The Third Form of Evil

The two forms of evil we are most often warned about are 1) doing evil and 2) denying the existence of evil.

If you can abstain from #1 and avoid #2, you’re on a good path, but that’s not all. There is a more subtle and socially acceptable form of evil that often seduces even those who avoid the first two: equating your hatred of evil with the process of actually doing something about it.

This third form of evil has rendered many sincere and well-meaning people irrelevant. Don’t let it do the same to you. Rise above evil, but always remember that there is more to being good than merely looking down on the bad.


You Are Not Your Feelings

There’s a big difference between believing in the work you do and being in a good mood all the time.

“Follow your passion” doesn’t mean (or at least it shouldn’t mean) “always feel amazing, enthusiastic, happy, and inspired.”

You can have bad moments, neutral moments, sad moments, sober moments, serious moments, inspired moments and all other sorts of moments and still live a deeply passionate life.

In your quest for meaningful and fulfilling work, don’t make a god out of your emotions. Go after the things you love, but don’t confuse love with always being cozy, comfortable, or cheerful.

You’re more than your feelings. As such, you have the capacity to create value or discover meaning in any emotional state. So even if you feel like you’re not on top of the world, don’t give up on the world and don’t give up on yourself.

Instead of measuring your worth or success by how you feel at random moments, measure your moments by how successful you are at finding things that are worth believing and doing no matter how you feel.

Get a Real Education

Value creation, not school, is what leads to success.

Education, regardless of where it takes place, is the process of learning how to create value. If you’re not learning how to do that, your time is being wasted whether you’re in a classroom or anyplace else.

All the stickers and stars in the world, no matter how brightly they glow, will leave you empty-handed if you’re not prepared to translate your knowledge into tangible forms of service or intangible forms of satisfaction.

All the good grades and flashy credentials will heartlessly betray you if you separate the process of learning from the practice of creating.

Education isn’t about making your parents proud during a single fleeting moment called “graduation day.” It’s about achieving a level of self-knowledge and practical mastery that leads to a lifelong sense of purpose and pride. 

Education isn’t about saying “I went to the college of X” or “I attended the university of Y.” It’s about waking up every morning with a conviction that says “I know where I’m going and I understand my why.”

Education isn’t about getting a pat on the head from authority figures nor is it about finishing assignments that are determined for you by distant bureaucrats. It’s about discerning your own priorities, discovering your own passions, directing your own path, and taking ownership of your own power.

Education isn’t about getting a certificate of completion. It’s about learning to discover or design a life that’s worth living.

Don’t miss the point of education by equating it with institutions and standardized practices. Life isn’t just about what others want for you. It’s about what you want for yourself. If your studies are not leading you closer to the knowledge of what you want and the ability to make that happen, then stop wasting your time and start demanding a learning experience that actually takes you seriously.

The Question is the Answer

Everything you know is an answer to a question. Your entire knowledge-base is a reflection of the questions you ask.

If you want to do bigger and better things, you have to cultivate the habit of asking bigger and better questions.

Do you feel stuck in an unwanted situation? Do you feel powerless to change your life? Do you feel like an effect that’s constantly being pushed and pulled around by external conditions?

Maybe you don’t need to believe more deeply. Maybe you need to question more creatively.

Maybe you don’t need more information. Maybe you need less selectivity in your skepticism.

Maybe you need less faith in what you think you know and more doubt towards the status quo.

Being Hated Isn’t As Easy As You Think

The embarrassment that comes with failure is typically a local experience. That is, if you try something big and fail, you *might* receive some criticism from some family members and some peers. But unless you’re a celebrity, you’re probably not popular enough to receive a ton of heat from more than a few people. If you try to write a novel, or try to start a business, or try to move across the country, the overwhelming majority of people will neither know nor care if you fail.

Success, on the other hand, is less of a local experience than failure. When you start to accomplish things, you set off people’s radar. “Who does this lady think she is?” “Why does everyone think this guy is so special?” If you write a horrible novel that never gets published, only a few people even know. If you write Twilight or Shades of Grey, millions will hate you. If you make a crappy student film that you have to beg everyone to see, only a few people will mock you. If you make a movie like Hitch or Spiderman 3, you’ll have millions that hate you.

So if you’re worried about getting started because of criticism and hate, don’t even sweat it. You’re probably not famous enough to get that kind of attention. You’ve got a long way to go before the world cares enough to hate you. Write your book. Make your art. Embark on your adventure. And maybe one day, you’ll be lucky enough to be hated by millions.

Sweat the Small Stuff

When you take small steps in the right direction, it eventually comes back to you in the form of an ability to take big steps in the right direction.

Build enough momentum and the big steps will take themselves. The power isn’t in the impressive. It’s in the incremental.

If You’re A Perfectionist, Then You Need to Get Started

It’s not that the desire to be perfect is bad. It’s that we often pursue perfection in the least efficient way.

In our effort to hide our blemished selves and flawed work from the world, we insulate ourselves from the very kind of feedback that moves us closer towards excellence.

If you really want to be perfect, then the last thing on earth you should do is keep your creative ideas inside your head.

There’s only so much insight that can come through conceptual analysis. The furthest boundaries of your potential can’t be reached until you express your ideas in a context where the incentives matter.

When the costs and benefits are real, the progress is rapid.