So many of us talk about the great things we would love to do for others if only we had more. However, if we’re gratifying ourselves on the majority of our existing surplus now, the evidence indicates we’re too likely to continue gratifying ourselves even further should more be granted to us. More resources is only beneficial to individuals edifying themselves with at least the majority of their existing available resources.
So instead of wanting to acquire something, commit to becoming something.
How do we honestly commit? We pre-determine how we’re going to spend that future resource in an edifying way, making an explicit plan that’s been written down and shared for accountability purposes. And then we prove our determination by ensuring we’re spending our current available resources accordingly.
Remember that edification is about working from the inside-out, focusing on what you’re becoming over what you’re acquiring is the priority. ‘What you are’ is what’s within while ‘what you have’ is what’s without. Therefore Becoming more > Acquiring more.
Resourcefulness is always a great example. Some people have access to very little resources but are incredibly resourceful, wasting very little. Others with countless resources can end up wasting so much they even waste themselves away.
It’s important that we prioritise proving our worth of receiving more resources by how effectively we’re utilising the resources we already have. I hate ‘fake it till you make it’. Anybody who acquires too many resources too quickly, can too easily end up gratifying themselves to death. Literally. Be wary of unearned gains.
It’s easier to be more resourceful when you have less. This is why sometimes the best way to grow is to first get rid of some things. This is a large part of the spirit of being minimalist. Decluttering can help to both make room for more important things and perhaps more importantly it can help you better see yourself and your priorities more clearly. For the same reasons gaining too much too quickly can flood one’s perspective with distractions and gratification’s blinding nature, resulting in confused priorities.
Greater resources require greater self-discipline to edify. Hence we are wise to commit to edification prior to resources being increased.
It’s often too easy to attribute ‘things’ to our own identity and subconsciously/consciously use it as a benchmark to our worth. A house, car, surf-board, motorbike, clothes, even a ‘been to’ destination list. The things we have will never matter as much as what we are. Having said that it’s also important to remember that neither the successes in our past nor our futures qualify us for the rights that belong to ‘becoming more successful, today’.
What we ‘are becoming’ matters more than what you ‘are’, ‘were’ or ‘will be’. It’s all too easy to believe the lie that we’ve permanently proved our worth due to a great accomplished in our past. Or the other equally dangerous lie that some success we intend on accomplishing in the future permits us to demand or expect to receive more, now. Neither are true. The most qualified you can ever be is when you’re staying constantly committed to becoming more qualified.
What we are becoming includes a trajectory of potential. If that trajectory is bad, it detracts from what we are, if it is good, it adds to what we are.
That’s what real success means. That’s how real success is achieved. Not to constantly gather the things successful people have, but to constantly become the things that successful people are. He who IS successful, will make a success with whatever resources he has while he who isn’t successful can make excuses no matter what resources he has.
Having something is a check-box ticked once an item is acquired; once the purchase has taken place; or once you can call yourself the owner. Becoming something however is usually more gradual but there can also be a benefit to that. There’s genuine life-inspiring motivation in the process of becoming itself. Think of it like cross-country travel for a moment, where you might have a series of specific destinations you wish to reach. Maybe I’m travelling from Brisbane to Sydney, and I plan on stopping in Byron Bay and Port Macquarie along the way. Reaching any of those places during my trip is an obvious mile-stone to my journey, but when the journey is ‘becoming’ itself: the destinations don’t matter as much as the rate of progress. It’s the rate of progress itself, that becomes the mile-stones.
When the journey is long, sometimes we tend to dawdle during the breaks. What difference does an extra 5 minutes make to a 12 hour trip? Potentially not a lot. But as soon as the 5 minutes is taken, it can easily turn to 10 and then into 20 and if you’re doing that at each stop you can end up wasting much more of your journey than you originally intended. The longer the journey the more frequently this can occur and the less it seems to matter, because the end still feels nowhere in sight.
Sure, the less important the end destination is to you, the easier it is to get distracted. However, even when it is extremely important, sometimes the end honestly feels so far away it’s inconsequential to the way we’re living day-to-day. That distant feeling could be due to time, distance or even perceived probability. Whatever the case, in such instances, not giving in to those distractions is obviously imperative. In these circumstances, ‘time in the seat’ is what really matters. The destinations are so far apart they require such a small portion of our attention compared the focus required to over-come the day-to-day distractions in order to prioritise progress itself.
‘Becoming’ is usually a long journey and for super long journeys, we can too easily take up residence in places we initially intended to only pit-stop. We signed up to netflix to watch one specific movie, but next thing we know we’ve spent thousands of hours trapped there over the past 6 months, avoiding our more important projects. We took up the first job we could find because we needed to prioritise keeping the cash-flow alive, but next thing we know we’ve spent 10+ years and are still telling people it’s a temporary stepping stone to something that matters more. Now that the kid’s are asleep I’ll just have a few scoops of that half-price Connoisseur Belgian chocolate ice-cream to de-stress a little before bed, nek minnit, tub’s empty.
If we’re not making any progress at all, obviously any progress is better than no progress. Once we’ve got some momentum going though, the default priority should be optimal rate of progress. Direction first, speed second. If you’re going too fast you’re adding unnecessary danger as well as wear & tear, if you’re going too slow you’re wasting precious time, and most importantly if you’re going in the wrong direction everything else is basically irrelevant. Start playing Metallica, cos nothing else matters.
