Where is Now Poster

How the Brain Processes and Re-assembles the World of Reasons

There are some TEDx talks that have been super helpful to me sorting out and “feeling” like understanding that the world is made of reasons, vs the default association with believing I am actually experiencing “reality”.  That was a dense sentence, and if it was not clear on it’s own, please refer to material developed by David Mills in the Law of Implication series can help build understanding of what those terms refer to.


While having the understanding of those terms, I was faced with how strange it still felt to do what I knew was correct.  One of the pieces of information that I’ve understood as well is that familiarity helps things feel more normal and natural, so I have really sought out more and more references to help build context for how our default way of experiencing the world is often so misleading.


To draw attention to a few elements of this talk that jumped out at me that relate directly to LoI (Law of Implication):

  • How the brain has to fabricate and assemble “reality” based solely on how long it takes to process certain visual elements.  No getting around this.  What you experience in your consciousness screen IS NOT what your eyes actually register, AND multiple elements are combined (Alchemy) in the mind to give us an experience of the world of reasons.  Interesting note: if we take motion out of the alchemical mixture of vision, we literally “go blind”.  Our brain will not assemble a vision of what is happening in the world of reason. Closely related is saccadic masking where the brain accounts for the eye motion it needs to actually assemble vision.
  • The time it takes the brain to process, and then reassemble color, shape and motion is different.  This means we are simply not ever experiencing “now” in the world, it is only ever “now” in our mind (consciousness screen).  The world being made of reasons also matches this function of our brains and how we experience the world.
  • The effectiveness of the brain to create or fabricate a story.  Being able to re-assemble different visual elements into a cohesive representation of what is happening in the world of reasons is a major function of the brain.  Adding in sound and even solely based on the speed of sound and light, it would line up differently on a time-line, but the brain puts it all together and makes the world seem real.  This gave me pause to consider how meaning gets attached to memories, and how that meaning can change if we find out later that something about our memory was incorrect.  “Oh, now that I realize you had a car accident, I’m not mad at you for being late…”  The brain does this all the time with meaning and framework and details.
  • “Time flies when you’re having fun”-> “When you’re having fun, time flies”.  That study for some reason really helped me “see” how the brain associates things, especially within a given context or framework.   If time flew, then we must have had fun…  There are a lot of proxies like this in how we experience things.


See what you think about this video and I’d love to hear more from you below in the comments.  I’ve started posted things on my website now, as opposed to natively in Facebook.  I’ve given them enough free value to keep people on their website over the last 5 years.  Changing and upgrading strategy…



Recognizing Luck

This article came to my attention this morning from a friend who shared it on Facebook.  A couple thoughts came up as I read it.

  1. How dangerous it could potentially be to believe that success in life boiled down to luck
  2. Predictive computational behavioral models assume that people actually have an accurate understanding of their own abilities

It would be interesting to know how the model turned out if another variable was added that was more along the lines of “recognizing ‘luck’ and locking in gains”. It seems a lot of us here are lucky, in that we were born to be old enough to remember before internet and after internet and the advantages that holds with recognizing certain problems that can be solved by the internet, but many people don’t recognize that the internet playing field offers lop-sided risk/reward. I’ve given A LOT of thought to seeming intelligence and success and how disconnected they seem to be in a lot of people. Recognizing luck kinda seems even more predictive than the luck itself.


Luck definitely exists and definitely affects things.  A major issue with how our brains understand luck is that we have a tendency to either start believing that we are “lucky”, or to write off factors that are in our control, such as putting ourselves into situations where there is a lopsided opportunity to get lucky without the downside risk being as great.


Interesting read though!  Thanks for sharing Jason Calouri!


Here is a link to the article in case you’d like to read it.

Dangers of Arbitrary Goals Featured Image

Setting Arbitrary Athletic Goals

Recently a business partner of mine and mentor, Greg, opened up about some of what was going on in his life leading up to what he now does professionally. That has prompted some of the community that we are a part of to inquire about what led up to what I now do now. There is a lot of overlap in what Greg and I do, and he taught me the SEO skills I needed, but also a lot more. There are some parts of this story that are more public and some other pieces that haven’t been, but I have been sorting out what led me to join OMG Machines and specifically why I have chosen to pay as much attention to learning from David Mills as I have.


I realized that I was dangerous, nearly crazy, and that I hurt myself and others regularly. I was also a new dad, and I wouldn’t risk not figuring this stuff out.


