Monthly Archives: April 2012

Cheating at Euchre Means You’re Doing It Right

Euchre is a card game popular in the Midwest. It’s a trick-taking game that plays out like a simplified form of bridge, with a smaller deck (9 through Ace of all four suits) and radically simplified process of bidding/contract and scoring. It’s the perfect combination of skill, chance and bluster, and goes quickly to boot, which makes it ideal for playing while drunk.

Anyway, Donlak at Paradigm Shift recently posted “Dispatches from the Hamster Zone,” in which he quotes from a piece which itself quotes the petty reasons women gave for breaking up with their boyfriends (or, “the moment you knew he wasn’t ‘The One.'”)

One of the reasons was truly jaw-dropping: “He told me he cheats at Euchre (a simple card game). Oh, he’s a college professor.” –lafriedland

Back up the truck. Euchre has a long and distinguished history of cheating. Euchre is in fact remarkable as a card game in that it has been so associated with cheating that cheats have become park of the regular gameplay, and looking out for cheating is a large part of the fun. Stealing the deal (dealing out of turn without the proper dealer noticing) and renege (playing cards out of suit) are two popular ways of skirting the rules, so common that point penalties are assessed if the player is caught and a statute of limitations is enforced to further incentivize the cheat.

Euchre also has a bizarre quirk where the jack of the off-suit the same color of the trump suit (e.g. the Jack of Clubs if the trump is Spades) acts as a trump-suit card. (specifically, the rank order is Jack, off-Jack, Ace, King, Queen, 10, 9). You KNOW that must have come about because somebody was drunk off his keester, played the wrong jack by mistake, and another drunk player decided it was cool to do so, just didn’t want to argue about it or wanted to challenge the player to keep up the ruse. Playing the left bower not as the trump suit (which itself can become a renege) is the most hilariously common mistake made by novice players.

The point of all this is: that woman clearly doesn’t understand Euchre, because if you’re not cheating at it, you’re not playing by the rules. But she did the guy a favor, because it’s not worth staying with someone who doesn’t understand such an important game.

(Picture from


Filed under off the donkey rails

For The Last Damn Time: Shy, Quiet and Introverted Are Three Different Things, And Introverts Are Not Broken People

This post was written and posted on the quick following acute frustration in my afternoon reading. I’m seeing a lot of things around the Internet where people are tagging themselves as “I’m a shy introvert.” No, you’re shy AND you’re an introvert. You have a phobia around social interactions, and you have a type preference to lose energy around people. I’m tired of seeing people chalked up as “shy, quiet, introverted” people. They are three different things. I discussed this in a highly-read post a while ago, but to review:

  • An introvert is someone who loses energy when interacting with people. (I am one of these.)
  • A quiet person is someone who just doesn’t feel the need to verbally dominate a group or to be heard constantly. (I am NOT one of these, I am a chatterbox around people I’m comfortable with and don’t lose my energy as long as we’re talking about something interesting.)
  • A shy person has, in my opinion, a psychological pathology around interacting with people, be it fear of rejection, low self-esteem, conditioned expectation of criticism or punishment for speaking up, or excessive pride that can’t bear the judgments of others. (I was one of these in my high school days, following a few years of poor social interactions and ostracism.) Introverts are only a quarter of the population, which means that lots of shy people are extroverts – which means they are deeply conflicted, their phobia denying them the energy they need from other people.

As a recovering shy person myself, I suppose I have some “former smoker syndrome” going on where I am intolerant of other shy people who haven’t gotten over it yet. I do empathize with them. But let me be clear – if you are shy, going through the personal effort (or therapy if necessary) to dispatch that problem is probably the single biggest thing you can do to boost your life success right now.

I know that’s easier said than done. But it doesn’t have to be a prison, and it’s so worth it.

My introversion is still with me, and is a part of me I’m proud of. I plainly (if politely) assert it when necessary, to say “I’ve had a great time y’all, but I need to get out of here.” If something is really not worth my social energy, it’s “I don’t have time for this bullshit.”

You don’t have to be the life of the party to do well with women. Mystery’s brand of wow-the-crowd game was never something I even attempted, knowing I wouldn’t have the patience and energy to get skilled at managing large groups of people in pursuit of the attraction of one of them. But Roosh’s style of innocuously vibing one-on-one, with an intellectual bent, has yielded great results for me.


