Page 1 of 3123

Creation vs. Promotion

Do you spend more time creating things or promoting things you’ve already created? Musicians who spend two years touring with the same album are clearly focused on promotion, whereas musicians who release four albums a year to little fanfare are focused on creation. Some authors have written thirty books but can’t get even one published, while others have one best-seller they spend all their time promoting.

Promotion gets your art out to more people―creation allows you to have art in the first place. You can spend all your time and money promoting other peoples creations―i.e. Google, Facebook, The Beatles, or Sony―or you can spend your resources promoting your own creations while enjoying the creations of others only as a customer. You can live life as a starving artist who toils into the night but never achieves recognition, or you can be a salesman who sells his paintings on everything from welcome mats to toilet seat covers. You can advertise yourself aggressively while creating very little, or you can create a lot but not advertise your creations. At one extreme, you can create works that are completely original―at the other, you can produce works that are completely derived from the creations of others. You can even choose to create and promote nothing at all, instead working at a menial job for most of your life. You may be contributing more value to the world as a worker than as an artist, because the world has too many wannabee artists already.

I am a photographer and writer, but I spend most of my time creating. Sure, I send out emails, tweets, and status updates about my new creations, but I don’t spend much time or money promoting myself. I don’t take clients or work for hire. I don’t even have a tangible product, besides a few framed photos and a whole lot of 4×6 snapshots. My main source of revenue is Google AdSense, and that only generates about $60 per month on this website. In light of this, I definitely need to spend more time on promotion and less time on creation. Though I have hundreds of pages, 21% of my visitors leave my website immediately after viewing one page. I rarely get more than 10 comments per week, and emails come once in a blue moon. However, I am confident I am a good photographer and could be famous if I worked tirelessly for many years at promoting myself.

If you focus on promotion, you appeal to casual fans while boring your loyal fans. If you advertise your ebook or products in every email or blog post, you attract people who don’t read most of your material, but you annoy people who read and re-read everything you write. Conversely, if you focus on creation, your loyal fans are happy but your casual fans feel overwhelmed. Often, they don’t even know where to start when picking up one of your creations, be it a book, magazine, newsletter, or website.

The key to unlocking your life’s dreams is in balancing not only creation and promotion, but your image as an advertiser and your image as a creative artist. If you do consulting to help people increase sales and web traffic, you should promote yourself as an advertiser to that demographic. If you sell original works to art enthusiasts, you should promote yourself as a counter-culture creative genius to that demographic. If you have to target two contrary demographics at once, you should balance your persona.

While it may sound like you have to promote your creations and create things for your promotion, in fact you can choose one and out-source the other. Basically, this is called “getting an agent” or “becoming an agent.” Singers, actors, writers, and even successful artists have agents to promote their work, negotiate contracts, and protect their interests. If you’re more interested in being the rock that supports someone else, you can become an agent. Then, you focus on promotion and let someone else do the creating. There is often more money in being an agent than in being an artist.

Google and Facebook are companies that focus heavily on promotion. While they create original algorithms and maintain vast networks to serve up content, the content is almost always created by others. Google spends most of its resources indexing and retrieving foreign web pages and emails. Google Adwords is all about advertising the creations of others and collecting a commission, be it 100% on search results or 32% on AdSense publishers. Facebook mines your personal information, habits, and secrets to sell them to advertisers. Both companies are agents focusing on promotion. An advertising agency is also a good example, but many agencies do original design for hire, which is more creative.

Companies that focus heavily on creation are largely partnerships or sole proprietorship. Any company larger than that invariably has secretaries, accountants, lawyers, and other officers who only perform “meta” tasks―tasks that are essential to keeping the company running, but are not its core mission. For example, shooting and editing photos, burning CDs, and printing are primary tasks in a photography studio―distributing the photos, scheduling appointments, finding new clients, and filing tax returns are secondary, “meta” tasks. Most companies have more employees working on secondary tasks than primary tasks, but they are paid less.

Whenever you have writer’s block, composer’s block, or whatever-block, you are in a great position to focus on promoting your old work. Conversely, you do not want to be interrupted by secondary tasks when creative inspiration strikes. For this reason, it is important to maintain flexibility in your schedule, rather than trying to divide creative tasks and promotional tasks into hourly blocks.

Creative artists are afraid of being judged as losers who never succeed in life. Promotional artists are afraid of being judged as “sell-outs” who value dollars over art. Many people want to be pursuing something creative such as photography, writing, drawing, music, psychology, or dancing, but instead choose to major in something “practical” like nursing or business administration. Other people enjoy accounting or secretaryship but worry about being forgotten in death. If you are in either group, you will not find happiness outside of a radical life change or black-swan event.

Human Potential

It’s safe to say that we are the premier creature of the planet Earth. No other species has the power to influence the planet as we do. Only humans can reason, philosophize, be religious, and leave legacies.

However, there is a growing movement that wishes to relegate humans to the company of apes, sharks, and other simple creatures. Even worse, we are depicted as a plague which must be eliminated to preserve the harmony of the planet. Schoolbooks dwell on the damage we cause to the rainforests, oceans, the atmosphere, and endangered species. College professors embrace atheism, the doctrine that we are the supreme beings of the universe. Paradoxically, atheism simultaneously places humanity on a pedestal and in a pit. If there is no God, then naturally man is very important, but man is also very meaningless, because we came from the same place as ants and microbes. Thus, there is no morality or higher purpose to the human experience. You should lie, cheat, and steal if you can get away with it, and the only thing you should fear is human punishment. Obviously, this is a hedonistic belief, and all hedonistic beliefs are also limiting beliefs which stifle your potential.

Unfortunately, “personal development” as a philosophy will always be associated with the “New Age” movement. This religion (and it is a religion) recognizes neither an all-powerful God nor the absence of divinity, instead embracing a no-man’s land of spirituality without substance. Prayer is replaced with yoga. “God” is replaced with “source,” and your connection to God is your “connection to source.” The Bible is replaced with The Da Vinci Code and The Matrix trilogy. Unlike atheism, which appeals to twenty-something liberal arts students who have no income or property and mooch off their parents, the New Age movement appeals to childless women in their late 30s and early 40s, and possibly gay men. The New Age movement embraces astrology, teleology, sun-worship, witchcraft, and the worship of animals. In many ways, it’s even more pathetic than atheism.

While practicing a traditional religion such as Christianity, Hinduism, or Islam is at a higher level than atheism or faux spirituality, religion always limits your potential by answering questions that are unanswerable. How do you reconcile the Pyramids and the existence of space aliens if God created us in his image? Are we one of many experiments? Can you really know if God exists for sure? Everyone has ghosts in their lives, so you cannot deny the existence of the metaphysical realm, but the belief in an all-powerful being who pulls the strings cannot be substantiated. Therefore, the most potent humans believe that they do not know the answer. It is very difficult to live with unanswered questions, but only highly developed people can accept that some paradoxes can never be resolved.