Starting to Understand the Problem

The initial problem that became clear to me back in 2014 was that I had been operating on things in my life as far as goals, in an arbitrary way. Even so far back as wanting to be an athlete, vs any other career, it turned out that decision was mostly based on the family I grew up in. Then, because of that arbitrary goal, and how focused I was on it and how much I identified with it and how much meaning I placed in it; when that goal went away, I had literally no method of sorting out that frame and those associations. I didn’t even have language to talk about it, or even think about it. At 23, I dropped out of college, out of all society that I knew, and moved up to Alaska to work in a remote fly in fishing camp as a guide.


I didn’t leave school because it was hard, I just didn’t have any reason left to get credits and grades. It wasn’t that I was bad at school, it was quite the opposite. I understood that if I could spend less time on the school part AND ALSO not worry about eligibility, then I’d have an advantage over other athletes. Whatever resources I had could be spent on preparing to be a pro athlete.



I went about setting up most of my athletic situation like this. I also didn’t have as a goal to be a good player. I knew some good players didn’t become professionals. I wanted to play in the NFL. That was it. I didn’t care if I got a lot of stats in high school, because those wouldn’t help me at the next level of college. I had to go to college because the NFL wouldn’t take players who didn’t go to college, so my hand was forced to go to college.


I needed skills and ability, so I practiced developing those. In college, the same. I not only needed those skills and ability to play in the NFL, I also needed to exceed a threshold for size, speed, jumping ability and strength. They measure those in what they call a combine. So I spent much more time preparing those abilities than I did on trying to get more playing time, or worrying about how many balls were thrown my way.


There was one other distinction I understood as a wide receiver that helped me allocate my resources better than other folks. As a receiver your one job is to catch the ball. You hear that all the time if you watch a televised football game. On the surface, that seems pretty easy and straight-forward, but in practice a lot more comes up apart from catching the ball. Getting “open” and getting noticed by the quarterback and being familiar to the quarterback are all necessary to even get a ball thrown in your direction.


So after I learned how to catch a football, which is taught wrong all over the place, I then focused on playing against the top defensive backs to hone my skills of getting open. I worked before and after practice with quarterbacks who wanted to either warm up, warm down or just wanted to impress anyone watching with their arm skills.


Either way, allocating more resources to this extra work was something that I could do because I didn’t have to spend as much time or effort in school, because I’d learned it was about grades and not about learning or understanding school subjects. It was about a teacher assigned a grade.


When I understood that, and that those were actually the “rules” of school, that I wasn’t breaking any rules governing school, I was actually doing exactly what all the teachers and administrators needed me to do… then I was more free to put effort into my athletic career.


I’d like to say I understood all this back then. I did and I didn’t at the same time. I have an understanding of it now that is much more complete and transferrable, but at the time, it just looked to outsiders like I was “smart” and a “good athlete”. Those two things are particularly harmful to believe. Those beliefs completely cut off a large area of life and thinking that hold the keys to success. If you’re smart, you can get cut off from understanding you have incorrect beliefs and if you are a good athlete, you get cut off from understanding what you did to excel in your sport. The choices you made upstream of the hard work and perseverance and skill development.

The Power of Language

As I mentioned, I didn’t even really have language for this back then. The power of language became apparent to me when I’d attend camps or get to hear high level coaches and trainers speak about terms and concepts I’d never heard before. I’d listen to a defensive back coach working with college cornerbacks on keep their hips low so they could swivel and change direction. I didn’t know high school coaches teaching this, so when I encountered a defensive back who didn’t keep his hips low, I realized he couldn’t change direction quickly. That gave me an advantage I could press to win our battles on a field. It wasn’t just that I was bigger and stronger, but that I knew what to look for. Those sorts of things opened up to me. Being smart and a good athlete though, gave me pleasure, and also utterly restricted me from even seeing certain very important things. Those sank their way into my mind and became an invisible framework that bound me for decades.


My athletic career ended in Laramie, WY in 1998. Not on the field, but in a hospital room. I say that because after the surgeries on my leg to repair damage, I was able to run and jump nearly as well as I could before. I had to sit in that hospital bed with my foot turned around at a 90 degree angle to what it should have faced for about 36 hours while the infection in my body from a turf burn was cleared up.