Alongside people improperly diagnosing themselves as shy/introverted/whatever, equally frustrating is extroverts casting introversion as pathological and substandard.

I’m going to be glib and hyperbolic here and suggest that this is pure projection, the extrovert thinking that if someone doesn’t want to talk to him, something must be wrong with the person who’s not talking. I suppose that is an extension of the reality of being an extrovert, which is centered around the belief that everyone else wants and needs to hear what’s coming out of your mouth.

Ronald Reagan was an introvert. He certainly wasn’t too shy to mock Walter Mondale’s age to his face on live television, or too weak to tell Mikhail Gorbachev that East German Communism sucked on Mickey’s own soil.

I’m amped up about this because I’m seeing it in online dating profiles – I’ve read a bunch where women say their man has to be outgoing, because “I’ve dated a shy/quiet/introverted guy and it just doesn’t work for me.” Sometimes this comes off of an OkCupid question that asks if you could date someone who is really quiet. I suppose it’s the man’s job to sing and dance so that she’s not made uncomfortable by awkward silences? It’s a transparent variation on hypergamous alpha-chasing and the demands that a guy “own the room” (for social value) and that he provide constant stimulation to her (for dopamine flow).

Let’s turn the projection back. Words are valuable to an introvert, so if you find yourself with a guy who isn’t lighting up the verbal fires with you, maybe you should consider whether the stuff coming out of your mouth is worth his time and effort to respond to. (We’ve all known people who thought they were a lot more interesting than they actually are, “legends in their own mind.”) Or maybe you’re putting him in front of your friends and family and expecting him to impress everybody before he’s ready for that kind of investment.

The whole “he’s weird if he’s not outgoing” thing is a very dangerous and pernicious mechanism that dehumanizes people who don’t fit our stereotyped behavior patterns. We introverts could just as easily cast extroverts as compulsive blitherers, peddlers of content-free chatter in the way a cat demands to be petted just as you are starting on other important things.


Filed under off the donkey rails

The 80-20 Rule – At Work

I’m a big, big fan of the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80-20 Rule, which posits that in many systems, 80% of the outcomes are due to 20% of the causes. (For a discussion of what the 80-20 rule isn’t, check here).

Often applied to the sexual marketplace or the sales world, I’ve noticed that it can apply to the workplace environment itself. Two particular ways come to mind.


Unless you work at a place that is just unusual, you can probably count on 80% of the enterprise’s quality, esprit de couer and serious productivity coming from 20% of the workforce.

To give a cartoonish (and fabricated) example, the guy who figures out how to make the iPhone touchscreen fit in the case with the circuit board is important to the product’s success. It couldn’t happen without him. However, the project itself wouldn’t be happening at all without the visionary genius of Steve Jobs. Without Jobs, the greatest impresario in the history of modern technology, the touchscreen designer’s three-dimensional puzzle genius would be useless.

The big ideas, the big sales, the closing of deals, the leadership during high-stress times, all come from these vital few. There is a degree to which the alpha – leading, organizing and thinking big – comes before the beta – working out the details, crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s.

A lot of people with this level of power are not competent to handle it. A guy with a big title with no leadership skill or executive ability is not going to be there for long (but sadly will often be there long enough to screw some stuff up). I’ve noticed that people in the rank and file expect a lot from those in the 20% of their enterprise, and like Philadelphia sports fans, they’re very quick to turn on them in the event they fail the expectations – descending into either contemptuous rage expressed in minimalist attitudes of passive-aggressive least interest, or into bored, dissolute cynicism about working for “the Man.”

I want to make it clear that the above doesn’t mean that those functionary people aren’t important, that their jobs are worthless or anything like that. It’s just that they are, for lack of a better term, fungible. You can swap in one accountant for another when it comes to approving expense reports, or one IT specialist for another to maintain the company email system. What you can’t do is swap out the Chief Financial Officer or Chief Technology Officer and expect business to go on as usual.

