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Exploiting Societal Weaknesses

In poker you often win not by playing your cards, but by playing your opponents cards. My good friend and sometimes poker mentor once told me that to become a winning poker player, you must learn to win the pots that no one has a legitimate claim to. If you have an excellent hand, you'll probably win. If he has an excellent hand, he'll probably win. But if neither of you has a particularly good hand, the pot is up for grabs. It's in situations like these that rather than playing your hand, you focus on your opponents weakness.

In real life, too, I find a lot of value in working from other people's weaknesses, especially societal weaknesses. As urbanization continues along with population growth, standing out from the crowd becomes more and more difficult. Even if you are exceptional, your impression can drown amongst the sea of other people everyone is meeting. The solution, or part of it anyway, is to identify what society at large is bad at, and excel at it. By doing so, you become even more distinct as the field increases.

Here are some examples of ways I try to distance myself from the crowd.

1. Always be on time. Being late has become the standard. I never expect anyone to show up to anything on time, and I'm usually not surprised. Most people won't be terribly late, but five or ten minutes of tardiness is the norm. For the past few months I've made a point of always being on time for everything. A week or two ago I was half an hour late making a phone call, and I still remember it today because it was such an egregious violation of this standard.

Learning to Speak and Listen in Actions, not Words.

On DROdio

We humans are a strange bunch.  Being equipped with the miracle of verbal and written communication, we get a 'pass' on something the rest of the animal kingdom relies on for survival: Speaking and listening in actions, not words.

It's taken me a long time to realize how poorly my action-related communication syncs to my verbal communication.  I grew up believing it was OK to say one thing, but to do another.  Many of us do.  It's easy to fabricate worlds where we say one thing but do something completely contrary, and as a society few people call us out on the disparity.  I'm not sure why this is.  The best reason I've come up with is that few of us are tuned into "listening to actions, not words" enough to notice it.

As I've slowly become aware of the disparity, the main reason I've often failed to achieve parity between my spoken commitments and my actions is that it's a really, really hard skill to master.  It takes meaningful, consistent effort to 'say as you do, and do as you say'.  Life is full of small opportunities to massage the effect of one's actions with a stream of words that cover up the true meaning of the underlying actions.  Our spoken (and written -- but mainly spoken, since it's more extemporaneous) communication acts as a type of elbow grease that makes interactions between humans run more smoothly -- or so we think.

Examples are plentiful and commonplace:  

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