A lot has happened in the past year. I have celebrated the anniversary of one entire year with my amazing and beautiful girlfriend, I have recorded, produced and released an acoustic version of my band’s début album on my own, I have watched my best friend in the entire world marry a woman whom he is absolutely crazy about, and I have stuck by my family and loved ones through some treacherously trying times.
This post is about dating, relationships, pickup and seduction. But it is also about life, learning, the birth and death of the American dream, and everything in between.
Death of the American Dream – Ambition and Consequence
Over the course of the past few months I have developed a theory based on observing and reflecting on the communities and characters I have experienced over the course of my life. I believe that we live in a society that represses the notion of accountability and consequence and instead promotes mentalities of entitlement and victimisation, the death of the American dream. We are conditioned to shun consequence, perhaps because we truly feel we have been wrongly assigned our undesirable circumstances, but more likely because admitting that it is ultimately our choices that have led to it is always a sour pill to swallow. Be it a missed opportunity to approach an attractive woman on the street, or a poor result in the business world, rejecting consequence has become part of our DNA, and the subsequent failure it has incited leads to the sense of helplessness that perpetuates this victimisation mentality.
Yet occasionally someone rises above these plights, demonstrating to us that no circumstances are so insurmountable that they cannot be overcome. Anthony Robbins. Neil Strauss. Tim Ferriss. Felix Baumgartner. Maneesh Sethi. All brilliant role models, examples of people who took it upon themselves to create their own fate.
I am not one of these people. Not yet, at least. Yes, at one point in my life I did reach the breaking point, realised that I needed to improve my dating life, and I resolved to get that part of my life sorted. But I also acknowledge up front that I often let the fear of failure or the anxiety of the unknown deter me from setting out to accomplish something big. At the beginning of each year, I sit down and write out a few goals, things I want to achieve. Rarely are they typical and generic resolutions such as “lose weight” or “pray more”. Good goals must be quantitative, measurable and consistent. The difference this year is that I know what I need to counteract the force of resistance.
This is the most necessary part of self-development and, I would argue, life itself. It is the essence of achieving your goals: recognising what you truly want, crafting a plan to make it happen, and pursuing that plan to its fruition.
German and a Lesson In Accountability
And now, a language lesson.
The verb “to try” in German is “versuchen”. It is, as most German verbs tend to be, a compound of a simple verb and a prefix:
1. to seek
2. to search, look for
1. inseparable prefix that denotes a transition of the object into a state, which is indicated by the stem
2. inseparable prefix indicating a negative action of the stem
“Transition of the object into a state” as dictated by the verb “to seek”. This implies a change of state to match the action of the verb. “Versuchen” does not function as to its English counterpart, casting a net or two into the water and hoping one lands a fish. Versuchen means nothing less than pursuing a goal until it becomes an inseparable part of you.
This should be the essence of every goal and every ambition. In his book Awaken the Giant Within, Anthony Robbins criticises the passively hopeful mentality that frequently comes with our aspirations and the so-called decisions we arrive at at the onset of the process. No NFL team goes onto the pitch planning to throw four hail mary passes and hope that they make it into the end zone. They grind through their training, study their playbook, study the opposition, and walk onto the pitch determined to bring home victory by their own hands.
How can you expect to get yourself moving toward achieving your dreams, however lofty and ambitious, if you are not interrupting the pattern of complacency and actively pursuing it, leaving hope to the wind and refusing to give up before you have exhausted all resources? How is your business going to take off if you are holding back? How are you going to meet the girl or guy of your dreams if you do not carpe the fuck out of this diem and go meet people?
Hope is not a force for making progress in your life or in anyone else’s, and until you realise the value of relentlessly pursuing the idea that you have cultivated into a dream, you will be settling for less than what you can achieve.
Your Potential Is Your Power
This notion of merely “trying” to do something is, in my view, one of the reasons why so many people in well-developed countries live in poverty, why so many young businesses fail, and why so many of us dip our feet into the waters of self-development, entrepreneurship and pickup, only to walk away two years later with our head hung and our hopes dashed.
We underestimate ourselves. We undervalue our own potential to exert real and lasting change in our lives. This is the death of the American dream. We choose the leader of one of the most powerful nations in the world on the basis of “change”, but we do not lift a finger to bring change to our own lives, to our own cities, to our own realities.
Change is not something that comes from government, nor is it something that comes from charity or luck. It can be of such magnitude as a rags-to-riches entrepreneurial venture, as simple as moving out of your studio apartment, or as terrifying as going out to approach a hot girl and get her number. Whatever the context, the ability to bring about the change you desire comes from creating a vision, a real and tangible image of what you want your reality to be, creating a plan to bring it about, and then pursuing it until it is not just “your reality” in the abstract neurolinguistic sense, but it is your real life.
Now It’s Your Turn
Many people have an idea, then immediately reassure themselves that “that could never happen”. Perhaps you’re the inner-city kid living off food stamps with abusive parents, as Tyler Perry was. Perhaps you are weighed down by the stresses of your 9-5 job, as Tim Ferriss was. Maybe you are complete rubbish at Spanish, as do many of my language students are before coming to me for help. Or maybe you are just a guy who wants a fun and beautiful girlfriend, as I was when I was younger.
Think about what you would want to have in your life if there were no social limitations or consequential inhibitions. Then think that you can achieve anything within the laws of physics, provided you have the plan, the determination and the desire to make it happen.
This is something valuable to consider as you finish up the first 1/12 of 2013. What is it that you want to make happen in your life?
Think big. Dream impossible. And don’t worry, I’ll be right there with you.