Monday, December 26, 2016

5 Tips on How to Dream

Instead of dreaming about having some thing, dream about what to do with it.

When I was younger I wanted a BMW. Any of the Z series, I wanted a German engineered sports car. But when I thought about what I'd do with it, I saw only one vision: me getting out of the car in a public place, wearing a suit and shades.

Besides that, there was nothing I was looking forward to that would justify that expense, as compared to my current income. So I haven't bought that BMW, yet. The cost doesn't justify my one dream.

I did have lots of vivid dreams of owning a house and making rent from it. Of owning multiple properties in locations over the world. Unlike the BMW, these are well in progress.

Now I have dreams of running a business I helped create. How to hire employees. How to give all-hands speeches. How to make business deals and financial decisions. Let's see how that pans out. And a business might make that one image of me getting out of a BMW worth my income some day.

Your dreams are personal. They're the haven you go to escape and hope.

Don't ruin it by telling too many people. Either people will hold you to them, and thus turn the dream into another chore to avoid. Or they won't care, which makes telling them not worth it. Or they will persuade you out of it.

Some people want to believe that by saying it out loud, or posting it on a dream board, or telling your friends about it, will manifest the dream into the universe, and increase the likely hood of it coming true. 

Maybe. Even if this were true, the followers of such pseudo-science admits that you aren't aware of all that you are putting out into this "universe." So if you were to start expressing your dreams, how do you know that you didn't sneak some of your ego and your fears into it?

Don't take your chances, keep the dream pristine and clear. Don't use it to gain attention. Don't whore out your precious dreams.

Keep your dreams 60-80% achievable, the rest fantasy.

By having dreams that are couched in reality, it remains tantalizing to you. "If I only just did this and that..." should be what eats at you. The fantasy part of it is the "what if" of the dream. 

What if the business I create wasn't just profitable, but super successful and I became a celebrity?

If there's too much fantasy, then you wouldn't take this dream seriously, and it'll drift away just like any of your childhood fantasies and imaginations.

And if there's too much reality, then it's not a dream, it's a task. A chore. Another responsibility. Lame.

Don't be pressured into dreaming bigger than you want to dream.

This goes back to how it's your dream. Americans like to pressure each other into having "big" dreams. They sometimes make you feel bad for dreaming small. 

It's ok to have small dreams, medium dreams, big dreams, whatever you want. 

Don't ask for someone's opinion on your dream. You can ask them how it could be achieved, but don't take advice about what you should be dreaming of. It has to remain your dream, not someone else's.

You can borrow someone else's dream if it really appeals to you, that's fine. You can give your dreams away to others who it might appeal to as well. But it's a transfer, not an amendment process. Once amended, it stops becoming yours.

Have dreams

I can imagine that lots of people have stopped dreaming. I can understand that life is unfair, and people unjust. I know that dashed hopes are the worst feeling. I also feel the fear of losing and failing.

But I think that healthy, functional people have dreams, especially during times of adversity. I know lots of stories of famous people, and not famous people, who had nothing at one point except their dream.

Dreaming is something worth maintaining as a child. It's sad for humanity, the day that a child gives up on a dream. But it's not too late as an adult to bring them back. To nurture your dreams slowly, and get back into the practice of imagination.

I think it's natural to dream. Your brain wants to do it. If you have a hard time dreaming, then look for blocks. Look for fears. Look for things that you've told yourself as a child, maybe after some powerful experience. Look for ways that you're preventing yourself from dreaming. Maybe you think it's childish, maybe you think it's a waste of time, maybe you're afraid of being stuck "in the clouds."

Please, don't be afraid. Let go, it'll be alright. You won't suddenly become immature, or stupid, for dreaming. No ones going to laugh at you, and those who do, are sad people who deserve pity.

Sweet dreams.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

How to be amazing, like me

I’m often asked, “how are you so amazing?”

Shucks! Honestly, I can’t say for sure how. But don’t worry guys, I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I think I’ve figured out a few things:

I have patience. Others seem to live in a haze of fear.

The fear of missing out. The fear of getting caught as a fraud. The fear of their short, uneventful, future.

