Success is elusive when video games are so much more tempting, but it’s important to achieve success in order to acquire more time for video games. This troubling duality is the essence of life confronted in the Tao.
I’m a successful, brick-jawed, adventurous blogger who loves to game and I’m here to help you become a success too. What follows are the critical skills, achievements worth earning, and talents to strive for to help you succeed just enough so you can feed your digital addiction and get your mom off your fucking back, mom.
Excellence in any of these skills will lead to success, while improving them all, particularly in order, will certainly make you a better, cooler, potentially less odorous individual.
None of this, however, can make up for a goatee.
6 CRITICAL SKILLS OF SUCCESS
to IMPROVE MIND
It’s fundamentally important to be smart. Your mind is an infinite library from which to reference knowledge about anything. Every “book” of knowledge on your “shelves” will help you find a solution when you need one.
Intelligence comes from the acquisition of knowledge. You learn something, you practice it, you know it, you access it more frequently and it reinforces indefinitely. Having more intelligence means you can do more, essentially.
How Do You Acquire Intelligence?
Reading is the predominant form of knowledge acquisition. Ultimately, it is the best circumstance under which to receive and consume new information; without distraction and with time to work it out yourself. Writing notes and even doodling can help reinforce knowledge retention.
Mentorship is perhaps the second leading but arguably better form of education, as we see in schools and professional internships. But mentors can be hard to find and unreasonably expensive, unlike books and other reading materials, not to mention they naturally have their own time constraints.
Personal experience fills in the final gaps of knowledge and elaborates on details authors and teachers may omit. Note there can be great risk in learning from experience alone, thus it is often called “the hard way”.
Gathering and working your knowledge also builds and develops your intellect, which is your ability to reason with the knowledge you have, for example by calculating known formulas to deduce the amount you should tip your server or the amount of paint necessary to hide those bloodstains forever. Practicing regular mental exercise and training (crosswords, debate, quizzes) helps intellect function faster and more efficiently.
Without access to a large amount of intelligence and trained intellect, it can be difficult getting through life any better than a Basset Hound, nature’s saggy joke.
Wisdom is knowing what you can do with the knowledge you have. If intelligence makes you Einstein, then wisdom makes you MacGyver. Intelligence solves equations; wisdom circumvents them. Maybe the wise work it out the long way, or perhaps they just find a calculator; in the end, they may steal the answer. Whatever gets the job done the best way possible.
Intelligence is linear recall that gets you from point A to B effectively, but wisdom gives you the creativity to make a path through point C. They are two critical sides of the same coin, and while they seem alike, it quickly becomes obvious when a person displays one but not the other.
Combined with vast intelligence and quick intellect, wisdom allows you to solve abstract problems and reach goals efficiently.
How Do You Acquire Wisdom?
Wisdom is forged where intelligence and experience meet. It usually forms after you learn something and practice it repeatedly in the real world, sussing out nuance and discovering intricacy in action. A skilled swordsman is given knowledge of a particular strike, and it is with time and practice that he finds the wisdom and grace to use it effectively.
Mentors, however, are still the “best” (fastest) way to acquire wisdom as they can simply share theirs. But even the best teacher cannot tell you what is absolutely best for you, so inevitably wisdom is in limited supply for those who refuse to practice themselves.
Wise masters learn what works only after working for their own answers.
to FORTIFY BODY
Fortitude goes by many names: determination, resilience, endurance, grit. Whatever you call it, without the will to persevere life will stomp and grind you like a lit butt until you learn how to deal with failure, or snuff out. Succumbing to failure means completely forfeiting any chance of success, making fortitude perhaps the most important skill of all.
One must develop a resistance to failure, and that’s done not by avoiding failure but being exposed to and learning from it. We all must learn that failure is never the end of the road and should instead be treated as an opportunity to discover a new path. The quicker we understand that, the better.
