in Life Lessons

3 Things I Would Tell My 23 Year Old Self

Photo by Simon Launay on Unsplash

Like all self help junkies, I was self obsessed about goals like becoming a millionaire before 30.

I started my personal development journey when I was 23.

For the last year and a half, things started to change.

I had a bitter taste of what “the real world” is like. I hate to say it but, lno amount of books can get you ready for REAL LIFE challenges.

Yes you may find a guide that will help you navigate the path, but to endure the path?… Tony Robbins can’t save you now.

You’re on your own on that one.

Here’s what I learned since:

1. Just because you read top 1% material doesn’t make you top 1%

I would look at stats that show 20 somethings growing tech companies and becoming billionaires. And I think by default that I’m in that 1%.

I would look at stats of 99% of businesses close in the first 5 years. And immediately think that those 99% people weren’t committed enough / knowledgeable and that I, Ben with all my business reading & intelligent analysis will be in the 1% that will make it.

I’d look at divorce rates and think these people didn’t think it through.

They didn’t cohabit before tying the knot. And only now they know what it’s like to live with the other person.

They didn’t read books on marriage and gender dynamics to understand how best to interact with their spouse.

In short, they’re dumb and I’m smart.

Or put it another way, I was an ignorant and arrogant little bitch who felt entitled to success.

I contracted know-it-all-vitis. I seem to know all the answers.

Yet, when you look at my blog for the last year and a half, I only gotten 100 views per month and 22 people on my mailing list.

“Success” expert, indeed.

Here’s what I’m saying –

Just because you read many books, watched many video courses and listened to many podcasts, doesn’t make you a pro. You may become an expert, but not an expert practitioner.

Consuming “top 1%” material doesn’t automatically make you top 1%.

Heck, some creators even explicitly say that you’re in the top 1% for consuming their material, that most adults don’t ever read a book after graduating college, (insert mirage flattering elite statistic here).

Only a fool would think that (and you are the easiest person to fool).

The same way you wouldn’t trust a guy who watches cooking shows all day to be an instant chef – taking someone who read all the business books doesn’t make him Richard Branson.

It’s very easy to scoff at people who fail, especially when you think you have all the answers.

But when you’re put in a similar situation, when thing fall apart, when your lazy tendencies get the best of you, when you feel hopeless, when things get so overwhelming you’d rather quit – you know, human stuff – then you wouldn’t be so quick to judge.

It happens to the best of us, even the smartest and most persistent people fail.

You’re not a special snowflake who has a special shield handed down by the gurus, and immune to all these fallible human traits. You will fail, and everyone does, even the best among us.

2. The answer to success that isn’t just “hustle”

Gary Vaynerchuk was once asked what’s the difference between those who make it (people like The Rock) and those who don’t.

Knowing him by now, I was expecting something like “hard frickin work” or “hustle” or “grind”.

But do you know what he said instead?

He said “zero entitlement”

This was perhaps the best answer I heard from him.

Consuming a lot of elitist “Top 1%” material grows a sense of entitlement in you, thinking your special because you have this special info.

The dangers of this entitlement mentality is that you will give up much sooner than later.

You will think “I’m supposed to at least mildly successful at the first try, knowing how much I know.”

Your bar for expectations is set so high that you get demotivated and discouraged each time you flop. And eventually, you give up.

3. The default way of things

By all means, continue to learn, love learning. But keep this in mind:

“One thing I have learned, running a company, working in VC, and raising/supporting a family: difficult and complicated is the default situation. Hoping for anything else is delusional. Must instead expect hard things and always be willing to face them head on” ~ Nick Grossman

To recap

  1. Being a Top 1% consumer doesn’t make you a Top 1% performer. You have to earn it just like everybody else.
  2. Have zero entitlement. It’s the most humbling & effective way to go about getting what you want.
  3. Difficult and complicated is the default situation. Once you view the world through that lens, intuitively – things start to become easier.