I don’t know where I got this patience. Maybe it’s because I didn’t think I’d do anything great, so I didn’t need to rush towards something. No one else seemed to expect anything of me, so I didn’t need to maintain some image.

I know, sounds weird, being so amazing, with so many accomplishments, how can I have been so insecure? But fellas, inside, I’m just a humble guy. Very much like the rest of you little people.

I observe. Patience allows me to shut up and listen.

I’m not quick, and I’m not terribly talented, and I’m also lazy. You might think otherwise of course, looking from the outside at this perfect specimen of a human that I am.

But I’ve met many who are quicker than I am, harder working than I am, and much more talented. They make me feel jealousy, but I’m also glad I can be around to observe, and take away their glory as I slowly surpass them. I have more patience than they do.

I do things wrong on purpose. I’m fearless like that.

Probably came from a lifetime of being ridiculed or ignored. It didn’t matter whether I failed at something, I didn’t feel like anyone expected me to win anyways. No pressure. I was free to be myself.

I didn’t endanger my life. I’m constantly scared of falling, hitting my head, and losing vision for the rest of my life. 

But I always have a different way I want to do things. That frustrates some, it makes others laugh at my naive stupidity, and I don’t succeed as quickly as most. It’s ok, I have patience.

I’m happy with little gains. What I have is truly mine. And it’s growing.

I’ve tried to keep from robbing people of their time, their property, or their happiness. Yet other’s haven’t been so careful with me. Yet, I still come out well, maybe better. Because, what I have left is more than just rightfully mine, it’s NOT YOURS.

What people want, are the best parts. The best toys in the bin, the best choice of meat, the best of life. I am left with the scraps. But you’ll never know how to use your imagination and craftiness to play with broken toys, or how to make delicious stew out of bones and dark meat. I do, I know how to enjoy it all.

I’m the tortoise, smiling at the sleeping hare as I trudge by.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Racism and sexism is your blindspot

  1. Thinking that you're fair, does not make you fair. 
  2. You don't know all the ways that you are being unfair, it is a BLIND SPOT. 
  3. Everyone has sexist and racist blindspots. Everyone. 
It is hard to identify a blindspots. When you're driving, you have to move your body forward or turn your neck into uncomfortable positions to see your blindspot.

In personal life, it requires similar discomforts, and repeated checking over your blind spots, to avoid colliding into bigotry and sexism.

Jon Stewart describes his personal experience with a blindspot.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Confidence doesn't look like confidence

  • "I got this, don't worry."
  • "Nothing's going to go wrong, trust me."
  • "Here, let me show you how to do that"
  • "What? You don't know what that is?"
These, along with many other, behaviors are how people have learned to hijack our brains and exude confidence.

In Bangladesh, when things used to be cheap, someone like me with a steady job in America had lots of money. And I have a few cousins with lots of business ideas. And they would exude confidence about their business idea. And at first, I fell for it, being very young, but soon I started seeing through it. 

They would give me guarantees, that was the red flag. I would tell them that "guarantees are impossible." And they would have no response. I would ask them what could go wrong, and they couldn't tell me, "Nothing's going to go wrong, trust me." I would ask them what they'd do, if this or that went wrong, "You wouldn't understand. But trust me, I know what I'm doing." And my reply, "No thanks, I can't help you with your business."

Here in America, people are better at business. But, for every truly confident, successful, businessman, there's an equally confident and success-exuding shyster.

Here's what real confidence looks like:
  • "I don't know, I'll find out."
  • "Hmmm... I wonder."
  • "Are you sure? What makes you so sure?"
  • "I've seen this before, and that happened. I think it's because of so and such. What do you think?"
  • "..." Silence. Listening.
Real confidence doesn't look like confidence.

