James Altucher on Minimal Expectations, Failure, and Not Giving Advice
James Altucher on The Art of Charm podcast means the meeting of a fascinating interviewee and an elite interviewer. And that means pretty much everything that’s talked about is important. That’s why I had to write this blog post. I didn’t want you to miss out.
Here are some things I learned from the podcast:
1) Someone who isn’t hustling isn’t going to start hustling because you or someone else told them to.
Think about it: if your best friend is with a guy or girl that’s bad for them, and it’s excruciatingly obvious, and you tell them that, are they really going to split up with them? Are they really going to say “oh my god, you’re totally right, and I’m totally wrong! Thanks so much!”
No. They’re not. And we all know that.
That’s why slogans like “hustle hard” or “no days off” are just bullsh*t. Because nobody is listening. And the people who maybe would be receptive to this don’t need it because they’re already “hustling”.
That’s why James prefers to tell his story than to give advice.
2) Most of us still define success as how much money we make.
We like to think we don’t, we often pretend we don’t, but deep down we still do. It’s kind of like that quote from Zig Ziglar: “money won’t make you happy… but everybody wants to find out for themselves.”
3) Slogans aren’t how real business works.
As James says: “the world of slogans is 1% of how business works, and then there’s real business.”
Most businesses don’t start with venture capitalists investing millions of dollars before the company has even turned a profit. Most businesses start by getting customers to part with their hard-earned after-tax cash for whatever product or service that business is selling.
That’s why it’s so hard.
4) Motivational slogans and quotes and Instagram pictures aren’t making people happy.
Because they paint pictures that just don’t align with reality. For example, “hustle your way to success.” Well, what if you’re hustling on the wrong thing? Then it doesn’t matter how hard you hustle – it will always end in failure. And apparently failure makes people unhappy.
That’s why James likes to “deflate” these slogans and quotes. It’s also why he has low expectations – or, in some cases, no expectations. If you have low expectations then it’s easier to be happy. If you have no expectations then it’s even easier.
And, like James says, “I can change reality slowly, but I can change my expectations right now.”
5) Minimalism isn’t just about possessions…
… it’s about you and your expectations. If you have low expectations, or no expectations, then it’s so easy for them to be exceeded. And, therefore, for you to be happy.
It’s not just about possessions. As James says, minimalism is “the key to more contentment in life.”
6) You can’t possibly always do every “positive habit” there is…
… because there are hundreds of them. It’s kind of ironic that all this information that’s out there about productivity and habits and success and whatever else is maybe making people unhappier than before – because it’s just overwhelming. You don’t know where to start, and so you just don’t start.
Maybe just let yourself off the hook, pick one, and see how it goes. Wouldn’t that be a relief?
7) It’s not about “them”.
For example: you might not be living the life you really want to live because you don’t want to disappoint your parents. But it’s not really about disappointing your parents – it’s about you not being confident or secure enough in who you are to live your own life. The life you know, very deep down, you can live.
It’s not about them. It’s about you.
8) “You can’t compartmentalize – every part of your life affects every other part.”
Take health, for example. That affects literally every single other part of your life. If you’re not healthy, you can’t do your best work, or maybe even go to work. If you’re sick, it’s much harder be present with the people you love. You can’t look after anyone else if you’re not looking after yourself. Well, you probably can. But for how long? Could you live like that forever?
This reminds me of that other quote: “the way we do anything is the way we do everything.”
9) Be aware of your ego.
When things are going well, James says, you have to assume you are not a genius. You have to stay humble. You have to be aware that your ego desperately wants you to believe in how amazing you are.
When things are not going well, you have to assume it’s your fault. You have to take responsibility. You have to be aware that your ego desperately wants to blame other people or other things.
10) “My mistake was focusing on a future that didn’t exist.”
You do this. I do this. We all do this.
We focus on what might happen, on what could happen, on every possible “what if” scenario… for what? How many of the things we worry about actually come true?
We’re all scared, and we’re all trying to be ok. So it’s understandable why we do this. But it doesn’t help us. Because, like James says, we’re focusing on a future that doesn’t exist, and probably never will.
What would happen if we stopped focusing on the future and started focusing on the present? On what is happening right now? On our reality as it is, rather than what it could (or “should”) be?
What else you can hear on the podcast:
- Why we make the same mistakes again and again and what we can do about it
- The lesson James still can’t seem to learn
- What meditation really is
Matt Hearnden is a writer from the UK. He mostly tells stories only he can tell. He blogs twice a week at www.matthearnden.com just self-published his first book:42. Matt writes every day because he loves it and because it stops him watching Netflix. And, probably more importantly, he plays basketball and has lots of tattoos. You can find him on Twitter, IG & Quora.
Image courtesy of frank mckenna.