I accept all of the following premises:
I could go on here, but the main point is I get the fact that self-improvement isn’t a cureall to the ailments of society. Nor does it guarantee you’ll achieve any of the outcomes you want. If you look around, you don’t see a ton of self-actualized, financially free, sovereign individuals walking around.
Yet, I still study and write about self-improvement every day. Why? Because the overall effect of the process helps enough people to make it worthwhile and the ripple effect is massive.
In the book Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill, the devil, Hill’s interpretation of the forces that ail society, says that only 2 out of every 100 people will stay true to their purpose, follow through with the goals, and avoid drifting. Most people become ‘drifters’ who get pulled every which way by the negative influences in society and end up leading the lives of quiet desperation I’m prone to talking about ad naseum.
That number sounds about right.
Seems like a low number, but is it? Two percent of the United States is roughly 6.5 million people. Two percent of the entire world is 140 million people. This might be a small percentage of the population, but that’s a hell of a lot of people living the life of their dreams if you ask me.
And the ripple effect from this two percent accounts for most of the things we enjoy and benefit from in life. If not for a select few people who had a vision for their life and a purpose, we’d be worse off as a society.
Instead of just enjoying the fruits of the two percent, why not become one of them? There’s enough room for you.
“We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.” – Chuck Palahniuk
Don’t fight the rules of life at all. Accept that most people don’t get the outcomes they want. Accept that upward mobility is difficult for most people to achieve.
I’m bullish about the individual yet extremely pessimistic about the collective. The system is rigged. I wrote an entire book about the fact the system is rigged and gave many solutions to escape it.
Each solution is derived from the attitude of not trying to fight the system, but escaping it entirely. The machine doesn’t mind if some cogs go missing. But you feel like you’re a part of that inescapable machine, at least a little bit, don’t you? I truly hate this machine, what it does to us, and the way it makes us feel, like nothing, nobodies, unexceptional people.
I hated it so much I decided not to let it label me anymore.
How do you cultivate the attitude that you, yes you, are exceptional? You do understand that there are exceptions because you see them everywhere in life. Hard to miss all 6.5 million examples.
From the local business owner who gets to wake up and do whatever he or she wants, to people like Leslie Fightmaster who runs a popular yoga YouTube channel full-time I pay a subscription to, to the famous actors and billionaires, or to people like me who get to write for a living, there’s a wide range of dreams and ambitions that fall outside of conventional living.
Still, it’s hard to see yourself as one of these people because for every two dream life examples you have 98 examples of conventional life. You’re surrounded by them. 98, maybe even 100 out of 100 people in your personal network fit this description.
I can’t give you the perfect fix to this, but the solutions I’m going to give all come from the idea that you need to stop identifying yourself as part of the masses.
You need to not only not care about not fitting in, but actively position yourself against these people. You can’t view yourself as being part of the societal tribe. This involves feeling alone. This involves feeling crazy because everything you see in society from the media to the words that come out of your friends, family, and acquaintances mouths will sound exactly the opposite of what you believe.
I’m not saying I’m infallible, but whatever ability I’ve been given to see through the noise makes me feel insane sometimes. Like there’s this joke everyone gets but no one admits. You’ll feel this way, too. Let go of the need to get other people to see your worldview, though.
Symbolically, at least, you’ll have to let go of society and everyone you know altogether so you can focus on your mission.
“One’s dominating desires can be crystallized into their physical equivalents through definiteness of purpose backed by definiteness of plans with the aid of rhythm and time” – Napoleon Hill
You know, for the longest time I kept telling people I didn’t believe in the Law of Attraction literally. But I’m pretty sure I do. The power of the mind is not a joke. Now, I haven’t gone to the level of the Secret to believe that you can manifest circumstances with zero action. But maybe manifestation happens because your firm beliefs cause you to act.
It’s hard to explain, but my life didn’t change until I wanted it to. Once I meant it at that deep visceral level, things changed. You’d think that you’d automatically want to change your life, but…do you?
Do you want to change your life?
Or do you prefer the comfort of your illusions? To actually change your life means you have to take everything that comes with it. In many ways, you have to take the ‘red pill’ that will liberate you and give you the power to shape your reality, but you’ll also have to discover the full truth.