It gave me a lot of time to think. I missed a good friend’s funeral, who a couple days earlier had died on the football field, no more 15 feet from me with a brain injury. This all coming a week or so after pro scouts attended some practices and talked to the players who caught their attention. It was a lot to sort out, but what I think I realized was that i didn’t know for sure that this sport career was all worth it anymore. The pain and injuries, sure, but just the whole commitment of it. The time, the focus. I didn’t drink alcohol or use any drugs, I didn’t really date or chase girls, I just built and built to this point where I really didn’t know anymore if that dream and goal of playing professionally was worth it.


Looking back, there is a lot more I realize. I realize I am glad I didn’t take even more hits to by head and concussions. I realize that I’m glad I can walk normally and that the surgeries were performed in a way that hasn’t required ongoing work. I also realize that while I was an athlete, I was nearly addicted to it. The level of commitment, focus, and all that are very close to the psychological issue of addiction. I really didn’t know who I was if I wasn’t an athlete. I was quiet and introverted. I didn’t have a college degree. I didn’t know how to approach girls. I could fix machines and build buildings, but those didn’t engulf me and help me understand who I actually was. As close to an identity as I maybe had was Christian, but even that got mixed around with churchy people and I knew all the repressed urges and guilt that seemed to define church christianity where I’d grown up didn’t fully match with me either.


So, I rehabbed my leg. I went to Alaska to be a fishing guide and dropped out of everything I knew. I was reckless. I went to grad school literally at the drop of a hat. I worked odd jobs ranging from law enforcement to substitute teacher to sales. I returned from my first day of being a park ranger on my first arrest for marijuana smoking fishermen, to a communal home for park employees that were smoking weed. Things just didn’t make sense.


For probably 15 years, I responded to opportunities without much thought. I’d almost “given up the game” of thinking much. I read a lot. I had framework or talent for remembering and regurgitating what other people came up with. I sought out thought leaders and gurus. I went to high powered university graduate schools. I’d do goal setting workshops and came away feeling juiced up but something down deep inside knew that the goals I’d just set were pretty arbitrary, and largely influenced by the pump up style inspiration that led up to the actual workshop. I made some money. Sometimes a lot. I didn’t plan well. I didn’t strategize much at all. I didn’t have much of a method for deciding what I was going to do and I kept looking. I seemed to rely on a confidence in being able to figure things out on the fly. Being flexible and being able to build relationships with people.


When a story would come up in conversation about me building a cabin and living off grid in Alaska, or that picture of me as the only guy on a bus full of Hawaiian Tropic bikini finalists in Vegas, or grad school at Harvard, people kind of reacted in a way that should have given me a clue about all this. Randomness, and cool-ness almost went hand in hand in those reactions. Sure some people would write me off as someone they might not want to do business with, but sure as hell wanted me at their next party as their recklessly talented and lucky friend who was still well spoken. I sort of assumed an identity based on that feedback. Not that I was going for it, but that I got a lot of it and it sort of shaped how I saw myself. While most of us make our minds up about what to do in an arbitrary way, I took it to an extreme for someone still within most guidelines for sanity and social norms and the feedback shaped how I saw myself. If I would have been paying attention to that distinction earlier, I may have dug myself less of a hole to get out of.


Luckily I got my utilities turned off when I was 37, on me, my daughter and a pregnant wife, and I went looking for a way to fix what was most apparently broken in my life; income. Even more luckily, I found what turned out to be much more than some new valuable skills with which to make money. I found the raw materials and methods of understanding success.


The founder of the company I bought training from had a lot of the answers I needed; David Mills. Those answers came in the form of questions, just like a big game of Jeopardy. How do you know what is true? How do you know what is important? What is good? Where does bad come from? You know, the things we all need to fully figure out in life before we can even hope to make good decisions, and yet there is literally no focus on answering these questions or even thinking about them properly in society or academia.


I want to save people from approaching life the way I did, for as long as I did. It’s taken me years to sort out a lot of bad ideas and bad thinking habits. Until you’ve got these methods and boundaries set up properly, there is a lot of junk that can creep in to your life. I understand now what led to much of the pain, loss, disappointment and such that I’ve experienced through major events in my life. People might say I made peace with events in my life, but it was much more than that. I still do screwy things, that are damaging, but at least now I know those come from bad thinking on my part and contradictions I’m holding in my mind. There is a great degree of peace, in general, that comes from that alone.


