Let’s start with the statement that life isn’t fair. I think almost everybody would agree on that. But if life isn’t fair to everybody, then it somehow is fair to everyone?
Well, not so fast, this is just a little mind game to open your mind. Now let’s try to really analyze whether or not life isn’t fair.
On the micro-level (everyday life) we really could say that life is fair. We all have our struggles, we all have to face obstacles, unfulfilled desires and disappointments.
The extent of the challenges we have to face is very different for each of us, but we all lose some and win some. Nobody can live on this planet without having problems and facing obstacles.
No matter the goals that you have in life, if you lose it hurts and if you win it feels good. Losing is a bitch but you have to face it from time to time.
We can also say that the harder you work, the more that you invest into achieving your goals, the higher is the probability of achieving those goals. Reward comes to those who work the hardest (and smartest). And all of that is quite fair.
The story is completely different on the macro-level. When I say “macro-level” I mean the environment you were born in (your country, your family etc.). That is the level where life isn’t as fair and you have to deal with it somehow.
I am talking about:
- Genetic lottery (your DNA)
- Your parents or people who raised you
- The country you were born in and its cultural legacy
- The social system you are functioning in
- Market trends and geographic trends
The biggest advantage you can have in life is where and to whom you are born.
On this “macro-level”, the sad general statistic is that success brings even more success and failure brings even more failure.
There are exceptions, of course, but they’re pretty rare. It’s quite obvious where the problem lies. You have zero or very little influence on these “macro” factors but they have a great influence on your life. You can influence some of them to some extent later in life, but only with extremely strong willpower.
We can say that all of these factors working to your advantage are simply privilege and luck. And not all people have that.
These factors are basically the starting point in your life. The worse the starting point and the greater the goals, the smarter and harder you have to work. Let’s see why.
Positive and negative spiral
Very important phenomena in life are concentration, acceleration and leverage. These phenomena are the reason why success brings even more success and failure brings more failure.
Advantage accumulates. That is to say concentration, acceleration and leverage lead to either a positive or a negative spiral in life.
Based on your genes, markets and your primary and secondary socialization and other factors, you find yourself on either an upwards or a downwards spiral in different areas of life. Turning the course from down to up is quite hard, sometimes almost impossible.
I don’ want this to sound so negative, since there are many things you CAN DO to change the course of your life – but sometimes it takes super human effort.
We will look at some ideas how to do that soon but before that, let’s take a look at some practical examples, very stereotypical and extreme, just to very clearly show the point I am trying to make with the downward/upward spiral.
If you are born in a rich family with supportive and loving parents who do sports with their kids, the following will happen. From a young age onwards your parents will encourage you to do sports, eat healthy, they will stimulate you to develop your talents, they will pay for the best schooling, help you with connections, mentor you etc.
Even more than that, having access to funds and having a good relationship with your parents also helps you develop good self-esteem, self-image and self-worth. Parents encourage you to blossom in life, they prepare you for challenges. I know that there is no such thing as a perfect family, but generally speaking successful parents also try to raise their kids into successful individuals.
On the other hand if you are born in a poor family, with bad health habits, a lack of knowledge and resources, and maybe even constant pressure and fighting, your starting point is very different. Bad health habits and the fighting lead to a weak immune system, poverty usually prevents you from investing into long-term skills, your access to the best education is very limited, and so on.
You have zero guidance in life, since your parents have no experience in how it feels to be successful and how to prosper. Sooner or later you start to lag behind other people who are in a much better position. Bad environment also brings additional psychological challenges and other factors that hold you back.
In the first case, success concentrates in all areas, there are many leverages available to the individual and the speed of achieving new goals is extremely high. In the second case, problems accumulate in all areas of life, there are no leverages available to the individual and achieving goals is slow and gradual.
- Money accumulates
- Attention accumulates (fame, power, etc.)
