I spend a lot of time thinking about this simple idea: The person who aligns themselves with the general principles of the world goes further and faster than the person who doesn’t.
The way to align yourself with the world is to take simple ideas seriously.
We know that spending less than we make, investing the difference in index funds, and waiting for a long time creates financial independence. Yet how many people follow this principle? Not many. Most of us know what works but fail to align ourselves with it.
Compounding applies to relationships too. Not just with your partner, but with your colleagues, friends, and even your customers. For relationships to compound, they must be win-win. But how many people take a consistent win-win approach? Not many. Again, we know what works, but fail to align ourselves with it.
Outcome over Ego
Here’s the trick to seeing things differently: put your energy into being right, not feeling right. While that sounds simple, it’s far from easy.
If you want to be right, you have to change your mind. When the evidence indicates the approach isn’t working, change the approach. This is easy with something like math, where the answers are black and white, but harder with more subjective things.
Often the hardest things to change our minds about are the things that require us to understand that just because we can’t see the results immediately doesn’t mean they are not moving us closer or further from the outcome we want. For instance, eating a full pizza once won’t make you unhealthy, but repeating that choice daily for years certainly will.
Feeling right, on the other hand, often requires you to believe you are an exception. You know the path to financial independence, but that takes too long. It’s boring. Instead, you’d rather try the latest incarnation of a get-rich-quicker scheme that promises the outcome sooner. When it inevitably fails to produce the desired results, rather than tell yourself you made a mistake you chalk it up to the world not working as it should. It’s as if that little voice in your head says, “You’re not wrong; the world is.”
Most of us would rather bargain with how the world works than accept how it does work, cooperate with it, and move forward. This happens in a lot of areas of life. Consider the general concept of health.
A lot of people think they don’t have to take care of their health. They get too little sleep. They drink too much. They eat incredible amounts of processed food. They get little to no exercise. While they know health is important, at some level they think they are the exception. Acceptance is knowing you must care for your health because it is the foundation for everything else. Without health, everything else multiplies by zero.
We are tempted to believe we’re the exception because it’s the easy path.
Aligning with the world often requires you to pre-pay now for a result later. A little bit of pain today for gain tomorrow. And we don’t like the sounds of that.
However, if you can align yourself with the world despite what those around you do, you’ll quickly discover that it tends to do most of the work for you. It just won’t take the first step for you. You have to take that one for yourself.