But even then, the “fungible” workers are not so – they both form and express the organization’s culture, and embed cooperative goodwill that helps get things done without getting personal. Good leaders recognize this phenomenon; poor ones ignore it at their peril. (Related: it is one of the key traits of really excellent leaders that they aren’t afraid to hire people smarter than them, and then to listen to them.)

To clarify again, there’s nothing wrong with being in the 80% of workers who are pulling an oar. They are, largely, the people who have made the exchange of having a bounded, high-stability job that has more flexible working hours and fewer temporal demands, in exchange for other life goals such as family time, lower stress or lack of acute accountability. There’s nothing wrong with this choice (lots of society’s positives come from people who have made just this choice), it just means that they won’t be climbing the ladder and having their hands on the controls of big projects.

The point of this section is that if you want to move up, get big things done, or to affect the organization in a tangible way, you’ll need to identify and cultivate relationships with that 20%. The larger the organization, the more likely it is your workday will require interaction with people you don’t know and may never get to know beyond a purely on-task basis, which both helps and hampers your efforts as it’s harder to get those relationships, but they probably differentiate you more when you do get them.

Finally, the 20% won’t always be apparent on the org chart. Secretaries and executive assistants have long been key gatekeepers of the powerful. Some rank-and-filers have ingratiated themselves into roles as trusted advisors and right-hand men for powerful figures, and other are simply friends who can pull the right levers from the back seat. Always keep your eyes open for seemingly-innocuous people who have themselves cultivated good connections.


I also believe that 80% of your job satisfaction will come from 20% of your work (or some comparable leverage).

Every job has a bunch of gotta-do stuff that nobody enjoys doing. Filing expense reports, drafting onerous memoranda, modding the presentation slides for the 12th damn time, testing the projector which always fails in the middle of your briefing – sometimes firing people or telling customers you’re cutting their business. But all that stuff is tolerable – to a point – if you’re convinced that the core of your purpose is being expressed in your overall work.

Sometimes it’s a functionary task that really gets you going, like writing code, arguing in court, cooking or making cocktails.

Other times, it’s the mission behind what you are doing that is key – giving people a place to eat and drink and have a good time (waiter), connecting professionals together so they can learn from each other (say, a conference manager), or helping people get their finances in a more secure position (financial advisor). Millenials who have been browbeaten by their bleeding-heart Boomer parents should take heed: you don’t have to save the world with your job. However, it’s a lot easier to be satisfied and tolerate the negatives if you believe your job has some positive impact on the world.

One corollary of this section is that you should avoid spending too much time bitching about the bad parts of your job, because every job has crap that people don’t want to deal with.If your job has that core 20% that really makes you proud, you should look on the bright side and realize that not everybody has even that. If the 80% is still too unbearable, then you’re in a bad exchange and – though it’s easier said than done – you might want to start looking for something that better fits your passion.


Filed under original research, quarterlife crisis

Things You Can Do To Up Your Game+Lifestyle Value Right Now

There’s a good number of seemingly small things a guy can do almost at the snap of a finger, or at least in a one-shot outlay of a few minutes’ or hours’ time, to up his value in the sexual marketplace. I’ve put the ideas of game and lifestyle together because they really do go together – you need to have a good product (an interesting dynamic lifestyle), and an effective way to market it (vibe and tactics).

These are not specific moves for tactical attraction or logistics, nor are they large personal projects that require a gameplan and long-term dedication, but simple items to build your strategic value, to lay a better groundwork for the core product that you will market with your game skills.

Some of these things will make you more attractive, others will make you feel better about yourself and others will clear your mind so you can be more focused and deliberate in your life’s work. For some of them, doing them won’t make you attractive as not doing them will make you unattractive. Sure, there are schlubby, unkempt guys doing well with women. Are you one of them? If not, don’t stand in your own way by ignoring easy speedbumps.

In no particular order:

Practice and adopt the chin-up move (the Iguana): Private Man posted on a move he called The Iguana as a non-verbal opener, which involves a man flitting his head upward when making eye contact rather than downward as is normally seen as polite. Eric Barker also posted on research showing that men with chin-up behaviors were seen as more dominant, a study linked to by Roissy in a post I can’t hope to find right now.