- Love accumulates
Also, only at much slower rates:
- Health accumulates
- Knowledge accumulates
- Everything else accumulates
Everything accumulates when you reach a certain point (the tipping point) in your life.
How hard it is to reach that point depends on your starting point and the leverages available to you. The better the starting point and the more leverages you have at your disposal, the faster your progress and the sooner the concentration can take place.
That’s definitely not fair. But there is also good news in all that. The world is not designed to be fair.
The world is not designed to be fair. The world is designed to reward those who master its rules.
Now let's look what to do:
- If you have a good starting point in life
- If you have a bad starting point in life
What to do if you have a good starting point
A study has shown that people who are exposed to privilege and luck in life usually aren’t even aware of it. They attribute their success much more to themselves and their competences than circumstances. If the success is pretty massive, people can even become cocky and conceited.
If you’ve had a good starting point in life, be very grateful and appreciate it. Be aware of it. If you were born in a well-developed and stable country, if you have loving and supportive parents, if you received good education, if you have a supportive environment, good genes etc. be aware of that and don’t take it for granted.
After being aware of it and grateful for it, the second step concerns what you’re going to do about it. The reason for a good starting point is not that you can lay back and enjoy it more than others. The privileged situation was entrusted to you so you could achieve even more than others in a certain way.
You are in a position to create much more value and while doing that, helping the world become a better place. You shouldn’t waste any of your talents or leverages.
You should also know that resting on your laurels means nothing but slowly losing your starting position. If you only fool around and don’t take your life seriously, you will sooner or later come face to face with the proverb that wealth (or success) doesn’t last more than three generations.
Wealth (or success or any advantage) doesn’t last more than three generations.
No matter how many times you succeed and win, stay as humble as possible and never get cocky. In the business world, it oftentimes happens that a businessperson uses the same winning formula over and over again.
They become so confident using this particular formula that they don’t see the changes in the environment and circumstances that occur sooner or later. At some point, the formula doesn’t work anymore.
You can find numerous cases in which a businessperson bet everything they have on a formula even after several cases of success and consequently lost everything. Don’t let success cloud your judgment.
That’s why you need to do regular reflections on your actions. That’s why you need to stay humble. Definitely self-confident, but humble.
What to do if you have a bad starting point
The story is a little bit different if you don’t have such a good starting point. The worse the starting point, the more you have to play life in the hard mode.
The greater your goals, the smarter and harder you have to work. You somehow also have to make up for starting behind others.
The good news is that easy times very much soften people up, while on the other hand tougher situations can build up your character.
Tough life situations build up character.
A tougher situation can really develop your character, if the situations aren’t too tough, like war for example, and if you keep fighting and never give up. But trust me, I have seen many people whom life killed inside with challenges that were just too much. That is topic for another post.
I only have some ideas for what to do if you want to be really successful and your starting point was not so good: you should keep fighting and make up in the areas. Here is how:
Excel at something
Life gave us all talents and gifts. That’s quite fair. You have to find your talents and develop them. The talents aren’t something miraculous.
They’re not something that you discover and soon afterwards, your life becomes a success story. There are no shortcuts.
Talents are simply the things that you are naturally good at (numbers, words, talking, building …). After knowing where your talents lie, you have to work hard to develop them.
Developing your talents to the point where you really excel at something is the best way to start turning a downwards spiral upwards. Because if you excel at something, two things happen.
The first one is called the “halo effect”. The halo effect means that if you’re really good at something, people attribute you better qualities and assume that you’re good at other things as well. Thus you are exposed to more opportunities.
The other thing that happens is that exceling at something has a good positive influence on your self-confidence and all other areas of life. Basically success starts bringing success.
Therefore the first thing to do is to find you talents and start exceling at something. It may even take you a few years to excel at something, but it doesn’t matter.
Focus yourself and start building up your character and skills. Level up your game. You should also very carefully consider where you will apply your talents. You want to apply them to markets that are growing and rising.