Real confidence is knowing, and accepting that:
  • There's always a chance of something going wrong.
  • People are often innocently unfair and unjust. They are blind to being unfair, from not having thought about it. 
  • There are a few who know they're being unfair, and still continue and don't care to change. You will encounter these people. They will probably hold some position over you. People like that easily come into petty power.
  • Things take time. You must have patience.
  • Things will always change. Whatever you are doing now, won't matter so much later. 
  • Things ten tend to break apart with time. Your business, your relationship, your ideas, your body. If you don't want it to, you must prepare it fight against the gravity of time.
  • Everything worth doing is going to be hard. There is no easy way. The hard way is the easiest way in the long run.
  • Often, good intentions lead to bad consequences. And sometimes bad intentions lead to good outcomes. Time will tell. And often it's surprising.
  • Every action has both good AND bad consequences. The ratio of good:bad might be a way to rationalize it. Sometimes it's not.
  • There's most likely a better solution, but it will be hard to find, and it will take time.
People with real confidence, I've noticed, seem and look weak to those who don't have real confidence, which is unfortunately the majority of people. People with real confidence, but don't know how to also exude that confidence with a strong handshake and smile, don't pass job interviews easily. People with real confidence, who don't know how to compromise with idiots, piss of people who can't understand why they're asking so many "why?"s and "how come?"s, and don't hop on the bandwagon of their stupid, thoughtless, impatient ideas.

Real confidence causes people to be wary, to be careful, to slow down, to pause and think. They explore new ideas and ask questions about different ways something can be done. They reject old ideas that others hold onto, even though they don't make sense anymore. They're not afraid to do that, they have real confidence. Confident people are used to the unknown, and they've long ago built fortifications against being wrong about what they're doing. 

Why can't I do it this way?
I don't know if it's any better, and I won't know until I find out. You go off and do it the usual way, I'll let you know if this way works or not.
Yah, something can and most likely will go wrong. Yes, it won't be very easy. Yes, it might be impossible. Yes they might be laughing at me. Yes, I might get hurt, but I don't think I will too badly.
Who knows though right? I'd like to find out. Why? Cause I can see how everyone else is doing it, and I can see where they're going, and it looks fine where they end up. But, I'd like to see if I can go somewhere else.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Drugs: Doing it right

A healthy Life looks like this.

The structure of a healthy Life requires a lot of time doing things you don't want to do, but need to do (Chores). This is within the realm of Hell, meaning it doesn't feel good, and it's not supposed to.

Work can still feel like hell, but sometimes it can feel like Heaven. Where Chores are things you need to do to maintain a Life-style, Working allows you to increase your Life-style. Work provides rewards beyond the necessities.

Play, if done right, should feel great. It lives on top of Work. Sometimes we want to fool ourselves into thinking we can Play and then do our Chores, then our Work, but that's foolish, and we know we're fooling ourselves.

Enter Drugs

Drugs are the sky above Play. Drugs make you feel like you're flying through Heaven.

Some drugs include:

  • Alcohol
  • Pharmaceuticals, like opium and meth
  • Sugary processed food
  • Sex
  • Gambling, with life and money
If done safely, and in moderation, drugs can help you soar sometimes.
They key to doing drugs safely is to keep the structure of your Life intact. You do the chores, you do your work, you play, and then you do drugs sometimes. You drink when you're relaxing, not during work. You eat a little bit of sugar, the cherry on top of your vegetables and proteins. You have great sex with the love of your life.

Addiction and abuse

You begin to abuse drugs when you are trying to constantly fly. To have a Life, you need to frequently be working at it, taking care of your chores, doing your work well, and playing without the use of drugs. And sometimes you can go out into Heaven and fly, free of any concerns because you've done the best that you could do.

Instead some people feel the need to fly all the time. Maybe they've never had a structured Life and all they know is chaos and pain, and the freedom of flying with drugs. Or maybe they've had a Life, but it became badly damaged, and they are hopeless in repairing it.

But, when you keep flying, all the time, your Life withers away quickly without your attention. It's not a structure built of bricks, Life is built on habits. Habits that are broken when you replace them with other, toxic, habits. Without your constant love, your structure will wither away quickly, remarkably quickly.

And when you try to soar without a base to jump from, to go back to a Life after you're done flying, you end up stuck in hell.
Being high causes you to continue feeling like you're soaring through Heaven. But some part of you can see how the structure is collapsing. Or the structures you want to build never get complete or fall down too quickly. This worries you, upsets you, and there's a craving to soar again, to feel the freedom again.

