There’s a quote in the crypto space that I like a lot
Do you want to be right or do you want to make money?
It’s a quote I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, just like an onion the more you peel at it the more you realize how many layers exist (even if it’s not meant to).
If you expand beyond money you could frame it as “do you want to be known as right or do you want to win”
Taleb puts it well, “There are two types of people: those who try to win and those who try to win arguments. They are never the same.”
Most people don’t even care about being “right” per se in the sense of coming closer to base “truth” but rather care about ‘being seen as someone who is right according to the crowd’*.
*crowd being defined as the people they get their values from. For some people the crowd is their parents, for others it’s their partners or their peers or colleagues for some its their Instagram followers etc.
Eg. Most people have spent very little time in coming to base truth on which masks work wrt covid (n95 vs cloth vs surgical) and in which situations (indoor vs outdoors vs with/without ventilation) etc. No one cares really, nuance doesn’t matter, you have to pick a “crowd” else you’re against that crowd.
What Game are you playing?
Recently a friend of mine decided to not pursue further studies after college and he realized how hard it is to talk to people who don’t understand his decision. (Haha welcome to my world on any topic 🤪)
I haven’t had discussions about college for nearly half a decade since I dropped out but talking to him brought this topic back in my mind in actually a much deeper perspective.
He started to work online and make money (obviously at multiples of his normal job), as would be expected he started realizing how “wrong” everyone he knew was looking at the world.
Instead of agreeing with him about how the people he is surrounded by are “wrong”, I actually argued and told him that they were “right”.
His friends were just like my parents and everyone I knew growing up , they were “right” in telling me to stay in college instead of dropping out.
Haven’t I spent 5 years writing on this blog about how they were wrong? Well yes and no.
The “right” belief the people around me growing up had was “going to college will help you get a better job especially in a large company ”.
They were COMPLETELY right about that.
But I didn’t want a job.
I wanted money. (Well technically not, but more on that later)
So while they were right, we were talking about completely different games and goals.
- Game 1: College-> Degree -> Job -> Perform a task -> Money.
- Game 2: learn a Skill -> Perform a task (freelance/start a biz) -> Money.
Most people play game 1 but they act like money isn’t the reason they do what they do. They drink the kool aid and fail to see things past the short term.
They act like “degrees” or “jobs” are the goals, because that’s what they’re programmed to think.
When I said the sentence above “I wanted money” did that make you feel uncomfortable? Did the word greed come to your mind? Well if you did it was probably cause you lie to yourself about why you do what you do?
Very few people get a degree for the sake of the degree. (Exceptions of course, some people genuinely care about the things they study and don’t do it for a job)
So if your goal is “to get a job”, then sure listen to the people in the system who have jobs. They’re “right” about “getting a job like them”.
But if your goal isn’t “get a job” and is instead “make money”, of course the information they share isn’t useful cause you have completely different goals.
Which is why there’s a simple truth, my high school classmates will spend 4 years for a peice of paper, but won’t spend 6 months to get good at a particular high value skill like SEO. 4 years vs 6 months. Yet one is seen as more wasteful/risky🤷♂️.
Now most people would think that those two things are the same “make money = get a job”. They only see one game, the idea that there can be another games out that rarely crosses their mind.
There’s a word for beliefs like that: Religions Ie. All other myths are crazy lies but my myth oh that shit is the real deal.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool. – Richard Feynman
So a simple question, What game are you really playing?
Not the lie you tell yourself to make the game easier, but what’s the real game. Growing up in India where everyone goes to college for a job that lie is easier to spot, but harder to realize that the job is just another game (of many) for money.
In fact, I’d take it even further and say money isn’t even a game I play, it’s freedom and money is just a part of that. (No one wants to be a Scrooge McDuck)
So if I look at it from that perspective.
The Game I played: Skill -> task (freelance + biz) -> Money -> Freedom.
So what are you optimizing?
More degrees, better job, more money or more freedom. What do you really want most?
Most people get a degree to get a job
and most people get a job to make money.
So then, it’s obvious that degrees in isolation are worthless.
& Jobs without money would be called slavery and hence it’s worse than worthless.
Sounds obvious right? But the above statements probably make people very uncomfortable cause most people use both jobs and degree as a foundation for building their identity around aka they are what they do.
They try and justify and believe those things have value by themselves. They justify hard work irrespective of the result and then often treat “avoiding unnecessary hard work by working smart” = lazy.
They do their jobs for money but they never would say that out loud, instead they’ll find reasons about why it’s “not that bad”.
”not that bad” is a phrase you’ll hear every couple of minutes from someone who doesn’t want to face the reality of what’s right in front of them.
”my boss is an asshole and he calls me at 9 in the night, BUT I get the weekends off so it’s Not so bad!”
