What you really want to do is never make any big mistakes.
Little experimental tests that fail? Yes, those can actually be helpful.
But avoid catastrophic mistakes...
Like the billionaire Warren Buffett says, "An investor needs to do very few things right as long as he or she avoids big mistakes."
That is true about all areas of the good life: health, wealth, love, and happiness.
Getting The Lost Years Back
Imagine if you could have back the years you wasted on a bad marriage or dating the wrong person. Or recover the years of your life you lost to being overweight and unhealthy.
Or get back the money you lost on bad investments or the pursuit of the wrong career.
Or the happiness lost spending time around people who ended up betraying you in the end.
The greatest wish of every human is to be able to have their wasted years back.
But time moves forward.
I just finished "Theory of Everything" by the great Stephen Hawking.
He says he was wrong.
He used to think that at the end of the universe, about ten thousand million years from now, time would reverse, the universe would contract and Benjamin Button would come true.
You would be old before you were young. You would age in reverse.
But he says he was wrong. Hawking says there are three forms of time: thermodynamic, cosmological, and psychological.
And he says unfortunately for us, all three are moving forward, never backwards.
On Essay Chapter 6, he states, "Disorder increases with time because we measure time in the direction in which disorder increases. You can't have a safer bet than that."
Haha, that is a physicists attempt at humor.
So you and I are left with no way to undo or redo our mistakes.
So cut your big mistakes to the absolute minimum because mistakes bring regret.
And your happiness is lost from too much regret.
Some people try to avoid the pain of regret by becoming delusional and saying, "I don't regret anything."
Well the person with no regrets is a moron.
Regrets are tools of your brain and Mother Nature to keep you from putting your hand back on the stove and getting burned again.
Regret is like a nerve in your brain.
When I was 6 years old I bumped my leg on a chair. I asked my scientist grandfather, "Why did that hurt."
He said because of nerves.
I said why don't we invent a way to turn off our nerves so we won't have to feel pain anymore.
He said, "No Tai, that's what happens with leprosy. When you lose your nerves you will eventually lose your life because you will keep bumping into things and getting infections."
Same with the "regret" nerve of the brain.
My friend Dr. David Buss, the famous evolutionary psychologist, did fascinating research on regret and his team concluded, "Regret serves as motivation to achieve better outcomes going forward. Emotions in general have a purpose — if you have... regret, that’s going to change future behavior.”
So the question is, "If we can't avoid regret, and too much regret destroys happiness, then what are we supposed to do?"
The answer is simple.
Eliminate the behavior that causes the regret.
Nip it in the bud.
Stop making big mistakes.
Joel Salatin Lessons
When I was 19 years old and just graduated from high school, I went to do an apprenticeship program on Joel Salatin's famous Polyface Farm.
During the first week, I was down eating with the family and Joel looked at me and said, "Tai, I only have one rule. You are not allowed to make any mistakes."
I remember thinking that was the craziest thing I had ever heard.
I only realized years later that he was setting a new bar for my life.
We live up to what we expect of ourselves.
The first week I went with Joel to move the cows from one pasture to another. He had asked me to bring some electric fence equipment with me.
We walked one mile to the back field where the cows were.
He then asked, "Tai where is the electric fence insulator."
I said, "Oops I forgot it."
He said, "Tai I told you that you are not allowed to make mistakes. If you don't have it in your head you have to have it in your heel."
And he made me walk back to the barn and get it and back. Two extra miles.
I got his point.
The next day I got in my old blue Pontiac Grand Am and drove to a store in the little town of Staunton, Virginia and bought a whole bunch of notepads and always kept one in my back pocket.
Then whenever Joel told me what to do I wrote it down.
My mistake rate dropped by 90% just from the no mistakes mindset Joel instilled.
[Here is a pic of me and Joel grabbing dinner on his most recent
trip to Hollywood...]
Joel was right.
That was the beginning of my life long interest in learning how to avoid mistakes.
Over the years I began to travel the world trying to accumulate more ways I could avoid mistakes.
Many wise mentors passed on their tips.
Unfortunately I have not always put into practice what I learned and have made plenty of mistakes.
Too many for sure.
Looking back I wonder why no one told me about this mistake avoidance mentality until Joel did after high school.
Surely this is something that should be taught every year in school?
I realize it's because society has been lying to us by saying, "You only learn through mistakes."
That's a half-truth.
In the powerful book, "A Few Lessons For Investors and Managers"Peter Bevelin quotes Warren Buffett: "We only learn through mistakes but it's a hell of a lot easier to learn through OTHER peoples mistakes."
The Jigsaw Puzzle
Stephen Hawking agrees.
Hawking says according to his research, disorder is almost infinite and explains, "Suppose the pieces of the jigsaw start off in the ordered arrangement in which they form a picture. If you shake the box, the pieces will take up another arrangement. This will probably be a disordered arrangement in which the pieces don’t form a proper picture, simply because there are so many more disordered arrangements.”
