I look around and see a world divided. In this moment, it’s more evident that it’s been for quite a while. I’m not going to write that it was perfect before. But in the two countries I love and care about the most, there’s a divide. In my home country, England, everybody is up in arms about whether or not the U.K should be part of the E.U. A debate that is really categorically taking place between various media outlets and their readers in one way or another. All opinions taken from other people who have made a good case rather than offered the unbiased facts. Unbiased facts that are, at current, unavailable. The ‘facts’ available are offered by invested parties with their own spin – largely. It’s all social endorsement. If someone we trust has a strong enough opinion, we’ll probably side with them. That or if someone’s opinion intersects with our own and that person speaks loudly and angrily enough about it then we’ll agree with them as a person. (See presidential election in the U.S – Re: Donald Trump).
So I flick onto social media (my connection with the world outside of my home) and I see people saying all of their things about the current drama that is the E.U referendum. All I can say is that I want the best for everyone’s lives and cannot ensure that I am contributing to that future in whatever choice I would make because the necessary facts are not available to me as far as I know.
Here in Mexico, where I’m living, I hear news from the south. School teachers are themselves up in arms against the government. It’s a tricky situation. There’s a government who just seems incapable of addressing the needs of the people because it is too busy preserving its own comfort. Then there’s a new legislation they’ve decided to implement that means that all school teachers are to be tested to ensure that they are fit to teach the next generation of humans who will go on to either restore or wreck the country. The teachers, possibly fearful that they will lose the security of their life and that of the children, are now protesting it. The teachers, I’d imagine, are thinking many things. One of which is likely “This government does shit for us and what it does do it does to fuck us over.” But they’ll be thinking that in Spanish probably.
Anyway, what does the government here do to show that it really cares about the well-being of the people it is saying their new rule is about helping? They start killing the protesting teachers. Amazing. So, naturally, people are pretty angry about that.
And I’m sitting here, drinking coffee, reflecting on it all. It’s easy to fall into the idea that, because neither thing is happening on my doorstep, it doesn’t affect me or mine. And that would be enough to get some people comfortable enough to leave it all alone in their mind. The other side of the coin is that, well, if I knew it would make a difference then I’d stand up and do something about one or the other. But then, how do we know? If I am to give my life to a cause, how am I to know that it will really make a difference? I think that’s probably something we all feel when we look at this sort of a situation. That sense, “How do I know that anything I do will significant a decade from now?” Without sufficient knowledge, it’s tough to make the right choices.
We live in a society of exponential growth, exponential efficiency. But that efficiency is not to be mistaken for effectiveness or flourishing. When you’re in a tough situation, or looking to move forward, asking the people who are in the position in life that you’d like to be in is always a hundred times better than asking the people close to you who care about you but don’t really know what they’re talking about. If you’re talking about moving your life in a direction that is entirely new to you then it’s safe to say that it’s most likely a direction entirely new to the people who raised you too. Have you ever been ready to pursue something a bit outside of the box and got that response from your parents, siblings or friends that just seeds doubt in your mind? If not, you can try for it to prove this point.
Let’s say you want to leave your job and start a new business… You take your business proposal to two people. First, your mum or dad (who is a baby boomer and is used to working hard and getting a decent wage for it or is from the next generation and has been taught that the way you get ahead in life is to climb the rungs of a ladder you actually can’t see the top of). The other, a successful business owner in your home-town who perhaps began with a small shop or product-selling website and has now grown to have fifty to a hundred employees all working to further their dream. They’re not CEO of Microsoft or anything like that. But they’re living a life closer to the life you want to live than your parents are. Assuming your parents aren’t the pillar-of-the-community small business owner I described above.
Super-impose this scenario over your own life and adjust it where necessary. Make up a fake business idea that could be viable and try it out. See who encourages you and see who seeds doubt. Pay attention to detail in your fake-business idea. If you don’t have the story water-tight, you might get support from the wrong people and be shot down by the people who can actually help you.
My point being, if you’re taking advice from the people who aren’t living the life you want to live then it’s going to be pretty tough when you start asking yourself why it isn’t working (or why you’re not happy with your life) and have to admit that you took bad advice from someone who loves you and is terrified of seeing you fail. I’ve taken bad advice in the past, we all have I think. I took money advice from people who had none and were themselves trapped in a mindset of scarcity (scar-city). I took advice on happiness from someone who was depressed and unable to sort their own life out. And I took advice on strategy from people who were totally emotionally driven. Guess how their advice worked out? If you don’t have the knowledge, it’s tough to make the right call.
In the end, it was useful to have taken the bad advice though. In some way, it was the perfect storm because it got me to here. Married in a flourishing relationship that enables both me and my wife to feel loved and supported, running my own business and effectively making other people’s live better, living in a hot country and as such the envy of at least a handful of people back home. But now, having learned my lesson, I take advice on money from the people who have it and live rich lives in more ways than just in terms of finance. I take advice on happiness from people whom I know are fulfilled and genuinely contented in their lives. I take advice on strategy from someone who lives it, succeeds with it and really walks their walk. And most importantly of all, I take my own advice when it comes to problem-solving. How can I trust that advice? Because of all the problems I’ve come up against, I’ve been the one to solve them and move myself ahead. With all the advice I’d received, who knew what the right move was in the end? It’s one of the reasons I offer advice to people. I know that I can see the way out of any difficult situation provided I have enough information. I can map out the lay of the land and plot a course out of it. Ask any of my past clients, they’ll tell you the same.
Recently, my wife was talking to the owner of the business she’s working with at the moment. She was asking him about how he would advise young people starting their own business to invest their money well and do so in a way that yields worthwhile results, his advise was thought-provoking and is something I’ll definitely remember. His story of success began when we took a trip to Mexico City. While there, he saw people making and selling clothing accessories on the street. He saw the prices and realised that in his city, there was no outlet for these sorts of things. Sensing opportunity, he set up a deal with some of the small business owners there in Mexico City and started to sell their products for a higher price in his city.
His advice to my wife was that when people have money – especially here in this city – they immediately think “What should we spent it on?” They think about all the things they want to have. And the people that don’t think about spending straight off, they think about saving it all. Rarely do people know the best way to distribute their savings. In my experience, based on the advice I’ve received from numerous successful people who themselves are brilliant with money, the best way of handling money is to invest instead of spend. Don’t give up the money for something that will not improve your quality of life. That’s like flushing it down the toilet. Invest it in something that will increase your quality of life or the quality of life of another. Something that will be worthwhile. But don’t invest it all. Save some too. But don’t save it all.
I like the idea of creating savings and creating savings’ savings. That way you have your savings and then your savings have savings. Meaning that you can’t touch your savings’ savings because they don’t belong to you. They belong to your savings. And you can’t use up all you savings because then your savings’ savings will be orphaned. And that’s mean. We all have a well-spring of guilt within us, why not use it to your advantage?
Turning all this back around, it’s about knowing enough to make informed choices. I can’t honestly put all my eggs in one basket in the case of the E.U referendum because there’s just not enough information. Both the government and the protesters here in Mexico are suffering from a lack of information too.
So, at the end of it all, if we’re ever in a tough spot, the best thing we can do is remain impartial and unbiased in a search for the necessary knowledge to make an informed decision. Like Wu Wei – action through inaction. It’s a principle that points to effortless movement. If you are finding a choice difficult to make you clearly don’t have enough information. If you had enough information, you’d be able to make the right choice without effort. Of course, that’s all dependant on you not being totally invested and thus disabled by your emotions. Invest some but not everything. Save some but not all of it.
Keep it real,
Live, love and play.