Get clothes that fit: When it comes to clothes and fashion, you can go with any number of looks, but whichever one you choose will look 100% better if it fits properly. The grunge days are over, so forget the baggy look. Really shop around for jeans and slacks that fit right; get higher-end clothes tailored if you have to. Unless you work or socialize in a circle where top dress is sine qua non, you’ll do better getting a modest wardrobe that fits than blowing a wad on pricey stuff that looks like you’re a supernumerary in a Hammer video.

Get all the soft drinks and shitty snack food out of your house: Added sugars and boxed, processed foods are not just bad for you, they are pernicious in finding their way into your mouth if they are in your vicinity. Avoid the temptation by not having to resist it at all.

Start taking Omega-3 fish oil: Originally on the advice of Athol Kay, I’ve been taking between 2000 and 3000 mg per day for about the last 18 months. I don’t know how or why it works, but it’s made a tremendous difference not just in my physical condition but in my mental composure. I feel more decisive/”executive,” I worry less about things I can’t control, I’m less perturbed by irrelevant emotions and by criticism, I enjoy myself more when I’m doing the things I want to do, I’m more risk-tolerant and calmer when I do take risks – I’m more alpha, if you will.

Tidy your dwelling: Hat tip to Haley for this one. Having a clean apartment/house might not get you laid, but having a messy one sure can keep you from getting laid. Messiness will give most women the creeps. Put everything in its place and toss out shit you don’t need.

Put grooming in your daily schedule: I’m guessing most readers are brushing and/or flossing on the daily, but you should make shaving, skin care and cologne a regular habit as well. Clip your nails regularly too.

Start working out with weights: Lifting weights raises your testosterone, that’s the long and the short of it. Get over that cardio fetish, and don’t be one of those people who humps it on the elliptical for an hour and then undoes the whole thing by drinking a Gatorade. Inspired by Frost’s 15-minute workout plans, I went to a focused, fast, weights-heavy workout plan that served to build general muscle tone and get me exhausted. The result has been good feelings, quick fitness, and the best health I’ve had since I was playing football.

Stand up straight: The first of three distinct body-language items, standing up straight took me a long time to learn. As a tall man, I’m used to towering over most people and so felt I needed to slouch so as to meet people at their level. At some points in my schooling I was even taught to be ashamed of my size, as several teachers took the time to warn me, the gentlest kid in the class, to be extra careful not to hurt anybody. (Such are the ways that school teach young men to be positively non-attractive.)

It wasn’t until my first wisps of game that I came to grok that my height was a strong and un-fakeable attraction marker. And as I developed a better frame, I stood up straighter and got the full advantage of my height. Dating a tall woman helped, as she made sure that I knew it was important I was taller than her, and she was sure to respond when I showed good posture to boot.

Take up more space: Whatever your height is, you can exert positive body language by widening your feet, opening your knees, not putting your hands in your pockets, and putting your thumbs in your belt loops. When I’m at a bar or a cafe, I tend to throw one arm over the back of the adjacent chair, whether someone is sitting there or not. (Interestingly my father, a strong but introverted and non-dominant man, has always done this, whether it’s in the car, at a restaurant or a sporting event. It’s like one of his arms must always be in the extended position.)

Last year I was on a train with my right arm draped across the empty seat next to me. Coming off the platform, a young female French tourist sat down in the seat without a blink and was immediately friendly when I opened her. It was as if my inviting posture had made her more comfortable. Taking up space says a lot of things – it says dominance and power, but it also says comfort and calmness, stable and non-threatening.

Do everything slower: My own post on this is here, but suffice it to say that slowing your physical movements and speech patterns will result in a more competent, confident vibe. You’ll notice that if you’re standing straight up and taking up a lot of space, it’s pretty difficult to be manic in your movements, which further enhances the bold power of your body language.

Stop watching live TV: Putting aside the lack of quality programming on the American tube today, the dreck aired in commercial slots today is appalling. There’s no end to the unalloyed misandry and anti-male snark used to hock products to homemakers and strongindependentwomen, and the themes of marketeering appeal to our basest senses of novelty-seeking, spendthrift and perpetual dissatisfaction.

