18 Lessons From 500 Episodes – Sam Harris, Jocko Willink & Alex Hormozi | Modern Wisdom Podcast 500 with Chris Williamson

Key Takeaways

  • Motivation is fleeting, discipline is always
    • “Just do it” – shortcut the need for motivation entirely
  • Absurd ideological beliefs are actually a form of tribal signaling 
    • A lot of the time people aren’t saying a thing because they believe it; they say it because it identifies them within a particular group
  • The difficulty is going to come, no matter what. You might as well be prepared and invite it, lean into it
  • External accolades do matter, they make us feel validated and respected, but they are only part of the solution (if there is one)
    • “If I was to place a bet I think that the majority of high performers are driven by fears of insufficiency rather than a holistic desire to be better.”Chris Williamson
  • Productivity dysmorphia – when we can’t see the fruits of our labor daily so we spend all day working for a chance to feel productive
    • The solution is to set a goal of what would a productivity endpoint look like
  • Rather than thinking your way out of the problem (e.g. racing thoughts, bad sleeping, mood swings), focus on what you are eating, getting enough water, sunlight exposure, spending time with friends, etc.
  • How to know if what you are doing is internally generated?
    • Would you be happy doing what you do if you got no game at all?
  • Our internal response to a lot of the things that we deal with is completely disproportionate to the impact of the thing that we’re concerned about
  • When it comes to things that aren’t existentially important (e.g. decision of the way that you present at work) it’s smarter to act following the way that the world is (instead of how you think it should be)
  • A lot of success in life can be achieved by avoiding stupidity rather than trying to be smart
  • There is no one else that has your collection of life experiences and upbringing and genes; fully inhabit all of the things that you’ve got (your weirdness)
    • “The best way to be competitive is to try and funnel everything that you are in as much of an unencumbered way as frictionlessly as possible.”Chris Williamson
  • Your heroes are not gods. They’re just regular people who probably got good at one thing by neglecting, sacrificing literally everything else

Intro

  • After 500 episodes featuring some of the most insightful people on the planet, Chris Williamson of Modern Wisdom podcast breaks down some of his favorite lessons 
    • Expect to learn how discipline eats motivation for breakfast, why Andrew Huberman doesn’t show his tattoos, why you should be training for the difficult, why fame makes you weak, and much more…
  • Host: Chris Williamson (@ChrisWillx)

Discipline Eats Motivation for Breakfast (Jocko Willink)

  • This is an exclusive lesson from Jocko Willink that isn’t even out yet
    • You can’t fake bravery as an emotion
    • Faking bravery when you are terrified is the definition of bravery
    • Bravery is doing the thing despite fear
  • The same goes for motivation, you can’t fake it no matter how motivated you feel; if you don’t go and do whatever it is that you need to do, that wasn’t motivation
    • And if you don’t feel motivated at all and do it, that is also motivation (that’s why Jocko values discipline over motivation)
  • Motivation is fleeting, discipline is always
    • By doing something in a straightforward manner (“just do it”, we can shortcut the need for motivation entirely

Absurd Ideological Beliefs are Shows of Fealty (Gurwinder Bhogal)

  • Why do people hold such ridiculous ideological beliefs?
    • Why is their ideology more important to them than reason, truth, or sanity?
    • A lot of the time people aren’t saying a thing because they believe it; they say it because it identifies them within a particular group
  • Absurd ideological beliefs are actually a form of tribal signaling 

You Are Training for the Difficult (Zack Telander)

  • Creativity stems from the difficult
    • The difficulty is going to come, no matter what. You might as well be prepared and invite it, lean into it
    • The same goes for discipline vs motivation; you want to have something you can rely on (discipline)
  • Jack White (the White Stripes) makes his sets more difficult on purpose (doesn’t have extra guitar picks or instruments nearby)
    • The increase in difficulty forces him to have an extra degree of creativity and see things other people don’t
  • Restrict the degree of freedom when you are creating, and it will help you focus on the things that matter

Achieving Happiness Through Success is Self-Defeating (Alex Hormozi)

