Unless you’re winning, most of life will seem unfair to you
Life rules are complicated. People play by different rules.
But there are fundamental principles top performance use to guide their actions — they make sense to them. But they may be less comfortable for you. It pays to know them though. Or better still, it’s important to know what works for those who are winning.
Most people never manage to learn them — they choose to do the same things over and over again but expect different results. That’s insanity, argues Einstein.
1. Life is a competition — but it doesn’t have a singular definition of winning
It’s a painful thing to believe, but in reality, it’s true. We are all players trying to make our way and win the complicated game of life.
We are all competing. We are all competing for the same things in life — money, status, recognition, the next best thing, etc.
What do you do for a living? Someone is busy trying to replace you with a code. That high-paying job or contract you want? So does somebody else.
“People dress up to win partners. They interview to win jobs. If you deny that competition exists, you’re just losing. Everything in demand is on a competitive scale. And the best is only available to those who are willing to truly fight for it,” argues Oliver Emberton, founder of Silktide, a writer, pianist, programmer, and artist.
In truth, you should compete with yourself — to get better or become a great version of yourself. Being in competition with yourself is the healthiest competition. Nobody needs to lose for you to win.
Set the bar for yourself. Channel your competitive energy to meet your own standards and expectations. Be the driver on your journey to success.
The blessing of modern civilisation is that there are abundant opportunities to get what you want if you are ready to embrace the messy middle — disappointments, failure, perseverance, and setbacks.
2. You’re rewarded by the volume of people you can impact
In life, what you think doesn’t really matter — it’s what you do that gets rewarded. The world doesn’t judge you by what you think but by the actions and risks you’ve taken.
Write an unpublished book, nobody cares — put it out there or better still, get published and suddenly people want to know your story.
Cancers researchers are rewarded less than supermodels. A salesperson is rewarded based on the number of people who become customers.
If you are a freelancer, your income is determined by the number of clients you serve. If you run an online business, the more views the better.
Venture Capitalists begin to notice your startup if you are attracting more attention and subscribers.
Life is a numbers game.
3. Winners leverage multiple skill sets
Life is a continual progression of skill stacking. The relevant skills you learn today can be used not just tomorrow but for the rest of your life.
What got you here, may not get you to where you want to be tomorrow. Instead of mastering one skill, build a skillset
Learn new skills, often unrelated, and then combine them to make yourself more efficient, or valuable.
Tim Herrera of New York Times explains, “The idea is that instead of focusing your efforts on becoming singularly great at one specific skill or task, you should strive to get proficient at a few related skills that can be woven together into a wider skill set that does make you singularly good at your profession or some general life ability.”
Individual skills are common. Combinations are rarer.
If you want to raise your value, take a step back from your core strength, and consider building a broader combination of them.
The small slice of time you devote to learning about a new skill that piques your interest can pay off for the rest of your life. Failing to learn key skills can have a lasting impact on your career.
4. Life is a long game — your strategy (decisions and choices) determines how long you last
All players die after about 29,000 days or 80 years.
Your daily choices are shaping where you end up — happy, healthy, fulfilled — or miserable. If you apply the right rules at every stage of your life, you might last a little longer.
That’s why your strategy is important. Because by the time most of us have figured life out, we’ve used up too much of the best parts. But it’s never too late to apply the rules like your life depends on them because it does.
5. Happiness is being responsible for your own experience
“Happiness is an inside job. Don’t assign anyone else that much power over your life,” says Mandy Hale, a blogger turned New York Times best-selling author, speaker and creator of the social media movement.
If you expect others to make you happy, you will always be disappointed. Being responsible means not blaming others for your unhappiness.
The all-important truth about happiness is this: your happiness depends much more on your attitude than it does on objectives or external circumstances.
Instead of looking to get happy from a person or a job, or an external factor, view relationships and/or work as outlets for happiness, and focus on how you can give more happiness.
Everything outside yourself can help you get better in life, but they are not the means to your happiness.
6. If you are waiting for others to help you enjoy life, you are in the wrong lane
We all want to enjoy life and not just a fraction of it. Don’t sit around and expect the fullness of life to come to you.
Lean into the little joys in life when you find them. The simple things are the most extraordinary things that sometimes makes life easy to manage.
Enjoying life is not just about that one-off vacation or bonus. There is more to life than those short-lived moments of calm and dopamine release. The little moments you are not noticing are the true pursuits that can guarantee every joy. True happiness is about embracing the little joys in life.
How we spend our days is how we spend our lives, as the adage goes. The habit of taking even mild pleasure in small things is life-changing.
Here is a thought-provoking statement by Brian Krans that encourages us to schedule time for ourselves, our relationships, and what we care about:
“Are you happy? Have you ever been happy? What have you done today to matter? Did you exist or did you live? How did you thrive? Become a chameleon-fit in anywhere. Be a rockstar-stand out everywhere. Do nothing, do everything. Forget everything, remember everyone. Care, don’t just pretend to. Listen to everyone. Love everyone and nothing at the same time. It’s impossible to be everything, but you can’t stop trying to do it all.”
7. Life is not a sprint or marathon, it’s a maze
Stop approaching life like a sprint.
Stop thinking that you can put in a pile of effort and rapidly reach your intended finish line. Appreciate the process and work your way to the top.
Real-life has no signs, and no straight lines. There’s just a maze of infinite options: Some paths, like some careers, take five times longer. Some paths, like some relationships, are dead ends.
A maze is full of choices, challenges and questions. And it’s subject to many external influences, both good and bad.
Like any maze, we should expect to get lost and backtrack. In fact, everybody does — getting back up and finding the right path is what separates winners from everyone else.
There are only two ways to advance your life — move forward when you can or step back, reconsider your options and try something else.
The greatest mistake many people make it standing still for too long. They get stuck, refuse to think, give up, or stop living. There’s always a way when you feel stuck — you’ve not figured it out yet.