A few years ago, I wrote an article explaining that failure in life was all about perception. It was a good, and sensible idea that helped me stay calm in both tempting and triggering situations.
It was true: you can never truly fail – failure is relative. If you think you’re poor, what are you basing it on? Are you basing it on the wealth of Elon Musk, or that of the homeless, and starving child in Congo? If you said you failed your exams, isn’t it just based on the rating of the examiners, or is it based on your past results? Whatever it was, it was relative.
I ran with this idea, and it helped me avoid unnecessary comparisons, and even pushed me to focus exclusively on making tiny consistent improvements in my life. This enabled me “come a long way” in life – based on my measures of course.
But there is a risk to this philosophy: Whilst it removes the anxiety and tension that comes with overly comparing oneself to others, it sadly leaves room for slacking and laziness. And, when you critically think about it, you would realize that the world isn’t a one-man show – we all share the world, along with the fishes, birds, and angry Tigers.
What this means is that competition is inevitable. There is a dire need to step up, to stay above the water, to survive… And this requires that you stay ahead.
Because, if you’re not doing better than the Tigers, then you would be Tiger food. If you are not doing better than the snakes, you would be homeless. Even the rodents are in competition for your food.
We are left with only one choice: “stay one move ahead”.
We learned to live in caves, build campfires, weaponize rocks and turn wood as knives and spares. We learned to use barricades and pesticides; gather as clans, and acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to subdue all other creatures. After a couple of thousands of years, we have succeeded. Yes, we have. We are now officially the most powerful and dangerous animals on the planet – and we rule with impunity. Which other creature hold sway to the fate of the planet? which living thing wields nuclear warheads except for humans?
But the race didn’t end there.
In our brave new world, we didn’t just stop when we had enough to eat and stay alive, we wanted more. We didn’t want to just ride on donkeys, we wanted to go faster. So, we made the cars, boats, and jets.
Then we decided that we needed to touch the moon – and we did. We’ve even launched rovers into mars, and are on the brink of figuring out how to terraform alien planets and moons.
But, before we run off to the red planet and Kepler belt, I want you to realize that we created a system that is also above us all in our race to the top (of everything). A system that graciously rewards some, and mercilessly punishes others.
We don’t live in a world where you can decide to “chill” with nature, rather we live in a world where all hands must be on deck, else you won’t even see what to eat.
In this brave new world that was created, there is money, calendars, thrones, etcetera. Abstract concepts that determine both the quality and length of our lives.
Amongst these factors, one reigns supreme – in this time in history – and it is “money”. So, let’s talk about money a bit.
What Is Money? or How To Thrive In This World
Do you know what money is?
Money is a generally accepted tender that is used to get almost everything – including a glass of water.
To get this money, you simply need to “work”. But there is something strange about this money.
It is not gotten by the strongest, smartest, cutest, or bravest, but by the person who provides the most “value”. That being said, it is not gotten by “working harder”, being good, nor even being bad. It is only gotten by doing something valuable – by doing “meaningful work”.
Hence, the only way to stay alive in this world is to do very valuable things. But value is relative. Value could be drawing an artwork, singing a song, striping, cutting vegetables, or even killing someone. It all counts. It’s a crazy world I tell you.
Many people are encouraged to go to school to get employed – to do meaningful work. What they fail to relay to these people is that you don’t necessarily need to get a “job” to give value. In fact, you could be very skilled and gifted and still have no money.
The reason is that if you fail to deliver your value, you won’t get the money. And worse, if you deliver your value indirectly, you risk having someone truncate the money that gets to you.
Here is the secret they are not telling you: They fail to tell you that to win in life you must stay one move ahead (in everything).
You stayed ahead of the snakes, lions, viruses, weather, and nature as a whole. But, why come this far only to stay “behind the system”. To get dragged along, and get your fate controlled by whimsical people and circumstances?
If the system requires value, why not find a way to deliver great value and stay ahead of the system? Why not conquer this system as you have every other thing?
Sure, you can do this. You can pull this off.
See, the secret to a good life isn’t just in cutting off unnecessary comparisons, but in always staying one move ahead. But here’s the catch. You are most likely one move ahead if you’re reading this.
Because you see, in life, we are not all on the same track nor timeline. We are born into different countries, races, religions, and different genders. What this means is that to live a good life, you simply have to stay one move ahead within your locality for as long as you’re going to be there.
And more importantly, you need to discover what it is that you are called to do. What it is you are well suited for. You can call this your gift, talent, or even destiny. The point is, you need to discover your unfair advantage, and tap into it unapologetically, and relentlessly
One Move Ahead
catch me if you can!!!
You must stay one move ahead of your contemporaries – you classmates, agemates, gender, etcetera. You must seek to know and do what they don’t know or do if you plan to stay afloat.
You may not be able to conquer all aspects of life – you may not have to be the jack of all trades – but if you can figure out just one aspect of life where you can be great at, you can stay one move ahead, and live the rest of your life like a king.
Christian Ronaldo is one move ahead in football. Elon Musk is one move ahead in Innovation. Beyoncé is one move ahead in music. The author of harry potter, J.K. Rowling’s, is one move ahead in writing. Picasso was one move ahead in art. Einstein was one move ahead in physics. And Jesus was like ten moves ahead in spirituality.
But, if you Bring Ronaldo to music, and Picasso to Spirituality, you may find that they are thousands of steps behind because they haven’t made their moves in those fields.
What this means is that, if you wish to succeed in life, it is not enough to work hard, but to work hard in one direction. To focus. To focus on your strengths. To focus on your unfair advantages.
This is why it is only sensible that you do what you love. Because think of it, why would you keep moving in a direction you abhor? How can you stay at the forefront of a battle you don’t want to fight? How can you innovate, get creative, or even get psyched about something you detest?
