Think and Grow Rich

One of the greatest self-help books of all time is  Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.” While most people want success, they often don’t clarify exactly what they want. If you don’t know what you want, chances are you’ll never get it.

This is the reason why so many people go through life wanting happiness but not knowing what that really means. Because they don’t have a clear goal of what will bring them happiness, they simply live day to day, looking for any opportunities that might bring them happiness. That essentially means choosing short-term goals at the expense and complete absence of long-term goals.

Imagine if you wanted to drive out of Los Angeles. If you had no goal, you might simply take whatever road looks best at the moment, and turn at every intersection depending on what’s easiest. After a week, where do you think you’ll be? At a place that will make you happy? Probably not. Yet that’s exactly how most people go through life without a goal or a direction.

In “Think and Grow Rich,” the first key is to define exactly what you want. Most people say they want more money, but they never define how they want to earn that money. It’s one thing to hope for more money through winning the lottery, but it’s another to actively work to make that extra money.

There are a million different ways to make money. If you constantly choose what you think is easiest or most profitable, you’ll always be looking fo a better opportunity somewhere else. That means the second you think of something better, you’ll drop your plans today to chase something else tomorrow. The moment tomorrow’s plan doesn’t look as good as a newer idea, you’ll drop tomorrow’s plan in favor of something even newer.

“Think and Grow Rich” emphasizes that you not only need a goal to give you direction, but you also need the desire to achieve that goal. Most people don’t define a goal. Those who do define a goal often don’t have the desire to do the work to achieve that goal. They simply want the rewards of that goal without the work, and that’s a recipe for failure every time.

“Think and Grow Rich” is a remarkable book that can help you identify the goal you ant to achieve and help you understand that the only way you’l ever achieve a worthwhile goal is through desire.

Any goal is fine as long as you have a burning desire to achieve that goal. Strip away a burning desire and all you have are goals that you’ll never achieve because the first obstacle that pops up will discourage you into trying something else.

Goals and desire. Those two simple keys are what you need to achieve any success in your life. If more people would only read and re-read “Think and Grow Rich,” they might find their greatest dreams are within reach after all.

“1984” And Its Warning to Us Today

George Orwell wrote his novel, “1984” shortly after the end of World War Two, 1948 to be exact (which is why he reversed the last two numbers of the date to come up with 1984).

The reason why everyone needs to read this book at least once is to learn how totalitarianism works. It doesn’t work solely by force but through the acceptance of the masses that believe the lies the government promotes.

The basic story behind “1984” is that there are three nations constantly at war with each other: Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. Not surprisingly, Oceania promotes peace with one of these nations while promoting war against the other nation. However, Oceania constantly changes which other nation is an ally and which other nation is an enemy. One moment Oceania citizens are told Eastasia is the enemy and the next they’re told that Eastasia has always been an ally. By constantly changing the nature of the enemy, Oceania keeps its citizens constantly at war, fighting an enemy in a perpetual war.

The goal is simple. As long as people are afraid of an outside enemy, they’ll clamor for safety and that safety can only come through the loss of individual freedom to help root out traitors and saboteurs within Oceania. The only problem is that the definition of a traitor is just as slippery as the nature of the enemy as Oceania constantly changes its definition for who a traitor is.

The parallels with today’s world remains frightening no matter what time period you choose to focus on. During World War Two, China was considered an ally of America and Japan was considered an enemy. After World War Two, Japan was considered an ally of America and China was considered an enemy.

In today’s world, most Americans have conveniently forgotten a time when Saddam Hussein and Iraq were once allies against America’s fight with Iran. Then Saddam Hussein and Iraq suddenly became the enemy despite any evidence tot he contrary.

“1984” defined the notion of doublethink where people can hold two contradictory ideas simultaneously and believe both are equally correct. This was easily highlighted when KellyAnne Conway defended Sean Spicer’s depiction of Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd as “alternative facts.” In other words, there are multiple “facts” that are equally correct so if you just choose the “facts” you prefer, then you can support any position you wish.

Irony, contradiction, and blatant deception is the hallmark of Oceania’s government in “1984,” yet it’s little different from our own government today. The Spanish-American War, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War were all based on a lie by the American government.

The Spanish-American war started because Americans thought the Spanish had blown up the USS Maine battleship. (It turned out to be a boiler explosion.)

