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How to train your mind to think abundantly
And why it's the most important thing you can do for your career
I picked up my phone this morning and was bombarded with bad news.
The S&P is down. There’s another catastrophic weather event happening.
Some guy was wrong on Twitter.
If you want to, you can spend a lifetime thinking about negative things that you don’t control. None of those things matter.
There’s this meme among young people now that everything just sucks - capitalism is broken, the world is going to burn, and we’re all going to live in a childless barren apocalyptic wasteland.
That might happen, but the least we can do is go down swinging.
It’s unpopular to be optimistic. To be excited. To have fun.
To have a mindset of abundance, not scarcity.
It’s harder than ever to cultivate an abundant mindset, but it’s the most important thing you can do to build a meaningful career (and an enjoyable life).
Abundance is experienced, not learned.
I don’t wake up every morning dreaming of a utopian future with a smile on my face.
Most of my success to date has been driven by scarcity - fear of going broke. Fear of working a job I hate. Fear of failure. Fear of losing.
That fear did not serve me. It has made the whole experience a lot more painful than it should have been. But what a journey!
That is a lot of m’s for a kid from the burbs.
I would have never imagined any of this 10 years ago when I was slanging compost in farmers markets.
I owe all of my success to the moments when I ignored that fear long enough to launch something. When I allowed myself to think abundantly.
Launching new things is the only way to get exposure to success.
And the more successful you become, the more it becomes normalized.
Success is a step function.
Once you get to the next level, the possibilities unfold in front of you.
You can’t skip a step. Everyone who has ever been successful has been through the ringer. Launched bad ideas, got shut down 1000s of times, fallen on their face.
You need to train the muscle to improve.
And the only way to start training the muscle is to first believe you can do it.
How to cultivate an abundant mindset
If you’re not naturally born with it, you need to train yourself to think abundantly.
An abundant mindset is not irrational optimism or a falsely positive view of the world.
We all know people like that, and while cute - they are rarely successful.
It doesn’t mean you read “The Secret” and manifest success.
The key to an abundant mindset is to find ways to prove to yourself that the future you want is possible.
Here are a few ways to do that.
1. Be in control of your own experience
Step 1 is taking control of your own life.
Most people float through life —> school, job, mortgage…. without taking a step back to think about what they really want.
Decisions made as 18 year olds dictate the rest of their lives.
Inertia kicks in early. Lifestyle creep, a monthly paycheck, bills.
If you see a linear path in front of you, stop.
Imagine your life 20 years from now.
If it terrifies you, exit now before it’s too late. Recalibrate.
Society and family pressure pulls to the linear path, but you’re the one behind the steering wheel. And most people grip that wheel really tight.
Start proving to yourself that you can do things differently.
Be ok with being slightly weird. Be ok with being broke for a while.
Throw out your expectations for what a normal life might look like, and do things that interrupt the pattern. Some examples:
Move somewhere weird (or ambitious)
Start a business
Join a new community (online or IRL)
Change career paths entirely
Don’t buy a house
Learn a new language
Pick up a strange hobby
Expose yourself to weird and interesting opportunities. But don’t overthink it.
Most of the pressure you’re feeling is self-imposed. You have time to figure it out.
Try a lot of things.
2. Hang out with people who have succeeded
The most successful people I know have the most abundant mindsets.
It doesn’t matter if it’s correlation or causation. It’s both.
Any time you are apart of something that grows exponentially and impacts the world, it’s impossible not to be optimistic.
I had the privilege of interviewing Reid Hoffman last year, and my biggest takeaway was how genuinely optimistic he was about the future.
I’m not buddies with Reid - but have been building startups for more than a decade.
Some of my best friends have raised hundreds of millions of dollars, taken companies public, and made hundreds of millions of revenue.
The numbers are staggering.
The coolest part? We all started in the same dingy coworking space a decade ago.
A few fools with laptops and ambition.
It’s impossible not to believe when you are so close to success.
It’s hard to make friends with really successful people.
The key is to join a community where some of your friends will become successful.
Then just pick the right friends.
3. Work for a company with exponential growth
Exponential growth is something that has to be learned from the inside.
When you’re choosing between a few career options, pick the company that is growing the fastest. It will accelerate your learning 100x faster than the safe job. It also unlocks something in your brain that can only be experienced - how absolutely wild exponential growth is.
Once you see it in real time, the world looks very different. The veil is lifted on the magic that can happen in business if you get it right.
Absorb as much as you can from that experience.
4. Start a business
I personally took home $500 my first full year in business.
$5,000 the next.
3 years later, $500,000.
Owning a business is the only opportunity to experience first-hand exponential leaps in income. Money is no longer something an employer pays you. It’s abstracted.
It’s something you can create.
Instead of waiting for a 5% annual raise, why not raise your prices 40%?
Starting a business also trains you to be able to live through income fluctuations.
Being able to mentally withstand going from a 6 figure salary to zero is a valuable skill. You’ll need it if you are going to accomplish anything interesting.
Taking any business from 0 to 1 will unlock the entrepreneurial muscle.
Over a long enough time frame, you’ll get really good at it.
5. Protect your mind from negativity
The world is full of whiners, complainers, and energy vampires.
Avoid them at all costs.
Don’t associate with people who don’t believe in you.
Don’t self-identify with people that put negativity out into the world.
Don’t follow them. Don’t hire them.
Do not spend time with anyone that drains your energy.
Energy is a finite resource. Protect yours.
This doesn’t mean you surround yourself with happy fools.
You need friends that check your assumptions, that make you think, that push you to go harder - but that underlying core value needs to be there. You’re in this together.
This also applies to the media you consume.
Read books that have an optimistic view of the world. Be grateful for technology, not angry at it. Read real research papers, not the headlines.
Form your own worldview based on fact, not emotion.
Get out into nature and appreciate the world.
Go to a massive city and appreciate the people.
The world is a wonderful, chaotic place. Enjoy it.
Why an abundant mindset matters
We have a chance to use technology to shape a wonderful future.
The pace of innovation is staggering.
Yet too many people are going the opposite direction. Doom and gloom. Giving up.
Spending their days being snarky on the internet. Focusing on stuff that just doesn’t matter. Going from stress to stress.
The world certainly has a lot of problems.
There’s never been a better time to solve them.
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