For example, muscle development is a matter of destroying tissue with exercise under controlled circumstances so that it heals stronger than it was before. Broken bones may also heal stronger than ever. As brutal as that is, it just happens to be effective, and that extends as metaphor to how development of fortitude works.
Resilience to mental fatigue manifests largely from the body. If your body is not as healthy and fit as it could be, neither is your mind; it feeds and operates from within the same ecosystem. If your body is weak, your mind becomes so; suspect to suggestion, frustrated, careless, erratic. Exhaustion, abuse, and poor nutrition diminish mind and body in kind, along with your chances of success.
It’s critical to build a healthy base fortitude in the body that supports the fortitude of the mind, and that’s where exercise comes in (sorry).
How Do You Acquire Fortitude?
You must exercise your mind and body.
For the mind, this means:
Reading births the idea and strengthens it, discussion tests it, writing forces you to prove it to yourself as well as others, and debate reinforces it. An idea that has run the gamut will stand tall to nearly any trial. “Writing” can be replaced with production of any kind, such as music, sculpture; anything that allows others to try your product or idea, and perhaps dislike it, themselves.
For the body:
You can eat whatever you want as long as you make it yourself from raw ingredients. Real meals will fill you fuller and pass aggressively if you overeat, but you must eat green vegetables with every meal as they are equally critical to proteins, with fruit just behind them and everything else far away. There’s an interesting color-coding cheat to help guide your proportions: generally, green foods are great; red, yellow and blue are good; brown could be bad; and white might be worst. That’s not to demonize any foods, only to remind you which are most important.
Water is the essence of life. If you do not drink enough water you are spit-taking in the face of the most obvious truth in human history. Never let yourself feel parched. Drink water with every meal (not before or after), and drink it with juices, sodas, and alcohol too.
Oxygen is as important as water. Cardio strengthens the lungs, improves circulation, hardens the bones, gives me a boner (TMI?), and everyone hates it but it’s absolutely necessary to healthy whole-body functioning and development. Again, sorry. In case you haven’t heard, smoking diminishes your entire body substantially. “The cleaner your breath, the happier you’ll be; smoking is acceptable but disagreeable, you’ll see!” Hopefully that annoying rhyme will stick so hard it not only changes your behavior for the better, but also becomes the last thing you remember before you die.
Lastly, move your body any time and any way you can. Learn the fundamentals of yoga. It is absolutely the most universally effective exercise methodology in existence. No matter what you do, yoga will improve your physiological ability to do it, which is applicable to both body and mind. Apply yoga daily.
The final key to fortitude is striving for better than before by always setting new goals higher than the last. Sometimes you’ll fall, hard, but success is a constant battle to best not only yourself but everyone else who’s just as good as you, trying and failing just as hard as you. With determination, you will reach the top, and may then partake in kicking 99-Percenters off the ledge like we all dream of.
Mental and physical agility allows you to bend where others would break. We all have our limits, hard lines we won’t cross, unbreakable walls against our own will. Agility gives us the flexibility to work around these limitations. You can still establish borders, but agile people are better at establishing reasonable boundaries and also working around the limitations of others.
There’s nuance to the word “agility” that’s often overlooked, however. It’s not just flexibility in action, but an ability to gauge and adjust exertion appropriate to the moment. Gymnasts may not underextend themselves, nor may they overextend themselves, as either way results in a miss, which is the difference between a solid landing and racking your guts on a low bar.
Adjusting yourself to the moment requires a certain awareness that seems to come from confidence and certainty in action. The value in experience, again, cannot be overlooked here.
How Do You Acquire Agility?
Experience is a big part of developing agility, encouraging flexibility and strength in motion by constant effort, but we’ll talk about that momentarily. The other critical element in agility appears to be confidence.
