A Higher Meaning to Life

In a couple of previous blog post ago, I touched on the topic of having a life vision and objectives and how they mold our life. In this post, while it has some intersection with that topic, I will be talking about having a higher meaning to life. Having a higher meaning to life is what drives us each day when we get out of bed. It’s what makes us realize that the possession of material objects and living a hedonistic lifestyle should not be our primary aim during our time on earth. It’s what makes us understand that leaving the world in a better place and serving our fellow man should be our primary and overarching goal.

Too many people settle for the ordinary and fail to give their life higher meaning. They do the normal things everyone is expected to do and follow the same path everyone is expected to follow. They fail to take time to understand how the world works and how they have a unique role in the world with which they are to use in making the world and their fellow man better at the end of their stay on earth. With knowing that everyone has a higher calling and meaning to their life, people are less distracted and are able to focus their creative energy towards what matters.

Trying to find a higher meaning to life is definitely not an easy process or even one which probably as a clear cut recipe. But if we want higher meaning to our lives, a good place to start is to look at ways in which we can serve our fellow man and leave an indelible mark on their world by the time leave.

 

Pushing the Boundaries of Our Comfort Zone

As humans, we tend to like to play it safe and follow the path that is known and which assures safety and steady but assured returns. We never want to put ourselves in unknown situations which would force us to do things we have never done before. Though this might give us assured results, rarely do people grow inside their comfort zones. Radical and massive life growth comes when people move outside their comfort zones and move into areas which they have never been into and in many ways makes them feel uncomfortable. This is because, in such zones and situations, people’s responses to different challenges force them to operate at levels which in some cases they were not aware they are capable of.

When you tell people to change professions or skills or move to a new city for opportunities or try something new and exotic like beginning a business, people will always give an endless list of why such is not a great idea. Giving such reasons is only a human defense mechanisms against getting out of inertia into our uncomfortable zones. But if people follow through such rationalizations as to why they should stay in a state of inertia, they miss out on opportunities which they will never know they missed out on.  As a result, personal growth and development does not take place at a pace at a pace at which it should.

Going out of one’s comfort zones is not comfortable many times, it takes an unbreakable level of faith in one’s self when challenges and doubt begin coming our way and it takes a high level of discipline to stay on course. Not everyone succeeds or will get massive results and exponential life growth as a result. But it we look through history at people who either changed the course of history commercially, technologically or even socially, they never achieved such within their comfort zone. They only achieved such way outside their comfort zones. For that the world and millions (and even billions of people) people they don’t know are better off.

 

Seeking Validation

As humans, seeking validations from family, peers, and co-workers is something we constantly do both knowingly and unknowingly. It’s the feedback mechanism which allows us to know we are doing things right and not out of the mainstream. But on the other hand, constantly seeking validation has the potential to stunt our individuality and growth. In the process of stunting our individuality and growth, we fail to achieve out innate happiness and potential while failing to impress anyone.

Each person is very unique. From our palm and fingerprints to the structure of our retina and to our DNA; no two people are the same. Even twins are never the same! Naturally, it follows that each person has different preferences, skills, likes, and hobbies. Thus, each person will have different strengths and weaknesses and areas in which they will go into and not go into. Many times when trying to seek validation, people tend to follow what the crowd is doing even if it means doing and going into areas which they are not suited for. As a result, people take on things which don’t bring true happiness and they are not suited for to the neglect of their true skills and preferences.

In many ways constantly seeking validation, makes people think they are constantly being watched when in fact it’s probably the opposite. Thus, every action people take factors in what people will think and say. But in order to achieve our innate potential and go where we have never been before, we might need to take actions which go against the grain and are not popular. With such an attitude and mentality, it leads to people over thinking new ideas and actions. Eventually,  this leads to potentially great ideas and actions never being initiated or being initiated too late.

If we want to achieve our potential in life and touch the most amount of people and be contributing members to society, we need to stop seeking validation from others, both real and imagined. The ultimate person we need to seek validation from is ourselves. The only person we need to care about what they think of our current life status is ourselves. The only person we need validation from before making decisions is ourselves. If we embrace this mentality, the sky will never be the limit for us, it would only be the beginning on the road to almost endless possibilities.