  • Check out Alex’s IG, he’s a super smart and insightful guy
  • The desire for success vs the desire to feel like you are enough
    • We want success because we think a successful life will bring more happiness and meaning
    • The problem is that we sacrifice the thing that we want (happiness) for the thing which is supposed to get it (success)
  • People outwork because they believe they are only worthy of love and acceptance if they succeed
    • They are driven towards a life that they want, but they are also running away from a life they fear
    • “If I was to place a bet I think that the majority of high performers are driven by fears of insufficiency rather than a holistic desire to be better.”Chris Williamson
  • Are high achievers on average more miserable that the average person?
    • Could it be that the people we most admire are the ones with the least desirable internal states?
  • External accolades do matter, they make us feel validated and respected, but they are only part of the solution (if there is one)
    • Think about a shorter route (a smarter route) to the life that you want rather than just working harder
  • There is no clear answer here, the world is a mess and humans are irrational

Productivity Obsession is Immortality by a Different Name (Oliver Burkeman)

  • One option is to live forever and another option is to do an unlimited amount in the time you’ve got
  • A lot of people who get seduced by the idea of productivity are doing it because they feel like getting more done in less time is giving them a greater sense of satisfaction
    • There is no definition of enough, no endpoint. It is a never-ending cycle that you can do until you are dead
  • Productivity dysmorphia – when we can’t see the fruits of our labor daily so we spend all day working for a chance to feel productive
    • The solution is to set a goal of what would a productivity endpoint look like
    • The same goes for money and financial targets
  • “The number one advantage that you have with productivity when you combine that with financial freedom is that you can wake up on a morning and say I can do whatever I want to do today.” Chris Williamson

You Can’t Control the Mind with the Mind (Andrew Huberman)

  • The vast majority of the reasons that our minds are acting the way they are is because of external stimuli (or something we have done in the body)
    • Rather than thinking your way out of the problem (e.g. racing thoughts, bad sleeping, mood swings), focus on what you are eating, getting enough water, sunlight exposure, spending time with friends, etc.
    • Control your mind by controlling what you do to your body
    • “All of our internal processes are pretty opaque to us. Even the best meditators in the world can’t see their own minds.”Chris Williamson

Fame Ain’t What it Used to Be (Kyle Eschenroeder)

  • Do you want to be someone or do something?
    • The two are not mutually exclusive but they are a lot less attached than we think
  • Traditionally people became famous because they achieved something great; the downfall of fame happened when people started wanting to be famous without honor, courage, creativity, hard work, or anything else
    • Today, fame is only granted to those who seek it
  • Why do we chase it so much?
    • Modern fame is the promise of obligation-free status, you get all the advantages without any of the hard bits
    • It’s a risky position to be in because your sense of self-worth is abstracted into other people’s heads
    • Then we measure our sense of self-worth by checking their reaction (not by our actions)
  • Fame can make you happy, if what brought you fame also brings happiness
    • However, sometimes people are happy doing things only because they receive fame for it
  • How to know if what you are doing is internally generated?
    • Would you be happy doing what you do if you got no game at all?

The Negative Bias is No Longer Serving Us (Roy Baumeister)

  • The negativity bias – bad things seem to affect us more than good things
    • When emotions of equal intensity occur things of a more negative nature have a greater effect on our psychological state than neutral or positive things
  • Brighton hotel bombing that Margaret Tatcher survived
    • Terrorists only have to be lucky once; targets have to be lucky every time
    • The reason we fear change (despite the new thing that might make our life better) is because it might make us a lot more dead
  • “Given the fact that we’re finite creatures surrounded by infinite complexity the fears and worries and concerns that we have while painful and completely illogical are there for a reason.”Chris Williamson
    • But the interesting part is that human existence has never been as safe as it is now
    • Our internal response to a lot of the things that we deal with is completely disproportionate to the impact of the thing that we’re concerned about
  • “The entire world is created in a desperate attempt for death to be as far away from us as possible and yet we respond to stressful situations with that mortal fear.”Chris Williamson

