8 Life Rules Worth Breaking (331)

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In this episode, I talk about the 8 Life Rules Worth Breaking. These ideas started with Sahil Bloom’s newsletter, which is called the Curiosity Chronicle. I used his 8 rules, but I put my own spin on them.  They make great sense to me; I hope they do to you as well.

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8 Life Rules Worth Breaking or Reconsidering (Episode 331)

Fri, Nov 11, 2022 1:33PM • 16:37


burners, strangers, broke, podcast, talk, today, promote, number, rules, plan, selfish, learned, simmer, called, build, zoom, generalist, expert, work, high, Sahil Bloom. Curiosity Chronicle


Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta  00:31

Hey, everybody, it’s Mike. And this is the “How’d It Happen” Podcast, the solo series. Every Friday, I do a solo episode about something that interests me and hopefully will interest you as well. And today I am going to talk about the “Eight Rules in Life that are Worth Breaking,” the eight rules in life that are worth breaking, and I came upon this idea from Sahil Bloom’s newsletter, which is called the Curiosity Chronicle. If you haven’t checked that out, I recommend that you do; he’s got a lot of great ideas that he puts out. And this was one that he put out, these eight rules. These are his rules, you know, in life that are worth breaking. And I thought, well, this is an interesting experiment, because I’m going to take the eight rules, and I’m going to put my own spin on each one of them. So the rules I got from him, the ideas that I’m going to share with you today are on my own. So let’s get started. 

Rule number one, you can only run two burners at once. So I had not even heard about this before that came up, and I researched it. And this is part of the what’s called the four-burner theory, meaning there are four sort of burners in life: work, family, friends, and health. And the idea is that you can only run two of those effectively, at once, and most people can only run one of those effectively at the same time. So here’s my take on it: Every Choice has a Cost and a Potential Reward. Same with the four-burner theory, you probably can’t run all four on high at once. I mean, that makes sense. But like burners on a stove, they have settings. And sometimes, for example, work might need to be on high because something needs to boil, like something is really urgent, while the other three are maybe just sitting there on simmer. Or vice versa, one of the other three, family, friends or health could rise to the level of boiling and need to be on high, need to be getting all of your attention and the others are on simmer. They can all be on and just adjusted, like to the right flame, as the situation dictates. Now, knowing the right flame for each — that’s the challenge. And like every challenge, that’s the opportunity as well. So I do believe that you can run four burners of your life at the same time. They just can’t all have the same attention all the time, but I don’t think one needs to be turned off, or two need to be turned off in order for you to be effective. But I acknowledge that having the right flame for each is, well it’s a challenge, and as I said, also an opportunity. 

The number two rule in life that’s worth breaking: You have to become an expert to be successful. That’s so untrue. So I’m a generalist, not an expert, in pretty much anything I would. That’s how I would describe myself, and in my experience, generalists are often way more successful than experts because their lack of expertise creates distance between what’s known and what’s possible. And it’s in that distance that massive success is often hiding. 

Number three: you should wait for the perfect moment. Well, perfect moments can’t be timed. What looks like perfect moments are very often the result of years of trying and searching, grit and resiliency, finally intersecting with something that clicks, a person, a situation, a breakthrough. And that becomes the perfect moment. So perfect moments will never come to you, they will only come as a result of you making progress towards them. I was just listening to a podcast today, Peter Diamandis’ podcast, and I can’t remember the gentleman who was on there, but he mentioned that just prior to the pandemic, he had been in a conference with the founder of Zoom, and the founder of Zoom was saying to him, you know, I’ve been at this for 10 years, working my ass off, we’ve made good progress, but then it just seems to have stopped. He’s like, I’m waiting, searching for that one thing that’s going to really blow this thing open. And as you all know, by now, Zoom, because of the pandemic, became something that everyone in the world is aware of and uses. In fact, I’m recording this podcast on Zoom today. So 10 years, or longer, I can’t remember if it was longer, of waiting, searching, iterating, being resilient, just keep moving forward and not making that much progress. And then boom. 

Here’s number four. Number four rule in life that’s worth breaking: Don’t talk to strangers. So we learned this as kids, right? Stranger danger and all that. And it makes sense that you don’t want your kid talking to some weird stranger, you know, that’s walking down your street or whatever. But as we grow up, strangers are often the people with the knowledge, connections, wisdom, and influence we need to help us build our own path to success. And I’m an introvert, I am introverted, and it’s sometimes hard for me to reach out to a stranger. Like, I just don’t want to do it. And oftentimes, I don’t want to ask for help, because it makes me uncomfortable. But I’ve learned over time to force myself to do it. And it’s funny, like, I’ll pick up the phone, and then I’ll put it back. And then I’ll pick up the phone and be I’m not going to pick up the phone and then like yes, I’m going to finally do it. Or same with an email, I’ll write an email, not send it, write an email, not send it. And I’ve really gotten past the point where it holds me back because by forcing myself to do it. I know that I can get what I want. It’s strangers who have what I want. Whatever it is, it’s almost always a stranger who has it. And so if they have what I want, I need to connect with them to get what I want. And yeah, so strangers need to talk to strangers. 