Start with small wins
A person who wins one challenge has a greater probability of winning the next one. A win leads to better self-confidence, better body chemistry and higher motivation as well as to better readiness for the next challenge.
It’s better to win small ten times than to lose big one time. Thus you have to be aware of your bad starting point and not try to compete with people who have a much better starting point right at the very beginning. You have to be smarter than that and make progress step by step.
We know three zones in life. One is called the “comfort zone”. It’s the zone where you have mastered everything and there are no challenges at all. The second one is called the “learning zone”. It’s the zone with challenges that are just big enough to allow you to make progress and grow. The more you are active in the learning zone, the more your comfort zone expands.
The third zone is called the “panic zone”. If you go from the comfort zone straight into the panic zone, you will burn yourself out. You could easily lose, damage your self-confidence and you could subconsciously start giving a negative connotation to a specific challenge, meaning you will not try next time, even in a smaller dimension.
Thus you have to be much smarter. You have to know you starting point, and where your learning and panic zones begin. You want to take small steps and win them one by one, slowly improving your skills.
Your wins will start to accumulate, your comfort zone will start to broaden, and over the years you will be able to catch up to most other people who had had a better starting point.
Measure your progress exclusively to your past self.
The more wins that you accumulate, the bigger the risks that you can afford. You still have to be careful to not take risks that are so big they can completely ruin you. And it can happen.
For every success story you see in the media, there are thousands of people who failed really badly. Some of them so badly that they won’t be able to rise up ever again. You don’t want to do that to yourself.
Increase your chances of getting lucky
You have to be very assertive when increasing your chances of getting lucky. The more targets you want to hit, the more shooting you will have to do.
Keep developing your inner resources, learn sales, learn marketing, build up your personal brand, network as much as possible, leverage social networks, expose yourself, stand for something, integrate yourself into the community of successful people, and so on. Innovate your way out of shitty situations.
Many studies have shown the importance of the so-called hubs, where concentration and acceleration take place. In the start-up world we call these hubs incubators, start-up accelerators and technology parks.
These are the points where talented people, information, resources, technology, good energy and the right values are concentrated. It’s the same in all other areas of life. You have clubs, associations and institutes for nearly everything, from business to health and hobbies.
You want to put yourself in the centre of such hubs and then start shooting for your first wins. While doing that, you have to remember that marketing is everything and that whatever you’re doing in life, whatever your goals are, good sales and marketing will always accelerate your way to success.
Under the condition that the product you’re selling (you) is the real deal. Otherwise marketing can kill you really fast. There is no fake it ‘til you make it.
Here’s another trick. If you want to succeed faster, you also have to fail faster. Going from failure to failure without losing motivation until you succeed is supposed to be the formula for success. But we have very clearly seen that losing doesn’t bring you anything good. That’s why you need to introduce the search mode into your life.
If you do the search mode correctly, there is no failure, just validated learning. Consequently there are no bad influences on your self-confidence and other success factors. And as said before, the more successes that you accumulate and the better position that you are in, the bigger the risks you can take and the more you can learn.
Get to know yourself and get rid of negative behavioral patterns
An important part of getting to know yourself is identifying your negative behavioral patterns. If you were not brought up in a loving, supportive environment and weren’t raised by model parents, you probably have many destructive negative behavioral patterns.
Here are the ten most popular ones:
- Negative thinking
- Self-criticism and self-labeling
- Low self-confidence and passive obedience
- Hopelessness and helplessness (not being aware of your personal power)
- Overwhelming yourself and burning yourself out
- Fear of failure and fear of success
- Fear of criticism and disapproval (looking for outside confirmation and being spineless)
- Low frustration tolerance
- Guilt and self-blame
- Scarcity mindset
All this sh*t is dragging you down, again clearly demonstrating how bad brings more bad. The bad environment you were brought up in (I hope not) results in bad behavioral patterns which then further result in bad life situations.