I’ve spent thousands of hours sorting through the material David Mills teaches in OMG Machines, and through the Law of Implication brand name. It has been worth every minute, and I don’t plan on stopping. I realize I spent way more time than that being influenced in other ways and the frameworks that were built earlier in life needed to be fully tested, and either dissolved or bolstered. That is where the work comes in. Not in listening and learning to regurgitate. That was the whole model that was academia, and it has taken a lot of work to get to where I currently am with sorting out those contradictions. As long as those contradictions exist, they will influence my decisions and even what I consider considering.

I’ve had to check myself a lot with how close I feel to somehow “finishing”. I have wanted to be done and wanted to “get it” and such. Pass this test and now be a PhD or some other such thing that is granted by peers or authorities. Hell I even considered finished my PhD in Psych as some way to feel like I was ready try and give back and talk and teach this sort of thing. It doesn’t work that way though. There have been times where I even caught myself remembering, nearly point by point, the arguments on a 3 hour webinar, so that I could assess how close I might be. The trap of learning and of having the right answers to questions you knew were coming.


There was such a strong goal and framework for learning that it has influenced how important it seemed to get rid of the bad ideas. Learning was learning, and I had been told I was good at learning and so therefore, learning must be good so that I could be good. What was hidden in that round and round, was that all learning seemed good, and dissolving bad ideas through understanding contradictions held only a very small place in my priorities and importance hierarchy. It kept slipping in and out, un-noticed as an invisible hand guiding my actions and focus. “Learn more”… Seeking and building understanding has some overlap with this distorted goal of learning, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of clarity.


Until I am inoculated from bad models, ideas and frameworks that are out there already in our minds… I’m still careful with the footholds I have. I’ve watched myself do things that didn’t line up with what I knew was true because I got caught up in other frameworks that seemed more important because they were presented well. Even after I began to see this, I have made poor decisions and spent resources recklessly.


Understanding marketing and conversion, I’m constantly amazed at how reliably or predictably our brains do things. Associating with frames and identity, how screwed up understanding importance typically is, how overconfident we are with the method of thinking most of us use most of the time is.


Every day I work on building understanding and getting rid of contradictions. I focus on bringing in healthy ideas and questions and I focus on detoxing my mind of contradictions it holds. It would be silly to really focus on much more than that. I know any number of the wrong beliefs I have could totally wipe out success. I have watched myself do this time and time again.


It scared me that a once world caliber athlete, who got through grad school courses at Harvard with little real effort and who made $30k per month in my 20s without the internet could still nullify it all because I held contradictions in my mind. The beautiful thing is, that I realize this is the thing to focus on. I get to spend the rest of my life building understanding and helping others to do the same.

Zen and Pickles

Zen and Pickles

Zen and Pickles-

During college I picked up a book called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Cool title, the book was pink and I knew a decent amount about wrenching on motors, so I thought I’d give it a read. As I went through it, I quickly realized that book was about a lot more than motorcycle maintenance, and then again, it wasn’t.

For a long time that book has stuck in my mind for some reason. More than most books I’ve read. There was one central concept that jumped out at me from the story, and that was quality. The author’s attempt to understand and know quality. It eventually drove him insane, but a few rounds of electro-shock therapy zapped him back into a functioning state. Strong overtones of the premise of Icarus and flying too close to the sun.

Pirsig, the actual author of this story within a story, and his previous life “Phaedrus” character, approached things differently. Romantic vs classical philosophy exemplified. Two approaches to thinking and being that seem to be at odds, but that always seemed to lead toward one another.

The problem that eventually drove Phaedrus insane was that he wanted to clearly be able to cut a line that divided quality into good and bad. To know the exact thing that would differentiate good qualities from bad. To understand the difference between the two, even beyond being able to clearly identify what has quality and what does not.

Confusion, Trying to Know the Un-knowable

I’m not abundantly trained in academic philosophy and my vocabulary on the topic is limited, but this situation that Phaedrus created, was ultimately un-knowable with the methods he was using. A universal and specific cleaving line of quality wasn’t reachable. The quality of hardness may be good in a piston, but bad in a crankshaft…  Then that meant the purpose determined which qualities were desirable, and so it was a very context dependent situation, which for Phaedrus, and his model of thinking, seemed to move every time he tried to put a finger on it. So in an attempt to keep slicing to pull apart the layers of questions that would lead him to truth, he eventually went in circles and was caught in a nearly endless loop of thought that lead nowhere but madness.