I don’t think many of us honor just how good living a life of ignorance can be. In the short-term, before we reach those though moments of realization late in life, being a drifter is in many ways, better than living a life of purpose. It’s comfortable.
I could be guilty of romanticizing the past here, but at the time I took my own self-improvement seriously I decided I was dead serious about avoiding the comfortable yet wholly unrewarding life of playing it safe and drifting.
I started learning and when I came across writing I took the opportunity and ran with it. Eventually, I knew I wanted to become a full-time writer to the point I felt it in my bones. I became obsessed with the thought of it, which helped me put the work in. I knew it was a matter of time.
From start to finish, it took five years to turn my dream into reality. That’s the part most people forget when they try to manifest their dreams.
Who said manifesting meant immediately manifesting? You have to keep that dream in mind and do the work for a long period of time. Then it’ll work.
“You are entitled to know that two entities occupy your body. One of these entities is motivated by and responds to the impulse of fear. The other is motivated by and responds to the impulse of faith. Will you be guided by faith or will you allow fear to overtake you?” – Napoleon Hill
The logical steps of what you need to do are obvious.
For example, anyone can achieve financial freedom. There are replicable steps you could take that don’t require genius. You could do something like start a franchise in a boring industry, learn marketing, find customers, buy more franchises, etc, until you’re free. Success in business and finance isn’t guaranteed, short-term, but long-term, it pretty much is.
If you have a talent for something, you might never become world-famous, but you could do a good enough job to make a living from it, which is an awesome dream. The dream I live right now.
Luck is a factor in success, yes, but of course, if you kept swinging over and over again, iterating along the way and avoided repeating the same mistakes, you’d get something to pop.
But you have to have faith that something will pop. I love that phrase ‘get something to pop.’ It means you’re working diligently never knowing when those inflection points will happen. You just know they’re coming, eventually.
I knew I’d become a full-time writer one day, somehow. Did I know it would be because of a website called Medium.com? No. But I learned the ropes of the blogging game, studied writing techniques, and kept writing every single day without fail because I knew an opportunity would present itself.
An opportunity will present itself to you if you have faith.
You can see faith beating out fear in society because you have a world full of people with then need to be ‘informed.’ They’ll pay $100,000 to credible institutions like colleges because they have credentials but won’t have faith in the $1,000 business course from someone who doesn’t have a degree but can help them change.
You forgot how to have faith because you were trained out of it from a young age. Get your faith back so you can stay the course.
I remember the first time I bought an online writing course. I figured, at worst, I’d get scammed and lose the money. Deep down, I had faith it would work and I’d rather lose $1,000 than have to worry about spending $1,000 on something every day for the rest of my life.
But how do you have faith?
What are the steps? What are my ten bulletproof methods for believing in yourself and taking proper steps daily? Where is the magic bullet?
You, my friend, are the magic bullet. You don’t actually need me. You’re already a miracle. A literal miracle. The odds of you even being here are essentially zero. Use that as fuel for the delusion that you’re exceptional.
And delusion is the best word to describe the attitude you need to join the two percent. You have no evidence that you’re the exception to the rule. You just have to believe it.
You’re pretty much already in that group because you’re reading a self-improvement article. People who are into self-help think it’s ubiquitous when it’s not. People who consume self-help are probably 10 percent of the population. And most of them even quit eventually.
But you won’t be one of those people. Why? Because you chose not to be.
Here’s what you should think to yourself.
Fuck it, dude.
You’re going to be the one to do it. Pardon my Francais, but that’s the attitude you need. I know fear is a mean nasty little bitch, but don’t try to counteract it with this harsh seriousness that you’re going to overcome fear at all costs.
Combat fear with a light-hearted attitude while being dead serious about your plans at the same time.
Having faith means you’re a little gullible, a little naive, a little delusional. But what does pragmatism get you, really? A BMW, a dusty plaque you paid $100k for, some ugly house in the suburbs, and the approval of people you don’t even like? Eh, I’ll pass. I want the dream.
So do you.
And you can get it on a long-enough time scale if you begin taking the steps. Identify your strengths with my guide below. Run an experiment to find a project or idea that resonates with you. Work on it and tune out the rest of the world while you do.
The secret to success is making is as simple as uncomplicated as possible. Only a few can do it.
Be one of those few people. That’s all you need to do.