You are in a spiral.

"Just Saying No" to drugs doesn't work. You can't D.A.R.E. kids out of never trying just how good they can feel on drugs. How "all drugs are, are a perfect solution to every problem you have right now," as Louis C.K. complained of when musing about what to tell his kids about drugs.
  • Never think that you are stronger than drugs. Respect drugs. You are your brain, not stronger than your brain. When you trick your brain by hijacking it with chemicals, you're tricking yourself.
  • Don't use drugs to spice up your Chores or Work. That's Stage Two of your spiral down into addiction.
  • Enjoy some play without the use of drugs. Drinking responsibly doesn't mean to get hammered and throw up in your DD's backseat and then have him drag you into your house and make sure you forced enough water down your throat. Drinking and drugging responsibly, means finding joy without drinking at all.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

What's the point, if it doesn't stick?

I don't like diets. I don't like leveraging debt. I like shortcuts, but I don't like short-cutting.
I don't understand the point of doing things that won't stick. 
I workout to practice structure, so my body doesn't ache when I'm old. I put my money and time into building assets, either physical or mental. I try to shift my diet gradually to something healthier.

I don't follow fads as much as other people. I can't seem to get myself into any of the popular things until long after they're out of fashion. I wait until the filter of time sifts out the shit, and then I sit back and enjoy the greats like Rocky or Apple products.

I'm a late adopter, I have no shame in being one. I can't get myself to spend time on things that don't stick around for long.

I like to make slow gradual progress so that I can take rests without losing. I feel like others can't rest, they have to keep struggling to stay afloat, or else they'll sink. I like to float around sometimes and enjoy where I've gotten myself to.

What's the point of struggling if you can't take a real break?

I like to start at the basics. The small simple things. And I like to teach myself how they piece together to become complex things. I like understanding all of it, top to bottom, that's my ideal. I can't understand people who are happy jumping to the top without knowing what they're standing on.

It comes from being scared. I'm scared a lot. But I feel like that fear has served me rather than held me back. I don't walk the beaten path, I am concerned about where the path came from, and where it's leading. Instead I walk my own path, but I do it slowly and carefully.

Fools rush around blindly, both on the beaten path, and off-road.

I don't have a lot of trust in my fellow human beings. But I don't know if that's a bad thing, it doesn't seem like most are trustworthy anyways, and they know it. So I don't understand why people suppress and sacrifice so much, just to fit in with those who don't know any better about what's right, what's proper, what's just.

I don't see the point in hanging out with people I don't feel comfortable being around. Why do people force these things to stick?

The times I've cheated on games, the game becomes lifeless to me very quickly. All that time and energy by the game makers, gone to waste because they put in cheat codes. I remember as a kid that real video games had cheats that allowed you to change the color, that's it. Or unlock an even harder level, I still yearn to play those again sometimes.

The times I've short-cut my way to the top of things, like trying to play the guitar through tabs and covering other popular easy songs, it just ended up being a waste of time. Now I'm practicing fundamentals, like scales, and I hope it sticks.

I've walked some beaten paths, like going to university for a degree in programming. I wonder where would I be now if I had cultivated my natural curiosity for programming when I was 13, instead of relying on the academic system. I don't regret that one though, academics have opened my eyes to different things.

But I do wonder what if's often.

I probably deal with a lot more Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) then those rushing around. But I deal with it, not let it deal with me. I feel it deeply. The feeling of seeing others pass me by. The feeling of being alone when it's too much work being not-myself around others. The feeling of smallness, of being the slowest person in the group, or the most immature. I'm slow because I'm trying to do it right, but that's little consolation when I see others doing it better with seeming ease.

I have become numb to those feelings from practice, and have gained wisdom with time. I'm not missing out on the wonderful reality present before me every single moment.

Time proves me right. The people who've passed me by, I see them again eventually. Usually as I slowly pass them by, like the tortoise.