The true relationship between jobs, money and identity is exactly why I say that “The people I know who say ‘I don’t care about money’, always seem to spend the most time doing things in exchange for money”
Young people always joke about how their parents can’t understand new ways of how the world works. But when change accelerates like the way it is right now, they often don’t see themselves do the exact same thing.
You have to learn to kill your ego and destroy the beliefs you hold deepest to yourself.
Me: Our parents grew up believing in working for one company their entire life. Japan even had something called a job for life, then of course there’s the whole “company pensions”.
My Friend: Yeah that’s so crazy how people still hold onto that, jobs for your entire life, wow I wouldn’t want that.
Me: so you believe jobs for life won’t exist?
My friend: yeah of course.
Me: hmm… but you still believe in jobs?
My friend: ummm yeah.. of course.
Me: why? Most “jobs” are just people doing tasks, so why do you need employees. Just hire contractors to do a job. Isn’t “jobs” in its entirety the “jobs for life” for our generation. I can’t think of any reason jobs would continue to exist, just as you can’t think about how “jobs for life” could exist.
Why is it easy to let go of the “job for life” idea but still hold on for dear life onto the idea of a “job”? Isn’t that just fighting change just like your parents?
“So you believe jobs will just disappear?”
Nope, I just think they’ll become irrelevant.
One framework to understand this is whenever people say “xyz is going to die” what they usually mean is that xyz is going to become irrelevant to most people.
Farming is a good example. 500 years ago 90+% of the world used to farm, today that’s less than 30% and in most developed countries it’s less than 5%.
Did farming “die”? Of course not else we’d all be dead from hunger right? But it did become irrelevant to most people’s day to day.
100 years ago working in a factory was what “a job” meant, today it’s irrelevant to most people especially the people reading this article.
Similarly for me, an office and a job is just like a factory, I’ve never worked in an office just as I never worked in a factory. And most likely never will at either.
Jobs then become irrelevant for how you design your life. Just as most people don’t think about factories and farming, people in my world don’t ever think/care about jobs and offices. How is that any different? It’s just change.
If most people say, “I’ll never work in a factory in my life”. People will say yeah that makes sense.
But when I say , “you can choose never to work in an office or have a job” I’m the crazy one.
Most people reading this define work as a “job”, before covid most people also defined it as an office.
I have a more complicated answer. I define work as “anything I don’t want to do”.
If I enjoy writing 10 hrs a day, that’s not work. That’s me just having fun.
But if I “have to” write 10 hrs a day and I’d rather go surfing? Well that’s work and I would try and eliminate it. Which is exactly why I write for fun and don’t blog for a living anymore.
Reading Dostoevsky to write a report for a lit Major sounds like a lot of boring work that’s freaking depressing as hell.
But sitting at a cafe on the streets of Buenos Aires, drinking a coffee, reading Notes from the underground while watching the city wake up, now that’s not work, that was just me describing my morning.
So it’s not Dostoevsky that’s depressing, reading him is “work” for someone but is “fun” for someone else.
Side note: I also think this is why most (especially young) people say “I don’t like to read” it’s cause they’re never picked the books themselves and it’s always been forced on them. They know (if not consciously than subconsciously) that no one actually cares what they think in their reports, so it’s all a game instead of reading for the sake of reading.
Why do you do what you do?
A simple question but the answer to which can change your entire perspective.
Ask 3 further whys to your answer to the above question and be honest with yourself.
Back when I was 18 in university right before I made the decision to dropout I remember looking forward at my life and I could see it clearly,
I would play the game of university and get a degree, play the game of having a corporate job and after a couple of years I’d get depressed as hell, quit it and start something on my own.
Now did I know that the future would be like that for certain? Of course not, it’s a counter factual, but I’m sure I would be pretty accurate.
Now if I know I’m going to start something on my own, why wait until I’m 30 and depressed as well? Why not just do it now?
So I looked for an answer to the question “why wait?” and the only answer I could find was that people beliefs in “fake security”.
I just had to look out in the world, I observed reality and what did I see?
People were graduating, becoming slaves to the system, after a couple of years of being slaves to the system they “got lucky”, “took a chance” or whatever dramatic phase you want to use and either joined a small company, started a brand new career or teamed up with someone else and built something and as a result built a life with more freedom – every digital nomad/influencer/YouTuber/freelancer/startup bro in their 30s that you read about.
Cool, what’s common in all those stories, whatever thing they did later (that actually gave them “freedom”) never needed a degree. So yeah the only security the degree gave them was “being a higher paid salve to the system”.
So it was simple to me, Do I want to waste my life satisfying false beliefs, or do I just let go of the false beliefs?
I’ve said this quote recently and it’s the only way I can sum up how I’ve felt over the past couple of years:
Most people are just playing life on hard mode cause of beliefs.
ps. If you haven’t read the Almanack of Naval I’d recommend you do. It’s free for the ebook. Great condenses version of all the talks and podcasts Naval has done.