Raise your hand if you’ve ever wished you were at the top.
If you had already accomplished “it.”
For some reason, we tend to want the result handed to us. And we want it now.
We want to win the lottery. We want the perfect body overnight. We want to be a genius tomorrow.
Well, we think we do.
Here’s the problem:
If the outcome we so desperately strive for was magically dropped in our lap, we wouldn’t know what to do with it.
The lottery winner squanders his fortune. The person who wakes up with the perfect body has no clue how to maintain it. The same for the fictitious genius.
So how do you actually get what you want?
You begin training.
Kobe Bryant had an important choice to make when he was 18:
Spend four years in college or go straight to the NBA.
At the time, only four players had ever gone straight from high school to the pros.
Kobe knew his mission though: become the greatest basketball player of all time. So, he asked himself what the greatest basketball player of all time would do?
The greatest basketball player of all time would focus on basketball 100% of the time. He would spend time learning directly from the pros. He wouldn’t spend time in college (where his focus would be 50% basketball, 50% academics).
Of course, Kobe chose to go straight to the NBA.
And at the end of his career, he would call it is his best decision, ever.
“The best decision (I ever made was) coming straight to the NBA and skipping college,” Bryant said, “That’s it—the best one.”
Kobe was all in on his training.
How Can You Apply This
First, you must figure out what you want.
Then, you must ask yourself, how would you act if you already had it?
If I had money, what would I spend money on? If I had the perfect body, what would I eat and exercise every day? If I was smart, what would I read?
What tasks would you complete? Who you interact with? How would you go about your business? When would you wake up? What food would you put into your body? How would you think?
Do this long enough, and all of a sudden, you wake up…
You’ve made good fortune for yourself.
Training Is Not Enough
But this training is not enough. We must practice “virtue.”
Virtue is acting in alignment with the highest version of yourself. It’s appealing to your higher half. It’s basically not being an asshole.
Without virtue, you cannot handle great fortune.
Those without virtue squander their money away by failing to pay their taxes.
Those without virtue act narcissistically after they’ve built their body, which makes us despise their progress (the hero’s abs are irrelevant).
Those without virtue cheat on their SATs, get a perfect score, but fail out of their dream colleges.
Virtue is necessary if you want to hold on to your good fortune.
You’ve Already Won
We all desire good fortune. This is a common element of humans. To want a better life. To push for improvement.
Sometimes, we are lucky enough to acquire good fortunes without virtue and training.
We get a lucky break.
As it turns out, you’ve already won the lottery.
You’re reading this on a computer or phone, meaning you have access to more knowledge and information than practically all of your ancestors with a push of a few damn buttons. How crazy is that? You have access to the Internet, where the exchange of information and ideas can allow you to transform your life.
So, due to this good fortune…
Train daily. Practice your virtues daily.
It’s the only way I know to bear the results of this good fortune suitably.
[This post was based on the quote from Ryan Holiday in Ego Is The Enemy: “‘Without virtue and training,’ Aristotle observed, ‘it is hard to bear the results of good fortune suitably.'”]