I'm not perfect in my sticking to things that stick. There are very few who do what I do, there are some who do it better. I have learned from them the importance of things that stick. These are the people I call mentors. They have taught me patience. They have taught me the importance of fundamentals. They've shown me what they've accomplished through simple practice.

I have less than others. I have less friends, less things, less experiences. But the few that I do have stick. They'll be there for the rest of my life, and probably beyond.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Progress: It's Always Harder Than You Expect

Man who stand on hill with mouth open will wait long time for roast duck to drop in. - Confucius
We have a vague idea that progress looks something like this,

Climbing the side of a mountain, reaching the peaks, trudging forward, ever progressing towards the goal.

Every day you look back and get a gratifying sense of accomplishment at the heights you've achieved. And then look forward to the dizzying heights ahead, and be inspired and challenged.

If you were to graph how people view progress, it would look something like this,
The slope of the line is determined by the effort that one makes. Sure, this is unrealistic, you can't always expect to go up and to the right. Some days you're lazy and stop putting in as much effort.

But the key is effort. If you don't see results, then most likely effort is missing; you don't want it bad enough.

This is the fallacy about progress that we subscribe to.

The truth about progress

Instead of thinking of it as climbing a mountain, think of progress as building the mountain,
The initial time is spent laying down the foundation. Effort is spread thin and progress is slow. But as you near to the top, things start begin to come together, fall into place, and you seem to be accelerating towards your goal, with less and less effort each time.

If graphed it would look like this,
The slope of this curve isn't effort, instead it's the accumulation of knowledge, gained from effort. It is the wisdom that you have attained through trial and error.

When we look with envy at successful people, what we're seeing are those near the top of their mountains. To us, everything they do seems effortless and natural, we're in awe of their magical abilities, their god-given talents.

In contrast, the people who are still toiling away at the foundations of their mountains are pitiful failures. They don't seem to be going anywhere despite how hard they're trying, and we wonder if they should give up already.

Yet even they are the lucky ones. Sometimes the mountain cannot be built, despite how much effort is spent. Here is an example of what it is like for the rest of the 90% that will fail utterly,
This is the painful reality that most of us face when we try and do something different in our lives. It either seems pointless because of how slow progress is, or it seems impossible because we can only get so far.

The dysfunction

Our species have been progressing for thousands of years. We are at the current heights of achievement, thanks to the foundations laid down by our ancestors. It's easy to lose sight of how difficult things can be, when everything around us seem to be so magically simple. A little bit of effort here and there, and we are flying through the air, talking to strangers instantly across the world, and making money while sitting at home.

Because our concept of progress has become dysfunctional, we have lost sight of how things actually work. We're disconnected from the massive effort it takes to do anything, so our expectations are free to float around in fantasy land. We demand all sorts of wonderful results from the minimal of efforts.

This has made it more difficult for the ones who are still toiling away at their mountains. The effort and accomplishments are underestimated, the expected results overestimated. They are viewed as stick-in-the-muds, branded as people with a negative attitude. Always "complaining" about how difficult this or that is, how you have to be careful all the time, how you have to have concern.

Keep on keeping on

Despite the hardships, the reward of having built the mountain will always remain, the accomplishment cannot be diminished. It is an objective reward that can't be taken away from you. The mountain itself can be taken away though, life is unjust sometimes. But the fact that you built that mountain will always be yours.

I'd rather be in the shoes of Steve Jobs the morning after he was fired from Apple, rather than be in the shoes of someone who has never tried, doesn't know, and can't appreciate.

Friday, September 2, 2016

How the infinite is wrapped within the finite

The closer you approach, the further away it becomes.
Growing up I was fascinated with encyclopedias. I remember in 3rd grade I missed my chance to sign up for music class with the rest of the students. Probably because it required $10 to register. I wasn't going to ask my parents for that kind of money, you can understand why from my previous post. So while everyone shuffled out for music class once a week, I was stuck with my teacher, and cranky Mrs. O'riley didn't want anything to do with me.