The Vietnam War started because Americans were told the North Vietnamese attacked American ships. (They didn’t, which the CIA later admitted.)

The Iraq War started because Americans thought Saddam Hussein and Iraq were involved in the 9/11 attacks. (They weren’t, and Iraq didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction either.)

In “1984,” citizens are kept focused on an imaginary enemy by constantly hating them. By channeling the fury of citizens against an imaginary enemy, the government can keep people’s anger focused on supporting their goals rather than fighting for freedom and civil rights. Sound familiar in today’s world where imaginary threats from terrorists justifies enormous expenditures of time and resources guarding against low probability risks instead of fixing actual problems?

If you believe everything your government tells you, chances are good you’re not thinking. Just read newspapers from other countries and you’ll see wildly different interpretations of “facts” regarding international incidents. There re always multiple sides to the same story, but if you simply believe what you hear and read from one side, you’ll never know the other side. The less you know, the easier it will be to control your thoughts, and as “1984” points out, the more you can control a person’s thoughts, the more you can control their actions.

The world of “1984” has been alive for centuries long before George Orwell wrote his novel, and will likely be relevant centuries later. If you believe that all governments tell the truth, play fair, and strive to justice, then you won’t want to read a book like “1984.”

However, if you’re willing to accept the thought that your government may not be telling the truth, that they may have a reason to suppress freedom and individual thought, then you may find “1984” interesting after all.

If you refuse to read “1984,” then you’re likely afraid of having your own perception of the world shattered. People uncertain of their own beliefs are often the most vocal in defending them. If you’re that type of person, then a book like “1984” will simply convince you that traitors really do exist in this country and we need to resort to more draconian measures to root them out and protect this country from outside enemies.

If you’re the type of person who likes to think, then “1984” can help you see how national governments really work, and no government is completely innocent, even your own.

Read the book “1984” and skip the movies that were made from the novel. The movies often follow the book well but the message behind “1984” is better presented in novel from rather than in movie form.

Skip the movie. Read the book. “1984” isn’t a novel about a future that may happen. It’s a novel about a future that already exists.

The Power of Broke

Most people think that it takes money to make money. Therefore they believe they can’t make money until they first get some money. Because they don’t have money, they falsely believe they can never make money. Therefore they simply do nothing.

That’s why Daymond John’s book, “The Power of Broke” is so interesting. Unlike some people who were born in wealth or upper class households, Daymond John grew up in a rough neighborhood with only a single mother to guide him. He didn’t have money, yet he managed to hustle his way to making money. HIs secret? He didn’t rely on money. He relied on working and being creative.

His theory is that if you have money, you’ll likely spend it in ways that mask your real problem. The analogy he uses is this. Suppose a man buys the most expensive sports car around, showers women with jewelry and gifts, dresses in the most expensive clothes around, and lives in an expensive home. Undoubtedly, he’ll attract women.

The problem is if those women are only attracted by his wealth, they likely won’t be truly in love with him as a person. Thus wealth can attract the wrong types of people if you want a loving relationship.

The same holds true for making money. If you borrow lots of money, chances are good you’ll spend it on fancy decorations and retail store space. Then you’ll open up a store, only to find out you don’t know much about selling, you’re selling products people don’t want to buy, or that you’re simply impressing people but not optimizing your business to make a profit.

That means there’s a good chance you’ll simply waste your money trying to impress the wrong people who won’t be your loyal and steady customers.

Instead, it’s far better to start small, start broke. This forces you to find out what works before you spend money. Once you know what works, you can grow your business gradually without much risk. It’s far better to figure out your business needs changing when you’ve invested a little money into it rather than a lot. That’s the power of broke.

So being broke should never be an obstacle to getting rich or running your own business. Being broke is actually an advantage because it forces you to be creative and not rely on money to solve your problems for you because they won’t. The sooner you realize that spending money can be wasteful and actually counter-productive, the better off you’ll be.

“The Power of Broke” teaches you that lack of money is never an excuse not to do anything. Being broke makes you realize that creativity and persistence beats wasteful spending every time.

How to Achieve Goals

There’s a reason most people never achieve their dreams. The main reason is because they don’t have a clear idea what they want. Ask most people what they ant and they’ll give vague goals like “I want to be rich” or “I want to be happy.”

