You can't control definitively whether you'll succeed or fail, but you do get to set the parameters. The way I live my life, I will either be an big success or a huge failure. There are a variety of potential paths ahead of me, and zero of them lead to comfortable success or minor failure. None of them lead to numb mediocrity.
How do you adjust these parameters? You set goals and accept risks. If you set goals low and don't accept many risks, you have no chance of huge success or huge failure. You'll end up somewhere in the middle. Maybe you'll end up a bit better off than you expected, or a bit down on your luck, but you'll be somewhere in the range of "fine". On the other hand, you can set extremely high goals, leave yourself no reasonable plan B, and take massive risks to get those goals. It's the only way you'll even reach them, but you may fall short and crash.
In my case, I've put all of my eggs in the SETT basket. I hope it becomes a huge success that makes me a lot of money, gives me some power to improve conversation on the internet, and all that. At this point I've invested two years of my life into it, with no plans of changing that allocation going forward. I've passed up many smaller opportunities that could have made me money. I do have some money saved up, but it's hard to count it as a backup plan when I know with certainty that if SETT failed I'd use it to start another company and go all in.
I work as smart as I can, I live frugally, and I plan for contingencies-- I'm not reckless, but when a calculated risk presents itself, I'm all over it.
My dating strategy is the same way. One of the things I'm looking most forward to in my future is having kids. I love children, I read parenting books (and take notes), and I've even written letters to my future children so that I can give them advice when I'm younger and cooler than I will be when I have them. But I may not get to have kids.
For one, I won't have kids until I can financially support myself and their mother to the point that we can dedicate all of our time to them. Second, I won't date anyone unless I think she's really awesome. I would literally rather never date a girl again than date someone who I didn't think was amazing. Last, my lifestyle is so extreme (and I'm so transparent about it) that a huge portion of girls wouldn't have any interest in dating me. It's easy to date a guy with a nice job who likes watching movies and going out with the bros. It's harder to date someone who used to be a pickup artist, lives in an RV, travels the world looking for sketchy adventures.
What are the possible outcomes for that dating strategy Well, I'll either find some amazing woman to settle down with and have kids and dedicate the rest of my life to them, or I'll never have kids. There's no path to "settling" available to me.
The hard part of this isn't setting big goals or even taking risks. It's coming to terms with the idea that you may not be able to do it, and if that happens, you'll be a huge failure. To actually act in a manner consistent with reaching those goals, you have to understand that your only options are horrific failure or wonderful success. If you allow yourself other outcomes, you may take them in a moment of weakness. On the other hand, seeing that potential is a tremendous motivator. And with that, it's time for me to get back to working on SETT.
Photo is a Las Vegas Marathon.
haha This made me crack up- "It's harder to date someone who used to be a pickup artist, lives in an RV, travels the world looking for sketchy adventures." Do you tell girls about being a famous PUA? Or do you let them find out on their own? I imagine as soon as they discovered your past, they would be headed to the nearest Barnes and nobles.
Tynan, how hard do you think it is to find a girl that amazing? On my campus for instance there are around 8,000 undergrads. 40% are female, leaving 3200 girls. My school particularly is known for having less attractive girls, so only about 1 in 30 is an 8+, leaving 108 girls. Out of that, 80% of them are not even dating material, leaving 21 girls. AND out of those 21 girls how many of them are amazing? Very few... And they are usually taken. Haha I get depressed just thinking about it lol.
Do you think you'll ever find her? At a college, those girls are at least pre-selected to be moderately intelligent and generally come from good backgrounds. I feel like you'd have to approach and have dates with thousands of girls before you met one that was amazing.
Maybe i'm just being pessimistic though.
Usually to find someone amazing you yourself have to be amazing. One of my favorite Pook quotes was something along the lines of "you must apply the same standards you use to judge women to yourself". I think if you are an amazing person yoursellf the odds are near nigh 100% of finding an amazing suitable partner. Likewise if you're not very high on the totem pole then I wouldn't expect too much either. Women are out to get their hands on the best mate as well and with that they also look at groups of men and play the percentages.