Humans have the most potential when they leave the most doors open. If you pigeon-hole yourself into a religion, race, nationality, or belief system, you close many doors for no good reason. Adopting a multi-paradigm perspective is always better than living with a narrow mind. Our allegiance should be to the truth first. God, nation, and family come second. If you find that your family members are marauders, your nation commits genocide, and your God is Molech, do you still remain committed to them? Of course not—your reject them and find a different God, nation, and family who are not evil. Fanaticism destroys your potential, because it forbids you from negotiating with the opposition. Entrenched beliefs may be good for a civil servant, but they are the antithesis of a human being with high potential.

Are you fulfilling your human potential? What beliefs are holding you back? What people should you cut out of your life? Whom should you spend more time with? Are you living your best life now? Or are you waiting for something or someone who will never come?

The Modalities of Existence

Music only has two true modalities of meter: duple and triple, from which all other meters are derived. A piece in 4/4 time is actually duple, just as a piece in 6/8 time is triple. Similarly, there are two modalities of existence: fear and love, from which all four modes are derived.

Fear only = the dark side
Love only = the light side
No fear and no love = death
Fear and love combined = insanity

This matrix is much like a Johari window.

Arena = the public self Blind spot = the private self
Facade = the blind self Unknown = the undiscovered self
COMPARE TO:
Fear and love = insanity Love only = the light side
Fear only = the dark side No fear or love = death

There are many shades of fear and love, such as sorrow, joy, guilt, forgiveness, rage, kindness, anger, and contentment. More importantly, there are two significant combinations yielding four results:

Fear of love = independence or phobia
Love of fear = courage or submissiveness

A living person cannot experience the absence of fear and love, just as a deceased person cannot experience both combined. The combination of fear and love produces all the evils of the world, including murderers, rapists, devil-worshipers, and the insane. The absence of fear and love can only be experienced in death. The quickest way to eliminate fear or love from your spirit is to kill yourself.

People with a love of fear sometimes become soldiers, firemen, astronauts, or daredevils, but more often than not, they get trapped in abusive relationships and accomplish nothing. In most of these relationships, women are controlled physically and men are controlled emotionally. A woman who loves fear will cling to a man who continually beats her, just as a man who loves fear will become obsessed with a woman who sees him as nothing more than a friend. The result is always a losing proposition for both parties. Opposites attract: a woman who loves fear will attract a man who fears love, and he will “run hot and cold” to create a “love-hate relationship.” The man punishes the woman when she demonstrates loyalty and submissiveness—he chases her when she shows any sign of courage and independence. At this point he will usually buy a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates for her, and she will take him back once more. Once she becomes his slave again, he will return to his independent, aloof self, only demonstrating phobia when she demonstrates courage. Phobia manifests itself in “rage attacks” which always involve violence. This bipolar cycle can go on for months, years, or even a lifetime, resulting in the purchase of thousands of dollars of roses and chocolates. The entire floral and confectionery industries are built on this principle.

Similarly, a man who is obsessed with a woman demonstrates a submissive, “beta-male” attitude which repels his love interest. From time to time he will stop buying her chocolates and flowers and instead take a devil-may-care, “alpha-male” attitude which re-ignites the attraction. If he is submissive and fear-loving for too long, the relationship ends. Any couple who splits up and gets back together experiences this cycle.

Two people who fear love will usually never talk to each other, even if they cross paths regularly. Two people who love fear will do the same. It’s like trying to turn a magnet backwards and stick it on your refrigerator. It just doesn’t work.

Someone who fears love may become an independent, “lone-wolf” type, blazing his own trail of creative excellence. However, he is more likely to become schizoid and phobic. His downfall is his inability to connect to other people. While he wishes to create works of art that stand the test of time, being inherently valuable even if never viewed, his human ego prevents him from finding satisfaction in anything but adulation. Typically, he (or she) becomes a narcissist who accomplishes little but exaggerates greatly.

A person who experiences fear only will do everything he can to increase his power and invulnerability. He may hire bodyguards, build a bomb shelter, invest in cryogenics, and research immortality. Fear is just as strong a motivator as love. This people typically become politicians, religious leaders, business tycoons, or even healers. However, their purpose is never to help others—it is only to increase their own power. These people are less dangerous than the unlucky few who experience love and fear simultaneously. Their mission is to build an empire, not to destroy the empires of others. They may kill millions, but this is only “collateral damage” in an unrelated mission. It is not the central objective.

A person who experiences love only will demonstrate loving kindness to his friends and enemies alike. He will be like Jesus. His downfall is his trusting nature. His enemies will become more enraged the less they are able to provoke him, and they will eventually crucify him, literally or figuratively.

The coexistence of fear and love is a special case reserved for schizophrenics and murderers. A man who is absolutely obsessed with a woman is much more likely to kill her than a man with a healthy worldview. While fear and love are polarities, they are in fact very close to each other. Your closest friends become your most bitter enemies, just as your most bitter enemies become your essential allies. Fear and love are like East and West Berlin, with neutrality being on the other side of the world, 12,500 miles away. While most people alternate between fear and love, a man who embodies both at once experiences a living death worse than death itself. He cannot kill himself because he is already dead—he feels only agony because he is hardly living. He is insane. The most secure place for this man is a life sentence to a supermax prison, but this only minimizes his agony. If left unchecked, he will become a monster of Frankenstein proportions, destroying everything in sight, either overtly or covertly. Overt destruction produces a mass murderer who is quickly captured. Covert destruction products a psychopath who hurts a huge number of people emotionally and physically, without conscience, often into old age. Some will mistake him for a passionate, complex, and eccentric visionary, but he is no more than a rotting corpse who has died in the spirit but not in the flesh. David Rockefeller fits this profile. So does Hugh Laurie from “House, M.D.” seasons 1-5.

Love is to Jesus as fear is to Lucifer. While “Lucifer” means “to illuminate,” the devil in fact casts darkness on everything. Just as the “Ministry of Love” is the hotbed of torture in Nineteen Eighty-Four, “Lucifer” is the Prince of Darkness, a conniving, hypocritical figure.

A deceased spirit who indulges in fear will throw himself into a hellfire of his choosing. Usually, he will never even realize that reality is in his hands alone. A deceased spirit who indulges in love will go to whatever he perceives heaven to be. Sometimes, he will not realize he has chosen the path of light, but more often than not, he will be self-aware. Jedi are much less likely to experience “learned helplessness” than Sith. A man who places himself in hell deliberately is a frightening creature. His drug of choice is sado-masochistic self-torment.