There are some interesting quotes about insanity that bounce around in my mind. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.” is one of my favorites. People tend to do this sort of thing in life nearly all the time. The problem is two-fold. Our brains are machines and need conscious input to change methods. Our brains also tend to function on methods that don’t tend to lead to a foundational understanding.

In a way, ZAMM (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) helped me “see” how properly messed up a lot our thinking is. How improperly we use our brain. How over-confident we are in our ability to think clearly.

Through that, it helped me come to sort out some of the stuff that had bugged me for years. Brilliant people, with huge brain power, resources, advantages and knowledge that were addicts, destructive and miserable. Simple farmers and mechanics who lived in abundance, happiness and peace. This seemingly endless quest to be told what to do, while at the same time rebelling against authority. These paradoxes point to a fractured understanding of what is really going on here.

Method of Thinking and Method of Knowing

Another thing this book really opened up for me was how powerful and how limited metaphors and analogies are. The entire book was written as a model within a model, where a story was told that seemed to uncover lessons and truths, but that was all framed again within a story with frameworks and filters. The illustrations pointed at things the author wanted us to see or investigate, but that ultimately were not the actual thing to be uncovered.

Most people I talk to, who have read the book, think it is about radically different things. Again, this so very close to giving us a key insight into what is really going on with the world and with us. We understand so little of the way our brain perceives things but we 100% trust what it is telling us.  That leads us to believe that we know what is going on, because the brain is telling us what is going on, including believing blindly that we understand how the brain works on problems, even though we have never properly thought it through. That’s dangerous.

The cultural norms of unresolved confusion

As a competitive athlete in a somewhat violent sport of American football, I realized how much of what we do in life is much more confusing than we observe. We have rules in one part of our life that let us run full speed head on into one another, trying to hurt each other… but “outside the lines” government says it is illegal… unless you represent the government and therefore have a license for violence again under the rule of law, which is ultimately determined by a single judge… So we grow up surrounded by this scenario, I put on a certain uniform and I can hit people and get paid for entertaining.  People buy my uniform and wear it and tackle people in the front yards across america. I take off the uniform and I can’t do that or I’ll go to jail where I actually can’t get paid. I put on a different uniform and I can arrest people.  I take off that uniform and it’s kidnapping.  I put on a police uniform and I’m not a cop and that is a crime.  It’s like tying a towel around our neck with a clothes hanger and claiming we can fly.  We have grown up pretending so much that we now believe it all.  All in our mind.  Much of it very arbitrary.  All these different rules without any seeming organization to the whole thing.

In school, the offer of preparing for life, has been morphed into preparing for a job. That morphed again into preparing for college. That has now moved beyond being prepared toward qualifying for competitive schools, which moved again into grades. Other factors helped move things this way, but now, somehow, a score on a test is what our kids think they are trying to “get” from school.

By now, the country is full of people with the cultural norm of arbitrary rules. The United States for instance, has, as a concept, the Rule of Law. Far from being what actually exists, there are laws, then case laws, and then cases go to trial, lawyers are involved, juries are chosen who seem favorable to either side, and ultimately, a judge governs what is allowed based on how that judge interprets and recalls all these legal frameworks. Our entire country operates on the principle that we can’t know for sure.

It’s not that surprising that people are driven to mental illness and drawn to extremism. At least they have some absolute boundaries and absolute freedoms. Kill a man and you’re a murderer. Kill ten, you get slapped with mass-murderer. Kill ten of the same type and you’re a serial killer and probably need “help”. Kill 100,000 and you are either a conqueror or a liberator, depending on which side you were on. Arbitrary.


Far from having all the answers, I realized that a step before the answers is a question. Likely a series of questions that are positive, lead to understanding and are knowable in some way. The book helped me not be so confident in what I believed. It helped me see how messed up we can get by trying to go all the way down a road that is ultimately circular.

For a couple decades after reading, from time to time a memory of the book and the characters would come to mind as I was assessing my life and my thinking. I’d gone to school for decades to learn facts, and hadn’t ever been trained to think properly. How ass-backward was that? In a way, what came out of this type of pondering was that I needed to know what question to ask and to work on. I needed to know how to work on questions. I needed to be able to prioritize which questions were important and knowable. Those were the right questions, at least to start. They led, as all questions have to either lead or be based on, “how do I know what is true”. Without that, we are without a foundation, and may very well find ourselves much like Phaedrus.

