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Maybe Your Expectations are Too High

Updated: Apr 4

We live in a world of meritocracy where anything is possible. A reality TV star can become president of the most powerful country in the world, an Austrian immigrant can become a movie star and the governor of California, and a socially awkward kid from South Africa can become the wealthiest man in the world. That puts us under a lot of fucking pressure. Everyone is connected. The world is your market. You can self-publish a book and it can potentially be bought by anyone with access to the internet and $8 in their bank account. You can see more beautiful women in 5 minutes surfing the internet than your grandfather saw in his entire lifetime. You can carry more than half the music ever composed in your pocket. We live in a world of endless possibilities, yet the majority of us feel like failures. How is this possible?

You need to understand that equality of opportunity does not equate to equality of outcome. The fact that everyone has an equal opportunity to be successful does not mean that everyone will be successful. Both history and nature paint a very different picture. If you have ever gone on a safari, you will notice that with most species, a dominant male is fucking all the females and a large group of beta males spends their days together dreaming of a life that could have been. On dating apps, a small percentage of men get the majority of the right swipes. In sports, a handful of men score all the points. In business, the wealthiest three American billionaires control more wealth than the poorest 160 million Americans. On the internet, 20 percent of all websites attract 80 percent of all traffic. As of February 2023, almost 94 percent of all search queries are done through Google.

We live in a world where there is no equality of outcomes - in fact, the distribution of outcomes is very unequal. So what does that mean for us? We live in a world in which we are told anything is possible. You can meet a girl who is a genius, a concert pianist, a stand-up comedian, and a part-time underwear model. She will be kind, and cook for you every night. You can start a YouTube channel, you will get ten million subscribers and this will afford you a life in which you can travel the world vlogging about exotic destinations. You will be comped first class airtime tickets on Emirates for you and your model girlfriend. You will post videos of you boarding with her and your Louis Vuitton luggage.

This is all bullshit. These success stories are outliers. Mr. Beast is one in seven billion. Elon Musk is one in a billion. In the face of these overwhelming odds we still hold onto the belief that if we only nail our morning routines, if we post ten pieces of content on socials, if we outwork everyone else, and if we are prepared to suffer like no one else on the planet, we too will be like Elon Musk. I hate to be the one to tell you this it will take more than a killer routine and a Spartan work ethic to replicate the success of these androids. If you look at highly successful people they all share a number of common traits. They all went against the consensus to develop something that would change the lives of hundreds of millions. They all came to the edge of the abyss in the process, yet they never lost faith. Steve Jobs was fired from his own company. Musk's first rockets launched at Space X were nothing short of a disaster. Tesla nearly had to be rescued by Google. These men were also subject to brutal public ridicule. Musk was rejected by his heroes (the men who landed on the moon). They were told they were idiots and they would fail. Most of us would cede to the doubters, but the truly successful have the vision to block out this noise and power through.

This does not mean that we should all be content with a life of mediocrity. We should have lives of fulfillment and purpose. We should seek out responsibility and find actualization in serving others. We should seek to be the best versions of ourselves, but at the same time, maybe we need to redefine success. Maybe the person who owns that weekend house on the beach is also the person least likely to enjoy that house. When he is there over the weekends, he is so busy thinking about his next business trip, his next deal, his next merger that he does not enjoy the cool sea breeze blowing through the sunroom or the beautiful blood-red sunset that only his house on the peninsula gets to enjoy. Maybe he cannot sleep well at night because he is worrying about how the regulators might clamp down on his business dominance, or he is concerned that his senior vice president is planning to leave for a competitor and take his major clients with him. Maybe he has a stomach ulcer and has been restricted to a bland diet for the past five years. Maybe he is overweight with early onset diabetes because the only exercise he gets is getting in and out of his golf cart. Maybe the last time he made love to his wife, who may be fucking the pool boy, was last year. You get the picture.

My point is that we often don't see the price paid by these extraordinarily successful people. It is said that Jeff Bezos literally works all the time. He works 18-hour days and on weekends. Are you prepared for such a one-dimensional life, or do you have other priorities? How about your family and friends? Can we not place a high value on a balanced lifestyle that also includes quality time with people we love, time to pursue a passion like surfing or learning the guitar, donating your time to a charity so you can get some perspective in your life and making a positive impact in the lives of others. Maybe there is more to success than money in the bank, the number of subscribers on YouTube, and positive comments on your Instagram reel. Maybe we need to ratchet down our expectations and set our goals more in line with what is reasonably achievable. Again, I am not proposing you sell yourself to a life of mediocrity - I am talking about setting demanding goals in a range of areas where only one metric is money and professional success. Maybe another metric should be how much you love and how much you are loved. Maybe you want to work on the number of people that would be in attendance at your funeral. Think about that for a second.


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