 

Why would automation be different this time around? (2)

In the first part of this blog on the 14h of November, analyzing the historical track record of automation, and questioned why at different historical junctures people have always viewed automation negatively and thought the track record would not continue. Well, I think I might have an answer which validates the main reason I gave.

A few days after making that blog post, I was re-reading Henry Hazlitt’s timeless classic, Economics in One Lesson,  specifically, I was reading chapter 7 (“The Curse of Machinery”). Something caught my eyes which indicated that the answer I gave to this question in the previous post, though based on a hypothesis, has merit. In the section on historical objections to automation, Hazlitt cited The Curse of World Poverty (1970) by Nobel Prize-winning economist, Gunnar Myrdal, in which he objected to automation in underdeveloped nations. I possibly would have overlooked this if I never looked at the footnote and saw the name of Myrdal.

For those who don’t know about Myrdal, many argue that before John Maynard Keynes was talking about massive government intervention in the economy to smoothen out the business cycle, Myrdal was already on this topic. But the reason why we don’t attribute this to him is because his works were written in Swedish and thus did not have wide circulation in the English-speaking world. Myrdal  is also considered to be one of the architects of the Swedish welfare state. He also wrote ground-breaking work on American race relations in the book An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy which was cited in the famous Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954. The dominating lens which Myrdal used in his social science works to arrive at many of the conclusions was historicism!

As we now know, Myrdal has been proven wrong. The region which he was referring to in his book, South East Asia, from the mid-1970’s onwards, and even to a lesser extent from the late 1950’s to early 1960’s for some, moved towards economic freedom. Consequently, South East Asia has moved towards being a more modern region of the world with higher levels of capital usage and automation. Consequently, the rate of poverty in that region has sharply declined and some nations in that region are now either developed nations or on the verge of becoming developed.

We can see that I was onto something when I said that a lot of objections to automation have a smirk of historicism. Even though I have never read Myrdal’s book, I will make sure to read it in order to gain a deeper understanding of this issue. But as I said in my previous blog post, at another date, I will do an essay which thoroughly analyzes this link and analyzes historicism in technology predictions.

 

 

A Day of Thanks Giving

In our society, too often we tend to forget how good we have it and complain about what we don’t have and other imperfections. No doubt nothing is perfect! But if one lives in this country, by world standards, one is at the very top of the global standards of living pyramid. For the overwhelming majority of us, things like basic housing, basic food, and a basic livable income is not an issue and that is worth being thankful for. I am thankful that I have an environment in which I can nurture my gifts and ideas; I am thankful that even though I am not where I am to be in life yet, I don’t lack the basic to survive, and I am thankful that I have a supporting family.

As much as I might not yet in at the point in life which I strive to be at, which is above average, I am thankful that I have the basics of life needed to survive. I never have to worry about the quality of what I am going to eat or where I am going to sleep each night. With my mind never having to bother about these issues, I am able to focus on the ideas I have and what I what I want to achieve in life and where I want to go with my life.

As a first generation American, who has taken the entrepreneurial route, I deeply appreciate the fact that I live in a place which allows me to nurture my gifts and ideas. In other places, basic amenities such as high speed internet and even a constant supply of electricity is taken as a luxury. As someone who is trying to enter a field which depends heavily on communications, being able to enter my laptop at any time is something I am thankful for. This boost my productivity and I never have to think about if these services would be available and I can go straight to world.

I am also thankful that I live in a country in which even thought a worrying and sharp decline in economic freedom has occurred in the past decade and a half, I still have enough of such freedom to chase my dreams. I am so thankful that I am able to reach out to likeminded people both online and offline and we are able to exchange a synergy of ideas and assist each other.

I am thankful that even though to some my ideas and goals might seem oversized (not to me!) and even borderline outlandish, I have a family which supports me. Nothing in this world can ever match the reassuring voice of family members who encourage one when one is in moments of distress or even doubt.