From where I am now, the book is a great illustration of the place most of us live, most of the time. The pickle of being stuck in confusion and blurriness. The precarious edge and dichotomy we try to balance. The yearning for a model to blend classical with romantic. A desire of to dissolve the madness of having two goals at the same time. Being able to enjoy the experience and understand the nature of it, all at once. A search for a method of using our minds that doesn’t lead us to madness and insanity.

21 Pickles Dissolving Contradictions Featured Image

21 Pickles

21 Pickles

Looking back on life, I have found myself in a pickles from time to time.

Not the juicy, tangy variety that we have in our fridge, but metaphorical pickles.

I suppose a common understanding of what I mean by “pickle” is a good place to start. The way I mean it, a pickle is a situation we can find ourselves in that we don’t immediately know a way to remedy. Why should we want to remedy it? Well, pickles also tend to be unpleasant, either for us or for people we care about. The other angle on what I mean by pickle is that in some way, we are responsible either for creating the pickle, but most certainly we are responsible for getting out of it. A pickle is a situation that we must dissolve, or fix through our thoughts, understanding and actions.

There’s definitely a common thread behind these situations. Not just between the pickles, but also between those of us who have found ourselves in pickles from time to time. We generally could have done something different, ahead of time, and the pickle wouldn’t have ever come to be. That element, the element of a mistake, mis-step or a lack of understanding will be talked about as well.

My intent in sharing these 21 articles in the next month, is that we can come to understand that most of the pickles in our lives are under our influence. A lack of framework or understanding is at the nexus of the problems we create in our own lives. I don’t have all the answers and certainly don’t know everything. There are, however, certain things that are knowable and certain strategies in life that are correct and that work reliably.

Most of these pickles illustrate a lack of successfully implementing a good life strategy. They pop up because something was done without a full understanding of the implications of those actions (or lack of actions).

As I am now a Dad, and a Husband, and my primary offer in the this world includes understanding, communicating and teaching, this series is aimed at helping people relate. Relate to their own life and experiences. Helping people relate to me and these situations and frameworks. Ultimately, I’d love people to be able to relate to others as well, in a in a more positive way, armed with better frameworks and less errors cooked in to their heuristics, or ways of operating.

I hope you enjoy as much as I grimaced!


21 Pickles Jar

This had better work

This had better work


So, I was climbing from rafter to rafter, on my hands and knees when I got that special ring. The one I’d programmed into my phone attached to my wife.

“Hi honey!”

“Hey babe, just so you know, I know you’ll figure this out…”


“I wanted to give you some time before Matea gets home to figure out what to say, but the utility company just came and turned our water off.”

“Uh, Ok. So our water got turned off?”

“Yeah, I just wanted to give you a few hours to figure out what you’ll say. I’ll see you when you get home. I love you….”


Did I mention my wife was pregnant?

Did I mention that we had been married only a few months?

Did I mention that attic I was crawling in was 153 degrees?

Did I mention that I drove my orange 1972 International Travelall home, thinking the whole time that if I’d have had a few hundred more dollars I’d have just gassed up, packed up the family and gone north?

I decided that this time I wouldn’t try to escape.

Starbucks opened at 4am.

I needed internet and a plugin.

My laptop didn’t work if it wasn’t plugged in.

There was no internet connection at the house.

I needed starbucks. It could let me find a solution.

Google it.

I have a problem, how do I solve it, Google?

I found a solution that Google recommended.

I could afford it if I sold my truck.

I loved that truck, so maybe a title loan?

Ok, title in hand, I got 6 months to pay back the $1,500. It bought me 3 months of payments on the program.

Ok, game on.

It was kind of like coming in in the fourth quarter of a playoff game on 3rd down.

There wasn’t time for warm up or thinking things through…

This had better work…


Erstwhile Reckoning- Dissolving Contradictions

An Erstwhile Reckoning

An Erstwhile Reckoning

It can be quite uncomfortable to open journals you wrote in 7 years ago.

“What the hell was I thinking?”

“That conclusion doesn’t even make sense.”

“How long did I spend even writing this sentence about this insignificant thing?”

I’ve recently cleaned up a lot of my junk. Old paperwork. Random tools. Strange website domains I bought. Odds and ends I hung on to thinking they may someday be just the thing I needed to make some “final” push to somewhere, maybe Valhalla.

It’s just so hard to read that crap I wrote and thought about! But it is important. I thought about it once, and I may very well be just as screwed up now as I was then.