Funny thing I used to look up women I found very attractive and read their social media profiles (a sort of technical analysis). More often than not these women have dated very high caliber people (think entrepreneurs, high level decision making types, lawyers, doctors, star and up-coming atheletes, etc...) if they were attractive. A lot of them with ex-bf pictures would easily make the top 10% of males in terms of looks. These women know they can get the goods and they won't settle for average. With that since women are out to get the best if you are the best then you get it all (the whole alpha thing).
So yeah as long as Tynan continues his good work habits I think that will be the "real game" over him practicing lines and approaches and such. If SETT ever hit it big and de-rooted wordpress/blogspot/etc... off their respective thrones then attractive women will be busting his RV door down (if they are not already) :D.
It is true that a large percentage of the prettiest girls only go out with guys who hame fame and/or fortune. Nevertheless, it is not so difficult to find a more average looking girl who has a stellar personality. Personally, I would much rather have the latter. I have met lots of nerds with money, and many of them have these incredibly boring, but beautiful "trophy wives" on their arms. And as soon as their investments go bust, these same ladies skip town with half the remaining assets.
Yeah really gotta watch out for those. Pook and Anti-dump had many metrics for testing a woman to see if she likes you for who you truly are. Anti-dump may have particularly good advice as I've heard his wisdom stemmed from going thru a rough divorce himself though I cannot confirm the veracity of this claim. I forget as I haven't re-read their material in a year+ after abandoning the whole charade but I remember Pook mentioning subjects of the soul as a good test metric. Anti-dump really advocated watching out for early red flags and just doing things your way and see if she follows along (because she genuinely likes you).
This is my first comment. For the most part I have been lurking about and reading everybody else's comments. However, the horrific failure part of this post struck a chord (unfortunately). I have been in the States for 16 years now, 14 of which were dedicated to going to the Olympics. I was short or longlisted for almost all of that time but I didn't have the talent? skills? horse? (I'm an Equestrian) or luck? on the right day at the right time. I made it as close as 6th on the list when they took the top 5. So pretty darn close, but I wasn't playing horseshoes. I'm sure most people are familiar with the saying '2nd place is really the 1st loser'
One day at a competition, when I had had a rough go the day before and ended up low in the overall placings, I was feeling pretty depressed and angry at myself and the world. As I was riding into the ring with a scowl on my face at the biggest event in North America, a fan yelled at me "Smile, don't you know that there are 200,000 people out here watching today who would sell their souls to be you at this moment?" And he was right.
Moral of that story for me... although I want to be one of those "one in million" who get to compete at the Olympics, and even more, the "one in a billion" who gets a gold medal, in my journey, I have still become one of those amazing people that other people only dream of getting to be. And the kicker, they wanted to be me even when I was considering myself to be a complete failure. So failure is relevant. And often only in our own minds. The world wasn't explored (discovered) by people that wanted to sit in a house all day. It was explored by men who set out in their ships ( parallel with RVs here) and dared to be adventurers. In those days failure often meant death or starvation for a family. These days, my concept of failure is a descent into mediocrity.
Am I not incredibly lucky and spoiled? I almost should laugh at myself. I am now trying to come to terms with how to be a success when I had only defined it ( and myself) in terms of Olympic medals and red coats. How can I be a success without that? Although I haven't given up, I am side-lined right now without a decent horse and funding. Fortunately, I can ride competitively for a really long time so I might still have another shot. But this hiatus has given me the opportunity to base my personal success on other things. I am still trying to figure that out however haha.
I like the comment that someone else made about how we need to avoid becoming the job because our other inter personal skills will suffer and atrophy. Very true!
And by the way, my family background does not include trust funds. I had to work for everything I got. Just making sure no one wants to cast me as a poor little rich horsey girl. The reason that I know about Tynan is that I bought an RV to save on rent because horse country in Virginia is ridiculously expensive real estate. And thanks to Tynan's blogs, I took the leap and absolutely love living in my camper!
