If there is one consistency in life
which applies to us all, it's not getting what we want when
we want it. A
lot of us probably think this "rule" doesn't apply to the
rich, famous, or well connected who seem to have it all. Yet if you were to poll even this privileged
minority, you would see that not even they get whatever they
want whenever they want it.
Because not everything, despite what
disillusioned skeptics say, can be assigned a dollar value.
Some things cannot be
Rupert Murdoch, current net worth $12.5bn, is in the
process of getting his third divorce. While his multibillion dollar fortune can certainly
buy him an inexhaustible supply of women willing to marry
him, harems, and S & M orgies, it cannot buy him a stable
partner he's happy with - if he even values that. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, was the richest man
in the United States when he died of blood cancer at age 74. His vast
mother lode couldn't buy him more time. Ross Perot was worth over $3bn when he ran in the
presidential election of 1992 as an independent.
elections are bought and sold, and huge sums are always
involved, but the winner isn't necessarily the guy with the
How likeable you appear to be plays a huge role. Those in the political arena call this the "beer
test" - who would a typical voter prefer to have a beer
It is said that money just makes you
more of what you already are. If you're an egomaniac with a net worth of $5m,
you'll be an even bigger a-hole when your net worth is $50m. If you're generous with $1m, you'll be that much more
so with $100m.
Money can't make you what you're not or buy you what can't
So I don't consider it a radical
statement to state, as truth, that none of us
get what we want when we want it all the time. And, in fact, we're better off that we don't. Most of us value something by how hard we have to
work for it or how
much we have to sacrifice to attain it. Who isn't familiar with the spoiled rich kid who,
gifted whatever he pleases, treats luxuries as playthings?
He'll crash his
Ferrari on Friday and show up with the Lamborghini on
it's handed to us like a coin we pick up off the street, we
can toss it away as easily as we found it.
A good share of the time, we don't
really want to get whatever we want whenever we want it. Good leaders have teams of subordinates aid them in
their delegation of power. Is it in the leader's best interest to always have
his subordinates agree with him? This does happen
in Mafioso type situations, where the leader uses
intimidation and peer pressure to sway naysayers from doing
anything but tow the party line. But in the corporate
world, the better leaders value opposing opinions as long as
they can be backed up. The leader may ultimately discard
these differing opinions, but his final decision could still be shaped or
altered by the different opinions he was willing to listen
My wife and I don't always agree on
Where to go for dinner tonight? She'll want Korean, I'll want Indian. Usually, I'll defer to her. Would I be happier if she always decided whatever I
wanted whenever I wanted? I've been with women like that before. There's an old saying that if two bosses in a company
always agree, you've got one boss too many. You don't want everyone to agree with you all of the
time or even most of the time.
Sound crazy? Well, how does it feel to engage in a hopefully
constructive discussion with someone and just have him or her agree with you after
you've advanced but a minute of your first argument? I've been there, and it's not very fulfilling to gain
another's agreement because s/he wants to get you to shut
up or because his or her mind can't be troubled to think
about a topic long enough to see that the points you're
advancing have some validity. What you really want is to convince the other
person of your viewpoint, through elicited Q & A, not get
them to adopt it wholesale because you said so. Getting agreement handed to us on a platter isn't
what most of us are looking for.
We think we want it whenever we want it, but life
would lose its flare if everyone always fell into line after
a minute or two of conversation. Few people are that convincing.
What would actually please us is to get
a good share of the things we want within a reasonable
amount of time of expressing the desire. Reasonable, of course, varies by the thing desired
and how patient a disposition we have.
This involves a tremendous balancing
act. If the
'reasonable' amount of time is too short and the desired
thing winds up in our lap almost with no effort or struggle,
we devalue it.
But if it never appears to get any closer, we get
discouraged and depressed and possibly give up, which
doesn't make us feel any better.
Indeed, it's a hard one to call, and if
you go on the internet looking for advice on how to achieve
your desires, you'll receive what look like conflicting
"Be focused on what you want. Think about it all the time. Always be closing in on the distance between you and
what you want."
And on the other side: "Don't obsess over the thing desired. Be infinitely patient. Know it's coming, but be detached from the outcome." The two seemingly contradictory pieces of advice can
be reconciled if you can manage to master the fine art of
not giving a shit.
I'm not going to recite to you a long
list of new age aphorisms I've borrowed from other authors
or self proclaimed internet sages. I'd feel like a hypocrite doing that. I haven't obtained most of the items on my own list. So by what authority do I have to advise you on how
to obtain for yourself the items on yours?
This isn't to say that I've
achieved nothing and gone absolutely nowhere. Some things in my life have worked, and they
only worked out because I didn't give a shit.
Now, not giving a shit doesn't mean not
caring. It means
not obsessing over an outcome when there's nothing more in
your power you can do to favorably alter it. If you buy a lottery ticket for a drawing next week,
how do you make yourself better off by worrying whether you
really picked the right numbers in all the days leading up
to the big event?
The lottery is an extreme example. A lottery outcome remains completely outside one's
real life examples would be ones in which your actions can
impact the final result -- like the search for a significant
I use the significant other example because it appears
on the top of everyone's wish lists again and again. Few of us dream of ending up alone, so much so that
we're willing to settle for something less than our ideal in
order to lock somebody in.