She told me to go do a report on something from the encyclopedias stacked in the corner farthest away from her desk. That was the beginning of my interest in encyclopedias. It's also where I learned about aviation. My report on aviation was pretty kick-ass, I don't think Mr.s O'riley gave a crap though.

Years later I would get my own encyclopedia. It was a used set that the library was selling at a discount, my brother (don't know why, he never read them) insisted that my parents should get them for us. I ended up being the only one to use them, and since I was a bored, lonely child, I'd pass the time by perusing through them.

I don't remember anything I learned from those encyclopedias, didn't repeat my experience with aviation, and no retention of that information. What I do remember was just how MUCH there was in the world to learn about. The amount of things we know about and put in these encyclopedias is vast. And what we do know is only a fraction of what we don't know. So imagine how much more stuff there is out there to learn about!

What I found even more amazing was how there was someone who cared. Somebody found cockroaches, the most vile of insects, interesting enough to do deep studies into them. Someone else zoomed their microscope on some random spot and found some crawly thing as said "I wonder what that is" and then spent the rest of their lives learning about it.

That's what amazed me as a child, and it still amazes me today. Through our wonderful Homo Sapient curiosity, we can take something we consider insignificant, and then blow it up into a giant topic of study. And what's more, usually the most mundane things, like how objects fall to the ground, turns out to be the most mysterious things known to man.

One answer becomes two questions

There's a problem in cartography, called the Coastline Paradox, where the more accurate you measure for your map, the larger the circumference of your land becomes. The link to the wikipedia article does a better job of explaining it, and the pictures makes it intuitively clear, it's not a difficult paradox to grasp. Basically the more refined your measurements, the more things there are to measure and the larger the final sum becomes.

This paradox crops up in lots of other ways. If you're aware of it, you'll come by it eventually, or already have. At my old job we adopted a new method of planning our projects. These projects are decade long ventures for an aerospace company (can you imagine? I went from studying about aviation in 3rd grade, to working in the industry years later!) so measuring the tasks within a project with finer accuracy should help us track costs and inefficiencies.

It was entertaining for me to watch the exercise. For my seniors and managers, it was two weeks of hell. At the end of the first week of planning, it was obvious to everyone that it was "impossible" to do all that work in a year. "But we can do it. We've done it in the past! Why doesn't the numbers add up?" Were the complaints from the senior members of the team. That was the frustrating part, when we accounted for all the tasks, and all the hours we'd spend on these tasks, it turns out that we would need twice the time that it should take to do what we were doing. Now, these are people who have been in that same job for a decade. They've been working in the same team for two decades. These people know their shit, and they know they can do it, they just can't prove it with the numbers.

The Lion

This particular phenomenon of reality, like the Coastline Paradox, can be emotionally challenging to deal with. Just when you think you know, you find out more things that you don't know. It's like a nightmare I often have, where I'm trying to fight against some enemy trying to kill me. And the harder I try to fight, the slower my movements become. The more I push, the more my body resists. I wake up from these nightmares with a twisty feeling in my stomach.

Life can feel like that sometimes.

But I like to think back to those encyclopedias when I was a child. I imagine some guy digging around in a jungle in South America. Picking up giant disgusting roaches with his bare hands, a smile of triumph on his face. To that entomologist (my dad was an entomologist), not knowing was the fun and exciting part. They've probably already experienced the Coastline Paradox, struggled through their emotions, and got to the other side. Now they're lovingly putting those disgusting hissing roaches in containers and dreaming of writing research papers about how all the new questions they have about cockaroaches.
But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. - C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Knowledge Isn't Power

Your body is your servant. Your mind is also your servant. Habits are how they serve you. Who're they serving?
I had an unstable childhood. I was moved around a lot, my parents were busy trying to survive in a foreign world, my older brother lost in teenage angst. I didn't know the customs or culture, barely knew the language, so I didn't have any friends till I was older.

One thing that I've heard often back in the early 90's was how "knowledge is power." I believed it, and I wanted power. I wanted to help my parents, to help myself, to create stability and avoid those moments of dread, when you don't know if you'll have a home the next day.