The problem with these types of abstract goals is that they aren’t specific. What does it mean to be rich? What kind of life would you ant to be happy? Each person’s idea of being rich or happy is different.

In the book “Mind Hacking,” author Sir John Hargrave suggests ways to change your life by changing the way you think. It’s far too easy to coast through life on inertia, and then forty years goes by and you suddenly wonder what happened. While it’s better to wake up later than never, it’s also better to wake up now than later.

The “Mind Hacking,” book offers one interesting technique to change your life as related by Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip:

Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic empire, is one of the most successful cartoonists of our time. In addition to being published in thousands of newspapers worldwide, Dilbert has been spun off into several bestselling books, an animated series, and hundreds of Dilbert-themed toys and games.

But at one time, Scott Adams was just another midlevel office drone in a large, bureaucratic organization, just like Dilbert. Adams had always dreamed of becoming a cartoonist: from an early age, he adored Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, and felt that drawing such a strip would one day be his career. As an adult, however, he found himself working a “number of humiliating and low-paying jobs” in northern California. He was continually looking for a way out, so he could make his cartooning dream a reality.

A friend told him about a repetition technique, where you write down your positive mental loop, fifteen times each day. His friend claimed that it worked for her. “The thing that caught my attention,” he related, “is that the process doesn’t require any faith or positive thinking to work.” Just the act of writing down your loop, she claimed, was enough to make it happen. In the spirit of self-experimentation, and figuring that he had nothing to lose but time, Adams gave it a try.

His first attempt was the straightforward:

I, Scott Adams, will become rich.

In his books The Dilbert Future and How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, he tells the story of making two ridiculously lucky stock picks that came to him out of the blue that year.95 Both were long shots, and both ended up being among the top market stories that year. He sold both stocks immediately, so he wasn’t rich, but the odds of an amateur picking two red-hot winners seemed unlikely.

He was less skeptical of the technique, but still not quite a believer. He decided to try the technique on another goal: getting an MBA from University of California at Berkeley. He had already taken the GMAT test that’s required for MBA applications, and scored in the 77th percentile: not good enough for UC Berkeley. So he began writing down this positive loop, fifteen times each day:

I, Scott Adams, will score in the 94th percentile on the GMAT.

In the weeks leading up to the test, he bought GMAT study books, and took plenty of practice tests. Each time he scored at about the 77th percentile. Still, he patiently wrote down his positive loop, over and over, fifteen times each day.

The day of the test came. He took the test, feeling that he had scored about the same. He kept up the repetition technique as he waited for the GMAT test scores to arrive in the mail.

Finally, the test results came. He took the envelope out of the mailbox, opened it, and looked at the box he had pictured in his mind so many times before. He scored in exactly the 94th percentile.

Adams recounts:

That evening, I sat in a chair with the GMAT results next to me, alternately staring at the wall and then staring at the ninety-four. I kept expecting it to change. It didn’t. And that night I knew that nothing would ever be the same for me. Everything I thought I knew about how the Universe was wired was wrong.

After earning his MBA, still working his day job, he began repeating a new loop. Each morning, before he left for work, he would get up at 4:00 a.m. to draw what would eventually become Dilbert. He also began to write this positive loop, fifteen times each day:

I, Scott Adams, will become a syndicated cartoonist.

Despite a number of setbacks and rejections, and through a series of unlikely coincidences and lucky breaks, he eventually became a syndicated cartoonist. In fact, he’s arguably the most syndicated cartoonist alive today: Dilbert is published in 2,000 newspapers worldwide, in 65 countries and 25 languages.

With his analytical mind, Adams tried to reverse-engineer why this technique works in his books,and in various posts to his blog.

While he called his experiences with the repetition technique “fascinating and puzzling,” as well as “wonderful and inexplicable,” he also was careful not to attribute them to “voodoo or magic.” Instead, he theorized about a logical explanation, even acknowledging that it might be nothing more than “selective memory” (perhaps he tried the repetition technique multiple times, but only remembered his successes).