Romantic Desirability Has Almost No Predictive Power for Long-Term Relationship Happiness (Seth Stephens-Davidowitz)

  • Height, income, conventional attractiveness, etc., have a very low correlation for predicting long-term relationship happiness
  • Qualities that do have the most predictive power are psychological stability, growth mindset, satisfaction with life, conscientiousness, and a secure attachment style
  • The main takeaway here is that there’s potentially a completely untapped market of partners that are not at first obvious as someone that you might go out with (different racial groups, unconventional jobs, people with various degrees of income, etc.)
  • Having a type (narrow band of physical characteristics) is pointless unless you’re talking about something like attachment styles, mindset, or psychological stability

Be Careful, You Can’t Control the Perceptions of Other People (Andrew Huberman)

  • Huberman has tattoos but doesn’t show them. One of the reasons is that we can’t control the perceptions of other people
  • The following insight actually comes from one of the members of the Modern Wisdom podcast audience
    • Sometimes, it’s in our own best interests to act following how the world is rather than how we wish the world was
    • “The world is going to be able to stay ignorant or stupid a lot longer than you can stay resilient.”Chris Williamson
    • When it comes to things that aren’t existentially important (e.g. decision of the way that you present at work) it’s smarter to act following the way that the world is 

When You Get Bored with the Process, You Negatively Change the Trajectory (Shane Parish)

  • Be careful about monetizing your passion; a lot of the time you can turn that love into labor
    • The most important thing is that you love what you do, and protect that love at all costs
    • Protect the process and the way that you show up to do the things that you love
    • Turning the thing that you love into a commercial opportunity is inevitably going to change the nature of your relationship with it

The Reverse Role-Model

  • It is more important to avoid destruction than it is to chase success
  • Growing up, Chris did not have a lot of people that shared his mindset
    • He didn’t have admirable inspirational figures, more like people that were the person that he didn’t want to be
  • A lot of success in life can be achieved by avoiding stupidity rather than trying to be smart
    • You can get a huge way through existence simply by avoiding ruin
    • “Use the people that you don’t look up to as warning flags in the ground to direct you away from areas that you don’t want to be.”Chris Williamson

Your Weirdness is your Competitive Advantage (James Altucher)

  • No one can beat you at being you (also the title of Altucher’s novel)
    • “If you have a unique collection of idiosyncrasies and background and the way that you talk and your past traumas and your life experiences and all of that stuff that’s what sets you apart.”Chris Williamson
  • The weirder you are the more unique you are 
    • The more unique you are the more competitive and interesting you are
    • There is no one else that has your collection of life experiences and upbringing and genes; fully inhabit all of the things that you’ve got
  • “The best way to be competitive is to try and funnel everything that you are in as much of an unencumbered way as frictionlessly as possible.”Chris Williamson

The Moment-to-Moment of Almost Anything is a Grind (Brian Greene)

  • Life is not a movie; no montage is going to get your work done in 20 minutes
    • It’s going to take a long and consistent journey for you to get from where you are to where you want to be
    • It is only upon completion in reflection that you can see the glory

Accept that All Your Heroes are Full of Shit (Jason Parkin)

  • Your heroes are not gods. They’re just regular people who probably got good at one thing by neglecting, sacrificing literally everything else
    • As you start to ascend toward the real top of anything (the place of heroes), you’re going to be outcompeted by people that decide to focus on just that one thing
    • When you try to start combining other stuff you realize that it is more likely a disadvantage (unless it is synergistic)

The Expectation Effect (David Robson)

  • The actions that we have impacted our daily existence way more than we think
    • Our thoughts can impact the way that our bodies operate
    • Do not underestimate the power of your expectations
  • Why do optimists live longer? They see themselves as more capable of getting over stuff
    • “All of the issues and the difficulties that you’ve had you’ve managed to get past so why not expect that you’re going to be able to get past this thing again.”Chris Williamson
    • You have control over the things that you don’t even think that you have control over (e.g. health outcomes when being diagnosed with something, the ability to change how efficient you are at blowing off Co2)
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