Confidence gives you will to follow through with your plan even when it seems as though it may falter. If already you have built your mental and physical strengths, then agility allows you to adjust the minutia as necessary to execute properly. With confidence, you will not retract when you must extend or miss your mark anyway.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses in both yourself and others is important to gaining confidence and mastering agility, which cycles back to intelligence and wisdom.
to STRENGTHEN SPIRIT
Now we’re into the difficult stuff, starting with charisma, or in essence “attractiveness” (not to be conflated with physical beauty, which is one of many attributes that can develop charisma). Charisma compels others to believe and follow you, whether it’s for guidance, profit, or pleasure. Charisma manifests when there’s something, anything, especially appealing about you.
When you’re smart enough and strong enough to succeed, people naturally want to take advantage of your capability. Thirsty boars strive for water and so people will seek and attempt to use you, which isn’t inherently bad if there’s a fair exchange in return. But for those trying to abuse you, strength and intelligence are a natural deterrent. Wisdom especially protects you from manipulation.
While many degrees of charisma are acceptable in the real world, the amount which greatly influences others is very difficult to fake and typically demands tried-and-true excellence and effort.
How Do You Acquire Charisma?
Beat the odds and get lucky (see the Luck section next), or excel. Didn’t think it was going to be easy, did you?
Form your charisma from your excellent skills. If you know computers, ensure you know computers not just to others, but yourself too. Study, learn, experiment, grow. You must ward against doubt with training and then real execution. Doubt isn’t the same as caution, it’s fear in disguise, but you can identify the difference with skill and experience then adjust.
If you’re a great salesperson, don’t let anyone else doubt that’s the case or you will too. When you can build a car from just a frame and parts, don’t let someone who cannot do so tell you otherwise, but do not fail to listen either. Charisma is in essence agreeability; anything that makes you disagreeable detracts from your charisma. People want to be heard whether or not they need to be, and often there is a reason for that, albeit not necessarily good. But when you listen, people notice and they always appreciate it.
The greater conduit you are for others’ happiness or success, the greater charisma others will perceive in you. You will almost certainly benefit in turn. The cyclical psychological affect of charisma may be hard to grasp but is important to know, because people innately and almost immediately know whether or not, to them, you have it.
We come to harsh reality: no hero obtains success for free. Falling into a trust fund or daddy’s real estate business is relevant to so few that it’s barely worth besmirching, so real people need to truly hear both audibly and internally (with mind, body, and soul so say it aloud) the mean truth:
You’re not going to succeed if you don’t try. A lot. And thus you will have to fail a lot, too. End of story, should you choose not to.
Life is trying, and I’m not sure there’s a better way to understate something so significant. Hercules paid in twelve labors, Odin spent an eye, and you’re not getting off any easier if you felt inclined to read this article. Don’t grab a spoon and an eyepatch just yet, though.
Practice; you must train. You must find qualified opponents and prove yourself against them. And you can’t do it in a safely controlled “echo chamber” environment: school, with family and friends, or against people in a common community just won’t do. You have to go out into the real world against real people who have no interest in you either way or worse and show everyone, yourself included, that you really have what it takes.
Face the fire until it you’re too strong to hurt, and don’t be surprised when that requires burning old habits to ash first.
and YIELD LUCK
First, a note about “Luck”
It’s important to clarify this: luck is not a magic or mythical force, or even a skill you can acquire. It’s a wildly abstract concept that refers to the intense unpredictability of the universe. Those with “good” luck end up on top due to conflation of myriad, infinite factors that drive all existence in the universe. When enough of them have aligned so that positive results are likely for certain individuals, we call that “luck”, in part to avoid defining what that actually means, and in part because we usually don’t know anyway.
Professional gamblers, for example, don’t succeed by wishing luck-magic on playing cards. They succeed by controlling more of the unpredictability of the game than anyone else and by playing a long strategy until they inevitably come out on top. “Luck” is such that it may still yet defeat even the very best, most dominant players, but rest assured, it’s possible to exert certain degrees of control over it.
