General Badassery Episode 33

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This week's podcast came out of some stuff I wrote while working on a paid report, which didn't actually fit in that report. So I dragged it into the Legion of Badass on Facebook, where I used a visual aid to cover the idea in

See that green bullseye? That's you. Right now. You've got what you've got.

See the red circle? That's all the shit you can't have for one reason or another.

Now look to the inner circles. The orange one is stuff OTHER PEOPLE have, but that you could get from them. And the yellow one is the stuff you could make yourself.

I've labeled those with TIME, MATERIAL, and INFLUENCE, too. So let's go over that.

You can't get more time. You have the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else, and there's no way to get more of it. You're going to live on this planet and have the abilities you have as long as you are here and you have them, and as Kansas put it - all your money won't another minute buy.

Below that you have material. Money. Possessions. Anything physical at all. If you don't have it, then the simple fact is it belongs to someone else and the only way you can get it is to convince them to give it to you.

And then there's influence. You can manufacture influence. You can go out and learn a new skill, which lets you influence the world and the people around you. You can go out and make friends, who may be smarter and richer and more powerful than you. You can hire people. There are all kinds of ways to increase your influence, and YOU CAN ALWAYS MAKE MORE.

You can make and get other stuff, too. You can sit down and write something, which produces material that you can trade for more material (like money) or for influence.

This post here on the blog is actually being traded for influence; you don't have to pay for it, and its entire purpose is to make you think about the stuff I'm saying in it, because if you go "holy shit that's true" then when I finish writing the report that this post didn't fit into - you'll be more likely to buy it, trading material for it.

Everything you can have in the world is either something you can make yourself or something you have to get from someone else. And the only way to get anything from anyone else is through influence... which you can make yourself.

We keep saying over and over that every business in the internet age is a relationship business, because that's what ABSOLUTELY ANYONE can manufacture: influence. And if you practice, you'll get better at it. And when you're good at it, you'll be able to get all kinds of other stuff, all the way out to the limits of what you can get.

General Badassery Episode 32

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So let's talk a little more about brains, or more accurately about triune brain theory. This is an old, and now discredited, notion that your brain is actually a holdover from the animal kingdom - that you have a reptilian brain, a mammalian brain, and a primate brain.

I do happen to have a set of animal metaphors which I went over in the newsletter this week, and among them are a lizard (reptilian!) and a dog (mammalian!) and a monkey (primate!) - so it's easy, especially given my issues with Maslow last week/earlier today, to think I'm just tacking some stuff onto the ends of the triune brain theory.

This is not, however, my intention. The concept of the animal metaphors in my system isn't to say "these parts of your brain are the parts you had when you were a monkey/dog/lizard" because human beings didn't evolve from dogs and lizards and that's dumb.

The only thing I'm saying with my animal metaphors is "here's an easy way to remember what each part of the brain kind of resembles." It's just a mnemonic device; it doesn't mean that an actual lizard has what I call a lizard brain.

This cascades across most of the stuff I teach, honestly. It's still just a bunch of BULL, but I'm certainly not trying to throw SHIT at you with it. The point is to indoctrinate you into the secret language of my cult, and whoa did I just say that out loud?

Well, it matters, you know. Any tribe of people needs a secret language; a series of terms that represent their values and ideals in a way that people outside the group won't understand.

The idea is that when you talk about secret inner circle stuff for your tribe and your cult members, people on the outside - that "them" part from "us and them" - have no damn clue what you're talking about and can't participate in the conversation.

Unless, of course, they join the cult and learn the language and get their initial analysis. The Church of Scientology uses the Oxford Capacity Analysis Test for this; it gives you results that you can't figure out, and you need a representative of the church to explain it to you, so you have to invest an hour in this test and then physically go to a church so a cult officer can manipulate you into thinking joining this cult is a Good Idea.

Whether you like that particular cult or not, it's a pretty good mechanism for getting people to join. Most successful cults do something similar.

That's why I go out of my way to make catchy little secret names for everything. SLOT Machines. The Legion of Badass. The Black Stallion method. DISCO products. SWIFT communities.

The entire purpose is to draw you in further so you'll be able to understand the conversation, and in that process to get enough of your attention that your brain's natural desire to have made good decisions will kick in.

And then you'll want to believe that you believe this stuff. So you'll pretend that you do.

Where a lot of people mess that up is by having dumb crap that doesn't even sound like it could be true. Like you get deep enough into some cults and there's this weird belief about the end of the world and the forfeiture of all your personal possessions (to the cult!) or something.