Adams points to research done by the psychiatrist Richard Wiseman, in which he studied people who described themselves as “lucky.” It turns out they didn’t have any special powers, except for one: they were more likely to notice opportunities. As Adams puts it, “Optimistic people’s field of perception is literally greater.” If you are methodically repeating your goals each day, you are more likely to notice the people and situations that can help you achieve those goals, as they present themselves.

In my experience, this is absolutely true. When you repeat your goals daily, you set your expectations accordingly, and you begin viewing situations in a different light. If you’re repeating your goal of losing weight, and someone invites you to a kickboxing class, you see it as an opportunity, not another way to embarrass yourself. If you’re repeating your goal of becoming an entrepreneur, and they’re going through layoffs at your day job, you might see it as an opportunity to take the severance package and strike out on your own.

Adams also points out that repeatedly writing things down takes effort. Because you are investing time and energy in this small goal, you are committing yourself to investing time and energy in your larger goal. It is a way of kickstarting your mind into achieving your dreams, a kind of mental bootstrapping.

“My favorite explanation … also has the least evidence to support it,” Adams concludes, “i.e., none.” In this explanation, reality is so mind-bogglingly complex, that our minds simply deliver a “highly simplified illusion that we treat as facts.” In this model of reality, the constant repetition of our goals may be a “lever” that we use to create some natural chain of cause and effect, but not a chain we are capable of understanding. So when the results come, by what appears to be luck or coincidence, it is simply by natural laws that are not yet fully understood. “While this view is unlikely to be correct,” he admits, “it has the advantage of being totally cool to think about.” (It is also similar to the ideas of Plato and The Matrix: a deeper reality lies behind this one.)

In the end, Adams’s repetition technique is one of the easiest self-experiments you can try: it’s totally free, and you have nothing to lose but your time. “Here’s a good test of your personality,” Adams concludes, in response to the skeptics. “If all of your friends told you that they win money on the slot machines whenever they stick their fingers in their own ears, would you try it? Or would you assume that since there is no obvious reason it could work, it’s not worth the effort?”

Why would this repetition method work? Here’s one reason. By clarifying what you want out of life, you’ll be more likely to spot opportunities to achieve that goal. If you aren’t clear about what you want, opportunities will pass by and you won’t even recognize them.

By constantly thinking about what you want, you’ll steer your life towards not only spotting opportunities that will help you achieve that goal, but also take action everyday to make that goal a reality.

If your goal is to become a cartoonist like Scott Adams, then one action you’ll eventually need to take is to start drawing cartoons. Far too many people have a dream and do nothing to achieve it. By constantly writing down your goal, you’ll remind yourself to take action daily to work towards that goal.

Every positive action towards your goal will help, much more than not doing anything at all.

So try this repetition technique. You literally have nothing to lose.

How to Get a Job in Today’s World

Many people, old and young, wonder how to get a job in today’s world. The answer is simple, but here’s where most people get it wrong. People think if you get a college degree, you’ll magically get a job after you graduate.

The truth is that a college degree is expensive and time-consuming to achieve. That immediately puts many people in debt. Even worse, a college degree by itself does not guarantee any job whatsoever. There are people working at Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Burger King who have college degrees, doing jobs that aren’t using their college degrees at all.

If getting a college degree isn’t a sure path to success, then what is? In the book “Dream Differently,” the author, Dr. Vince M. Bertram suggests that people need to first decide what they want and then decide how they’ll get what they want.

Right now, people do things backwards. They determine what they’re good at in school and what their interests are, then they pursue those interests. What they should really be doing is deciding what they want to do and then figure out what they need to learn to get what they want.

“Dream Differently” gives a story about a high school student who was horrible at math. Yet he liked the idea of being an engineer, working in the aerospace industry. Even though he was bad at math, he simply worked harder to get passing grades. Then he became an engineer.

If he had done things the normal way, he would have assumed since he’s bad at math, he can’t be an engineer and thus can’t do what he really wants to do.

The truth is that anyone can do anything they want to do. The sad part is that most people never figure out what they want to do in the first place. So instead of choosing a goal and then aiming for it, they drift through life and choose whatever looks easy at the moment. That’s a sure-fire formula for choosing the wrong career and getting stuck in it for the next few decades of your life.

People who do this wake up forty years later and wonder where their lives went. If you want random chance and luck to define your life, it’s much simpler to simply buy lottery tickets every week and hope for success. Maybe you’ll be lucky but chances are good you’ll simply be broke for the rest of your life, waiting for luck to define your life instead of defining it for yourself.