Tynan, I've included a poem below, by Rudyard Kipling, which is an appropriate response to your post. I agree with some of what you wrote, but I feel its important to point out, as Kipling says, both triumph and disaster are imposters. All things are fleeting, both success and failure. And no man will ever BE a huge failure. A man can have failed to achieve a goal, but that is not at all the same thing as "being" a failure. Failure is not a state of being. And our failures do not, and cannot define us, unless we allow them to.
We define ourselves. I choose to define myself based on the manner in which I move through life. I set goals, and I pursue them with all my heart. I constantly learn from my life, and apply those lessons to my next set of decisions. So long as I do that, I will never be a huge failure. Even if I start a business and the business fails, that does not mean I should think of myself as a "huge failure." There is truly no possibility that I will ever "be" a huge failure, unless I choose to fall into a self-centered spiral of pity and negative thinking. And even if SETT were to fall apart, you will never "be" a failure either, not by my definition. You will simply be a man who successfully pursued his goals and who followed his dreams, but who had a few failures in history. A failure is an event, not a person.
I think that is an important difference from the way you originally presented it. :-)
If... by Rudyard Kipling, 1910
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
God I'd hate to say it but men were just so much more 'manly' in the past century. Didn't 'think and grow rich' and 'how to make friends and influence people' come out around the same timeframe too? I'm not sure if it's the across the board testosterone levels falling or new age gender convergence 2012 or what but the roles of masculine/feminine are no longer relegated to men and women themselves. Both genders can now take either role which I think is a good thing but will take a while to get used to.
Our generation broke out of the traditional gender roles, so we have a tendency to over-compensate. There are a lot of androgynous guys out there, because they were taught not try and be "manly" as it was defined 100 years ago. Hopefully in a few more generations things will get better, we will be able to embrace the things we like about traditional gender roles, without being trapped by them.
When this was published it was the best thing I read all day. I have decided after much thought I completely disagree with your position. My disagreement lies in your assertion that it is necessary to risk horrific failure in order to achieve incredible success. It is necessary to work hard every day, and it is necessary to fail. I believe that the real winners in this economy build their empires slowly, piece by piece. Some people get plucked from obscurity and get to win the lottery or be a celebrity. Real winners I believe could do it all over again because they work hard, have average intelligence, and have the right goals.
I completely agree. Throughout my life, I have met lots of extremely wealthy people and gotten to know many of them quite well. What they all have in common is that they have started small and worked extremely hard, in addition to 1) having a good deal of luck in that they were young and started their businesses in a period with high economic growth 2) generally being amoral and rather cynical 3) completely sacrificing their family life and 4) being extremely intelligent. All of them started out thinking that they would make their money first and then start enjoying other parts of life. In the end though, when they are 35-40 years old a very rich, they have completely identified with their work and find other parts of life quite boring. And because they have neglected all their non-work skills, those skills have by this time atrophied quite significantly.
Hmmm, well I have seen lots of guys start out with precisely the attitude that you have. Then they meet that "amazing girl," they decide to have kids, they decide that in order to support the kids, the guy should have a regular job, and then suddenly he gets precisely that "average" lifestyle which everyone dreads. Once love enters the picture, all the well-laid plans fall by the wayside. Even the prospect of working 16 hours a day seems quite lame, when you instead could spend half of that time with a very special girl and she tells you that she doesn't care if you are a "failure" or a "success." She just wants to be with you... Of course, you could say that you'll never fall in love, but in reality it is very difficult to control. Once that one-in-a-million girl shows up, few guys would be single-minded enough to pass her up.
First of all don't kid yourself. Your going to get married. You love kids, work hard, and you want to put family before work. That's the kind of list the right kind of girls find attractive. At least I know my wife would.
One of my top goals in life has always been to be a great husband and father (I have been fortunate enough to be married for 6 1/2 years now and have been blessed to be a dad for 5 months.) I've found from personal experience and from talking with a lot of happily married older couples that one of the most important things needed for a marriage to succeed is that both people are willing to work hard at the relationship. Marriage will be harder than you think, but if you both work hard to make it successful it will be worth more than all of the pain and suffering you put in.