A couple years ago I stopped watching TV almost entirely. On occasion I would turn it on to see a show or a special I had been tipped off to, and I was quite surprised to realize that watching ads makes me want to buy the products and eat the foods. When in waiting rooms today, I marvel at how quickly I find myself hypnotized by the bright flashes on the screen.

DVR your shows, and get rerun programming on demand or on DVD. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say you’ll be a richer, more focused and less consumptive person if you quit watching live TV.

Start reading a good book: Despite the above, I’m not one who says TV is an evil instrument of cultural hegemony. Nonetheless, one does well to have a good book or two going at any time. Preferably a classic work that has earned a reputation and will expand your mind rather than simply fill it.

Buy some classics to familiarize yourself with the primary sources of our cultural tapestry, be it the Aeneid (an audacious piece of premodern imperial propaganda), Cyrano de Bergerac, Band of Brothers, Rip Van Winkle, the Bonfire of the Vanities – pick up something you want to read and sink into its world.

Sign up for an activity of interest that involves people (yoga, running club, pistol shooting, a sports league): If part of your game problems is not meeting enough new people and not seeing them enough, you can solve this on the Internet in under 30 minutes through, craigslist or your local adult education catalog. Pick something you want to do and go do it. And then socialize with those people – don’t try to game anybody, just spend time with a new social circle as a springboard to higher value.

Go to bed early tonight: There have been ruts and dry spells for me that were cured by nothing more than an extra hour of sleep for a few days straight. It’s my contention that Generation Y is constantly underslept. I don’t think I know anyone who was/is doing interesting things with his life who doesn’t have at least itinerant sleep patterns. But it really hurts your body, brain and personality. Shoot for those seven/eight hours a night, and try to get up at the same time every day as consistency in sleep counts for a lot.

Spend less time on the Internet today: Funny for a blogger to say, I know, but often that extra late-night hour reading forums or commenting is just not worth it. Make sure you’re getting out in the fresh air with real people and doing other things you want to do. Also consider leaving your smartphone at home, or activating airplane mode to keep the signals away. I find it quite liberating to unplug for a while, and when I come back there’s always a stack of things to check on so I get an extra surge of novelty anyway.


Filed under beta guide, la dolce vita, living a good life, living young

A Combat-Dating Flakejob

A few weeks back I made plans to meet up with a woman I had met online. The day of the ostensible date, I happened to have a series of meetings at work where I was away from my phone. During a working lunch I was able to peek at my texts and saw one from her asking for the address of the pastry cafe we had agreed to meet at, something about not being able to find it in Google. I didn’t have time to shag the address and reply so I went on with my day and assumed she’d figure it out.

I returned to my phone in the afternoon and found another text, something to the effect of “hey I’m not going to be able to meet up tonight – my roommate’s family is in town and I’m going out with them.”

Flaking of the oops-I-just-remembered-I-had-something-really-important variety is nothing new, and flaking is a huge problem with online dating – with literally no tactile or verbal connection built, expecting a young woman to follow up on a one- to three-day old time commitment is just not a good strategy to bet on. I really can’t explain it but it seems to follow closely from the so-called female prerogative to change her mind that young women feel justified deciding at the zero hour that the whole thing is all of a sudden not that important to her, or she’s got something more interesting to do, or she just doesn’t feel up to the experience. Flaking is a burn for me and probably many other guys who were raised to “be a man about it,” follow through on commitments we had bound ourselves to, and put a real effort into it to boot – whether it’s going to work or showing up to football practice.

So flaking is old hat, a large reason dating has to be a numbers game.

But something was different about this one. Admittedly, one can’t completely know what’s going on in the mind of who is essentially a stranger, but I felt strongly like I had been commitment-tested, that she didn’t really want the address – she was nervous that I was going to flake, or at least wanted to construct an excuse to justify her own flakejob, and wanted some response from me that would confirm I was still committed and invested in the date. However she didn’t want to look like she was more invested in it than I was, as would have been communicated with a “are we still on for tonight?” or “Looking forward to meeting you” type of text.

In any case, I didn’t validate her concerns fast enough (truth be told I try not to text at work even when I’m not in meetings), so she pulled the ejection handle. And thus completed her self-fulfilling prophecy.

It was Combat Dating at its apex.