Finally, even with my deep flaws and imperfections, I thank Jesus Christ for giving strength, perseverance, and vision in the midst of the challenges and obstacles I face. I thank Jesus Christ for giving me an unwavering vision and a level of insight which some say is uncommon for many who are my age. Without him,  all I do will amount to nothing and I will not have the will to press on for better days ahead of me.

Please eat all the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and any other special treats which might be made and savor in the company and joy of family, but never gloss over the meaning of the day and appreciate everything you have.

If your friends don’t talk about ideas, you need new friends

A Business Insider article on the 15th of November 2016 titled “If your friends don’t talk money, you need new friends” caught my attention. While the article is right in saying that society looks down on the discussion of money and other financial issues, in a way it gets something fundamentally wrong. Especially in modern society, in which most large scale and easy avenues for wealth generation have been fully exploited, making money and creating wealth for oneself and society, is a byproduct of high level human intelligence and the application of new and innovative ideas to pressing human needs.

Looking through the ranks of the wealthiest people in the world such as the Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos, they made money through the use of human intelligence and offering services in ways other had never thought about or overlooked. Such characters though their success is definitely the result of business acumen and sound judgment, it is primary the result of ideas. Those they keep company with analyze human history, critique society and try to look at ways in which society can do things better, and try to forecast where trends and headed before such wisdom becomes widely accepted.

After all bank robbers, crooks of all stripes, and drug cartel lords discuss money and how to make, but there is not based off new, sound, and innovative ideas. It’s based off harming, cheating, and swindling fellow human beings and making society worse in the process through the creation of strife and fear. So, if anyone wants to make money and accumulate any sizable amount of wealth, they must primarily discuss ideas (obviously with discussions which links business and economics to such ideas) with like-minded people and how they can turn such into services and products which would serve their fellow humans beings most pressing needs. It’s from that, that money and wealth will come forth.

Failure

Society looks down upon failure and tries to prevent such by all means through means which are real and superficial. In some track races, rather than awards being awarded solely to the three fastest, the others are given participation medals and in business, failing enterprises are prevented from failure through bailouts, subsidies, or other programs which keep them on artificial life support. But in doing all this, such failure-preventing mechanisms inhibit a critical learning process.

Without a doubt failure comes with its psychological components such as feelings of shame and humiliation and questioning ones self-worth. But what matters is how to respond to failure. Failure can be seen as a result of taking actions which were wrong and from which one can learn so such errors are not made in the future. But if failure is inhibited where it needs to take place, this learning process does not take place. Even in moments of failure, people are able to learn who they are better and have a better appreciation for their limitations.

One of the most disturbing trends in society is the emergence of “participation trophies” and other commendations for mere participation when it’s clear that in some scenarios winners and losers exist. This trend has the potential to sow a mentality in society that people are entitled to things and work and effort is not required to attain high ends. Furthermore, it also has the potential to sow an attitude in which people don’t understand that actions lead to results and people need to learn from their actions so they can know what to do and not do in the future.

As (titled “Just do it!”) I spoke about in a blog post a few days back, many times we have ideas in our heads which we overthink in the hope of refining into a perfect idea before we begin implementing it or sharing it with other. In many ways, this is borne out of a fear of failure, and not wanting to implement a bad idea or not wanting to face criticism and hard questions when we pitch our ideas to other. But in the end, fear of failure, and not wanting to implement or pitch ideas, even in their imperfect forms, ultimately stunt a critical learn process.

I will confess that in many ways I have a fear of failure, which is perfectly human, but I also have quite a high tolerance for calculated risk. But if we want to grow as responsible humans who contribute our talents to society, we should push ourselves to move outside our comfort zones and take on risk which we otherwise would never have taken. So, if we have ideas, no matter how imperfect or unrefined they are, we should strive to implement them or even share them with others and see their feedback. It’s only through this that we will see phenomenal personal growth and a feeling to self-satisfaction.

 

Serving Your Fellow Man

In his all-time classic “How to Win Friends & Influence People”, Dale Carnegie, shares the key insight that if people want things from other people or want to get things done, they should think from the perspective of others and relate to them in term of those being related to. While at first, such a method might come off as nefarious and self-seeking, upon careful examination, it’s an empathic method which puts others ahead of ourselves.