My dad used to say that "for a marriage to succeed both people need to be willing to put more into the relationship than the other person." All that to say you will make a great husband; as we all know from reading your blog, you work your butt off for what you think is important.
My advice for you is not to look for the "perfect" girl but to find the girl who will work her butt off to make your relationship work. Just don't pull a Seinfeld (finding little imperfections with great women) and you will be fine.Looking forward to the day you stop posting as much because you are focusing on family time.
Such a good post. When I was nineteen someone said something I will never forget. "Better to shoot for the moon and land on the roof than shoot for the roof and land on the ground.
If you fail, it won't be as miserable as you think and the experience you gain will help you in your next venture. You probably won't fail though!
If one is shooting for the moon, please imagine beforehand, neigh, practice beforehand falling on a water body. Because you may fall on the roof yes and your fall will be so hard that your body won't be found there, but 6 foot under.
Mostly, its emotion and strength that's shattered if you survive.
Financial debt, for an owner of failed business, with no new means, and, no emotional strength to make money, makes life horrific.
Lifestyle of the Top 5000 on Forbes (this is what the "moon" would be I imagine for most ventures) may be alluring. But, calculate and ingrain, your odds are 300 million (others all in the race with you) to 5000 to replace the 5000th guy or be the 5001th.
As for being employed and aiming for the moon... the odds are 5,000 (approx Fortune 500 staff numbers) to 1 for the top job.
Even when you make it to Top 5 (VPs) to 1. Only 1 gets the top job. 4 come crashing emotionally having given 30 years to reach this odd of 5:1 and making it there.
Still, aiming for the moon?
Ensure you don't take on debt you can't pay when you go for it. Be very very clear how long can you support staff with money you got. Get out when the money is over.
Unlike school life (or 'As seen on TV' lifestyles) don't imagine the "results of being the successful one" to be happy.
Generate happiness every moment (most moments) from sources other than success.
Brilliant post. There are plenty of those people around, who risked it all and lost. Still, I think the vast majority of business owners are neither super successful nor super failures. Even in the IT field, most are just coasting by, with decent incomes but nothing spectacular. And of course this is precisely what one would expect in an efficient market. Take, for example, a tech startup I invested in 15 years ago. At the time, the owner had huge dreams and everything seemed very promising. He is still going at it, making some money, but nothing near what he was shooting for. He has maybe 5-6 big clients who pay the bills and everyones modest salaries, and that is it.
If SETT fails and you can't get enough paid subscribers to get gobs of cash will you lose your RV and very marketable skill sets(HTML, CSS, PHP)? If you had to sell the RV, do you not have gobs of family that would offer up rooms/beds/couches? I sorta see what you're saying, but I think that with the country where we're in, with the family the majority of us have, it's impossible to be a horrific failure.
It's 10 minutes before midnight on the last day of 2006, and I'm sitting in bed writing a post. I guess that shows where my priorities are. Anyway, a year ago I wrote down my goals for 2006, so our first order of business is to review them.
1 - Become Fully Polyphasic.
I guess I did this one, but I'm not polyphasic anymore. I'll count it as a win since I made it and then decided not to be polyphasic.
2 - Gain 15lb. of lean muscle mass
I totally did not do this one at all. In fact, I lost 12 pounds this year because I went vegan.
Question from a reader -
Hi! Interested to hear your thoughts about this: where do you draw the line between impossible and huge-effort-possible goals?
First, I'll be honest. I don't have a perfect neat answer for this that's epiphany generating... I'm going to try to work through it on paper, and I appreciate feedback from everyone in the comments if you have related ideas.
Let's get started. First and foremost, I can't say this enough - study history! If you don't study history, you don't know what's possible. Period. You need to study history if you want to know what's possible.
Here's some good people to brush up on. Now, most people's reaction is, "I couldn't do that! He did so much!" But trace their steps, these men often came from humble origins and suffered much. Don't say "Wow." Ask, "How?" How did they do it?