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If You’re Going to Share Your Success, Then Please Stop Scandalzing It

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

Acts of philanthropy are much better when performed by people who embrace their assets and achievements with a clear conscience and a celebratory disposition towards wealth.

I’m all for the notion of helping out and leveraging your success for the good of others, but you’re far more likely to be good at this if you’re driven by something greater than a sense of guilt towards your own success.

If you have an obligation to share your wealth, then you also have an obligation to treat the wealth you’re sharing as if it’s actually a good thing. After all, if you believe that wealth is evil, then why would you want to heap any of that evil upon someone else?

If you truly want to help people become successful, then help yourself become the kind of person who’s genuinely excited about success. When you treat success as if it’s something you need to apologize for, you misrepresent the spirit of goodwill and you teach others to be ashamed of the very thing you’re trying to help them achieve

It’s not enough to be the example of a good giver. You also need to be the example of a good receiver.

Generous givers don’t share their resources because it’s scandalous to have good things. They share their resources because it’s beautiful for others to have good things too.

If you truly believe that your own success is scandalous, then you shouldn’t ruin the name of charity by hiding behind the specter of philanthropic work. You should own your wrongdoing and do your best to make your scandalous situation right without putting on the facade that you’re doing someone a favor.

If you’re giving away a bunch of money to charities because you feel guilty for ripping a bunch of people off, that’s not philanthropy. And you’re not doing any good for society by equating such compensatory behavior with “random acts of kindness.”

If you can’t celebrate the surplus in your life, then go clear your conscience and come back to charity when you’re ready to practice it cheerfully.

If you’re going to be a giver, then it’s important not to despise your own gifts.

Your Existence Matters, but Your Work Is Always up for Debate

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Ontological value (how much your existence matters in a philosophical sense) is different from economic value (how much your work matters to someone you’re trying to impress for the sake of getting them to give you some of their money).
 
“I am special” ≠ “You owe me a salary.”
 
“You are special” ≠ “I owe you a salary.”
 
“You are just as important as anyone else” ≠ “Let me write you a check for that cool backflip you just did.”
 
When I woke up this morning, I felt like a million bucks. Are you going to give me a million bucks for that ecstatic feeling I had when I rolled out of bed? Probably not. I wouldn’t even hold my breath for a $5 gift card from Starbucks. My ecstasy means a lot to me, but very little to you. Unless I can translate my ecstasy into something that creates a little ecstasy on your end, you’re not giving me a dime.
 
Economic worth is a social game just as the concept of money is a social game.
 
If I say, “I’m worth X amount of dollars”, that would be in the same league as me saying “this sheet of paper is worth X amount of dollars” or “this tea leaf is worth X amount of dollars.” I can say it, but it doesn’t amount to anything until I can get someone to agree with my proposition.
Economic worth is an agreement between two or more parties. No single party gets to decide how much they, you, or anyone else is worth all by themselves.
 
Economic worth is the intersection between what one party is willing to work for and what another party is willing to pay for. To master money is to master that point of intersection.
 
Your existence matters, but if you want people to pay you, then you have to do work that matters…
 
…work that matters to someone else’s existence besides your own
 
…work that matters according to someone else’s definition of what matters.

Don’t Hide Behind Good Advice

Photo by Jack Sharp on Unsplash

Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way.” – Christopher Hitchens

People get confused by conflicting prescriptions for success because they go about the process of analyzing advice all wrong.

Advice is an invitation to explore. Nothing more.

When you uncritically act on someone’s advice without being prepared to own the implications for yourself, your act of advice-seeking becomes just another form of responsibility-shifting.

Seeking advice is not about finding the right answer or doing what you’re told. It’s about using personal experience as a laboratory for experimenting with promising ideas.

It’s about keeping your thinking cap firmly intact while you make an open-minded effort to discover something new.

Sometimes your experiments with advice will yield exciting results. Sometimes those experiments will go nowhere. But each experiment is useful when the goal is to “explore and expand” instead of “trust and obey.”

If you’re overwhelmed by your options, the alternative to confusion is curiosity.

Instead of asking “What should I do?” ask “How can I turn my decision-making process into an adventure where I have the opportunity to learn something new?”

Instead of asking “What’s the one right strategy for how I should handle this situation?” ask “How can I investigate my possibilities in a way that’s right for me?”

Don’t just seek good advice. Seek the wisdom that comes from weighing all advice against what your own experience is constantly teaching you.

Advice isn’t All or Nothing; It’s Sometimes and Maybe

When people give you advice based on what worked for them (or someone else) in the past, either it’s useful to you or it’s not.

If it’s useful, use it. There’s no need to treat it like a religion or a law of physics that everyone else needs to believe in.

If it’s not useful to you, toss it out and move on to something that actually works for you. There’s no need to waste your own time and energy demonizing a strategy that isn’t right for you.

The important thing is to make sure you don’t get so caught up in debating things like “this technique is amazing and everyone should use it” and “this technique is stupid and no one should use it”, that you forget to move forward with an understanding of this one simple truth:

“No piece of advice works for everyone and every piece of advice works for someone.”

The Real Reason You Should Follow Your Dreams, Why We Should Stop Shaming Drop-Outs, & Why Creativity Requires Work (My Appearance on The Ground Up Show)

Here are some of the assertions I espouse on my recent appearance on The Ground Up Show:

College isn’t for everyone.

You don’t need to become the next Steve Jobs in order to justify your decision to opt-out of school.

If we really mean it when we tell young people to be true to themselves, to create their own path, and to follow their passion even if it doesn’t make them rich, then we need to stop abandoning this advice when we talk to young people who don’t want traditional schooling. 

Here’s a teaser video clip for the above topic:

How about some more assertions? Here you go:

Being a creative person isn’t the same thing as doing actual creative work.

Creativity isn’t just a psychological phenomenon. It’s a practical process. And if you’re not putting your creative ideas to practical use, then it doesn’t really mean anything to call yourself creative. 

I was on a TV Show called “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader.” I got the first question wrong. It was an easy question too. It was an embarrassing error. Someone post a clip of it on YouTube and the comments were vicious, nasty, and mean. And none of that matters because I won something, tangible and intangible, that was worth the cost of temporary humiliation.

Here’s a teaser video clip for the above topic:

To find out more about my rewards from the 5th grader show and my thoughts on education, dropping out of school, goal-setting, dreams, and personal development, check out Episode 073: Dreams Don’t Come True, Decisions Do. The full clip is below.

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