With the right frame of mind, life can be full of upsides.
People play life too small. They play not to lose. And fair enough, based on their reasoning, upbringing, and cultural reinforcements - they have every excuse to be worried and skeptical of different ways of living.
Maybe they’ve had frequent exposure to stories of people who lost that took the risk. Maybe they’ve had something not work out that cost them big time. But I’d argue most of us would benefit more from loosening up. From taking more risks and wondering what’s really possible.
What if there’s actually a lot to gain and very little to lose?
I recently discovered a brilliant Stanford lecture by an investor, Graham Weaver, about how to live an asymmetric life. It’s a 30min + video, but I thought it offered a clear & concise look at how to live in an interesting way.
Here are the 4 highlights I pulled out:
Comfort zones. Homeostasis. We automatically want things to remain the same, even if it’s not in our best interest and we dread it.
As the old saying goes, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t”.
People get lost in that. It blinds them. They take on a ‘it could be worse’ attitude that doesn’t come with benefits.
To live asymmetrically, to live an interesting life, it requires you to suck for a while. You feel pain, but you keep going.
You find out you can handle it and it’s not as bad as you imagined. Or maybe it is as bad as you imagined, yet, you discover there’s more of you left.
Graham on this:
“Everything you want is on the other side of ‘worse first’. But when you can get comfortable being uncomfortable, you can have nearly anything you want in this life.“
When you look at it, life doesn’t have an easy path or a safe path.
Sooner or later, you figure out life is suffering despite what you believe or think of it. And it’s hard for everyone, no matter what you do or who you are. Once you’ve accepted this, you want to lean into what’s worth suffering for.
“When faced with choices about what we want to do, most of us miss one important piece of the equation. We factor in all the risks and tradeoffs, but we completely discount how differently we will show up when we’re truly energized about something. When our whole being is fully invested, we tap into a superpower and can sustain that for a long time. You won’t tap into this power as long as you’re living someone else’s dream. “
I love this idea - ‘truly energized’.
That’s the source of energy we want to find & tune into. That’s the gift that keeps on giving. That’s Doing Your Own Thing 101.
Find something you can stick with and stick with it.
Time becomes your powerful ally vs. your demise.
And because it’s something you like and are committed to, you will want to get better at it. And if you are getting better at something you like doing and you do it for a very long time, you’re winning that game.
Graham puts it like this:
“There is almost no obstacle that won’t yield to you at full power for a decade. “
There can be a lot of fog in our current life, preventing us from seeing it accurately.
But here’s something you can do (that’s fun) to immediately act on these ideas.
Write up a story about your life 5 years from now with the understanding that you cannot possibly fail - it’s surprisingly hard to let your mind go there. Write without constraint about the snapshot of your perfect life 5 years from now. Be serious about the exercise and withhold all woo-woo judgments you may have. Treat it as an experiment. What do you have to lose by doing it anyway?
Critical, frame-worthy statement from Graham:
“The ‘how’ is the killer of all great dreams.”
And just because there’s this new story you’ve created, nothing will change - at least immediately in the external.
But you will change.
If you liked this and want to see Graham’s entire talk, here’s a link to his video.
Turns out there can be a lot of overlap between building design and building a life. John Ruskin (unknowingly perhaps) tells us how to live life better.
It's never too late to stumble upon an underlying principle of reality. (Especially one that can be put to use immediately)