Anyone who believes a divine being will condemn anyone to eternal hellfire is walking the path of fear. Sadly, this includes most church-goers. “Repent or you will burn” is nothing more than a scare tactic. Any preacher who espouses this is rooted in a position of fear, not love. No torment, even God’s torment, is so great that it cannot be escaped by sheer willpower. Even if your body is feeling terrible pain, you can end your life and escape to the afterlife, where you will not be bound by the rules of reality. While love and fear make interesting mixtures, true power lies in choosing one of the two modalities. Choose love or fear whole-heartedly and you will see that YOU ARE POWERFUL.

Making Up for Lost Time

Wasted time can never be reclaimed, because you never have the opportunity to repeat the past. Therefore, you must make sure you are working toward your goals and making the best use of each and every day.

If you find you have wasted months or years of your life as I have, nothing good can come from dwelling on it, as this only wastes more time. The only thing we can do is learn from the past and not repeat the same mistakes in the future.

Average people waste most of their lives. Watching T.V., surfing the Internet, playing video games, reading fiction, pointless conversations, Facebook, day-dreaming, over-sleeping—eliminate this from the average person’s life and you will see their productivity triple. People who seem like super-humans are actually ordinary—they just don’t waste their time on garbage which takes up 12 hours of an ordinary person’s day. Even replacing television with doing nothing is a step up. Just call it meditation and you are instantly a monk or philosopher.

Anything important can be measured—save a few intangibles like intelligence. Schools and colleges measure your academic worth through exams and graded assignments. Employers measure your worth as a slave with performance reviews. And you can measure your productivity by recording how you use every hour of your time. Though this is something I’ve never done, I imagine it would greatly boost my creative output. There’s no point doing it now—I already know I’m nowhere near optimal efficiency—but in a few months small optimizations will become important.

Even recreation is essential. It should not be the result of procrastination, but a bona fide item on your schedule. “Multi-tasking” produces crap, not results. When you are working, whether your job is writing, painting, building, or cooking, don’t do anything else. Don’t work through lunch, ignore incoming emails and phone calls, don’t read pointless blogs, and don’t look outside. When you’re eating lunch, don’t do any of these other things, and the same for talking on the phone or taking a break. If you give your undivided attention to each item on your schedule, you will see massive performance gains.

Cutting off relationships with people who drag down your productivity is a positive step. Block that friend or coworker who forwards you 50 emails a day. Clear out your friends list on Facebook and Twitter: only keep people you know in real life and have seen recently. Banish energy vampires from your life. Surround yourself with positive people or no one at all.

Above all, never lose faith in yourself. You can do great things, even if you only have months left to live.

Stop Observing

One problem avid photographers have is they observe everything but experience nothing. Instead of being in the pool, they’re taking pictures of people in the pool. This becomes so natural to them that they never participate in everything. Photography becomes one big excuse to sit on the sidelines at every event.

You can learn plenty from observation, but you reach the limit quickly where you’d be better off ditching the camera, sketchpad, or notepad to get your hands dirty. You cannot become a good speaker from merely reading great speeches—you have to take the podium yourself someday, frightening as it may be.

One place where people are observers is in technology. I put off getting a decent computer for five years, all the way till 2006, because I was afraid that it would be quickly outdated. Of course this was foolish since even though I was right, the immediate gains are worth far more than the eventual losses. It’s the same thing in photography, where putting off getting a good camera for a while will cost you photographic opportunities in the present. While compact cameras aren’t getting much better anymore (just noisier), they and DSLRs are getting cheaper so people still find plenty of reason to not invest in good equipment, even if they consider themselves good photographers.

I did this for years also, working with a junky point-and-shoot till I got my Canon Rebel XTi in 2007 August. Now I’m using a Canon 10MP point-and-shoot and I love it, only reserving the SLR for occasional use. Hmm… If I’d spent my time observing I’d still have a Fuji A360. Although I mostly observe as a photographer. :grin:

One problem I have is I spend far too much time reading other blogs and not enough writing on my own. Reading other peoples work doesn’t take you very far. You need to be writing your own stuff to experience vast improvement. Ironically, observing the efforts of others becomes more valuable after you’ve done work on your own, because you have the expertise to recognize their strengths and follies, and to use them for your own benefit.

Therefore, you should mix observing and doing to glean the most from both. However, most people do more observing, so the title of this encourages you to start doing. If you spend three hours a day watching comedy shows, why not film one of your own? Even if you’re the only character in it and you play all the parts, it’s a start.

It’s scarier to write a blog post than to read five blog posts… but what your scared of is what helps you to grow the most. Stop observing, start doing.

Beliefs into Action

If your beliefs conflict with your actions, it’s hard to progress toward your goals.

It’s hard to be a successful murderer if you believe human life is inherently sacred. However, if you believe the world is over-populated, it becomes all the more easier.

Your beliefs must be aligned with your goals for optimal operation.

If you believe you need to be rich to be happy, you won’t be happy till you’re rich. Your belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Therefore, it is important to train your mind for success.

I had to do this a lot when I used to pursue price-match and rebate combos. While other people may have believed a 200GB hard drive was worth $70, I had to adjust myself to believe its worth to be $20 to get good deals. Then, getting such a hard drive for $10 or nothing after rebate would show up on my radar, whereas a normal consumer would dismiss it as impossible or not even notice it. What raises a red flag for a normal person would raise a green flag for me. Sometimes I’d be burned; I can recall losing $100 in rebates to a company called Connect3D; but most of the time my sense for good deals would win out.

Beliefs like “you get what you pay for” and “nothing in life is free” will harm the amateur couponer. Indeed, companies like Wal-Mart give away samples, including free shipping, every day. This makes “nothing in life is free” a fundamentally flawed belief. Holding that belief will also cause you to receive fewer donations and gifts, because you won’t even acknowledge their offering.

If you believe you are undeserving of tips or gifts, you will repeatedly turn down free money when offered it. While you make think you’re doing this for the good of the other person, in fact they want to give you money and will feel hurt that you reject it. In fact, if you accept their gift and reciprocate with an equally valued gift, even though the net result is the same, your relationship will be on much better footing. The mere act of giving and receiving begets bonding. If you instead believe that you should accept gifts offered to you out of good will, you will enjoy better relationships and material abundance.

The belief that work is tied to money is also flawed. In fact, you can work for a time and then receive unending compensation for your fixed quantity of work. For example, I earned $150 from this website last month without writing anything. I was not merely coasting on my past efforts, because my old articles were providing value to a brand new audience. In this manner, I can enjoy continual abundance without continual efforts. However, if I closed my mind to this possibility, it would be unlikely that it would manifest on its own.

Whenever you come across a limiting belief in your mind, morph it into an empowering belief. Instead of believing that success requires suffering, believe that success requires passion and enjoyment. Instead of believing that people are greedy, believe that people are generous. You’ll find that with the former belief more greedy people will cross your path, while with the latter you’ll encounter shocking generosity.

Instead of believing that it is hard to earn money because of our failing economy, believe that it is easy to earn money because people are in demand of essential services.

With time, this process will become ingrained and you will have more success with less effort.