I believed knowledge was power well into adulthood, and I've been gathering as much knowledge as I could since childhood. I gravitated towards the sciences. Or rather, people gravitated me towards it. I was asian, awkward, wore glasses, of course I must be good at math and science. I learned a lot and branched out to things no one else my age was learning. Reading physics books no one ever touched in the school libraries. Learning how to program clocks using Java on an old computer my brother and I stretched the limits of its small CPU and memory.

And now, I'm still learning, branching out ever farther. My friends find me to be a walking rolodex of esoteric information. I'm addicted to documentaries on Netflix. I can't have a conversation without saying "I saw this documentary..." at least once. I still behave as if knowledge is power, but I don't believe it anymore.

I believe that habits are power

Power, which is a quantitive measurement of work, is what is necessary to get things done. When I was a child, I adopted the idea that knowing something will result in getting things done. Life's been one big hard lesson on how un-true that is. None of my vast knowledge has helped me succeed in the things that really matter. And the things I have succeeded in, It wasn't a result of my knowledge in biology or mathematics, but rather a result of my irrational avoidance of getting things wrong, offending anyone, and kowtowing to authority figures.

That's what I mean when I say that habit is power. It's been my habits, the things I've picked up from an unstable childhood that has helped me land and retain jobs long enough to help bring my family away from the edges of poverty.

From the moment we landed on this country, I knew we were struggling with money. I don't recollect how a 6 year old could know that, but it hung in the air constantly. I was very careful to never be of any extra financial burden on my already stressed out parents. Seeing them fight, verbally and physically, over money almost everyday, left me with a deep fear of money troubles. I never wasted a penny as a child. I didn't have toys that didn't bring anything but the maximum amount of enjoyment. So no action figures, baseball cards, pogs, or whatever stupid thing kids were into those days. Video games were alright though, only the ones that you can escape in for hours and hours in between school and sleep.

I didn't know it at the time of course, but I was also creating habits around food that still have power over me to this day. I didn't have friends, so books, tv, and video games were my buddies growing up. As a child, few things enticed me more than reading a book for hours while eating chips. Watching TV while eating dinner. Ice cream, slushies from the gas station my parents worked at, anything sweet or salty was my drug of choice as an adolescent. I was overweight from the age of 8 until now, to this day I still fight it.

At school I didn't know how to use a knife and fork. It seems like a small thing, but to a 6 year old immigrant, something small like lunch time was a maze of cultural mishaps and ridicule. In fact, all of school was an exercise in avoiding being out of place. In my attempts at not being noticed by anyone, I was noticed by everyone as that shy awkward weirdo. I probably smelled like curry all the time too. I created habits to avoid confrontation. I apologized unnecessarily, never spoke up against any injustices or inequities, didn't ask any questions I couldn't figure out later by myself. I tried my best to never give anyone anything to complain about. I wasn't a model A+ student, just the B+/A- necessary to avoid both my parent's and my teacher's attention.

Fiscal fascist-like-conservatism and a fear of offending or disappointing people results in an excellent employee. Silent yet effective, I didn't negotiate my first career wage, didn't ask for any raises or advancements. I took my paycheck and paid off all my loans and helped my family get out of debt, and eventually have economic stability at the home. Kudos to me.

But that's as far as I've been able to accomplish in my life. That's why I don't believe that knowledge is power anymore. I can now see that it has been my habits that have resulted in any success I've had. And everything beyond that has been failures.

I lost all my 401K savings on a juice bar venture inside a fitness gym. I spent the rest of my retirement from my first job, on an attempt at being an independent mobile app business. I'm still 15-30 pounds overweight. I can't talk normally to my parents, from somewhere unknown comes seething anger and frustration. Listening to my mom's loving concerns about my well being instantly annoys the crap out of me. I don't interact with more than one person on a regular day by choice. I don't think I make eye contact much.

The little success I've had in my life deludes me into thinking I know what I'm doing. But all my failures bring me back to reality. I know a lot of things, and most of them don't really matter in the way I want it to matter. Knowledge hasn't been the power which brought results in my life. Habits have both brought me results AND have held me back. 

Everyday now is a struggle against my habits.