minds. This is why I’m so excited about this new era we live in. And writing isn’t limited to experts or those who have book deals with gatekeepers. Nope.
Anyone can transfer consciousness to strangers through the internet.
The paradox of productivity
The idea of hustle culture has infected our minds.
What it gets wrong is “the less you work the, the higher quality your work is,” says Dan. Wow, I love this idea.
I find the better I get at business the less I work. Systems make me more productive. Outsourcing tasks gives me more leverage. Time in the game makes business tasks simpler.
True productivity needs higher levels of creativity. And you can’t think deeply and access your creative power if you’re always doing donkey work and never have time to let your mind wander.
A lack of wandering minds is the real pandem!c.
High performance is spiritual
Spirituality is something I knew nothing about before I met Dan Koe.
In his book he says top athletes describe their performances as spiritual. Some use the word spiritual and some don’t — but it’s what they mean.
They’ve developed themselves to a point where their skill becomes art. Intuitive. Natural. Creative.
Living a happy and meaningful life is more spiritual than a lot of people realize. It’s why when people hate on religion, I don’t get it.
I’m not religious either. But religion is a form of spirituality and to ignore it is to be ignorant of an extremely powerful performance amplifier.
Being more spiritual is how you plug your mind into other minds.
Spirituality connects us. It makes us more present. It forces us to ask “why” and to analyze our thoughts. And it makes us believe we’re not the most important thing in the universe because there is a higher power.
Religion calls the higher power a god. Non-religious, spiritual people like me don’t give it a name. But we act as if it exists and we try to tap into its power with our lives and work.
Study basic spirituality to upgrade your performance.
Dan Koe’s “Art of Focus” book taught me a lot.
Most of all, it reminded me that I can build someone else’s dream for 8 hours a day or I can focus on mine.
The book also taught me life is about looking at it through different lenses that act like a camera in which you look at reality.
If you learn the art of focus, you can transform your life in a year.