Doing Nothing

I didn’t get anything done today. I was going to write an article about focal length on camera lenses, but I ended up spending five hours reading about it on dpreview.com, Wikipedia, this great explanation of f-stops, etc. It was interesting, and I learned quite a bit, but I still didn’t write anything. Writing about photography doesn’t feel like writing about personal development, because it seems like I can write whatever I want with the latter. With photography, I spend more time researching and worrying about technical details than writing. General ideas are more important. Really specific articles are beter than all-encompasing ones. That’s contradictory, but I’m sure it’s true. If you try to do everything at once, you’ll certainly fail. I can’t write an article called “The State of Digital Photography,” because there’s way too much to cover and I’ll never get started.

I was home with my parents and we had dinner together (sort of), which was nice. No turkeys were involved. I wonder how turkeys become food for us. It’s cruel and unusual. I ate a salad with lettuce, dark green vegetables of some type, cucumbers, black pepper, sea salt, and garlic dressing. It was delicious. Salad won’t nourish you much because your body can’t digest much of it, but it provides great vitamins, keeps your system clean, and tastes good.

I slept till 9 A.M. this morning. That messed me up. If you spend two hours getting out of bed and three hours reading nothing, then the rest of the day is shot. Being in college almost every day does build discipline. Having a job does too. You end up getting more done in the gaps between work than you would if you had all the time to yourself. Personal development is all about using your own time and resources efficiently, rather than relying on other people or businesses to schedule your life. To rely on yourself, you need discipline. When you have self-discipline, being bossed around by others is no less than silly.

Today, I learned how to play the song I composed for the piano on Monday. I’ll post it tomorrow. I’m going to spend a couple days with my grandmother starting tomorrow. She’s 102, so she needs my support. :silly:

I shipped out lots of packages from my eBay auctions yesterday, and more are going out tomorrow. A lot of stuff didn’t sell, and what did didn’t make too much, except for the Kodak ink cartridges and miniDV tapes which profitted me $50. Counting Craigslist, my total profit is at $150. Plus the $65 I made on ads on this site this month, and the stuff I sold earlier, I’m over $300, which is more than my old job.

I applied for a job at Office Depot. Dad and I go there so often to use the ink cartridge recycling coupons I mentioned in Selling Stuff, that I may as well work there. Working has a lot of perks, after all. Applications are really funny these days. There’s all these threats and psychological evaluation questions. I don’t take them seriously.

The best way to have a job is to not care at all about being fired or reprimanded. You can do that when you make money from other things or you have few bills to pay. Stay out of debt. Having a normal job can be fun for a time, especially if you have no fear. Then, you can do whatever’s best for yourself or the company rather than looking over your shoulder, limiting your dialogues with customers to two minutes, and memorizing details of policy. In fact, these are the people that do best in the workplace because they don’t take crap. They also do the worst and get in trouble, but it doesn’t matter. If you have a job which you cannot walk away from at a moment’s notice, you’re a slave. It doesn’t matter if it’s for your rent or your cable t.v. bill or your car. Being a slave is inescapable for a while, but you do want to constantly be working to get out of it. Taking Thanksgiving off is inexcusable. :grin:

Tomorrow I’m getting up at 5 A.M. and I’m going to take some cool photos and get stuff done, even if it kills me. I will not be participating in Black Friday. There was some guy camped out by the Daytona Beach Best Buy on Wednesday, tent and all, but I think he was just there to be a public spectacle.

Good night all. It’s okay to get nothing done once in a while. You can even get depressed about it if you want. It’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s therapeutic. :cool:

Selling Stuff

I’ve spent ten hours today and yesterday listing stuff on eBay and Craigslist to sell. Mostly new stuff, much of which I acquired many months ago from rebate grifting, and more recently, small items I purchased cheaply through an ink cartridge recycling scheme, with intent to sell. Now, that intent is a reality.

A few details: I bought 6000 empty ink cartridges at an auction for $1080 two months ago, and me and my Dad have turned in 3700 of them at Office Depot for $3 store credit coupons. We have a box of them. You can only turn in 25 per day and use 3 per day, so each time we go there we buy $9.02 worth of stuff and get $9 off. Since the cartridges were only 17 cents each, it’s a safe, though tedious way to acquire small office supplies cheaply.

Recently, that program has changed so you can only turn in 5 per day and you get the store credit back all at once on a gift card at the end of the quarter. That won’t be till February, but we continue to turn in the 1700 remaining cartridges. I’ll be able to buy a computer or a new camera eventually.

With all these $3 coupons which I can only use 3 of per day, I’ve bought markers, new ink cartridges, and tech items on clearance under $9. I’ve been reselling them sporadically, but I just got the biggest batch listed.

What I found out is that it takes a lot of effort to create 30 auctions. I used to list things on eBay occasionally, but I’d get bogged down in details. I’d feel compelled to include every detail from the packaging in each description. I’d spend 30 minutes taking a product shot with the correct light. Editing it would take longer. I’d agonize over shipping costs and debate international shipping.

All this is not any good for getting anything done. I was tempted to spend lots of time on each auction this time around, because it feels comfortable to accomplish nothing when you’ve conditioned yourself to do so. But instead, I took the photos quickly, used the grass in my yard as a background, did quick contrast adjustments in Photoshop with keyboard shortcuts, wrote shorter descriptions without deep thought, and didn’t even bother with anyone but U.S. users. I have no qualms with padding my shipping charges. Everyone expects it, and with eBay taking 45 cents + 11.15% of each sale (eBay fees + PayPal), they can live with it too.

I got all these items listed:

130269823059 Nov-17-08 Nov-24-08 17:09:34 PST $0.99 TWO New HP 41 Inkjet Color Print Cartridges Ink No Bids Yet
130269825000 Nov-17-08 Nov-24-08 17:22:07 PST $1.04 12 Mini DV miniDV Digital Video Tapes 60 min Maxell NEW jmab55
130269827607 Nov-17-08 Nov-24-08 17:40:09 PST $0.99 HP 14 Black Inkjet Print Cartridge Genuine NEW C5011D No Bids Yet
130269828889 Nov-17-08 Nov-24-08 17:49:06 PST $0.99 HP 41 Color Inkjet Print Cartridge Genuine NEW 51641A No Bids Yet
130269829947 Nov-17-08 Nov-24-08 17:57:08 PST $2.25 THREE Kodak No. 10 COLOR Ink Cartridges Genuine NEW icon68
130269832130 Nov-17-08 Nov-24-08 18:10:54 PST $0.99 9 Fire Extinguisher signs, 2″ x 8″, NEW, Adhesive, Red No Bids Yet
130269833636 Nov-17-08 Nov-24-08 18:21:26 PST $0.99 Speck ToughSkin Black Sport Case : iPod Nano 2nd Gen 2G No Bids Yet
130269834796 Nov-17-08 Nov-24-08 18:28:50 PST $0.99 Epson T036120 T0361 Black Ink Cartridge NEW Genuine No Bids Yet
130269836184 Nov-17-08 Nov-24-08 18:37:29 PST $0.99 Epson T037020 T0370 Color Ink Cartridge NEW Genuine No Bids Yet
130269838624 Nov-17-08 Nov-24-08 18:55:53 PST $0.99 4 Brother Ink Cartridges: LC31C LC31M LC31Y LC31BK NEW No Bids Yet
130269840078 Nov-17-08 Nov-24-08 19:04:45 PST $0.99 5 Color Maxell Mini DVD-R 8cm 1.4GB Camcorder Discs NEW No Bids Yet
130269840974 Nov-17-08 Nov-24-08 19:10:36 PST $0.99 Sterling 56K V.92 PCI Fax Modem Dialup NEW Vista No Bids Yet
130269909687 Nov-18-08 Nov-25-08 05:44:38 PST $0.99 Uniden TCX 905 5.8GHz Accessory Handset and Charger No Bids Yet
130269913165 Nov-18-08 Nov-25-08 06:08:34 PST $0.99 Rosewill 3 Port Firewire IEEE 1394a PCMCIA Card Laptop No Bids Yet
130269915385 Nov-18-08 Nov-25-08 06:21:43 PST $0.99 Rosewill RCX-Z775-SL Intel Heatsink & 92mm Fan NEW No Bids Yet
130269916624 Nov-18-08 Nov-25-08 06:29:10 PST $0.99 Brother LC31C Cyan Inkjet Print Cartridge Ink NEW No Bids Yet
130269917125 Nov-18-08 Nov-25-08 06:32:27 PST $0.99 Brother LC31M Magenta Inkjet Print Cartridge Ink NEW No Bids Yet
130269956469 Nov-18-08 Nov-25-08 09:51:12 PST $0.99 12 Foray Chisel Tip Dry Erase Markers + Erasers Colors No Bids Yet
130269959625 Nov-18-08 Nov-25-08 10:05:36 PST $0.99 2 Maxell Digial8 / Hi8 Blank Camcorder Tapes 120 min No Bids Yet
130270022541 Nov-18-08 Nov-25-08 14:25:47 PST $0.99 Staples Slimline 4 AA Battery Pencil Sharpener NEW 0 Dutch bids
130270026644 Nov-18-08 Nov-25-08 14:58:17 PST $0.99 20 Office Depot DVD+R DL Dual/Double Layer Discs +Cases No Bids Yet
130270029195 Nov-18-08 Nov-25-08 15:15:51 PST $0.99 Eagle 3.5-inch PATA / USB External Hard Drive Enclosure No Bids Yet

These low-margin items aren’t profitable to sell unless you’re getting them for free; I don’t expect to clear more than $200 from all these items. Postage and eBay’s fees swallow up way too much. But that doesn’t mean you should hang on to this stuff.

When I was creating these auctions, I did things differently. Before, I’d preview each auction meticulously and check for errors in spelling, categorization, product details, shipping charges. Usually I’d find none, and it would eat up a lot of time. This time around, I listed the items immediately, reviewing them after. It went much more quickly, and the few little mistakes I caught, I fixed with eBay’s revision feature. Psychologically, that helped me work much more efficiently.

Most people have way too many things, even nice new possessions like markers or paper or computer supplies. It’s easy to hoard free-after-rebate items, gifts, and things acquired cheaply, but they end up gobbling up space without providing much return. The question to ask is not “could this item be useful?,” but rather, “might this item not be useful?” If the answer to the latter is yes, get rid of the item. Sell it at a loss if you have to.

This was my first time listing on Craigslist.org. The site feels something right out of 1995. The design is clunky and simple, warnings are in bold red capital letters, all pictures I upload are compressed as tiny artifact-riddled JPEGs. But there are people, lots of people in the Daytona Beach area looking for things to sell or selling things themselves there. Community counts more than presentation. The things I listed there are generally too heavy to ship. I expect to get bites pretty quickly, as I’m getting rid of this stuff way below retail:

Microsoft Comfort Curve USB Computer Keyboard 2000 NEW – $10 (Ormond Beach)
Samsung ML-2510 Black & White Laser Printer – $35 (Ormond Beach)
HP LaserJet 1018 Black & White Laser Printer – $30 (Ormond Beach)
Brand new Staples 8.5×11 Paper Shredder – $10 (Ormond Beach)
Case of Legal Size Copy Paper (8.5 x 14 in.) 5000 sheets New – $30 (Ormond Beach)
16 Port Fast Ethernet Switch 100Mbps NEW – $15 (Ormond Beach)
Ultra ATX Mid-Tower PC Computer Case Steel NEW – $20 (Ormond Beach)
Epson Stylus Photo R260 Ultra Hi-Definition Photo Printer – $20 (Ormond Beach)

I got all the printers free after rebate or nearly so, then used up the toner or ink and put them out in the shed. They take up a ton of space, but I started getting attached to them. “These are obviously worth a lot,” I’d tell myself. “I shouldn’t get rid of them—what if they become useful someday?” The fact is, if you have something that’s going to be useful to you, you won’t even have to ask yourself if it’ll be useful—you’ll just know it. Whatever you need you can just buy later anyway, and with the prices of technological gadgets constantly falling, it will be cheaper anyway. This also means that if you wait to sell stuff, you’ll lose more money.

From holding these printers and computer towers for as much as a year, they’ve already lost value. It doesn’t bother me. It’s much better to take action now than cling to the past. I could easily hang on to this stuff for many more years never doing anything. I could console myself by saying the items are too valuable to part with. However, that accomplishes nothing and serves no one. The space I’m reclaiming can be used for new stuff like photography gadgets or chairs or tables, or I can just leave it empty so the house doesn’t feel so cluttered. Printers that you never use take up a lot of space. They take up a lot more space than useful printers, even if their dimensions are physically the same.

I bought two cases of legal size copy paper a year ago. They were clearanced at Staples for $15 each, and it was just such a good deal I had to have them. Each case weighs 70 pounds, after all. It must be valuable. Surely it is, but to whom? Not to me. I have no use for paper that’s 14 inches long. I could say that I might in the future, but I’d be conning myself. Never in a million years will 140 pounds of legal size paper be worth owning. If I got them as a gift I’d accept them, but only to sell to someone else. It’s much more important to get rid of these space-eaters now, rather than deceiving myself into thinking they might become useful. I can always buy new stuff, but I can’t always get rid of old stuff.

