“What do you believe to be true that most people do not?”— Peter Thiel, Zero To One
This question is genius. Why?
Because although we all strive for unconventional levels of financial success, most people think conventionally, leading them nowhere. Thiel’s question forces you to think like a contrarian for a brief powerful moment.
Do you own your own life? I ask, because most of us live like we don’t.
Thiel’s question is brilliant because the way you answer it tells you what path you’re already on. This is where your life and money get interesting. Let’s go.
Type A: “This Question Is Irrelevant.”
Many people believe this.
Many people believe that the purpose of their lives is to tow the line.
Everything they do, from getting a degree, landing a certain kind of job, making a decent amount of money, and even having kids all share an underlying impetus: to do what others have told them will make them happy.
As a result, they submerge their own values below other people’s.
Be honest. Do you do this?
If you said ‘yes’, the problem is that most successful people in the world practice the opposite. They view self-care as one of their highest values. They have a strong sense of boundaries.
They know how impossible it is to make other people genuinely happy if they’re not happy with themselves. Thus, they stay true to their own values, separate from everyone else’s, first.
It’s the equivalent of putting your oxygen mask on before assisting the person next to you. You’re no good to them gasping for air or dead.
Have you ever met a martyr? They always think they’re contributing, but they’re usually just pissing people off.
How do you view Thiel’s question? Do you think it’s essential?
It’ll shed a lot of light on whether you regularly put yourself first or last in your life.
Until you get to the point where you believe that your thoughts are important and should be heard, no matter how different they are from the norm, your life will be progressively average.
Your highest values determine your habits, and if you most value fitting in, your results will fit in too.
Are you happy with how financially successful the average person is these days? Where is the average person headed? This is your current path.
Type B: “I believe stuff that others don’t agree with, but…”
If you answered Thiel’s question like this, you may recognize value in thinking about problems differently, but you have your excuses.
Your list of excuses could include any or all of the following:
I don’t have the time to turn my thoughts into anything that matters.
I don’t have the money to pursue my beliefs.
I have obligations to other people I care about too much.
I’m not qualified.
Your challenge is not a lack of self-awareness. It’s procrastination. You’re stressed that you may not be up to the task before you, so you don’t want to try. Metaphorically, you’re frozen with fear.
Fear can be a life-wrecker in uncontrolled doses.
The problem is, fear never goes away. You decide when it’s best to put it aside.
All of the reasons you tell yourself you can’t work on something you believe in are bunk.
You need to commit. Once you commit, you’ll find ways to go after your unique goals and drop all sorts of unproductive habits.
Otherwise, regardless of your well-meaning thoughts, you walk the path of average.
Type C: “I can answer this question and I can do something about it.”
This is the only answer that can bring you massive success. Ask yourself if you operate like this.
If you know there’s a different way of solving a problem than how everyone else does it, you go build a solution.
If you know that an essential product is being built with inefficient materials, you see a way to to create it with different resources, and you do it.
If you know that a company is being viewed universally as a “winner” but you see a fundamental flaw in its business model, you make a bet the other way.
People who are likely to be very successful turn their unique beliefs into action. They focus their resources on bringing their ideas into real life with as little financial risk as possible.
Contrary to popular opinion, massively successful people do not see risk as a value in and of itself.
They manage financial risk as much as they can while accomplishing their goal.
For you, it could mean keeping a job that pays the bills while you work on your skills. Or not funding your project with personal debt.
But the key is you must move forward with your plans. You must act.
Do you accept yourself for who you are?
This question has nothing to do with your past successes or failures, and everything to do with how well you know your current strengths and weaknesses.
Not every idea will be a hit. You have to be okay with that.
Be savvy with your resources. Practice financial gratitude by being extra generous to people who make your life better, and then be focused with how you use the rest of your money. And stop buying so much crap.
How do people become extraordinarily successful?
They identify a problem they can solve differently. Then they do something about it.
Ask yourself the question today. “What do you believe to be true that other people don’t?”
Write down your answers. Commit to pursue one of them. Then act.
This is the habit of unmistakably successful people.
Originally published on janehwangbo.com.
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Originally published at medium.com