Like Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm”
If you want to stay one move ahead, then you must achieve that in the direction you find meaning. And, yes, sometimes it’s hard to know. Passion is hard to figure out sometimes – and that is because our perception of it is skewed.
What Is Passion? And How Can I Know It?
can you die for it?
Passion doesn’t always have to be pleasurable or easy, but it must feel worthwhile. People mistake passion for fun. Passion is not fun. In fact, passion oftentimes is borns out of purpose – and purpose can be burnout of pain and great discomfort.
When you are doing something that you feel is going to save the world, you are going to do it with all your might – even when it hurts – because you believe it’s worth it. That’s passion.
If you find fulfillment in washing toilets, then that’s great. You’re going to save humans from a lot of toilet infections and that is commendable. However, if you work at an office where you literally control the world’s oxygen supply, and you feel like you’re wasting your life at it, then the toilet cleaner is ten moves ahead of you in life.
Whatever field you’re in, always stay one move ahead. Always be at the forefront of studying, researching, practicing, tinkering, testing, and doing. If you are not on the tilt, then you are most likely some moves behind.
GAME THEORY – Why We All Need for Kaizen
Long live the Pawn
The system we find ourselves in has a sort of game-like structure – bringing a sort of “Game theory” into play. For example, if you fail to provide value, you won’t earn money. If you fail to earn money, then you won’t have freedom. And, without value – i.e. money – you can’t get anything, and soon you would be squeezed out of the system – into the streets, begging and starving.
The system punishes people who don’t stay one move ahead. It keeps them under the bridges – hungry, cold, and insane. The slackers are chained to menial jobs that they hate.
Those that match the system – step to step – work happily in their jobs, crafts, or businesses that they aren’t much passionate about…they don’t really care…they just do it for the paycheck.
Whilst those who are one move ahead, live in freedom, luxury, and purpose. They usually have more than they “need”. And their reward is usually beyond the reality of money. They gain purpose and fulfillment. They are not driven by the system – because the system uses the money to drive people – but have conquered the system…though still under it.
The truth is, as long as the system is concerned, there are failures and there are winners. The system has set the “standards”, and we are all bound to it – none is exempted.
So, it is either you beat the system, or you’ve failed – because we’re all under the system. That is why we all need Kaizen.
What Is Kaizen, How To Apply Kaizen, And How To Live A Good Life?
What have you done today to better your life?
The big question then becomes, how does one stay one move ahead? How do you win? How do you live a good life?
I’m glad you asked.
To stay one move ahead, then you need to embrace Kaizen.
Kaizen means “Good Change”. “Kai” means “change”, and “Zen” means “good”. You can even say Kaizen means “change for the better” or “Continuous improvement”.
Staying ahead isn’t about doing something great but rather being great at “improving”. Greatness is often the result of several small factors and not a quality in itself.
For instance, you can only become a professor by studying a particular course for years. Then, one day when delivering a lecture, someone who didn’t see those years of research stumbles upon your works and sees greatness.
Like Mario Puzo once said, “Great men are not born great, they grow great”“Great men are not born great, they grow great” – Mario Puzo Click To Tweet
To help you understand how this is a game-changer, you’d have to first grasp the principles of Kaizen
The Principles Of Kiazen
When it comes to Kaizen, it is not about achieving a goal, but making yourself capable of achieving a goal. It is not about harvesting but planting the seeds. It is not about having babies, but getting pregnant…okay, let me stop here.
But here is the thing, to abide by the principle of Kaizen to get a good life involves working on the small things. It involves working on
– Your friends/associations/team: Getting the right people in, and kicking the wrong ones out, and
– Yourself: Practicing personal discipline…this can be in terms of habits, beliefs, and lifestyle.
This is because it is these tiny improvements that set you up for success – for a good life
In essence, to get one move ahead, you must embrace Kaizen – continuous improvement
- Embrace constant learning
- Practice regularly
- Innovate relentlessly
- Iterate consistently, and
- Avoid complacency.
But all these can be overwhelming. So, why don’t we break it down a bit?
7 STEPS TO STAYING ONE MOVE AHEAD – Using Kaizen
One step at a time
- DECIDE: What is it that you want to stay one move ahead on. What field, niche, scope, or direction do you want to focus on.
- CLARIFY: Break down your big dream into tiny millstones. Set goals that can be reached with deliberate, and measurable effort – don’t allow them to be vague. Ask yourself “what are the small steps to this big dream?”
- PLAN – set up a system and course of action. This involves optimizing your routines, communities, and environment for success. Know what your next step is.
- LEARN: And when you reach huddles, don’t hesitate to seek help. In fact, learning is a huge element of success. Learning can save you a lot of headaches and setbacks. The truth is that you can never know all you need to succeed from the onset of your journey, but with a habit of learning constantly, you would adapt to the dynamic times and circumstances – with constant learning, you would become unstoppable. See that you embrace vicarious lessons.
- PRIORITIZE – make the most of time and energy. Don’t waste them, nor allow them to be wasted by others. They are the most important resources you possess, so make good use of them. Direct your attention to the most valuable tasks, and expend your time and energy on those tasks.
- RECORD – Take note of your wins and failures; they are great sources to draw both strength and lessons from. It would also help you gauge how far you’ve come, and how far you need to go.
- OPTIMIZE – cut off excesses and distraction. Stay focused, and give your best. Stay open to feedback, and be ever ready to adjust and improve based on the response (i.e. both criticism and accolades).
If you can adhere to these, then nothing in this world of ours can stop you. All you need is time and patience. Stay focused, stay one move ahead“Grow up, Level Up, Step Up” – Dick David Click To Tweet
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I’m an artist, writer, and thinker. I also love reading and playing chess.