You can make money selling your stuff, be it your creative art or the trinkets you’ve collected. It takes effort, though. I still spent too long writing all the descriptions and taking photos of all this junk, and I could never do this as a profitable business. I can rejoice that I am making progress in getting rid of a large amount of stuff and earning a small amount of money, because it would have been easy to get nothing done today. Don’t cry over wasted time in the past, but look toward what you can do in the present. It actually makes no different if you’ve been operating below the capacities of your talents for years or decades, because that is irrevocable now. The time in the future is also going to come to pass whether you like it or not. Thinking like this gives me a lot of motivation. I used this on my last physics exam, where I studied the problems and formulas for over a dozen hours even though I’m near-failing in the class. I could stay depressed because I didn’t put in enough effort earlier in the course, but that’s over and done with regardless of my feelings.

Now I know why people have garage sales and sell stuff so cheaply. Most people, myself included, go through six-month periods where they acquire lots of stuff. Everything I’ve bought has been at fair prices, even free, but most of it has outlived its usefulness or was never useful to begin with. When you’re evaluating an item to purchase, you must not ask “is this a good deal?” You must ask “will this item help me a lot?” If the answer is yes, it might be that you should buy it even if it’s over-priced. If you’re dying of thirst, it’s a great deal to pay $100 for a bottle of water. But if the answer is no, the item isn’t worth buying at any price. I’m starting to think in this manner, so I should be able to end the garage sale cycle right here.

The other key is to simply stop buying things. If you’re going to buy something to resell, it has to be something you’re going to list on eBay or at your own shop within the next day. If you aren’t committed to flipping it within the next week, don’t buy it. If it’s a really great deal, become committed. It’s quite simple. We just have the tendency to make it way too complicated.

I love my material possessions. I have a camera and lenses I used every day to create art, a computer with two monitors that lets me communicate my thoughts and creativity to others, a good color and black and white printer that does the same for hard copy, a piano I play occasionally, hundreds of prints of my photos I give out to people, clothes that I enjoy wearing. But the camera I had three years ago that’s now broken is not a possession I love, because it’s not useful to me. I should probably throw it out. It’s not doing anything as a relic.

Objects that have sentimental value usually have less sentimental value than you think. Having a whole bunch of small trinkets you never use on your desk is even worse, because they’ll stop you from thinking. I become a lot more productive with a clean desk, even if I’m just typing at the computer. I need to work on that.

At least move the stuff from your desk to a drawer, or under the table, or to plastic bins, as an interim measure. Throw out old receipts and paperwork. We burn them in our wood-burning stove. Moving things out of sight makes you more productive, but there’s a trap: you encourage yourself to fill your space with more stuff, while never getting rid of the junk you’ve hidden. That’s why no one can have a big enough car or house or apartment.

I want to settle this issue for myself now, so I don’t have to deal with it for the next days, months, years, decades.

If your house burning down does not seem such an unpleasant thought, then you need to clear out the clutter.

Please buy my stuff. When you do, ignore everything I just said about buying stuff. :cool:

Reframing Negativity

2009-12-20 Update: You need some negativity in your life to balance out the positivity, so be careful so as not to reframe all your negativity. :smile:

At the college, we have a ritual each semester where we have to evaluate our professors. Student feedback, or so it’s called.

There are 14 categories, including things like “gives examples,” “answers questions,” and “is fair.” You can rate 1 to 5 on each.

This seems like a negative thing, because you have to rate your professor’s performance objectively. You have to decide how he’s done, evaluate him in many categories, and then write suggestions (most people don’t do this). It’s a big responsibility, because college administrators will be judging his merits, worthiness, and teaching ability based on your report.

But in my reality, this isn’t the case at all. If you have a bad teacher, and you give him all 1’s on his evaluation, do you know what happens? He gets worse. Usually it’s quite noticeable. The next class day he will be all flustered and confused. He will say things that make no sense. The grade you’ve given him will be confirmed.

If you give him 5’s, on the other hand, he will become far better. The coursework will just start making sense to you, he’ll be expalining concepts and formulas in a clear manner, and everyone in the class will seem happier.

This totally contradicts the common belief of reality. The common belief is that your opinion is independent of circumstances or facts. But common beliefs are common in common people. You can’t expect to be extraordinary if you’re doing what everyone else does. It’s extraordinary to go from a medium telephoto lens to an extreme wide-angle lens, because everything looks so different. So pick the extraordinary lens.

With your new lens, thoughts are inextricably linked to reality. They’re one and the same. If you think negativity, you’ll give more people 1’s, and then you’ll feel more negative and more negativity will come back on you. You’ll hope to find friends and a loving partner who bring positivity into your life, but all you’ll find is negative people. No one will rescue you from negativity. By waiting for a twist of fate to change your circumstances, you’re giving up control of your life. When you hand your keys over to some other person or group, the results are never good because no one else can manage two lives. You stagnate, contribute nothing to the world, and become a boring person in general. You won’t find the happy people, because they’ll all become like ghosts. You won’t even see them. The only way to attract others is to be attractive yourself, and the way to do that is through positive action. Writing this paragraph was a very positive thing to do. :grin:

A lot of people call this the law of attraction.

When you share this with others, you can expect criticism and unrest. Many people don’t want to believe their beliefs reflect on others. If you’re influencing everyone around you, you have a lot of power, and power is a scary thing. Wielding power is more scary than being subject to it, at least initially. That’s why 95% of people are afraid of public speaking. You have a lot of power when you’re addressing a large group. You can give them good ideas or you can give them bad ideas. What if you make a mistake and people start throwing food and sharp objects at you?

Most of us are not fighting wars or being stalked by lions or starving to death. All of the fear, stress, and uncertainty at work or at the mall or among friends is 100% phony. People are not going to start throwing knives at you or machine gunning you for mispronouncing a word. Sure, you could get fired from your job or kicked out of your apartment or ostracized by your friends, but that’s highly unlikely, and if it does happen, it’s positive because you’re completely free to meet new people and make new connections. You can easily go into betrayal / heartache / revenge mode instead, but then you become a more negative person. In negative mode, you build walls instead of bridges. Bridges are better, because they expand your intelligence and influence. You might lose a few cities to roving barbarians, but it’s much safer to expand your civilization into new territory rather than to relentlessly defend what you have. Walls feel safe and secure, but they make you a prisoner. Past accomplishments are decaying and future circumstances are imaginary—the only true safety is in continued expansion a.k.a. growth.

Fears of public speaking are imaginary, because the worst that can happen is that you’ll be boring. Usually, you become boring from worrying too much about the opinions of others. But it’s not even the average opinion of the group that you’re worried about—it’s the group’s most vocal, negative members. The critics. Don’t listen to the critics.

The critics tell you to bite your tongue. Don’t share your opinions with others—you might offend them. Not everyone believes what you do. Some might find you terribly offensive. Everyone is uniquely valuable—you have no right to encroach upon the beliefs of others. I have no right to go up to people and tell them how eating meat is sapping their strength or how cancer can be readily cured.

