I've been obsessed with personal growth for over 15 years now.
I've read hundreds of books, listened to thousands of podcasts, and spent thousands of hours doing life by making mistakes and doing my best to learn from them.
In 2014, I packed up my car after selling my businesses in Florida to move to Austin. A friend said it was Amazing. Sounds good.
All I knew is I needed to move West. (I'm sure glad I didn't end up in California.)
During that 20 hour drive, I was mulling around an idea for a new company.
A month after finding an apartment, I listed my first product under the Wild Foods brand, Wild Whey.
I sold $500 worth of protein.
So I launched more products.
By the end of 2015, after 12 months in business, I surpassed $500,000 in sales.
I was all-in.
Long story short, the next five years were some of the most stressful and exciting years of my life. Wild Foods hit $3,000,000 in sales in its third year in business. The police shut down our production facility due to a food permit dispute (of which we didn't even need).
During this time, I was able to pay off $50,000 in debt to become debt-free. I also met an amazing partner, and we have created two amazing boys. I grew my company to 35 employees. Then I realized how difficult managing people is. So I decided to downsize down to a smaller team.
On top of all that, I moved seven times, bought my first home, sold my first home, and am working on the next big project of my life (Better Human Education).
I now set my schedule. I work on whatever I want, whenever I want.
I write, read, record videos, and podcasts about topics I enjoy.
My journey is just getting started.
I came from mostly nothing and now have abundance and prosperity with more on the way.
And this has all come from my thoughts. Through the sheer will of my mind and the effort that comes from true belief, I have done this all.
Now that I've reached a level of success that has evolved past the "start-up" stage, I have more time to think and reflect.
My interests have led me to education and sharing whatever knowledge I can to help others. I thoroughly enjoy teaching, sharing, coaching humans to become better.
As I think back over my entrepreneurial career, I can identify recurring themes during my 10-year+ entrepreneurial journey. I now want to pass these along to others to save them time and toil figuring these things out the hard way.
Through this reflection, I've identified what I want to do with the remainder of my life. It's this: build better humans through education.
I would never have guessed I'd care about what I now care about at 35. Such is the power and importance of taking action. It took me 15 years and a ton of time, stress, and anxiety, but I've finally figured out what I want to do with my life.
You can't think your way to a successful life. You have to take action.
For the rest of this article, I'll give you a few big ideas that have helped me build a successful life outside of the established status quo.
Principle: Forever learning
A Japanese concept perfectly encapsulating this principle is called kaizen, which roughly translates to constant improvement.
If you gave me a magic paintbrush at 21 and allowed me to paint the life I wanted, I'm afraid of what I might create. I doubt it would look anything like the life I have today, yet my current life is the life I want.
The thing I've learned is a building an epic life requires BUILDING, one brick at a time, one improvement at a time, one lesson at a time, one trial at a time.
And there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO to shortchange this process.
This principle requires two things: learning and implementing and learning.
You can learn things, but without taking action, you cannot truly internalize something. You also don't get the mass of subtle feedback that comes as a result of this process. I bet most of the actual learning comes through this process.
The difference between smart, successful people and smart, unsuccessful people is this action-feedback loop.
Knowing is never enough. You must create feedback loops through action.
The happiest people are self-aware.
They "know thyself," as Socrates suggested.
If you don't cultivate a healthy awareness of who you are and what you want, you'll forever be a pinball in the Game of Life. You'll have little say in what you get. You'll leave your future up to chance.
I don't know about you, but that sounds like a big risk, maybe the ultimate risk.
Principle: Compound Interest
As Woody Allen said, "80% of success is just showing up."
Compound interest is one reason why this power-law exists—things compound, and they do so over time.
Most people quit before they ever get a taste of compounding.
If you can stick with anything for the long run, you will get a taste of the power of compounding.
It's as close to mathematical certainty as you can get.
So keep going and stick with it.
First Principles thinking
"I think it's important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. [With analogy] we are doing this because it's like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there." -Elon Musk
Most people start from what others are doing or have accepted. They are reasoning by analogy.
