As Emerson once put it, "What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say."
Who are you?
Can you answer that question for yourself?
I believe the biggest gap in humanity today is individuals able to ask themself hard questions, like who am I.
Instead, we most ask the question, "Who do other people think I am?"
They ask social media who we are and try to answer it with our posts, and hashtags, and captions, all of it manicured to answer who we think we should be according to someone else. That's nonsense.
But who are we you, really?
Do you even know?
These are hard questions. Important ones. Paramount. But still hard.
Ok, I get what you are saying, but what am I supposed to do with this?
It's not like I'm going to wake up tomorrow and be a different person because I read your article online.
It's not like I'm going to escape the enticing social media traps or my intake desire to get attention.
It's not like I'm going to put my phone in airplane mode and focus on my work and detach from the thrall of dopamine that makes me feel sooo good.
I'm going to take a 10-minute reprieve to sip my cold brew and ruminate on this while I casually spy on the sea of students studying away at this small coffee shop in this small college town I've become fond of. (Austin)
There are so many ideas I could rivet on right now.
But during my people-watching and cold-brew-sipping, I kept coming back to the idea of Desire.
Desire, you say?
I know. Let me explain.
You see, I've been doing this entrepreneur thing for 13+ years now. And an existential question I've wrestled with the entire time is, "Why don't the people around me see the world the way I do? Why don't they take advantage of their skills and build the life they want?"
This has plagued me ever since I figured out how to work for myself, set my schedule, and be my own master, which has made me sad to see those I care about stuck doing things they don't want to do every day.
I even started a coaching/training business a while back to help some people achieve this way of life. I became so frustrated by their lack of progress that I eventually shut it down because they didn't take action. I couldn't take the mental burden of seeing wasted talent so close to me. I had to distance myself from it.
This has further shaped my idea of what it takes for individuals to take control of their lives.
And I think if you strip everything away, all that's left is Desire.
You have to want it so much that you have no other choice.
Your Desire has to overcome the safer options.
You have to want it in your bones to the point that the safer options feel riskier because you will miss out on what you could have been.
That is how I feel after 15+ years doing this shit, and I feel like I'm just getting started.
I long ago asked myself some hard questions about how I want to live my life and what difference I wanted to make.
Some of these have become my First Principles for life. Here they are:
Life is short
So don't waste time or opportunity or talent. (My dad died when I was 18. My grandmother a few years before. My grandfather a few years after. My Stuckert side of the family is all gone now.)
I want family
I take the responsibility of passing along the Stuckert name and the gifts my family gifted me to the next generation.
I don't trust that the safety I grew up in will last forever
As an 80's baby growing up through the Internet revolution, Total Request Live with Carson Daily, and now the next epoch of human evolution that may end up looking like The Matrix, there is still a ton of uncertainty ahead of us. One of my primary directives for having money is to attain safety for my family with guns, bullets, land, food, animals, water, off the grid self-sufficiency as possible. (BTW, at the end of 2019, I bought a 10-acre homestead and we will be doing all of these things.)
Time is the most critical depleting resource
I can never buy time, so how I spend my days working and the schedule around my work is my first consideration. I could have taken a job a long time ago and probably made a comfortable $120k+ a year working for a company with little stress and plenty of funds to invest and live comfortably. But this would invariably come at the expense of having my schedule set by someone else. Instead, I went the entrepreneur route, barely paying my bills for years and still miles from where I want to be after 13 damn years.
It's a long-term play, but in a way, I've already been successful from a time perspective because no one has had a say in my schedule and how I live my day-to-day life in 13 years.
I want Money
I want a lot of it. Yes, and I have no shame around that. I have no desire to spend money in a way that brings me attention. I want money to build things, protect my family, and make the world a bit closer to how I think it should be. And also, having Fuck You Money, as they say in the finance world, is one of the greatest forms of security moving into an uncertain future.
Back to Desire
So, what I just laid out for you are some of my first principles for life. These are things that I've been thinking about and refining for years from reading books, seeing death first hand, and developing confidence in my view of what makes a good life.
And since they are First Principles for me, there is precisely interviewee to my Desire to see them through. They are my foundational operating framework for every decision I make or don't make.
As Jobs said, "I'm as proud or more proud of the things we haven't done than the things we have."
That's why it always comes back to desire. Do you really want the thing enough to do what's necessary to get the thing?
You have to have enough Desire to be willing to develop your first Principles for life and then, even more, to stick to the day in and day out when the going gets tough.
The going is going to get tough. <- The understatement of the fucking century.
Since you are reading this on the Internet, and the Internet loves cute little lists, here is what I think would be an actionable list to do something with what you just read.
1. Develop your first principles for life (tip: you don't need a lot of money to live a fantastic life. That said, having somewhat passive income to cover your base life needs is something every human should strive for, in my not-so-humble opinion.)
2. Constantly think about these first principles and ask yourself tough questions that break through your bullshit excuses and negative self-talk so you can stay true to what you want. Your Ego and your Desire for comfort are going to challenge you every step of the way. Prepare.
3. Remain open-minded to ideas and opportunities. If you are just getting started, say YES to everything. Once you hone in on something that is bringing you results or has the potential to, become better at saying NO. When you get the training moving, say NO as your default and YES only sometimes.
Here's another little list for you since I know you're horny for it:
1. Read widely and often. Read books. Use Audible and Scribd.com and make your car or your commute a moving library.
2. Figure out some core skills and go deep. Writing, editing, video, speaking, coaching, cooking, consulting, whatever. There are many ways to build skills; these are just the ones that come to my mind. Yours will be your own. You have to become suitable to get control over your life. The less good you are, the less control you have. The more interested you are, the more control you have.
3. Study people and yourself. Read psychology, anthropology, evolutionary biology, sales, marketing, etc.
The better you understand people and yourself, the better results you will get in everything you do. After all, nothing you do in your life has any value if others don't value it.
Can you cultivate desire?
Maybe you feel a bit deflated right now. After all, what if you don't have Desire?
Humans have a built-in desire to desire.
Most are just distracted by other people living their Desire that they never go inward to figure it out for themselves. Or worse, they try to copy others.
Truly understanding who you are and what life you want to live may be the most essential and challenging undertaking of your life.
Pursue passions, but don't be convinced by the lie that doing so will magically bring you money or the life you want. It can. If you do it long enough while remaining open-minded, it probably will, but it's not as easy as the self-help books would have you believe.
Before I let you go, don't be one of those that read something and get excited for a second, then go plat Fortnight or watch the Bachelor before lying to yourself that "you'll start tomorrow," or some other half-baked, feel-good proxy for taking action.
Today. Right now. Not tomorrow. Tomorrow doesn't even exist. After all, each tomorrow is just a today in the future. You never get to tomorrow. You are only ever at today.
There is no better template for life than knowing who you are and what you want.
The more self-aware you become, the more you can hone in on your Desire, genuine Desire, not some bullshit society-crafted illusion of Desire you see on Instagram.
Get to it.