These things don’t go together. You must be a unified human being, either good or bad. You must diligently work either on your own reasoning or on other things out of your control – take great care with the inside and not what’s outside, which is to say stand with the philosopher, or else with the mob!
Epictetus, Discourses, 3.15.13
Today’s question was am I standing with the philosopher or the mob?
Before I dive into this question, I am going to talk philosophically for a while.
I have been pretty clear that I am going through a major decision in my life right now, which is:
- Continue to do what I am doing long-term
- Pursue an opportunity that has been presented to me
- Pursue a start-up opportunity with someone I have been building a relationship with the past year and whom I respect
- Continue on either path 1 or path 2 with a goal of pursuing path 3 in two years, or continuing until financial independence at 45, which is 4.5 years away
The last time I was at a major fork in my road, I made a decision to read as I’d read when I was younger and consumed 70+ books that year and started writing a novel. Two major concepts I read, and studied, were Buddhism and Samurai, which helped me form the Universe that my series will take place in. I also enlisted my sister to help me write this. She writes so beautifully, it amazes me.
When we first started writing, the series was my own concepts and ideas and I said we were 75 – 25 partners.
As we started to work together, she demonstrated she had some strengths that I didn’t possess, and I allowed us to move to 65 – 35 partners.
A few weeks later, I had given her an outline of a number of chapters, and she returned me her version of what I’d written and I read it with chills down my spine and goosebumps. It was beautiful. It was hard to recognize it was my story, and we’ve been 50 -50 partners since then.
In December, prior to the most recent cross road, I made a decision to start reading a book per week again [though I have slowed down since starting to read Farnam Street’s Art of Reading course], and I found Stoicism. Interestingly, Stoicism and Buddhism have some consistencies and I’m realizing I had taken concepts from Buddhism and Samurai to form our Universe and much of it aligned with Stoicism. Fate?
Now, as I hit this cross roads, and debate what I should do with the obstacle of losing my desired path, I read this quote by Marcus Aurelius today:
You have to assemble your life yourself – action by action…But there are external obstacles…But if you accept the obstacle and work with what you’re given, an alternative will present itself – another piece of what you’re trying to assemble. Action by action.
I’ve always been a believer that I can forge my own path. That nobody is responsible for my future but me, and that I can continue to grow, evolve and become better, day by day. This quote reminded me of that today.
Something else that jumped out at me today and over the past few days since I started blogging is that every question of the day in my daily stoic journal resonates with me and within the financial independence community.
First, when considering whether I stood with the philosopher [inwardly examining my own mind] or whether I behave like a leader of a mob, becoming whatever the crowd needs at a given time, I read a post by @DocGDiverseFI, of diversefi.com, titled high income, broke anyway, which I recommend people read.
It was the first answer to how I am standing with the philosopher, not with the mob. Take these facts for instance:
- The average american saves less than 5% of his or her disposable income
- 80% of american households between the ages of 35-44 have a net worth below $200,000
- The median value of assets for household, by age, is only $35,000 for households aged 35-44
The good Doctor [had to use it, love the show and it’s filmed here in Vancouver] was actually working with someone who stood with the mob. DocG, and us in the financial independence community, stand with the philosopher. We look inwards. We determine what we really want. We are willing to sacrifice to achieve that goal.
The mob doesn’t look inwards. It looks to its neighbors, to the parents of its children’s friends and it says I want this, I need that.
the philosopher looks to themselves and says, I am happy with what I have. I do not need more than this.
Second, I read a tweet by April, where she said the following:
Having a blog doesn’t mean that every other blogger is your competition. It’s not about who has the nicest photos on IG, who writes the best posts, and who has the prettiest website. There is room for everyone to be here and do what they love.
I wish the average person thought the way April did, but I am reasonably confident only 20% of people at most feel the way she does.
Why would anyone believe that they have to compete with each other? That the world is so small that we all cannot succeed?
My reply to April was that it tends to flow from people who have a scarcity mindset, as opposed to an abundance mindset. Trent Hamm at the Simple Dollar wrote a good article comparing the two mindsets, which also aligns with a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset.
Succinctly, if you have a scarcity mindset, then you believe that the world is a zero sum game and you cannot have but one winner, which is not a positive long-term mindset. As an example, you would prefer to keep all credit to yourself so that others won’t take your success.
If you have an abundance mindset, you believe that someone else’s success has no impact on your success. Indeed, you may even want them to succeed, because you recognize it will positively impact you long-term.
This is also consistent with Stephen Covey’s the window and the mirror, which is a concept I reinforce with anyone that has ever worked for me. In this concept, if something goes well on your team, you treat is as if there is a window and say to your superiors, that went well because of the people on my team – person A, B and C performed admirably. Conversely, when something on your team goes wrong, you treat it as if the window fogs over into a mirror and say to your superiors, I apologize, I made an error, it won’t happen again. Your team must always know that in a win – they receive credit and in a loss – they are insulated by you. That doesn’t mean you don’t talk to your team after the fact and say hey, let’s not f#ck up again, it’s not good.
Another example of the scarcity mindset was highlighted in a conversation I had with my brother last week when I mentioned that in option #2 above one of the things that excites me is there is a young guy on the team I would be taking over that would report to me who is PHENOMENAL. He is likely much smarter than me and more capable than I was at his age and that is the type of person I LOVE to work with.
My brother, speaking from a scarcity mindset, said why would you want someone working for you who could do your job someday? My reply, coming from an abundance mindset was, Why wouldn’t I? Having someone who pushes me, improves me, challenges me every day makes me better and together, we will accomplish so much.
I did not talk about this in my 5 steps to a 1%er’s salary post, but the number one way to move forward in your career is to hire your replacement. Unless you have someone who can take over your job today, how can you do a new job tomorrow? I have been hiring my replacement for the last eight years and because of it, I have gone from a controller to a director, to a vice president and to a chief financial officer in a great time frame. Conversely, I’ve hired great young people who all started as senior accountants and are now controllers and directors. Through their growth, I have grown. If I’d practiced a scarcity mindset, I can almost guarantee that I would not have made it past the controller level, perhaps director at most.
Until next time,