On the other hand, a first-principles thinker drops this focuses on the core basics. This creates a new way of thinking. The biggest benefit is the immediate removal of assumptions that come from analogy. By removing so much of the mental gunk that clogs up most people's thought process, you get to see things most people can never see.
First-principles thinking makes you a clearer, better thinker.
Most critical thinking success results from dropping the wrong ideas and accepted norms of the society you live in. Humans are hardwired to think alike, which is why it's so hard for the typical person to think "outside the box.
If you focus on the things that don't change, you'll have better thinking and be less likely to get bogged down in pointless complexity.
Detach from Ego and from that voice inside your head
You are not your thoughts or your fears, or your prejudices.
Though you probably think you are. You think you are the subconscious and conscious thoughts that show up in your mind.
But is that who you are? Or is that how you have adapted to your environment thus far?
How many of the habits, fears, and beliefs your mind hold were a conscious, carefully-weighed decision?
Few is the most likely answer.
Most of our conditioning is subconscious. Most of it is a response from our childhood.
And while the formation of your inner world was mostly out of your control, whether you let these thoughts stay is entirely your choice.
Most people have no idea that it is their responsibility to change their thoughts. And most don't know they can.
So they float through life, living lives of quiet desperation.
The first step in this process is to stop actively judging everything. Stop telling yourself stories about yourself and the outside world.
Stop trying to label everything so you can fit it into a neat little box.
This tendency to quickly judge everything is a survival mechanism built into our species from our ancestral past.
It kept our ancestors alive.
Today, it gets us into trouble.
How to think
Everything in your life is determined by your thoughts.
Your way of thinking is why you have the life you have.
If you want to change anything, you must change your thoughts, which will then change your actions.
Happiness and peace of mind is an internal game
Most people try to chase external under the premise that it will appease the internal.
This never works because it can't work.
What's internal must be worked on from the inside. The external can never reach the internal.
You have to replace fixed thought patterns with a growth mindset.
- I'm not good at math
- I'm X
- It's too hard
Many people utter phrases like this without realizing thier impact. They don't recognize that a simple utterance is a thing holding them back and that for as long as they say it, it will remain true.
Some are lucky that our environment produced a natural leaning towards the growth spectrum in us. Some have a leaning towards the fixed end of the spectrum.
This is not set by any means.
I tell you this so you are prepared for the work you need to do based on what end of the spectrum you are on.
Achieve peace, then experiment with happiness.
Most people think they want happiness when what they really want is peace of mind.
Happiness is a transient state that comes and goes as it oscillates with unhappiness.
On the other hand, peace of mind is achievable by focusing on what you can control and accepting everything else.
When you accept reality, you remove unnecessary suffering by shifting your focus to action. You don't waste time on things you can't change. This brings a calm and detached mental state.
What I've learned about focusing on peace of mind is, happiness and gratitude and other "good" feelings tend to show up naturally as a byproduct.
Sometimes I like to be intensely focused on a problem. I'm not happy during this time, though it feels good to be intensely focused.
This is what many find in the "flow state," which some say is a form of happiness and integral for true fulfillment. I agree.
People are the most important thing
I've known this for a long time, though I didn't always make decisions that respected its importance.
One reason I'm excited about building better humans is I get to interact, spend time with, learn from, and be around other humans. Connections and relationships will come out as a byproduct. Win-win.
You already have everything you need to be fulfilled.
Health, family, friends, security, safety, and purpose are right there in front of your eyes… if only you could see them.
Maybe you need to optimize a couple of these categories to reach "optimal," but I can assure you that you already have everything you need to live an abundant and fully actualized life.
The problem is your mind. Your mind tells you stories about not enough, and other nonsense from the parasite society has implanted in your mind.
When you remove this parasite, you realize that you already have everything you need. When that happens, you can get to living a free and full life, though not a second before.
Wake up and remove the parasite.
This is an incomplete list. I'll add more as life goes on.
If I had to give you one area of focus, it would be your thinking.
Pay attention to your thoughts. Start catching yourself. Observe first; then you'll slow down. Then you can start inserting better thought patterns.
This is a process, and it won't happen overnight, so give it time.
There is nothing more important than controlling your inner world.