I have to be able to scrutinize my choices today and evaluate whether I am still just as screwed up as I was then, because…. I thought I was right when I wrote and thought those things, and I was quite wrong.  That was a big lightbulb or me. How certain I felt about being correct had nothing to do with actually having correct knowledge.  That meant my process for feeling confident was screwed up or based on the wrong conditions.  There was a problem with my thinking process.

I mean beyond the writing, just the way I thought. The importance I placed on things. How I arrived at conclusions. What I was trying to create and achieve in the first place. Reading it and knowing I thought it and wrote it is so embarrassingly painful that I had to create this piece.

And here’s the thing… I kinda know that what I’m creating now will be just as hard to look at in a few years as what I just dug up from 7 years ago.

I’ll know more things. I’ll have crossed off a lot more dead ends. I’ll understand what is good, true and important to a much greater degree than I do now. That is the point of me sharing this. It’s about progress and perspective of building a process.  Not so much how much you know, but making damned sure that you have a reliable process for understanding what is true.

-Figuring out how to know what is true

-using that method regularly is the only “secret” of success

-growing and avoiding the dead ends and contradictions

It’s not always about building a better mousetrap. Sometimes it is about understanding that you don’t really want to catch the mouse in the first place.  Meaning that catching the mouse isn’t really going to make your life much better.  I know I’ve spent countless hours on things that led nowhere.  This helped me realize I didn’t really have a good process for understanding what is important.

Getting screwed up in what you are pursuing is a major problem I’ve encountered and created in life. I wound up achievment and quite bad at figuring out what to achieve. In a very head-scratching circumstance, it turned out I was pretty good at creating situations I set my mind to… It seems a lot of us are good at accomplishing goals.

David Mills, a mentor of mine used a great illustration of this in one of his trainings.  I think most of us are familiar with with the “Three Wishes” scenario, where you find a lamp, rub it and a djinii pops out and grants you three wishes.  I remember playing this when I was younger with friends as a way to day dream about things I wanted in life.

Wish 1: “I want a million dollars.”

Wish 2: “I want a castle.”

Wish 3: “I want…. MORE WISHES!”

This is where you’d have to adjust the rules somewhat, or it wouldn’t work as a game any more.  “You can’t wish for more wishes”.  At this point, looking at this game now, I realize it is critical to understand what is important.  You’ve got limited resources and you’d better get things right about what to spend your wishes on…

In David’s example he pointed out a fundamental problem that we all have, which is over-confidence in our ability to think properly.  He posed a interesting wish that I have never heard anyone say when playing this game as his number 1 wish. “Why not wish to get the other 2 wishes “right”, meaning wishing for the correct things to make your life ultimately good and happy?”.  Further, why not wish for a perfect method of thinking to always be able to get the correct answer?  I mean if you have a reliable method for always getting the right answer, then your only issue is asking the right question!  And… you can ask the question, “what is the right question to be working on?”.  If you had a way to get those answers, your life is just pretty much completely set at that point.  Abundance, peace, calm, growth.  Anything you came up with as important.  This scenario pretty much sums up most people’s lives of struggle, complacency, redirection, ups and downs.  We don’t know what our three wishes should be, even though we’ve all been playing this game our whole lives.

Now back to more examples of how screwed up my thinking used to be, but how powerful the mind is in getting what we want…  I’ve taken actions based on a goal to be righteously justified in some argument, I wound up exactly where a righteously justified person would wind up; alone.

Most of the world seems focused on helping you get what you want. The marketing world at least. Manifesting some vision. Achieving some goal. Living some dream. The really huge Problem is, at least for me, I wasn’t all that good at choosing what to want!

I started noticing that I wanted things I’d seen in a commercial. I started thinking of myself as some character in a book or movie. I started trying to fit myself into a model that story tellers, advertisers, writers and preachers have created. I wanted to be like Han Solo, like the Terminator, Like Harrison Bergeron or like the biblical character Joshua.

We don’t have a very good in-borne method for figuring out what we should be trying to create. We aren’t all that inherently good at figuring out what is important.  I came to realize that primary to having a life that was good, I needed to understand good-ness.  I also figured out that instead of memorizing more and more facts and building random frameworks, I needed a method and process for knowing what is true, and I needed to let go of thinking that I already had mastered that method.

Another huge problem, nobody is even talking about this either… there are all these messages everywhere about how to get the results you want in 90 days… Whatever results you may want.