A successful cult builds on a foundation that sounds plausible to the initial applicant, and requires very little cognitive friction to accept. I mean, you know there are needs people have, and that they can be organised hierarchically. And you know that the brain has different parts that do different things.

So feeding into what you already know makes those things sound perfectly natural and normal, and you get the idea that you should join up and hang out with us because we're cool and smart and fun.

And then the insular, crappy kind of cult that just wants to lock you up and exploit you will eventually tell you a bunch of weird crap nobody will believe, so other people reject you and you have to only interact with other cult members.

So, you know, watch out for that. Some cults are positive and productive; that's the kind I'm building here, but there are other cults which can also be positive and productive.

The ones that are neither will ultimately get around to saying you need to believe a bunch of weird shit that nobody in their right mind takes seriously, which is your cue to get the hell out of it.

I'm no exception, either. Watch carefully. If you see me pushing some crazy bullshit, holy crap, the cheese fell off my cracker and you need to GTFO.

General Badassery Episode 31

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Talking about the basic human needs naturally carries some implications, and one of the more interesting ones is this.

If you want to fill your own needs in a particular category, you need to be around people who have that need filled.

It's related to that "smartest person in the room" thing that people talk about: if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

Which basically means that if you can't work on the next need for some reason - like there's nobody to help you, and you actually need help - you can't meet that need.

And that carries on into this thing that a lot of people miss.

If you have time, money, and energy to spend on meeting further needs... but you can't meet them, because you are not in a position where they can be met... most people drop down to Consumption. The most basic of needs.

So you have someone who is trying to get a job, because their Survival and Safety are taken care of by welfare and food stamps. Now they want a job, so they can be in a position of Strength.

But in order to get a job, they need a car. And the car will cost them not only $500 to buy (getting some piece of shit off Craigslist), but they'll need insurance. They look at the $300 they've got left this month, and they can't get either one of those things.

So they go buy an iPhone.

Now, that was kind of a dumb decision, because if they just held onto that money they'd have $600 next month. If they could just think long-term and save the money, they'd be able to get the car and the insurance in a month or two.

Trouble is, that's farther up the chain. That's something you can do from a position of Strength, but when all you have is Safety and Survival, it doesn't feel like something you can do.

On the other side of Strength, it looks like they made a stupid decision, and they did. But it's the only decision that made any sense on their side of the line.

Some of us have never been on the other side of the line. I've been back and forth several times, so I know the difference in how you think and how you act on either side.

I know, because I've done it. I've spent the $300 I had towards a $750 rent payment because "I can't pay the rent" is the same whether you're $450 short or you just plain don't have anything.

The thing to remember is that in most cases, the decisions you see people making aren't always the decisions you would make, but you also don't know all the factors that went into the decision. And in most cases, those people are making their decisions better than you could.

General Badassery Episode 30

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So today I'm talking about systems and goals.

I'm a systems guy, so that's where I lean anyway. But there are a lot of people talking about goals, so let's kind of harp on why goals are honestly kind of stupid.

The common expression, as I've used in the podcast earlier, is "a goal is a dream with a date on it."

With no plan for how to get from where you are to that goal, however, the goal is still pretty worthless.

The big issues with goals come down to how they're focused on nouns instead of verbs. They're about having and getting things.

Systems are about action. They're about doing. And I generally find it preferable to do things than to have things - honestly, if I have something, it's because there's something I can do with it.

I don't really need to have a thing just to have it. Anything with no value beyond its existence seems worthless to me. And that's a value judgment, not like an immutable law of the universe, so maybe you don't agree... and that's fine.

But I still value systems over goals. Primarily because while goals can only be repeated, systems can be modified.

Your goal to have a Hawaiian vacation, once accomplished, has very little application beyond having another Hawaiian vacation because you've been there and done that.

But a system for planning and taking Hawaiian vacations can be repurposed into planning and taking... Australian vacations. Or African vacations.

Any vacation at all, really, you just have to change the destination and add in a little complexity for international travel.

A system can be optimised. A system can be simplifed. (I cover those in the newsletter this week.) A system can be repeated and tested and improved.

A goal is just like, a thing. You might get a system to fall out of a goal, if you pay attention to how it worked and how you got there. But when you try to apply that system again, how much of it is really repeatable?

You didn't construct it with the aim of being able to repeat it. You just wrote down what produced a Hawaiian vacation the first time. You may not be able to do the same things.

Designing a system with the aim of repeating it, in my book, makes a whole hell of a lot more sense than just setting a goal and chasing after it. Even if you set and reach deadlines.

Of course, your mileage may vary on this front.