Life is full of unbelievable opportunities. Today, you can, as James Altucher says, “Choose Yourself.”
You don’t have to get a 4-year degree, followed by a low-paying job with a giant corporation, and then hope and pray things go smoothly for 40 years until you can turn in your security swipe card for a gold watch… and only then start truly living your life.
Today’s world is looking for self-starters who are not looking to take the easy road and have someone hand them the playbook to life. The world wants and needs hard workers who desire to make a real difference.
This should excite you. You are, after all, reading this article, meaning you’re a never-satisfied high-achiever.
It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old. There are fewer roadblocks to success and personal improvement than ever before.
Back in the good old days, high achievers, like you, had to (gasp) go to the library to get how-to books. Yes, you had to sometimes leave the house in order to get an education.
Here’s an extreme example of an extremely successful person who chose themselves long before the idea became a buzzword.
In April 1952, a young Warren Buffett discovered that legendary investor, Benjamin Graham, was on the board of GEICO insurance. One Saturday morning, Buffett took a train from New York City to Washington, D.C., where he knocked on the door of GEICO’s headquarters until a janitor admitted him. Once inside, Buffett spent several hours with the V.P. of the company discussing the insurance business. This relationship has lasted for decades, and has helped make Buffett a very rich man.
But today we can sit at home and watch TED talks, read free how-to-get-rich articles from gurus like Mark Ford, and watch valuable wealth-building webinars from experts like Garrett Gunderson — all without leaving the house, or even putting on pants.
However, studying only gets you so far. Eventually, you must step outside of your comfort zone and take action.
I was reminded of this every summer when I traveled to Trakai, Lithuania, to teach at the BlackSmith Liberty and Entrepreneurship Camp.
The camp was started by my friends Simon Black and Matt Smith to teach ambitious young men and women from all over the world how to find freedom in the world.
(It’s held in Trakai because one of Simon’s Lithuanian friends offered to make the arrangements, and we’ve liked the location enough to stick with it all these years.)
One of my favorite parts of the camp takes place on the first evening. Each attendee stands up and introduces himself or herself to the group. Every year our students get more impressive and accomplished. This year we have tech start-up founders, doctors, artists, and entrepreneurs of all kinds.
I’m continually amazed at how smart the kids are and how far they’ve come to spend four days crammed into crowded cottages in the middle of nowhere Lithuania to learn, connect, grow, and get better.
I would never have had the courage to do that at their age. They’ve all taken a giant leap outside of their comfort zone, and it’ll pay off — not only for their financial future — but also through the lifelong friendships created at the social events each night.
I have a simple analogy for the way these young folks are living. It’s called The Chipotle Approach to Life.
Today’s world is full of more opportunities to choose your own adventure than ever before. But this luxury of choice is not without risk.
If you’ve ever been to the Mexican fast-casual restaurant chain Chipotle, you know you can customize your meal.
You could, for example, build a 3,000-calorie meal of a giant burrito packed with sour cream and cheese, a bag of salty chips, a side order of delicious guacamole, and a large soda.
This order would give you short-term pleasure, but if you make that choice every day, you’ll eventually find yourself in long-term pain.
On the other hand, you can choose to fuel your body and mind with the essentials for well under 600 calories, making an incredible burrito bowl meal of vegetables and protein, along with a bottle of water. This meal fuels you for success rather than making you sleepy and lethargic like the burrito-and-soda meal.
We all have similar choices to make in today’s world regarding our career path, how we use our personal time, and the quality of our relationships.
Some people take the easy way out, seeking nothing but pleasure and avoiding any short-term pain of sacrificing for the future. These people live a reactive life, never planning ahead for success, and they seek to maximize immediate gratification through entertainment and overeating.
Others try to skimp by and waste the energy of the best years of their lives in pursuit of a literal 4-Hour Work Week existence where they shun responsibility and only care about themselves. Again, those people get their short-term hit of pleasure but end up with emptiness and frustration in the long run.
The better choice is to step up and do the work, to pick the path that is paved with sacrifices but that ultimately leads to a life of legacy and fulfillment. My former business partner Matt Smith, is a great example of this.
He dropped out of college and traveled the world (to exotic locals like Buffalo — in the wintertime) with one purpose:
To learn from mentors that would teach him the valuable skills he would need to succeed in business. He put the time and energy of his youth into setting himself up for freedom and great financial reward. As a result of his sacrifice, Matt built critical thinking and leadership skills that fewer than 1 in 100,000 people of our age group can match.
Back to our students at the camp.
Not only had they earned the opportunity to learn from Matt and Simon, both remarkable businessmen in their own right, but they also have the chance to tap into a network of over 250 past attendees — many of whom have gone on from the camp to build successful businesses and careers in many fields.
Combined, the skills and network offer a source of jet fuel for their future. I have no doubt the majority of our students will go on to accomplish even greater things than their teachers.
Adding skills and people to your life could be just what you need, too. I often use the analogy that delivering the right guidance to someone is akin to taking a racecar that is spinning its wheels in the mud on the side of the track and just lifting it to put the wheels back on the pavement. And when you do that and give someone a gentle nudge in the right direction, they’re soon going 160 miles an hour down the road to success.
But it all starts with making the right choices, right now, for your right life.
Don’t give in to every easy option that comes your way. Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone, make sacrifices, and put the right fuel in your racecar so that you can win the race in life.