Next rule. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I know you’ve all heard the heard that. And maybe a lot of you believe that, but here’s how I think about that. Ain’t Broke, doesn’t mean won’t work. Ain’t broke doesn’t mean makes sense. Ain’t Broke. It’s just a belief. Maybe it’s right. Maybe it’s not. But things like cars instead of horses, printing presses instead of scribes, computers instead of handwritten ledgers, and I’m sure you can think of a bunch more examples that are great examples of massive improvement over things that were at some point in time considered, Ain’t broke. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? No. Always look at everything as if it is broken. And prove to yourself that it ain’t broke, instead of accepting that it ain’t broke. 

Number six: stick to your plan. So how I think about this is stick to your goals and not your plan. That’s what my mentor Chuck Zamora, told me many years ago. He said, Mike, its goals and concrete plans in sand, That’s what he told me. There is no shame in changing plans. Just the opposite is true. There is power in changing a bad plan. And you know what, when you first come up with a plan, it’s probably not a great plan. It might be good. Chances are, it’s not great and even higher chances that it’s bad. And you learn how to modify and improve your plan by moving towards your goal. So like Chuck said, goals and concrete plans in sand. No need to stick to your plan if your plan is not working. Shift it and create a new plan. 

Number seven: Save now to enjoy later. Save now to enjoy later. So yes, but not at the expense of any enjoyment today. I’m naturally built as an enjoy-later person, like I don’t stop to smell the roses. I’m always like, Okay, put that one away. And we’re going to save that for later. It’s just who I am, just by natural tendency. But fortunately, my wife, Jamy, encourages me. Okay, she makes me enjoy now from time to time. And you know what? She’s right. So my response to this is save some to enjoy now and save some to enjoy later. Enjoyment builds, you know. You can’t wait for it, you got to have some, but always have a bank account, a savings or something, so that you don’t run out of resources to continue to enjoy your life. 

And finally, number eight: Don’t be self-promotional. Don’t be self-promotional. So self-promotion, I think of it as kind of like selfish. Like in my book, my subtitle to my book is “How Getting Selfish Got Me Unstuck.” And, you know, I use it purposefully because like self-promotion, selfish and self-promotion, they both have bad sort of connotations. We’ve learned to not really love those words, or want those words attached to us. But just like being selfish, promoting yourself is necessary and it’s powerful. It just can’t be obvious. So the best way to promote yourself, I think, and the easiest way, especially now, is to build a personal brand. But build a personal brand by not having you do all the talking about you, but by having others talk about you instead. And you will find that getting others to talk about you isn’t that difficult. It’s sort of like the talking to stranger thing, right? You find people who you’ve influenced, people that you’ve worked with, people who value you, people who you’ve impacted. And you ask them, to help promote you to say something nice about you, to introduce you to someone that they know, that could benefit from what you’re able to provide. And it’s just a lot easier and less self-promotional, to have other people say good things about you that are self-promoting, instead of you doing all the talking. So the louder you talk about yourself, the less people are listening to you. The louder other people talk about you, the more people are listening and wanting to be around and wanting to help and wanting to do things with you. Just be careful. Just be careful about this. Don’t change who you are to build your brand or promote yourself. Don’t try to be what you see other people trying to be; be authentic to you. And build your brand around that by getting other people to talk about who you really are. If you try to be somebody else, it just never works out long term. And you always know that you’re not being you. And that’s, in my mind, that’s a bad place to be. 

So those are my thoughts about the Eight Rules in Life that are Worth Breaking. Let’s just review them. Number one, you can only run two burners at once. Number two, you have to become an expert to be successful. Number three, you should wait for the perfect moment. Number four, don’t talk to strangers. Number five, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Number six, stick to your plan. Number seven, save now to enjoy later. And number eight, don’t be self-promotional. 

I hope you found some value in this discussion today or this thought dump, whatever you want to call it. I’m so grateful that you’ve invested some time with me today and hope you got a positive return on that investment. And if you did, please follow the podcast if you’re not a follower now. Share the episode with someone else. Write about it. Post about it, do whatever you want about it. And of course, contact me if you’d like to. If you’ve got a different idea or you think I’m off base or you want to hear more about something that I talked about today, let me know. Until next time, maximize your greatness.

Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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