The implicit idea cooked into this is that we know what we want.  Whether it’s based on your environment growing up. What television shows you watch. What your best friend’s household was like… Not about figuring out the “one thing” that would completely change your life if you get it right…. Sorting out “Importance”, is very important, and leads to very different pursuits.  Our brains notice something, a question gets assumed which is “if I noticed this, it is important” and then the brain works on trying to achieve that mini-goal to get the results in the advertisement.

It kinda turned out that I was better at creating things, than I was at deciding what I should create. A lot of the people I have come to know and gotten close to, fit into that same description. It was a fundamental shift and awakening in my life when I realized this.  At first I noticed a contradiction, which I’ve talked about here.  This experience was really un-nerving and dis-concerting. “Oh wait… I can create nearly anything I want… so the real question I have is what should I want in the first place….?”  I don’t have a good method of figuring that out reliably, but at the same time I am spending all the time in my life on other things than figuring this out.”  I certainly didn’t have a way of sorting that out that isn’t heavily influence by what pump-me-up movie or book I had just read.

I found myself wanting to take action and then asking myself, “is this really going to make things better?” Charging in to battle, fully capable of conquest, and asking myself, “is this even the right battle to fight?; that’s where I found myself.

Like the paraphrased scene in Swingers with Mikey and Trent. “You’ve got these big claws baby, you can just take what you want…” Yeah, but do I really want this….?

Knowing I could win, but not knowing what fight I should fight…. That was a question worth figuring out.

You may be able to see the problems cooked into this. A heckuva lot of folks I talk to aren’t overly concerned with their ability when it comes down to it. Think about that in your life. Are you really worried about your ability to do something? It seems a lot more like what we are all concerned with is figuring out how to get committed to something that is going to be worth it. Let that sink in…

If you are considering the validity of this concept, then you are confident in your ability to discern. Consider where that confidence can lead.

Our main problems seem to involve CHOOSING the right problems to work on more than how to resolve those problems. But even in that, it means we don’t have a good method in figuring stuff out, but… we tend to be damned confident in our ability to make it work if we can sink our teeth into it. A lot of us have many of the things we think we want, but our lives still stink in tons of ways. We somehow aren’t very good at knowing what things we should want.

In that question, I really want to try to draw attention to how much we achieve and how much we hold on to, fully based on a belief about who we are. Not an ideal life, but how we turned out.  Our identity.  About how the “deck was stacked” to create “us”. About “how we are” versus how we really think we want things to be. That difference in your day to day and what things should or could be.

We all have some silly concept of potential. That’s all potential really is. Realizing that we didn’t get our priorities right in where we spend our efforts and what that error might actually mean. Your car, your lifestyle, your income and job, your happiness; your “in the mirror naked” look.

Those are the kind of things I’m talking about. We tend to be good at getting what we see clearly. Our brains are so wicked powerful in achieving the visions we place before them without contradiction. The successful people we see in media who won’t even consider that they are wrong, who won’t consider they poured effort and focus and years into something potentially conflicted. Those folks guide people to not resolve conflicts. To follow blindly. To not think or know how to think. They have built frameworks of success that are so cooked into our society that elements of them are taken for granted.

It’s based on certain people like this doing well, and apparently succeeding, so we follow along assuming they know what they are talking about. To believe we should just put our head down and act instead of understanding. Maybe you were born in the right time, at the right place with the right personality and connections to just let it ride… Maybe not though, and… I’d sure rather guarantee that I’m not screwing up huge by driving even faster off the huge cliff just around the corner. Doubling down on your current whim isn’t the secret to success, no matter how good that meme sounds in the moment.

It’s likely you can connect visions you have of your life with what you actually experience on a daily basis. I thought I’d be a husband and a parent. I thought I’d have a good relationship with my folks and family. I thought I’d do something important someday. The problem is that our visions aren’t created by us and those visions aren’t created by people who have our best interests in mind. We don’t have a great method of filtering visions out that are dangerous. We accept them as ideologic based on popularity and a whole host of triangulation our brains do to make sense of the world.

The problem is, we hold visions in our mind that aren’t good, true and important. The problem is that we have contradiction in our beliefs that aren’t resolved and we have no method to even tell us we need to start looking. We pour effort and intention into connecting with out vision and we don’t dissolve the things holding us back or understand the things that are pointing us in the wrong direction. Getting that vision right is so critical. Getting rid of blocks is equally important. It’s time to sort out both of those blocks.

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