Think about it for a moment. On your last road-trip, how many times during the trip did you check if you were in those destination locations? It’s likely that you only thought about it a few times and probably only once you were arriving. Yet how many times during the trip did you check and adjust your direction & speed? You likely adjusted your direction every couple of seconds to ensure you stayed in your own lane. Your speed? Probably 10-20 times a minute if you didn’t have cruise control and even if you did probably still 5-10 times every minute. That’s something like checking direction/speed 450-1,200 times an hour, averaging nearly 10,000 times in a full day’s driving (12 hours).
We check our direction & speed (aka our optimal rate of progress) thousands of more times than we check our destinations when travelling geographically. Is it not interesting that when we’re travelling metaphorically, or ‘becoming something’ in other words, most of us are doing the opposite? Too many of us have no destination at all but even amongst those who do, are we spending any time at all on progress checks?
For any of us who want to take our progress seriously, it’s probably wise to emulate those geographical-travel ratios. Consider and track optimal progress thousands of more times than destinations.
There’s a distinct advantage made available when switching from a ‘destinations’ focus to an ‘optimal progress’ focus that I addressed somewhat under ‘empowering progress‘ which is that the positive feed-back loops of meaningful progress begin when you approach that optimal rate. They don’t require you to start reaching specific destinations before you can start benefiting from the additional motivation, enjoyment, hope, enthusiasm and positive experiences that come from knowing you’re on track. Using the driving analogy once more, knowing you’re travelling in the right direction and at an ideal speed is much more easily achieved than reaching a destination that might be 1, 30, or 100 hours away. Getting up to speed can be minutes, moments or merely seconds away. Personal development can be the same. As one example, the following can be done within 1-2 minutes:
- Decide what can do within the next 24 hours that will get you started.
- Write it down.
- Tell somebody.
- Start doing it.
It’s kind of funny how growing up an often shared dream was ‘to have $1,000,000‘ which despite meaning a lot more back then than it does now due to inflation, it remains an ‘external resource’ focus. It’s much more rarely phrased in a way that indicates the state of being or their capacity to do good. Alternatively, for example, if a reasonable business profit is seen as 10% then a potentially more edifying way to look at the same dream might be something like ‘providing $10,000,000 of value to the world‘. At least that way the frame of reference includes what you’ll need be capable of giving instead of strictly what you want to have. It’s like the whole piece of a small pie vs a small piece of a huge pie. The latter leaves plenty more for others to benefit from.
I’ve had the ‘if I was a millionaire’ discussion with a number of people over the years and there’s some common themes amongst the reasonings why. If we want to be able to buy a random person a new car when the opportunity arises, okay fine, let’s call that 5% of our wealth but are we using at least 5% of our current net wealth for similar causes? If not, what does that evidence?
We need to act like people who are worthy of more (or worthy of being a millionaire, in this specific example). That definitely doesn’t mean pretending to be something, but exactly the opposite: Honestly become something. It means committing to being more resourceful both now and when more resources come. What does our current expenditure say about what we would do if we were to acquire more? Have we done the math? Could we say that at least the majority of our available resources are dedicated to edification? Because if the majority are being spent on gratification, anything more that we receive isn’t sufficiently likely to do us any good. There is a lack of honesty in the individual who holds his own development hostage to the demands of acquiring more resources first.
“I’d do more if I had more” is really just an cop-out excuse unless it’s evidenced by what we’re doing with what we have now.
This is why the big push that I used to feel for ‘financial independence’ doesn’t seem as important to me anymore. It is still a goal but it’s definitely been deprioritised to ‘best me’ style goal which means being somebody who is aimed at making the most of whatever he has. It’s my opinion that that’s the person who is most worthy of financial independence. Somebody who is pre-committed to being resourceful and helpful in any situation, including financial independence. I often think ‘be more like the river than the dam’. Meaning there’s a prioritisation to ensure I’m not hoarding or blocking the passage-way of benefits. I want as much of what comes to me to be magnified as best I can to then increase what comes out of me to and for others.
With that in mind financial independence (having enough to live off) is not the most important goal for me because once I have enough passive income producing assets to replace our required income, I’m very likely going to want to re-invest those assets in a way that best suits my stakeholders and if that means I need to once again rely on my own efforts to produce sufficient income, so be it.
To clarify, I don’t think it’s a matter of settling on your goals (giving up on what you want to do or creating a plan B in case A doesn’t work) but instead to look at your goals as stepping stones to bigger and greater things. Not only accomplishing that thing but also accomplishing much more.
It’s for this reason I think that not only should everybody pre-commit to living like the person they want to be (eg. an edifying millionaire), I also believe that doing so actually makes one more likely to end up with that kind of wealth. The greater edifying value attributed to your end-goal the more commitment and motivation both you and others are going to have to invest in the goal and the more likely the ‘stepping stones’ become a reality.
“True happiness is not made in getting something. True happiness is becoming something. This can be done by being committed to lofty goals. We cannot become something without commitment.” – Marvin J. Ashton