Valuing Yourself – You vs. the World [Part 1]

By: Heero Yuy

bateman-relaxing

In this Four Part post I will explore how valuation is done on the individual and the difference between extrinsic, intrinsic, and universal perception of our worth in this world.

A Scene from American Psycho:

Evelyn Williams: Thousands of roses and lots of chocolate truffles. Godiva, and oysters in the half-shell.
Patrick Bateman: [Bateman narrating] I’m trying to listen to the new Robert Palmer tape, but Evelyn, my supposed fiancée, keeps buzzing in my ear.
Evelyn Williams: Annie Leibovitz. We’ll get Annie Leibovitz. And we’ll have to get someone to videotape. Patrick, we should do it.
Patrick Bateman: Do what?
Evelyn Williams: Get married. Have a wedding.
Patrick Bateman: No, I can’t take the time off work.
Evelyn Williams: Your father practically owns the company. You can do anything you like, silly.
Patrick Bateman: I don’t want to talk about it.
Evelyn Williams: You hate that job anyway. I don’t see why you just don’t quit.
Patrick Bateman: Because I want to fit in.”

Unfortunately, we will not discuss the movie American Psycho in full today as it is a topic for another day. However, we will explore the subject of conformity in today’s society and how we or society assigns us a value. For some, the valuation done by society is taken at face value equates to the value assigned by the individual to themselves. A few individuals disagrees with the way in which society values them and their talents and calculates their values differently. Both topics will be covered and differences expounded upon.

Part 1 – How Society and the World Values Us:

This video from The School of Life YouTube Channel best explains how society and our families (esp. Asian households) values most of us (9min video):

When asked about wealth the first thing that comes to mind is money for most people. They want to believe that the 1’s and 0’s stored in the database of various accounts accurately present your networth to this world. The universe cares not what your bank account statement says or most man-made metrics. What’s the worth of one small planet in a universe this vast? How much power can one man have on a one little rock if the entire rock is not even a speck of sand in the river of time?

Society values people and their net economic output and appropriately compensates them for their worth so that they can extract value from us in order to commoditize, market, distribute, and sell it to others for a profit.

The value assigned to you by your friends and families can also vary depending on how you were nurtured and which company of friends you keep. It can be either extremely motivating or powerfully destructive and this ultimately determines our outcome as a human being. We shall explore these ideas in depth in the following posts [Click for Part 2!].

Letting go of the Past – Time goes only one direction

By: Heero Yuy

mad-men

[Readers discretion: Has some dark and negative parts]

I have a habit of checking on people occasionally to find out how they are doing and to see what new things happened in their lives. An old friend of mine, Big V, was last seen in Japan with a beautiful lady settling into an apartment after his retirement from Active Duty service. My mind finished the thought by saying “And they lived happily ever after.” Sometimes it is good to check up on old friends because real life is rarely Hollywood or Disney. My friend Big V had to give up the Hollywood ending as an expat and turning down lucrative job offers to keep to his duties to take care of his family back home in the USA. Real life is filled with sadness and despair that isn’t captured on film after the credits start rolling on the screen.

Real life, as we find out daily, is filled with challenge, grief, and misery. We want to find that sense of happiness if only to see it on the screen while streaming Amazon Prime, Hulu, or Netflix. Why settle for what we have or don’t have in our lives when we can vicariously take our minds to experience distilled human emotions as projected by actors and actresses on the screen? It’s the constant medication for our insatiable miserable lives, right? It creates a sense of Nostalgia as illustrated by this scene from Mad Men. Entertainment is a pharmacy of infinite delusions with prescriptions to cure every single emotional malaise. We also can do this ourselves because we have a collection of past called our memory. We can always escape to the past experiences or emotions to run away from present realities and future worries.

Most of us have a hard time letting go because we have the Disney life of “Happily ever after” to play out in any circumstance or situation that we get into personally or professionally. It is impossible for every permutation of reality to be favorable in a one track simulation called this life (multi-universe and realities). The sooner we can let go or learn to let go the better off we become. The Sedona Method and the ideas within this book by Dale Dwoskin are tremendously beneficial for learning this fine art. Bruce Lee describes this very precisely by saying:

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

No matter if you go back to the past with that person in that exact place, wearing the same outfits, trying to recreate those emotions back then as you want to experience them today, it will never be the same no matter how hard you try. That is a curious thought because chemically and physically (DNA) we don’t experience a drastic change so if the scene is set in the right way we should technically be able to reenact that script from the past. Emotionally and mentally, however, we will never be the same and it’s that gap of the mind and heart with the passage of time that separates us from mere animals. My friend Big V and I discussed this very thing and we came to the conclusion that we have to let the past go to live in the present.