There are basically a billion, trillion ways to do things
wrong and only a few ways to do them correctly.
That's the scary part about life.
That's why the Dutch say, "Too soon old, too late smart."
If you are not careful the forces of aging, time, and other humans competing against you will shake up the 'jigsaw' pieces of your life and leave things all disordered.
Look around you. That's the life of most people. Full of failure,
regret, and unhappiness.
You don't want to be 'most' people. You want to rise above the average, mundane existence.
So remember, if you are not careful, you will run out of years of your life trying to run through all the possible combinations of ways you could mess up your life before you get to the right way.
You want to learn by some trial and error. But mostly by the trial and
errors of others who have gone before you and done all the hard work.
The Three Tools
So let me share 3 things I think will keep you from losing months, years, even decades of your life to mistakes and regret:
1. When It Comes To Big Decisions, Assemble Your Cabinet.
The wise proverb thousands of years ago said, "Make war with a multitude of counselors."
The President of the United States doesn't make major decisions without consulting his cabinet. The Secretary of State, Defense, Transportation, Labor, Energy, etc.
And remember these are not some random people off the street. These are the smartest, most experienced people in their field.
You must do the same.
Don't just ask your friends.
So the next time you have to make a big decision on how to lose weight, or make more money, or who to date, or how to find
happiness, stop for a second.
Go into a dark room.
Imagine the 10 smartest people in history, both living and dead, are sitting around you and you are asking their opinion.
What would they say?
You should be hearing the "whispers of the wisest" in your ears.
For me it's usually a bunch of quotes that I have read or memorized in the past.
Maybe a poem.
Or a page of a book I recall.
Or a memory of being in person with someone smart.
Or a speech at a conference.
Or reviewing the notes from a phone call or an interview I did.
If you practice this mental exercise long enough it will become second nature.
I was reading "Beyond Religion" by the Dalai Lama.
In the last chapter he talked about learning how to focus your mind.
He says there are three levels of focus and understanding.
He says when people learn they, “...first learn about it by listening to someone talk about this issue or by reading about it. But unless they deeply reflect upon what they hear or read, their understanding remains superficial...
However, as they then reflect more deeply upon its meaning, applying analysis as well as dwelling mindfully upon the conclusion they reach, a deep sense of conviction arises of the truth of the fact. This is thesecond level in the process of understanding.
Finally, as they continue to cultivate deep familiarity with the fact, their insight into it becomes internalized, making it almost part of their own nature. They have then reached the third level of understanding, which is characterized in the classical texts as experiential, spontaneous, and effortless.”
You will need to practice this mental tool to get to level three, effortless understanding.
So imagine you are focused and listening to the voices of a broad
array of ten of the greatest people in your mental advice 'cabinet':
Mother Theresa, Bill Gates, Conrad Hilton, Sam Walton, Martin Luther King Jr., Einstein, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Descartes, and Bach.
What would be their advice for your life?
If you can hear the answers in your head and have the discipline to follow them, the mistakes you make will drop massively.
And whatever you do, do NOT ignore their voices in your head.
The absolute worst mistakes of my life were when I knew what smart
people would advise me and I blatantly ignored them.
That's just screaming for Mother Nature to teach you a lesson.
And she is a cruel teacher. Ask the Neanderthals and the dinosaurs she made extinct.
Now listening presupposes that you know what these great people believed about life.
Which brings me to why I read so much.
Since many of these people are dead, the only way you will get their answers in your head is to read about their words in books.
This lines up with what Charlie Munger says, "I believe in the discipline of mastering the best that other people have ever figured out. I don't believe in just sitting down and trying to dream it all up yourself.
Nobody's that smart."
Be humble enough to realize that nobody is smart enough to continually make good decisions without the input of the world's greatest minds.
Find in-person mentors and read a book at least every 3 days. Then build to one book a day.
You might think that sounds hard. It's not really.
I have a hand selected group of people I am mentoring in my "Inner Circle" 18 month program who are already mastering this.
The "Inner Circle" Program
By the way, if you are interested in being in my private inner circle program, I am opening up a few spots as some people are graduating.
If you want to find the good life and take your financial life from scarcity to financial independence, prosperity, and wealth, reply to this email and I will send you over some details.
One of the people in the program, James, is now reading a book every day.
I asked him if it accelerating his knowledge of business and making money was hard.
He was like, "No, and I have no idea why it took me so long."
Peter Drucker in "Managing Oneself" say's most of us say we can't do something because of "disabling ignorance" of how easy it would actually be to do it.
[Here I am reading Drucker by my pool with some beet juice, yuck Haha]
I am running out of time now so the other 2 tips will be continuedtomorrow... Stay tuned!
Also, I just recorded a new show that deals with all the in-depth aspects of how to make war with a multitude of counselors and stop
making painful mistakes.
Find more advanced lessons like this in my millionaire mentor academy