Half of Humanity is Doomed. Are You?

September 6, 2019

Everything in life can be summed up in an equation.

There are two types of people:

Those who focus on the left side of the equation (inputs) and those who focus on the right side of the equation (outputs).

Left-side people take whichever equations have been given to them by society as gospel.

They look something like:

Effort + Time + College Degree = Success

Success + Time = Money

Money + Relationships = Happiness

And so on.

Left-side people keep doing more of the left side and hope more of the right side appears.

There’s some truth in all that. But it’s not the whole story.

In our age of increasing uncertainty, this strategy doesn’t work anymore.

In the last century or so, it did. The whole “get good grades,” “go to a good college,” “follow a safe career path” thing worked.

As we all know, that world is dying.

So what’s the solution?

Become a right-side person.

Right-side people start with the end in mind.

  • I know I want happiness.
  • Happiness = X + Y.
  • Most people see X as money and Y as relationships.
  • Is that accurate?
  • How much do I need of each?
  • Are there any other variables I should include or exclude?

Right-side people reverse-engineer their goals.

They start with a reasonable hypothesis, and then they tinker with the variables.

As Nassim Taleb wrote in Antifragile:

“The knowledge we get by tinkering, via trial and error, experience, and the workings of time, in other words, contact with the earth, is vastly superior to that obtained through reasoning, something self-serving institutions have been very busy hiding from us.”

Right-side people ask: How can I play around with what I do in order to change what I get?

Instead of hustling with their head down … they pop up and ask: If I keep doing this … what will the equation spit out?

Is there a way to get more or less of it? Is there a way to get it more easily?

Do I even want this?

Then they play around and find out. If it doesn’t work, they tinker and try again.

Left-side people think the equation is fixed. They copy their neighbor’s inputs, because although he’s not that happy … that’s just the way things are done.

Left-side people think life’s equations are given to us, and we have no say.

Right-side people look at their neighbors and think: Do I even want what he’s got?

If not, shouldn’t I play with the equation?

Right-side people know that life’s equations are created by us.

Steve Jobs explained it best:

"When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world.
Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.
That's a very limited life.
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call ‘life' was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again."

Right-side people used to be the “crazy” ones. We call people like Steve Jobs “eccentric.” We call them “lucky” or “gifted,” and we assume for every Steve Jobs, there were thousands of Steve Blobs — who died poor and alone.

But now that stability is dead, so is playing it safe. The risk-takers are no longer crazy — they’re the only ones with a chance.

Left-side people think life is fixed.

Right-side people know life is dynamic.

Right-side people know life is alive, and the only way to survive is to tinker with the variables.

Which type of person are you?

If you think life is fixed, you’re in for a rude awakening.

But you’ll always have the power to change your answer.

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