Filed under dating and field game

Female-Directed Adult Films Feature More Aggressive Women

Eric Barker muses on a study of male- and female-directed pornography (emphasis his):

We conducted a quantitative analysis of 122 randomly selected scenes from 44 top-renting adult videos in 2005 (half male- and half female-directed). Findings revealed that all films shared similar depictions: Verbal and physical aggression was common, women were the primary targets of aggression, and negative responses to aggression were extremely rare. Compared to male-directed films, female-directed films were significantly more likely to portray women-only scenes and sexual acts. Even when controlling for main characters’ gender, female-directed films showed significantly more female perpetrators aggressing against female targets and significantly more depictions of women as perpetrators of aggression.

To restate the most salient point:

  • Even when controlling for the gender of the participants, female-directed porn features significantly more instances of women initiating and escalating.

I take this to mean that in male-female scenes, women are more featured as logistical escalators and sexual perpetrators, and in threesome/group scenes, women are more featured as escalating against each other rather than simply responding to male sexual aggression.

Even with all of my red-pill reading and writing, these results surprised me…I had bought the “conventional wisdom” that female involvement in porn would skew the content towards soft lovemaking, non-aggression, emotional support, relationship commitment, pillow talk, tasty omelettes, you get the idea. I had blocked out the ideas taught to me by the Internet, conversations with women and my own personal experience – that many women want to have dynamic, high-energy sexual experiences, that they often seek playful dominance in the bedroom (disregarding how they conduct themselves in “real life”) and that they will exhibit aggression if there’s enough comfort or lack of judgment to make it safe to do so.

(Incidentally, I think that is what a lot of this cheap alpha hookup sex we’ve been talking so much about provides – when it’s with a guy who is semi-anonymous, and you’re being cheered on by your friends, and there aren’t all these personal commitment expectations swirling around, it’s a lot easier to push your boundaries without being nervous he’s going to judge you or smear your reputation around your social circle.)

One layer of the onion here is the last bit of the abstract:

We highlight the importance of economic forces, rather than director gender, in dictating the content of popular pornography.

I take that to mean “directors give the market what sells, not what they think should sell.” Remember we’re talking about “top-rented” films here, so ipso facto the study results are taken from what the market wants.

We also have to consider that there’s a difference between female-marketed pornography and female-produced pornography. A woman behind the camera isn’t necessarily only seeking to address female interests in her craft. We do have to note selection bias…the type of woman who wants to direct an overtly pornographic film is herself more interested in graphic depictions of sex than in the romance-novel style of emotional pornography through the written word. And there’s probably a sex-poz feminist streak in those directors as well, which motivates them to portray women as sexually alive and assertive rather than following a man’s lead. In this way, some of these films are sexually political in nature.

Another question: are these results a matter of director gender itself, or are there underground factors that indirectly link director gender to other factors which themselves correlate to the artistic and character style of the movie? Perhaps certain movie houses that happen to cater to certain tastes also happen to have a gender skew on their film staff? It could also be the case that women engaging in girl-on-girl or fem-dom roles on film are more comfortable working with female directors, and the director gender is instead a proxy for the preferences of the actors and the needs of the script rather than being a determiner of those things.

There’s also the matter of how much influence the director has on what goes on in the movie. Is the director an auteur of sorts who controls all creative aspects of the film? Or is the director simply blocking and filming the scenes that a separate producer and screenwriter have already planned out, like a high school theater teacher bringing Guys and Dolls to the local stage? My knowledge of the operations of the porn industry is slim, so I’m guessing this varies by studio, size of project, and the director in question.


Filed under media, science+technology

Athol Kay’s Latest Post on Finding Your Passion And Making It Happen

Athol Kay’s Sunday post discussed the hardships of getting his blogging/advising/ game up and running, and carries with it the great news that he’s bagging his daytime job and going full-bore into his mixed-marital-artist enterprise.

Go read it.

Done? OK.

There’s so much empty feel-good crap out there, so much “live, laugh, love” (or eat-pray-love) sloganeering. So many Facebook quotes from The Man In The Arena (“it is not the critic who counts”) or Twain (“you’ll regret far more the things you didn’t do”).