Professionally, it’s easy to lie to ourselves to think that the dream(s) is/are still alive and that we must keep chasing it. We often feel that we are entitled to success with more effort we’ve committed or sacrifices made so therefore the universe owes it to us. This is a fallacy and there are many other factors like luck, networking, and creativity that are key in conquest. Since we live in a one track world not one of infinite paths, it is therefore crucial to let go of the dreams that drag us down instead of elevating us. One of the best things I’ve realized this year is to know and understand myself better, know when to pursue an endeavor 100% and when to simply let it go. Letting go of losing positions is fundamental in investing as well so you don’t lose your entire cash position/liquidity so that you can invest in something with growth potential. Let go of the dreams, people, possessions, habits, lifestyles, perceptions, and other things that prevents true growth opportunities from blossoming.

Let it go and feel that weight come off of your shoulders.

George Clooney from Up in the Air.

Pitfalls of vicarious learning – Some of life is to be lived and experienced

By: Heero Yuy

pitfall

Emotions are fundamental motivators for production. Salsa singer and writer Marc Anthony once said in an interview that he writes music whether he is happy or depressed. Likewise, this post originates from anger but invokes thought that has some resounding truth.

Once upon a time I had a conversation with two wise sages. They were trying very hard to impose their seniority and experience in the Corporate world to justify their valuation of my worth to Corporate america. As wise as these sages may be, they were not experienced in human resources, finance, or career coaching or counseling. As we moved from the abstract of their thesis to full bodies of arguments where I interrupted and asked a few questions. You see, in my world, the world of experience in the military, we did different things and those things also had different functions and values. I asked the following question:

  • Did you ever land a helicopter on a moving ship pitching and rolling with adverse winds, foggy conditions, and cloudy skies with low visibility?
  • Have you ever dove under the water to simulate the attacking force trying to defeat and disable a ship?
  • Lead men into combat scenarios and man damage control stations to be able to fight fires to save the lives of everyone at work?
  • Have the lives of other men and women placed in your hands whom entrusted their safety and well being to your ever watchful eyes and clear guidance to land a helicopter in adverse conditions as mentioned above?
  • Star gazed in the middle of the Ocean under a clear sky with zero light pollution except that of the ship you are on?
  • Saw the golden sunrise and the ocean turn orange under the purple sky with sunset everyday?
  • Fish for Tuna at the fantail of the ship on a low speed cruise?
  • Etc

To all these questions were of course met with a resounding response of “No.” To this I say “You of little experience regardless of your own perceived wisdom.” Everyone reading this vicariously considered in their imaginations what those experiences above might have felt like and then a luck few were with me through those experiences know FROM their OWN experience how that FEELS like themselves. The experiences of the two sages were undoubtedly valid for their own perception of the Corporate world. They do not possess the aptitude, without experiencing it themselves, to fully valuate the entirety of my experience based on their vicarious understandings. I know from experience, they know from a story produced by experience. Life on the Oceans is a poetic and surreal experience that, if survived, can greatly broaden the spectrum of emotional and intellectual capacity of a human being beyond measure (at least much more so than a regular 9-5 office/monitor/keyboard+mouse routine). We lived on the limit.

Can you truly learn and understand everything from reading alone?

My previous article on Experiences talks about reading and learning from others. While this establishes a good baseline to form experiences of your own while avoiding a lot of pitfalls that were previously identified, it does not excuse a person from living and experiences things for themselves! Experimental vs theoretical science and reality is the ultimate litmus test (proof is in the pudding).

For if anything is written, it had to have been experienced or done first by someone in order to start the learning process.*

*Note: Assuming that the knowledge is genuine and not meant to deceive or mislead the audience.

Think about the statement above for a moment. Someone had to have taught Lao Tzu in order for him to teach others. That someone learned it from someone who did it themselves to be able to teach it in the first place. Therefore, all wisdom originates from an original experience or a group of experiences. Experience are the bricks used by philosopher’s mortar to conceptualize their theories.

No matter how wise a person may seem to be, we are all limited by time and our respective limited experiences. Since time doesn’t work for us but against, no one person can be infinitely wise. Our only hope is that the collective whole can in time grow to be ever more wise so as to avoid the pitfalls of the past treading into the intrepid unknown and hopeful future.

Self Worth – Opinions of others – What is your worth?

By: Heero Yuy

feynman-1981-2

I wasn’t much of a scientist or engineer but I found the stories of these great folks who were in those particular fields of study to be very fascinating. The man above is Richard Feynman and he is one of the most interesting Physicists I know. Feynman wrote an interesting book called Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character). He leads you through all the ways he thinks about life as a Physicist and an inquisitive person. He doesn’t particularly care for what others think of him, particularly his grammar, and just does things for fun! Give the book a read if you haven’t done so already as it is a worthwhile adventure.

Feynman never for a moment doubted his own abilities or his insatiable desire to explore the world regardless of what his peers or contemporaries thought about him. His self worth is determined by the size of his imagination and appetite for adventure. Obviously, this eventually resulted in him taking on wild vacations by putting a finger on a spinning globe and getting a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. Guess it doesn’t hurt to be curious!