This is often called social resistance. We conform to the demands of the least intelligent people. This manifests itself through weasel words: we pad our sentences with terms like sometimes, likely, in most people, I think, in my humble opinion, and other nonsense, to demonstrate that we have no idea what we’re talking about and should not be taken seriously. Even if we have something powerful to say, we do everything we can to disempower ourselves by dilluting the message. We refuse to talk honestly with others, for fear of offending them. If I conform to social resistance, instead of writing great articles like Don’t Vote 2008 and The Cancer Myth, I might be writing nothing. Or fluff like “do what you feel” and “there are many factors in curing cancer” (when in fact there is only one). I couldn’t look in the mirror if I was writing that stuff.

We think we have to stick with ‘safe’ subjects. What if instead, you don’t look to others for approval? Even better, believe they want to hear you. That’s much more positive. You’ll taken negativity, and you’ll flip it on its head to create positivity. It doesn’t matter if it’s objectively true—if it empowers you, the belief has served its purpose. What you’ll find is that people will agree with you more as you state your beliefs on clearer and clearer terms. I believe that film photography has no intrinsic value—it’s a much better learning experience to start with digital photography. I believe abortion is murder. I believe factory farming of animals is wrong. I believe that college education is frivilous. I don’t believe in thievery. I don’t believe in having a job. I don’t believe in renting. I’m not afraid to tell people what I believe, and they either accept it at face value or run away. Not many people run away from truth, so if you speak your mind truthfully, most people will not be offended even if you’re clashing with their opinions. If instead, I tried to mirror people I meet, I might start drinking, smoking, taking drugs, or shoplifting instead (there are plenty of people doing those things). If you don’t set your beliefs, other people will set them for you.

Thusly, it is a very positive thing to have strong opinions and to share them readily. These opinions have to be based in fact or usefulness, of course, but as long as you haven’t become the slave of your beliefs (like many people do with religion), it’s fine to have a voice. Not only is it fine, but it’s the only way to go.

If you’re proven wrong or you find a better system later, there’s no shame in announcing a correction. Most people are so afraid of being wrong that they never say anything that can be disputed. They only make easy, obvious announcements that are clearly fact, much like a computer regurgitates information. The keys on my keyboard have no mind to type what I’m typing. Do you want to be the senseless keys, or do you want to be the smart brain? In any subject, you can’t be right without the risk of being wrong. You can’t have success without the risk of failure. If you have no risk of failing, any success you have is guaranteed. This means it is completely worthless. Your success is no more than normal and expected mediocrity. Raise the stakes, because you’re not trying hard enough.

When I believed that it was in my power to “offend” other people, I was subscribing to a very negative belief. Apart from physical violence, you can’t actually offend anyone else—only they can offend themselves.

Remember always that negative people defend what they have; positive people scout for new opportunities.

Going back to the example of evaluating your teacher with 1’s or 5’s: your teacher will always get better if you give him high marks instead of low marks. It’s an indisputable fact. This question is the downfall of objectivists: is the improvement “real,” or does it merely represent confirmation bias on my part (i.e. “imaginary”). Is change really happening, or am I just seeing what I want to see?

The truth is, truth is irrelevant.

The objectivists will say that it is not ‘fair’ to everyone else if you give ‘unfair’ ratings. They’re assuming that ratings are a zero-sum game. Your evaluations should reflect your professors’ showmanship, because when you give a good score, you’re effectively giving bad scores to everyone else.

This is baloney. If you’re going to be completely objective, you should do this: give really good scores to your bad teachers, because it will result in noticeable improvement. But if your history teacher makes the Vietnam War come alive, you should give him low scores, because that will bring him back from extraordinary to ordinary. Everyone needs to be in the safe and ordinary middle.

Of course, this is hogwash, no matter what perspective you have. Even my seven-year-old sister Rachel would agree.

Objectivism is hogwash, and realists aren’t objective at all. They’re negative. Being objective is useless, because all we have is negativity or positivity. You can’t choose between good and evil by splitting your time equally between doing good and doing evil. If you’re being neutral, you’re doing nothing, and doing nothing is always negative. Forsaking your human power and potential is never a neutral decision. It can only be negative.

Most people have negative belief systems. I could say this is a negative thing, but it is in fact quite positive because it means they have many opportunities for personal growth. Though I’ve written a book worth of articles, I’m just as much a beginner as you. The limit of our potential is only the limit of our mind.

It’s easy to become negative when all you’re doing is busywork. Conversely, it’s hard to be anything but positive when you’re working for the highest good of all. Negative emotions are a sign that you’re not accomplishing enough—you need to either change focus or work a lot harder on your current projects. For me, it’s inspiring greatness in others, which I do through artistic photography and writing articles like these. Sometimes I get tired of writing so I take or edit photos instead. Usually I’m not thinking about helping others while in creative flow, but everything builds on that, even if it’s not present every second.

Negativity is just positivity in disguise.

Personal Development is for Smart People

The biggest challenge in personal development is not creating systems—it’s using them. You can know perfectly well that you need to quit your job, change religions, stop eating animals, and move to Mexico, but unless you take action, you’ll never get anywhere. In fact, as you dilly-dally, a whiny voice in your head takes over, telling you to remain complacent. You think that’s the only voice that will talk to you, so you become friends with that voice out of desperation. But it turns out that if you deny friendship with that voice, a far better, intially quieter voice will take over. That voice is your heart. The other voice is a mediocre part of your mind that gets way too much airtime.

When you kill off your naggy voice and listen to your confidant voice, you’re being smart. I’m two-tenths of the way there.

This is a review of Steve Pavlina’s book, Personal Development for Smart People, 2008 October 15. Thanks for the free copy, Steve!

Personal Development for Smart People cover

I like the title of this book. If you’re even interested in personal development, you’re way ahead of most people. Most people don’t even give a passing thought to the subject.

What happens to many smart people, is that they run into phony, substanceless personal development. Stuff like “do what you feel” and “be yourself.” Then, they dismiss the whole field as being wimpy hand-holding fluff. Psychology gets dismissed this way, too. Even photography. I’ve heard way too many artistic explanations that make no sense or sound wishy-washy, and I hold little reverence for photography schools or museums.

The problem, of course, with “be yourself,” is that in means nothing to most people. Most people think they are their jobs or their thoughts or their friends or their lives. So if your surroundings are boring, that must mean you’re a boring person. Which isn’t true, of course, because the closest thing to being yourself is being committed to personal growth. Trying to “be yourself” without knowing yourself is like trying to understand Einstein’s theory of general relativity without knowing the speed of light.

Steve Pavlina does not do this. This is a really down-to-Earth, practical piece of work.

If you’ve read his blog extensively as I have, I wouldn’t recommend this book. You pretty much already know all the stuff that’s in it, and in fact you can apply it with just a personally developed mindset.