This isn’t it. This is the real testimonial of a man who has found his passion, done the hard work of building it from a hobby, which you can stop and start at will, to a real enterprise where you are accountable to your image and your customers – the material and emotional privation, the pushing through writer’s block, the trolls (oh boy there have been some classics), the cross-your-fingers, here-comes-the-royalty-check moments. It’s a great tribute to his marriage and his skills as a husband that his wife has been so supportive of his work instead of carping that he should bag it and work more shifts to bring in some extra Benjamins…so his success is itself strong evidence that his advice is on the right track.

Believe me – plenty of young people will tell you they are adventurous and passionate, and then you find out their idea of coloring outside the lines is checking out a new dive bar or brunch place. And you check on them five years later and they are still cracking away at their soul-crushing corporate gig, playing on the margins trying to stay ahead of the next round of downsizing or hoping to push their raise to COLA+1% this year. They still bleat the slogans but they’ve defined it down considerably. And all that shit they talked up doing, the dreams that got them out of bed every morning, is just never going to happen.

(It’s really a form of hipsterism, enjoying the banal reliability of modern life with occasional sojoruns into the visceral world. Notice how much hipsters make of low-temperature slumming it with regard to their clothes, tastes, and even their gentrified neighborhoods?)

And I want to hit them over the head with a truth I found out about before I had even entered the working world, a truth that has enabled me to make some very good decisions on some high-risk options:

Satisfaction on the job is worth so much more than money or perks. 

And if you hate your job, they could never pay you enough to displace that hatred.

A parallelism of this is: A good job you can leave at the office. A bad job follows you 24/7.

Being lost in your life’s purpose is a major cause of the heavy drinking, facile friendships and random hookup we see among educated young people from 20 to 30.

I’m not saying to take a unpaid position at something you’re interested in (well I would say that for a time-limited college internship or post-high school apprenticeship, when connections to the field and exposure to the nitty gritty is much more valuable than actually producing something on the job that could be exchanged for a salary). You gotta eat after all. But if you want to try your hand at what you really think is your life’s work, your best contribution to society, don’t wait for it to happen to you, for your 401k vesting or whatever else. “Later” is by definition “not now;” if you mark big things on your to-do list for “later,” they’ll always be shoved off as “not now.” Find the functional actions to get it started, the long poles in the tent, and do them.

But it doesn’t even have to be a job. Any real interest you have in life (brew your own beer, coach sports, build furniture, become a BBQ master) deserves your passion and dedication, at least for a time.

I’ve spoken before about how I launched my blog; I gathered topics I wanted to write about, got a blog site reserved, committed myself to writing 20 posts for the bullpen before I went live, wrote them, told all my online friends to keep their eyes peeled (thanks Athol), and hit Publish.

Athol speaks of the comfort and satisfaction of having made enough impact on his world that it will (modestly) benefit his wife and daughters if anything should happen to him. This is a huge step, because that’s the point that every leader and entrepreneur wants to get to, the point where some little piece of him is immortal, or at least will outlive him. (Cf. The Denial of Death for you Annie Hall fans.)

Additionally, Athol’s made comments to the effect that he was trained as a pastor/preacher, but abandoned that once he left the faith behind. I think I can safely say he’s living out that training, just with a slightly different bent in his sermons. His writing sparkles with gentle passion, with firm but low-key leadership. He lives the example of what he recommends for men, a hardworking, passionate, goofy, powerful but responsible and controlled man, the most irresistible balance of traits for the kind of women you’d want to marry.

Recently I posted on “deep rapport questions,” queries that create emotional connection, and one of my favorites is “is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?”

I have found that this question really categorizes people. Those who haven’t given up their dreams answer quickly and with resolve; others are muted and trail off. At times I’ve been on both sides.

Guys: first, if you ask the question, you have to have a better, bolder, more interesting answer than her – it’s one of your best opportunities to show her you’re not a cubicle dweller whose lot in life is a move to the suburbs and a long living twilight of Miller Lite, masturbatory debates about fantasy football, and a bunch of guys bitching about their wives.

Secondly, think hard about your own answer to both questions. Don’t lie to yourself about the first one. And on the second one, move yourself from “I just haven’t gotten around to doing it” to “I just booked the tickets/I’m doing it next week!”


Filed under living a good life