You’re dropped into the middle of a jungle. No contacts. No resources. The immediate reaction is to find a source of water to survive. You quickly take to a perch near a river and realize you need food as well. You observe the wild life taking notes and quickly devour anything edible in sight based on your observations. You may live another day.
A few days pass and you catch wind of edible fish in the river. You don’t know how to fish. You create a slew of fishing mechanisms, a sharp stick and a woven net seem the most promising. While you didn’t catch anything with your last twenty concoctions, you pay it no mind. You haven’t failed yet, you only found twenty ways to do it incorrectly. You’ll find a way since there is no other option.
A week passes by and you wake up early one morning to see a fish consuming a worm. It clicks. You re-wrap your net to accommodate a few worms. You chug several extra cups of water before you go to sleep for the night. This causes you to wake up just before sunrise and wait with your worm laced trap.
You fail thirty times in a row, you fail more times than you have fishing gear but the thirty first one gets caught in your trap. The fish tastes significantly better than all of the food you consumed previously. Maybe it is because you prefer fish, or maybe it is because it took you several days of effort to obtain the fish. A wise man will bet on the latter.
You establish a solid routine of fishing, building out your home by the river and venturing further downstream searching for human life. One day you stumble upon a tribe of men. You startle them. With minimal viable ways to communicate you quickly offer up some freshly caught fish to the group. You leave your home upstream. You pick up the language. You adjust.
With a significant amount of trust established from your simple skills in catching fish the head of the tribe asks you to take over more roles within the group. You immediately accept. You are given the task of building a castle.
Five months pass and you have personally built the foundation for the castle. The tribe leader is quite happy but believes more can be done. Instead of asking for resources you turn back to the basics from your initial inauguration. You seek out to make friends. Recruiting several members to contribute a few hours of work per day. In just a few short months you have a four bedrooms of the castle completed. The tribe leader returns from a long excursion and is shocked at the change and work that has been done. You are given a team to manage for the completion of the project.
Ten years pass by.
You are now one of four men who live next to the king of the castle. You are no longer tasked with physical work, the tribe has many young eager and strong men to complete such requests. A change has occurred. You are now taking questions and are fed, clothed and sheltered due to your opinions. After all, anyone who can move from a river bank to the kings quarters should have valuable suggestions. You work long hours answering questions ranging from catching fish to building a team and establishing relationships across various sub groups within the growing tribe. You speak to every member of the tribe on an annual basis.
Another five years pass and the king has fallen ill. The king will now choose one of four men to be his successor… each of whom has a comparable skill set. After a long rest the king steps out to make his decision. The decision was certainly made long before this night. As each candidate is praised for his efforts the crowd is anxiously waiting the decision. A twinge of fear spreads over the crowd when the other candidates are mentioned. You are asked to be the successor. The crowd erupts.
In your own head you don’t register the praise but instead are reminded of the first fish you caught on the river bank.
What is the point of this story?
It is how you should approach life:
1) When you are young, you are trying and failing over and over again searching for a solution. You put in the work, you are inefficient at first due to minimal guidance and inexperience. The only way to gain experience is through effort.
2) You copy success around you, even if you are surrounded by animals with no human contact they are a source of information. Everyone you meet will be a source of at least one piece of useful information
3) You adjust to achieve results, it is not pleasant to wake up before dawn to catch a fish but it does not matter if it is pleasant or not, what matters is if you wish to capture a fish.
4) By the time you are independent and standing on your own feet, you should expand your network, if this means swimming downstream, so be it. A man with just three real friends is a man of great value. A man with hundreds is wealthy.
5) When you meet a new group of superior men the last thing on your mind should be competition. Contribute what you can to be near superior men. Even if you could burn down the entire tribe, you would be left with ash.
6) When offered new responsibility you jump at the chance. No one grows by staying in the same position. You deliver results on an individual basis making it much easier for you to create a team in the future.
7) As your tasks continue to grow, you make many friends. What makes a castle strong is not the walls but the relationships within the community. Without their trust they will not work for you.
8) As you age your physical skillet declines, however the skills you developed when young and energetic should make your thoughts more valuable than your muscles. You are not financially independent until people will pay a handsome sum for your opinion, now you are a walking business.
9) At the top of the food chain, leadership qualities begin to trump experience. Anyone who can make it near the top of the food chain will have a plethora of life experience, but only a small percentage of those men can develop healthy relationships as well.
10) Throughout your life, the greatest amount of happiness you feel will directly relate to the hours you put in to achieve your goals. If you have a life theme of improvement, your happiness can increase each and every year. This is why you should catch your first fish early in life, train your brain into the mindset it needs to succeed forever.
Lets assume you’ve transgressed a few laws within this story. Maybe you don’t see the connection between work and happiness, maybe you’re spending your time trying to take down a castle someone has built in stead of building your own and maybe you are not infiltrating the right tribes at this time. No matter. Instead we will leave you with the following Chinese Proverb.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”