Thus you want to deal with your inner negative psychological state. In adulthood, your outer world is merely a reflection of your inner world and vice versa.
Read personal development books, schedule a consultation with a cognitive therapist, identify your negative behavioral patterns and start working on them. Otherwise your life can become a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.
Now you probably understand why the greatest battles won are not those won over physical enemies but over ourselves. You can be your own worst enemy. Don’t let that happen. It’s not fair but you have to deal with it.
Never go to war, especially with yourself.
Start changing your environment
At some point in life, you have to start creating an environment that supports you. What really sucks is that if you hadn’t had a supportive environment at home, you will probably subconsciously look for the same unsupportive environment in all areas of life.
Simply because it’s the environment most familiar to you and you know how to survive it. It’s the same situation when people look for abusive relationships because they had that kind of a relationship at home. That sucks big time and again it clearly shows how bad brings more bad.
You have to become conscious of that fact and first work hard on your personal development and your subconscious tendencies. You need to build your first mutually supportive relationship, learn how to handle that kind of positive relationships and then work further on the next one and the one after that.
That is how you change the spiral. It may take you years to completely change your environment, but that is the only way if you want to make positive changes in your life.
It’s the same with other elements of your surroundings. People are the most important factor but they aren’t the only important one. Find market trends that will support you. Find countries where you function best.
Nevertheless, the world has become a global village and the internet is opening up many possibilities for you to work internationally. Decorate your home so it supports you in the process of achieving your goals. Use apps on your phone and computer that support you etc.
Actively construct your environment step by step and make it as supportive as possible.
There is one more thing you can do that will help you on the difficult path to a more positive course in your life. Studies have shown that nations that go through traumatic experiences heal faster if they have strong rituals that help them go through this tough situation and any others that might be coming.
It’s not always the case, but it quite often is. You have to find out for yourself. The key point is that rituals make you calmer and more stable. If they have that kind of effect on you, practice them and it will help you a lot.
Here are ten ideas for that sort of rituals:
- Being grateful and thankful for what you have
- Celebrating every small win with people who also fight challenging situations in life
- Spending time with people you love and knowing what you are fighting for
- Helping other, less fortunate people, since there is always someone who is in an even worse position than you are
- Reflecting on your life
- Believing in a higher power
- Regularly reviewing your past victories
- Taking time off after intense periods of time
- Saying “fuck it” and surrendering to life
Knowing and understanding are the first steps towards a better life. We have analyzed why success brings more success and inequality brings more inequality.
The bad news is that all that is unfortunately true to some extent. The good news is that you have the personal power to change the course of your life. You can change a negative spiral into a positive one. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
At the end of the day, you can come out of difficult situations much smarter, stronger, wiser and with a much bigger capacity for creating value and making the world a better place to live. Because you understand good as well as bad situations in life.
For the conclusion, let me give you an example that shows a pretty similar thing:
If you look at the list of the most economically successful countries in the world, you can see that there are two types of countries at the top. The first type are countries with many natural resources, especially oil.
These are the countries with a head start. It’s the same if you are born extremely beautiful, smart or with many resources.
The second type are countries with much less natural resources that had innovated their way to the top. They are more creative, more cunning, more organized, more assertive, more connected, more supportive towards talented people, more hard-working and so on.
Their success is not based on outer resources but on inner ones. The good news is that with inner resources, you can always make more of the outer ones.
So who do you think will be in the better position when natural resources run out? Of course those countries that have invested natural resources really smartly into other assets like knowledge, innovation, talent etc.
And those countries without natural resources that didn’t settle for an inferior situation but rather decided to fight and come out of the situation stronger than ever. You should do the same, no matter your starting point.
I hope these articles gave you some good ideas how you can change your life direction, enter the positive spiral of life and accelerate your way to success.
It’s not easy, but it can be done. Success brings success and failure brings failure, but there are many things you can do to turn a failure into a success. I wish you all the luck possible.