Ironically, consistently manifesting fortune requires everything but throwing fate to the winds. Nonetheless, it is very much possible to beat the odds and luck out, gaining vast success, wealth, and favor with little to no effort. The people that do though, while rich and happy, are often quite grating and awful.
Financial wealth is the most obvious, popular way to “purchase” luck or favor. With time and social progress it has fallen out of vogue, but even still the cost of entry increases exponentially. Today, money is an especially costly way to purchase success, but certainly it is very much feasible.
So in what other “currencies” is fortune bought? In excellent skill, charisma, intelligence, fortitude; a wealth of knowledge is most times far more valuable than money, while strength has its own advantages, and so forth. This guide is to help those who have or desire that kind of wealth over money. And money too.
Without cash or credit for such an investment, you will have to “sell” a skill until its value increases and you earn your own riches. Ultimately, there is no quick and easy, logical way to monetary wealth, so while it’s highly useful and effective in procuring success, it falls far behind other skills in relevance.
How Do You Win Wealth?
“Luck” of the draw unless you earn it, my friend, perhaps with your ever-developing skills.
As for gaining wealth in skill and talents, follow this guide and research the wealth of knowledge inscribed by others in books and online.
This is very much a catch-all for the lingering unknowns in life, but it’s worth noting that there are many, many ways to acquire favor and success, and not all involve an exchange of cash or talent. Sometimes favor comes from strange places.
The Queen of England was born into favor by genes and tradition; you cannot rely on such luck. Lottery winners become millionaires only once in a ludicrous while, so do not lean on the odds. Many internet memes only work in a particular time and place, and trying too hard to make one usually shows. Plus, no one’s making money on internet memes so I’ll just go ahead and crush that dream here.
Successful people always acquire favor eventually, but rarely do they rely on it materializing before them. It does happen though.
How Do You Gain Favor?
I’m kidding. To gain favor, practice the mind, body, and soul skills above as much as humanly possible. Do not waste your time on games or lottery tickets or drugs or sex or your silly family until you’re a successful billionaire. Successful people know what’s truly important: success.
You will have to sacrifice time, effort, energy, currency, relationships, blood, and divorce settlements to come out on top, but the closer you get, the easier it is to get there. Invest what knowledge, strength, will, and luck you have, and success will be yours inevitably.
These talents are often attributed to those who strive for excellence. They can be earned with practice, by achievement, or even at times purchased with cold, hard cash. They are also modifiers that establish a greater likelihood you will succeed in the future.
- “You’ve fought many battles and won enough to earn your birthright. +25 to all Skills and increased poison resistance.”
- “You’re always on point. +7% to all Skill Points earned.”
- “Nothing gets you down or sets you back. Abilities and ailments that weaken Skills often fail.”
- “You take big risks, and often they pay off. Occasionally receive a bonus of +10 points to a Skill of choice.”
- “You’re accountable, reliable, and effective. People love that. +35 Charisma / +10 Intelligence and Wisdom / +5% Experience, Wealth and Favor earned.”
- “People love you, for whatever reason. It’s great, but detracts from time and study. +15% Experience earned / +10% Wealth and Favor earned / -10 Intelligence.”
- “When your sword goes to the grindstone, it comes back sharp. A chosen Skill receives +40% Skill Points earned.”
Notice how often I used the words “experience”, “practice”, “training”, “trying”, and the like. Of course, there’s a reason.
Perfecting any skill requires time, effort, training, experience, blah blah et cetera. There’s no avoiding it: you have to put in what you want to get out. Everyone wants access to the easy way, but without the luck key (get it?), it’s just not going to happen. Everyone else has to work for it.
If you want to be smarter, you have to read more. Stronger? Exercise. Charisma requires getting in tune with the wants and needs of other, and if you want more money then you’ll probably have to master one of the other skills to earn it.
On that note, we’ll close with the reminder that success, once earned, is fucking fantastic. But it wouldn’t be if it wasn’t so fucking hard to get.
Brace yourself and go forward. Pursuing success is a great adventure without a game over screen.