Don’t let random chance and luck define your life. Define it yourself. That means deciding what you want and then working towards that goal. Don’t look at what you’re good at and go in that direction unless that is the direction you want to go.

“Dream Differently” also emphasizes that it doesn’t matter what college you go to or how much you spend. When people graduate from college, they’re no different than thousands of other people who also graduate with a college degree. The huge problem with college is that it teaches knowledge but fails to teach vital skills needed to work.

For example, someone may graduate as an engineer, but part of being an engineer may involve writing reports. Someone else may graduate with a liberal arts degree, but they’ll still need to know how to use a computer. Colleges too often funnel people into narrow specialities that creates people unable to do other types of tasks.

That’s why so many companies complain that college graduates are not prepared for working. College graduates may know how to solve problems, but they lack basic communication skills (writing and public speaking), they lack business sense (how to manage their own finances), and they lack computer skills (to use the tools needed on a job).

  • Communication skills involve writing and speaking. If you can’t write clearly, you’ll be at a distinct disadvantage in any job. Engineering and science graduates often lack basic writing skills, which handicaps them from any job.
  • Business skills involve knowing how to manage money, both your own and a company’s finances. When you understand how a business works, you can better understand how your role in a company can help that company’s business thrive. If you can’t help a business make money, it doesn’t matter how much you know form college.
  • Computer skills involve knowing how to take advantage of computers of all types to be more productive in your job. Liberal arts majors often shy away from technology, not realizing that computers can help them do research and write in addition to performing basic tasks on the job like printing reports or designing presentations.

If you want to be a success, decide what you want to do, then figure out what skills you need to develop to do what you want to do. Finally, make sure you develop a basic competence in communication, business, and computer skills.

Do this and you’ll go a long way to separating yourself from the masses who fail to understand their purpose in life. There’s never any guarantee you’ll succeed, but if you fail to do anything, you’ll definitely guarantee you’ll never succeed at everything.

The Nature of Good and Evil

Anthony Burgess’s doctor once told him he had an incurable brain tumor with less than a year left to live. Wanting to support his wife financially even after he was gone, he decided to write novels, thinking the royalties would provide his wife with an income. Within the next twelve months, he wrote five novels and one of them was his most famous called “A Clockwork Orange.”

The title comes from a British term “As queer as a clockwork orange.” Anthony Burgess used that term to describe something mechanical that appears to be organic, and that became the basis of his novel’s theme.

In “A Clockwork Orange,” the question is whether a man can be good if you force him to be good. If you force him to be good, does he cease to be a man any more without freedom of choice? If a man chooses evil, he still exhibits freedom of choice but at what cost to himself and the rest of society?

Ultimately, there can be no good alone without evil because people will make mistakes and be tempted to do evil. Yet they can only be good by deliberately choosing to be good. The stereotypical idea of heaven involves a paradise, but how can that paradise even exist unless people no longer have freedom of choice? If they no longer have freedom of choice, how can that be a paradise?

This inherent contradiction explains why good and evil must always exist in the same world simultaneously. “A Clockwork Orange” is both a great book and a movie, but there are subtle differences.

The book originally had 21 chapters divided into three sections because 21 represents the official age where most societies assume someone is legally a man. Yet the American edition of the book omitted the final chapter and the movie was based on the American edition.

The missing final chapter has been restored in most versions of the book, but check before buying a copy. The missing 21st chapter shows how the hero finally decides to choose good over evil, but its conclusion seems forced and contrived.

On the other hand, the movie version ends with the vague conclusion of whether the hero really accepts good or will return back to evil. It’s a more interesting though inconclusive ending.

The movie trims and alters some of the novel’s story so it’s similar but visually compelling. Anthony Burgess reportedly didn’t like the movie version but the movie still seems fresh even today.

By reading or watching “A Clockwork Orange,” you can better understand the nature of good and evil. One cannot exist without the other and people must freely choose between the two. Since some will always choose evil, evil will always exist. The only truly good people are those who choose to be good and resist evil, and those are rare indeed.

“A Clockwork Orange” will definitely make you think, and that’s the type of book and movie we need more than ever.