So, if Feynman can do it, so can you, right? Well… Not quite. Not to say you cannot get a Nobel Prize or have a lot of fun but you will never truly have fun if you live by the rules set by someone else and their definitions of attaining success. The following quote is widely associate to Albert Einstein. Regardless if that is true or not it is a good quote anyways:

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

This is how most people judge their own self worth:

 

It’s easy to gauge social status and worth by titles assigned at big Corporations and Institutions, current dollar amount in our respective bank and brokerage account, number of ponies in the stable (cars in the garage), square footage of the house(s) that we own, boats (yachts) on the dock(s), and planes (jets) in the hanger(s). That is a good way to gauge our extrinsic value without really looking at our intrinsic value. Usually, by harnessing intrinsic talents we can acquire a lot of extrinsic knowledge and wealth (i.e. Elon Musk). Society easily judges based on extrinsic value because it is easier than to assess the individual intrinsic worth. It’s quicker to check the people on Forbes 100 list than to read entire auto/biographies of those very same people.

One way to understand intrinsic value is to read and understand others, both living and deceased, through various forms of media available. Ultimately, you will find a character like Feynman who is naturally curious and inquisitive about the outside world and himself. You will understand that smart and rich people worry about the same things as you and I and much more by understanding how they think. Once you internalized this knowledge and acted upon it in some reflection you too will find your own self worth as determined by your metrics.

My highschool Math teacher Mr.Ben Cook once told me that:

“If you are not having fun, you are doing something wrong!”

He’s an interesting character and reflecting on my own life I know he is right!

Direction – The Lighthouse in a dark and foggy night

By: Heero Yuy

lh_beam2

I thought it appropriate to start the first blog post with direction because without it we may be lost forever navigating in the vast oceans of life. Emphasis should be placed on direction and not solution(s) because life is ever evolving for the players, environment, or game itself. In mainstream media articles can be found written by gurus purporting “# Steps used by Successful People” or “XYZ Effective Ways of dealing with ABC.”

The issue with the general consumption of these articles is that the reader is lead to believe that all will be well after they’ve successfully implemented the prescribed plan of action and life will be peachy living it happily ever after. For many of us we know this is not true because the article is written in such a way to have renewed subscription for readership, mainly to generate ad revenue and/or sell products and services of the respective gurus, so as to lead the audience to chase endlessly for the carrot or the next carrot that will solve all their problems. It never will.

What if life was never meant to be “fixed” and we live constantly in a continuous battle daily with wars waged internally in our minds between positive and negative thoughts and externally through physical exertion or conflicts with outside forces? If this were true, then any solution we throw at the problem of life is simply a band-aid solution to an everlasting problem that is essentially unsolvable. For any one or groups of guru to prescribe a possible solution to an unsolvable problem would make them a genius or a pauper with no fan base. Life is hard and people have been trying to figure it out for thousands of years with limited success. How do I know this? Because men such as Voltaire and Leibniz came upon an idea of the “best of all possible worlds.” We aren’t in it because our society is still imperfect after all these iterations so therefore we really haven’t figured it out.

Direction is fundamentally different than solution(s) but has also possess similar qualities. Google Maps can provide you a list of directions with steps telling you when to turn and where to go in an orderly fashion. Google Maps can also re-direct you if you go off-course to go back onto the path of least time expended to get to your final destination. In this case, Google does the solution or thinking for you to get you back on course with a new set of directions. Solutions would be like using print-out directions from MapQuest (for those of us who still know what that is). A guru like MapQuest would tell you how to get from point A to point B with a set of instructions and wish you the best of luck. If for some reason you go off course in the days before Google Maps, TomTom, Garmin, or any other GPS tracking system you better hope you have a printed map of your current area. Claiming to be a solution without the appropriate thought process or heuristics to dynamically adjust course is driving blind. You will quickly get lost and eventually ask the locals for direction.

The poem “Invictus” by Henley below best describes the purpose of this site and the view on direction for life. This excerpt from Invictus best describes gaining that direction for life:

“I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

Source: Invictus by William Ernest Henley (Poem)

I don’t have all the answers and my life is just as messed up as anyone else’s if not worse. Haha! Yes, I just laughed at that statement because laughter is a great medicine for a lot of ailments of the heart, mind, and soul. So, life isn’t perfect and there isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if the rainbow exists in the first place. We won’t ever get that carrot at the end of the stick but are still told to run the race because that’s all we know. Anyone competent can wax philosophies about how messed up our world is and at the end still come away empty handed as if to shake ones fist and scream at the cloud filled night and stormy seas for not revealing the shining celestial salvation when your ship is rocked about in rough waters.

So what? With a strong sense that you are still the master of your own fate and captain of your own soul, as long as the ship weathers the storm you live to fight and navigate another day. That’s the beauty of having a sense of direction (vision, purpose, goals).

I’m here to share knowledge, stories, and wisdom so that others may also find their own sense of direction and sail to their respective peaceful shores. We collectively are lighthouses for each others lives in the journey of life. Through sharing experiences by storytelling we can act as guides to each other in the darkest of nights.

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”