Obvious Or Not, Here I Come

People hear words of hope and say “That’s obvious. Everyone knows that.”

Then at the first sign of hardship, they forget and say “it’s all hopeless.”

Maybe the possibilities that give us hope are less obvious than we think. Maybe it’s that or we’re just not very good at remembering what we claim to know.

Either way, I plan to stick around for awhile and keep making a case of hope no matter how obvious the world claims it to be.

Give Us Your Action, Please

I’m not impressed by your ability to endlessly recite a litany of examples proving how much evil there is in the world.

I’m impressed by your ability to insist on doing good deeds and creative work in spite of that evil.

Evil doesn’t just need publicity. It also needs enemies. Are you proactive enough and persistent enough to be a true enemy of evil?

Before you send any messages or proclamations about the most compelling prophecies of doom and gloom, make sure you send me your to-do list as well. Because that’s what I want to know. I want to know what you’re getting done.

Don’t just give us your words. Give us your works. Don’t just give us your anger. Give us your action.

Rights & Results

“It’s your right to do X” does not equal “it’s right to do X.”

To say “it’s your right” means you have the permission, power, or privilege to do a particular thing.

To say “it’s right” means your decision is good, effective, or profitable.

Having a right is usually a sign of freedom, but unfortunately it’s often used as a basis for mediocrity, unhappiness, and continued frustration.

I have the right to be bitter.
I have the right to not cooperate.
I have the right to complain.
I have the right to not listen to others.
I have the right to be stubborn.
I have the right to assume to a make assumptions.
I have the right to criticize.
I have the right to disagree.
I have the right to do it my way.
I have the right to yell.
I have the right to speak this way.

All of the above rights are capable of holding you back as much as they’re capable of propelling you forward if all you ever think about is what you have a right to do.

Keep this in mind the next time you seek to defend you behavior by appealing to your rights:

Life isn’t a just matter of what you can get away with based on your rights. It’s also a matter of how far you can go based on right thinking and right action.

You can assert your power to keep doing things in a way that isn’t working or you can use your power to create new options.

Keep fighting for your rights, but don’t forget about the importance of getting results. In the end, the latter is all people will remember.

3 Simple Points For Those Who Have a Hard Time Accepting The Fact That We’re Not A Bunch of Hopelessly Screwed Pawns

1) No matter how legitimately frustrated you are, you’re not going to accomplish anything productive by buying into a self-defeating philosophy that says “We’re all hopelessly screwed and nothing we do matters.”

That’s not just a personal opinion. That’s basic logic. You can’t get something done unless you actually do something. If you don’t do anything, it makes zero sense to speak of getting anything done. You have the right to speak this way, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re some kind of revolutionary just because you’ve decided to stop participating in discussions about how to accomplish unconventional results.

2) Acknowledge the existence of bad stuff, but never ever use that as an excuse to stop trying to create good stuff.

Whenever I make any statement about how we’re not hopelessly screwed, I always attract people who feel the need to inform me of the latest news headline involving some sad or tragic story.

It’s as if people think I’m going to say “Holy shit! What am I doing? We ARE hopelessly screwed! I just needed to hear ONE MORE story about some politician who was caught with their pants down before I could see the light! I totally get it now. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to stop working out, stop studying, stop working on my business, stop promoting entrepreneurship as a theory of social change, stop improving myself, stop trying to inspire others to improve themselves, stop being moved by art, stop creating value for my clients, stop teaching young people how to think critically, and stop trying to come up with new game-changing ideas. Instead I’m going to just go sit in a corner and spend the rest of my life letting CNN or whoever tell me what else I should be afraid of.”

Sorry guys. The latest headline doesn’t change the fact that we still need to get off our asses and get creative if we’re ever going to make progress. Self-determinism isn’t about denying or ignoring the existence of evil, corruption, and unfairness. It’s about refusing to give up. It’s about being the kind of person who insists on fighting for creativity and freedom until you’ve taken your final breath.

I get the whole idea about complaining being a potentially therapeutic and valuable exercise, but at some point you have to decide if you’re just going to be a person who only complains or if you’re going to be someone who complains AND creates.

3) A freer society is only possible through the efforts of those who try to do new things even if that comes with the risk of failing and being wrong. The act of trying to innovate around inefficient or oppressive systems is always a better alternative to doing nothing other than complaining about corrupt politicians.

Creativity never happens in a vacuum. Wherever creativity is expressed, it is also challenged or opposed. There is no such thing as being creative without having to deal with contrast, resistance, or discrepancy. Any efforts to create a freer society necessarily involves the determination to try new and risky things while simultaneously having to deal with a whole lot of unfair bullshit. There is no way around this. Creativity isn’t for people who need everything to be neat, fair, and promising. It’s for people who are willing to work their asses off even when things are shitty and stacked against them.