Due to how we are wired as humans, we can’t get into the deepest thoughts and emotions of others or know what they are thinking when they don’t speak. Thus, we by default assume people follow our thought patterns and see things the way we see them. Thus when relation to people, we relate in terms of ourselves. In few instances when two people share the same thought patterns and personality types, such works but in the majority of cases it does not.

If we want to improve how we relate to people and we get things done which we want, even if we want something from others it must be presented in terms of what they can gain. Thus, if we want an act, product, or service from others, such request should be made in terms of how it would benefit others and next to nothing or even nothing should be said about how it would benefit us.

If this mind set and mentality is adopted, far from being one which promotes self-centeredness and selfishness, it promotes thinking in terms of how we can be in service to others. The more such ways of thinking are adopted by more people, the less we have to worry about our welfare, because we know that others would always make request to us in terms of how such would help us. So in many ways, this mode of thinking and relating to other is one in which what goes around comes around!

 

Going it alone

As things stand right now, I am forgoing the job market and getting a job even with my college education and credentials with technical knowledge and skills in demand. Sometimes, when I see what my undergraduate peers and going in terms of visible material prosperity and forging on in life, I wonder if I am a fool and I am in the process of making a mistake which as time continues would become harder to repair.

Popular culture and media has created a romanticized image of college dropouts who begin world changing ventures or people who don’t go the conventional route into the job market and also achieve great feats early. But behind it all, there really is nothing rosy when walking the walk! Between worrying about financial issues such as paying basic bills and living expenses and wondering when a break might come through, such decisions have the potential to take emotional tolls on people. Luckily I am a very patient person and my decision so far has not taken any kind of psychological toll on me or sown any form of regret.

I work part time a few days a week with a schedule which cramps in a week’s wort of work. So far, my experience during this time has been one of refining my startup idea and working on the startup. I have also embarked on a lot of personal development and self-education. As great as my engineering education was, there is still a lot which simply could not have been covered during my education due to time considerations and compatibility with the course. One issue I have intensely gone over – and still in the process of doing so – are issue to do with business and economics. I feel that no matter what people specialize in, at least a very thorough understanding the basic concepts behind these topics are very useful in this world.

Another area I have tried working on in an on and off manner with a lot of work to still do is coding. Thought I have a very basic understanding of coding logic due to my aerospace engineering requirements, its nothing on the level of being able to develop sophisticated web or phone apps. Trying to bootstrap with my startup, I am trying to learn coding by building it web app myself. When my startup gets to a sustainable stage and I am not the one primarily doing all the coding, even an understanding of coding methodology will come in handy.

Just do it!

We all have seen and heard the famous Nike slogan but few of us have given it any real thought or application in our lives. I am someone who tends to over thinking and analyze issues. Which it has its benefits such as making sure I am logical in my thought process and making sure there is a clear flow in thought with a logical link between each step. But on the downside, it can cause a paralysis and inability to act on what could be otherwise fantastic ideas.

No matter how “smart” or “intelligent” we think we are and no matter how top notch we think our ideas are, they have to be implemented. Through implementation, we get to hear what people have to say and through feedback, refinements are made till the best product or idea possible is obtained. Rarely do ideas when implemented begin in top notch form, it’s only through the refining fire of experiences and testing out new products and ideas that top notch forms are obtained.

The biggest factor pulling people back which make over think ideas in the hope of coming up with the best product or idea mentally is failure. While different people take failure in different ways with some taking it personally and seeing failure as a reflection of their abilities and worth, failure is many ways is key. Many figures we adore today along their path towards success and adoration kept on forging ahead even after failing multiple times. Walt Disney and Thomas Edison easily come to mind. It’s only through failure we learn what works and does not work. Its even through failure and we respond to such episodes that character is built. So, think out rough outlines of your ideas mentally, then share them with people and getting going with implementation fast. Its only through implementation that you will truly understand you idea and those you hope to serve.