Obtaining a partner isn't all that
hard, and if you're wealthy, you can pay agencies hefty fees
to find a match for you. A partner can be bought … literally. But what about finding someone truly compatible, who
loves you for who you are, who makes you a better person,
who agrees with you just enough times to not be a hassle but
disagrees just enough to challenge you and expose you to
other influences? Billions of dollars are not the most fruitful for
making this happen and may make the task harder.
Nothing brings out gold diggers quicker than glistening
piles of money.
You have to care enough about
influencing the outcome to emerge from your homestead and
interact with people. Locking yourself in your study and cutting yourself
off from all humanity doesn't even place you on the playing
once you start doing the interacting, it's very important to
start not to give a $)@*@$(.
You care enough to show up and put your best foot
forward. Period. You don't stress the details after that.
If you keep pushing too hard, you move into
desperation territory, and desperation never works ... in
any endeavour. I wish I could say dogged perseverance always got the
Unfortunately, it doesn't. I think back to my own past, to girls I liked,
questioning how long I should wait before I made the next
call, wondering if I said the right things. In nearly all the cases, even if the girl did respond
to my overtures, I handled it poorly. I gave a
shit. And the result was that I attracted less than optimal
With my own wife, I can proudly say I
practiced what I'm preaching. I met her by chance, in a foreign city I initially
didn't intend to stay in for more than one week, but where I
eventually made a home for four years and got married. I was introduced to her by a mutual friend who was
NOT trying to set me up. This mutual friend actually told me and another
friend, Bean, that my future wife was attracted to Bean
This was erroneous information, but I
believed it to be true at the time, and so I was
inadvertently done a great favor. I stepped back and assumed the attitude of not
giving a shit.
It wasn't an act. As hard as it was for me to believe she was attracted
to Bean over myself - today, it's evident that her ever
being attracted to Bean is utterly preposterous - I accepted
it as the truth then. If it were really Bean who tickled her fancies, then
my personality wasn't suited for her, and I'd be doing
neither of us a favor by desperately trying to force us
She went on one disastrous date with Bean and terminated him
as an option immediately. The rest of the steps just fell into place, with me
virtually being led down a path to the most fulfilling
relationship I'd ever had. I've
never had to do less work to make a relationship happen.
For the last four months, I've been
diligently sending out marketing e-mails to various schools
to promote a series of non-fiction guide books I've written. The results have been less than ecstatic. A month into the project, I stopped expecting any of
the schools to respond to my e-mails directly and instead
coded my e-mails to track potential prospects' clicks. These results were more encouraging. I could see some prospects return to my site multiple
sending out a few more follow up messages and still not
getting any commitments, I decided to take a page out of my
own book: stop
giving a shit. I've
offered up all the compelling reasons why the books are
worthwhile at the prices I'm charging. I've invited them to ask me questions. I've shot down every objection I could think of ahead
Getting more desperate and going down on one knee to beg
schools to reconsider isn't going to open the floodgates.
Not giving a shit might.
Desperation itself doesn't jeopardize
an agenda if no one knows you're desperate. Apparent desperation is the real deal breaker.
Even a desperate
woman would be loath to respond to the advances of a
desperate bachelor. Desperate
businessmen cut lousy deals that rarely serve them best over
the long term.
Businesses desperate for clients repel them. Desperation is like a massive 360-degree invisible
pushing force clearing away anything coming into contact
with it. Anyone
sane flees in the face of it.
Mastering the fine art of not giving a
shit is another side of the same coin of mastering the art
Give up too easily and you're a quitter; don't give up at
all despite no progress and you're a desperate idiot.
Kate Winslett, of
Titanic fame, allegedly sent director James
Cameron a bouquet a roses with a note that she was his Rose
for the movie.
Is that perseverance or is that desperation? Everyone calls it perseverance because
she got the part and the movie was one of the top ten most
successful films of all times. If she hadn't been cast and had kept soliciting
Cameron with notes and gifts, she'd be called a stalker.
You have to care enough to put yourself
there in the first place, but not care so much that your
world is torn asunder when the outcome doesn't materialize
as desired. The
mystics call this infinite patience. In reality, we cannot be infinitely patient because
none of us has an infinite amount of time. Infinite patience is more of a thought experiment. If you had infinite time for anything to happen and
you knew everything transpires in its own good time, would
you still be giving a shit? The idea behind infinite patience is another of
life's many ironies: if you're so infinitely patient that you sincerely
don't give a shit anymore, whatever it is you're desiring,
cleared of desperation, is more likely to land in your lap.
Not giving a shit is a fine art, like
consummate acting. To the observer, the practitioner looks like he's
doing nothing, but he's actually doing just enough of
something to convince you he's doing nothing. That is the art. You cannot not give a
shit to the point where you
don't care about the outcome at all, like I might feel about
the annual Academy Awards or the latest football game
need to care just enough and no more.
Prosperity is just around the corner if
you're not looking too hard for it. Stop giving a
shit, and you'll make a fortune.