I’m not saying “we can do anything we put our minds to” or “follow your dreams, kids” or “the world is a really magical place where wonderful things will happen to those who trust in the fairies and elves.” I’m saying we will never achieve any form of progress by adopting philosophies that tell us we have no choice in life other than to sit back and accept the fact that we’re all screwed beyond hope.

Don’t make life a false dichotomy between having zero power and having infinite power. Of course, we have limitations.  But you don’t have to believe that human power is unlimited in order to believe that it’s possible to reclaim some of your power if you’re willing to think critically, courageously, and creatively.

Instead of wasting your time bemoaning the fact that we can’t always get everything we want, start trying to figure out how you can reclaim just a tiny fraction of your creative power. You don’t need to be omnipotent. You just need to get off your ass and do something other than bitch about how hard life is.

Developing the Entrepreneurial Mindset: A Fireside Chat at FEE with T.k. Coleman & Derek Magill

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Those above words were posted by one of the students who recently attended The Economics of Entrepreneurship Seminar held in Austin by The Foundation for Economic Education. Derek Magill and I had the privilege of sharing various insights and experiences at that seminar about adopting a value-creation mindset.

A few weeks ago, we had to chance to do a fireside chat at The Economics of Business Success seminar in New Hampshire.

We cover topics including:
  • Dropping out of college and how to build a life for yourself without a degree.
  • Practical strategies for thinking about early career opportunities entrepreneurially.
  • The value creation mindset vs the preparation mindset.
  • What entrepreneurship looks like (from the perspective of a 23 year old)
  • Why you don’t need to be an expert to get started and how to become an expert quickly.
  • Why your degree should be the least interesting part about you.

Everything pulls from real case studies, conversations with business owners, and the young people we advise.

We do some Q/A at the end with the audience where we give them actionable advice for getting started building their career before they’ve finished college.

It’s good stuff.

There’s almost no excuse today for waiting until you’ve passed a test or gotten approval via a third party credential.


This I Will Never Believe

This —-> “We are powerless little pawns, helplessly manipulated and moved about by the hands of politicians” is the kind of self-negating, liberty-hating nonsense I will never believe!

If you want to distance yourself from “the gullible ones,” use the above italicized statement as a mantra. It’s an easy way to sound smart, in-the-know, and well-informed about politics and conspiracies without having to feel the pressure of doing the hard work required to make the world a freer place.

The cynics and pessimists pride themselves in such a belief. They believe that by holding to such a defeatist and hopeless proposition that they can somehow avoid the embarrassment of placing faith in false hope. More than the desire to be free, they desire to never be on the wrong side of “I told you so.”

So rather than fight for their possibilities, they choose to argue for their limitations. They respond to every proposed solution and any possible strategy as if it’s delusional fancy. Tell them not to lose heart and they’ll respond by citing a dozen examples of some politician who lies, cheats, and steals. Although they are fully aware of the fact that they can never be free simply by sitting around and griping about political corruption, they lack the courage, imagination, and creativity necessary to take the kinds of risk that make it possible to turn things around.

A person who values looking smart more than being open, curious, and humble, will never realize the fullness of their potential. Interesting and liberating discoveries require a willingness to look foolish in relation to generally accepted sentiments. Fewer things are more antithetical to this willingness than an attitude which ignores the unfamiliar and uncertain in exchange for the right to say “well, they didn’t fool me.”

Fighting for freedom is noble, but for many it’s not worth the risk of putting their ego on the line. Many people can live with being unhappy and unfree, but they can’t live with the burden of being the person who tried something daring, failed at it, and was forced to admit miscalculation or misjudgement.

This is the world we live in, but as in all worlds, creativity can and will thrive in spite of those who choose to hide behind the safety of being a naysayer.

Things don’t get accomplished because of the face-saving negative talk of people who do nothing more than make much ado about what can’t be done. Things get accomplished because of those who hope against hope, those who see failure as nothing more than an invitation to try something new.

Don’t waste your time around people who have nothing to offer a conversation other than arguments about what’s impossible. Spend time around people who have stake in the game, people who are willing to put their motor where their mouth is by getting up, going out, and getting things done whether it’s easy or not.

The future will neither belong to those who coerce nor to those who merely criticize. The future will belong to those who create, to those who sow the seeds of productivity, positivity, and possibility in season and out of season.

This is why I will never believe that we are powerless pawns. I have too much respect for myself, for you, for critical thinking, for freedom, and for reality itself.

Fridays With Isaac Morehouse & T.K. Coleman: What Makes Me Angry, The Value of Being A Villain, & The Limitations of Faking It

Right before leaving Charleston yesterday, Isaac Morehouse and I did a quick live 20-minute session.

We only had twenty minutes today so we ran down a few things that grind our gears, discussed the good side of being bad, why trying to be what you’re not is the greatest evil, why the NBA’s Eastern Conference is a big joke, why Thomas Hobbes is the root of all bad social theory, and more.