In fact, I found Steve’s book a chore to read, and I couldn’t even finish it. I just flipped around a lot. It’s like trying to read an English paper. Or anything with an MLA Works Cited page, for that matter. When I read one of Steve’s great articles like How to Get from a 7 to a 10, Overwhelming Force, or 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job, I feel completely engaged and motivated. He pushes against the flow, but you know he’s darn right, and he loved writing those. He completely convinced me to not work in a normal job ever. This book, on the other hand, feels like something he was forced to write. I also think there were several committees involved.

Of course, if you read any of the reviews on Amazon.com or in the blogosphere, you’ll here people saying just the opposite—that this book is completely different and revolutionary. Most books in the personal growth field are garbage anyway, and this is 100 times better than a book by Wayne Dyer or Anthony Robbins. They’re just trying to sell books and DVDs and tapes. I don’t even think they apply or like any of the stuff they write. Pavlina is writing most of these 256 pages from personal experience, but he often paints too broadly and refuses to step on toes. He crucifies organized religion on his blog, but he avoids that in chapter 13 on spirituality. While he encourages his readers to disconnect themselves from the fixed viewpoint of one faith, he has diluted his message to offend fewer people. This can be justified: he’s opening his ideas to a wider audience who may not be ready to be challenged in that manner, but that is misguided because it goes against the principle of truth. I wrote this in my conclusion 17 Lessons from 17 Years: offending others is good, because it means you’re pushing them toward their fears. The only way to conquer fear is to move toward it.

This is unimportant, though. It would be creepy if Steve’s book was entirely perfect, and it is not important to quantify truth anyway. Don’t write for the critics or write for the past. They exist only in your mind.

I like the part about how Steve left his church on page 87: “At age 17, I finally recognized I was being coerced to participate instead of being offered a truly free choice, so I left.” I’m glad I haven’t spent years in the haze—my father has identical reservations and doesn’t believe we can know all the answers. If God is at all personally developed, he’s not going to respect you if you pay lip-service to church. In fact, that’s an insult. Either be a Christian 100% or 0%. Don’t sit on the fence like most people. You can’t fool the creator of the universe.

I like how Steve keeps saying “you are the commander of your life.” You can read that and think you don’t need to read at all, but reading about personal development helps you to think in different ways, which you eventually translate into action. Most people either read way to much while never getting anything done (PD junkies), or take action repeatedly without ever stopping to think. Steve would call these ready-aim-aim-aim and ready-fire-fire-fire types, respectively. The best way is ready-fire-aim-fire-aim, which is really just trial and error. No one else can ever teach you anything, because you’re always actually teaching yourself.

The chapter on courage is the best. I like this part: “People often take circuitous paths to their goals to minimize the risk of rejection . . . The idea is that if they can sniff out a negative response in advance, outright rejection can be avoided” (page 105). I was doing this with a girl over the past month, but it was stupid to lead her on, so I just asked her to be my girlfriend because I like her a lot. That’s the wrong way to start a relationship, and I was rejected, but it’s completely better than doing nothing at all. If I could know the result ahead of time, it would in fact be awful, because I would never build any courage.

The main problem was that I was doing unattractive things (i.e. not leading, being shy, etc.), but I’ll develop those skills through baby steps. As you become courageous, powerful, truthful, loving, etc., you become more attractive toward others. So personal development is exactly the same as pickup artistry.

The other great thing about being rejected is that you can focus on 100% on forging new relationships, rather than wasting energy on people who you’re not even being truthful with. Rather than waiting and hoping for other people to take command, you exercise courage yourself. That’s what Steve’s whole chapter on courage is about. It’s actually what all personal development is about. Instead of waiting for God or other people to do things or create opportunities for you, you create them yourself through unwavering dedication and extraordinary effort. Instead of hoping someone else will sponsor my photography and make me rich / famous / successful, I don’t make wishes at all. Success must come from my own efforts, not the efforts of others.

I wish (ha ha) Steve would have spent more time debunking the concepts of true love and destiny. Those are both empowering when you’re on the right side of them, but for most people they are disempowering. If you believe in destiny, you’re giving up control over your life. You are no longer the captain. Destiny means that you have a destination, and you’ll get there no matter what you do, even if you actively thwart it. Sure, you can redefine destiny in positive terms, i.e. you’ll let no obstacles stand in the way of your dreams, but it’s better to just abandon the concept all together and call the whole thing courage. It’s the same with true love. If you have one true love, doesn’t that mean that if she is eaten by sharks or grows to hate you, you’re ruined for life? Steve’s concept of oneness says no because we’re all people, part of a larger body, connected and the same. But the real solution is that love is a condition of circumstance. True love just means there are a whole lot of circumstances piled up—hopefully ones you’ve both created through courage. That may sound bad, but it’s actually really good because it means there’s an abundance of love. You can both totally find other people if you need do, and that’s great because it eliminates fear. You have no fear of losing each other, so you can live completely in the present moment. That’s true love.

Steve defines truth, love, and power as the three principles of the universe. Three derivative principles are oneness, courage, and authority (respectively), and the consummate of the six is intelligence. It reminds me of photography. You have red, green, and blue as your primary colors. The derivatives are yellow, cyan, and magenta, and the consummate (all combined) is white. Or with subtractive (print) colors, cyan, magenta, and yellow are your primaries, blue, red, and green are your derivatives, and black is the consummate. I could draw a triangle, but I don’t feel like it.

Steve loves to tell this story about how he dropped out of college and became a shoplifter, went to jail for a while, woke up, went back to college and got his 4-year computer science degree in three semesters, then started his computer games business while becoming insanely personal developed on the side. All I’ve got is that I started college last year at 16, and the closest thing I have to shop-lifting is scamming coupons and rebates out of companies. I’m not going to go for my Bachelor’s degree, though. I’m just going to end it after getting my AA degree in computer science this spring. I don’t have a good reason to be in college. On page 235, Steve has a quote by Robert Heinlein which says “religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help.” Just replace “religion” with “college.” That’s why I refuse to go to photography school. It’s all people telling you what to do because they think they know what’s right for you. If you’re really dedicated to your art or subject, you’ll learn it all yourself and you don’t need college at all. Standardized education will just drag you down.

The first part of Pavlina’s book is theory. The second part is applications. He has lists of good habits, like “timeboxing,” batching, no-communication zones, deadlines, etc. One of these lists goes on for many pages (149-157). There’s more lists on pages 124-132, for quizzing yourself about following the principles. I didn’t care for them. The first half is much more interesting. Most people will enjoy the applications more, especially newbies to personal growth. Others will find them totally mundane.

Personal Development for Smart People is a good book, especially if you haven’t read anything of its type. If you can’t afford it, read Steve’s blog, which is even more interesting (to me at least). Right now, he’s doing this experiment where he’s eating no solid foods for three months. He’s grinding up nuts and leaves and grass and bark in a blender and drinking a gallon of that everyday. I thought that would kill you. Fascinating stuff.

Keep learning and growing.

Page 1 of 3123