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#2 - Where does ambition lead to?
Last night, I was walking with one of my closest friends along the swimming pool in the society where I live. One of the many walks that we regularly take to discuss things that matter to us. A few things happening over the last few days and, particularly, a conversation with my partner made me realize lately how much I’ve started thinking about being productive/effective and how little attention I end up giving to developing my humanity. If you sit down to think about it, there are SO MANY people who play a pivotal role in shaping any human being at different points of life. Some of them have stayed with us right from the moment that we were born to who we are now. We ended up meeting many others as we grew up. Some of them were meant to be a fleeting part of our lives. A few of them are there with us, even today.
The one thing that you will not find lacking during our conversations is passion. The subject of our conversation was:
“Who are we doing everything we are doing for?”
The only way that I could think about answering this question was by thinking about the moments that were meaningful to me. The moments I recall the most. The stories I tell most often and the stories I would like to tell in the future. And the single common factor in all those moments was the people who were present with me during those moments. People who I cared about and who cared about me.
Now, I have come to fully embrace my introverted self and I spend most of my days in my room by myself as I find it to be extremely peaceful. And many of the things that I find joy in, on a regular basis, are usually done alone. But I know that I really enjoy being in the right company as long as it happens at an appropriate frequency and this is the part that I wanted to explore more. Who are those people I want to be around? Who are those people who give me joy? Am I prioritizing them enough? If not, what am I prioritizing and why?
The answer that kept coming was a combination of my family, close friends, my partner, and a community that I feel I belong to, a community whom I can serve without any expectations of any monetary benefits. To this, a follow-up question that my friend raised was the fact that prioritizing this aspect of our lives would mean that we’ll have to likely compromise on personal growth as we are ambitious people.
But, how much do we need to grow? At what pace? And to what end? Given our personalities, personal growth is always going to remain a focus in our lives and we’re always going to make time for it. The question is not whether we want to grow or not. There is no doubt about that. The question is, “how fast do we need to grow and to achieve what?”.
And why is work considered the only outlet for ambitious people? Why can’t one be an ambitious partner? An ambitious friend? An ambitious brother or son or community member? Why not?
I’ve realized that there are some books and resources that are fundamentals. I want to etch my key takeaways from these fundamental sources of knowledge so that I can keep coming back to them from time to time without having to scour through the entire book/video/podcast etc. A few of my friends have asked me to open-source those etchings as I create them. So, this section in the newsletter would be dedicated to briefly touching upon them:
Psychology of Money
This book is now considered a must-read for a wide range of people, especially for someone looking to get started with their personal finance journey. I returned to this work when I began wondering about my relationship with money and how I want to think about money going forward. I’ve written the notes for the Introduction and the first 2 principles so far. You can find them here.
The goal of the book is to help everyone make better financial decisions. According to the author, finance is closer to psychology (with emotions and nuance) than physics (with rules and law). Hence, a genius who loses control of his mind can be a financial disaster, and an ordinary person with no financial education but a handful of behavioral skills can be wealthy.
The first chapter highlights how people from different generations born under completely different families and different circumstances often think about money in completely different ways. What might make sense to me might seem absolutely crazy to you. My personal experience might be a very small part of how the world works but it completely dictates how I think about the world. Realizing this fact can help us understand the root of most financial decisions.
The second chapter talks about the siblings - luck, and risk - using the example of Bill Gates, who had a 1 in a million odds of landing at one of the only schools that had access to a computer when he was 13) and one of his close friends, who would have gone on to become a co-founder of Microsoft had he not died from a mountaineering accident (the odds of which were 1 in a million as well). He implores us to realize that one can’t exist without the another and hence, imbibe that nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems. Thus, we should be forgiving towards ourselves when we fail, humble when we taste success, and open to understanding when judging others’ failures.
The Huberman Lab Podcast is considered one of the best sources of information on the science of health and fitness. I’ve been curious about almost all of the topics that he talks about and I’m very excited to dive deep into each of them while incorporating this newfound knowledge to design my lifestyle and feed my neverending curiosity.
My notes for the first half of the first podcast on “How Your Nervous System Works” can be found here. As the name suggests, Prof. Andrew starts by defining what the nervous system comprises and how it is much more than just the brain. He goes on to share the story of how warfare helped us understand the different components of the nervous system, the fact that you likely have Jennifer Aniston neuron cells, and the 5 different things that the nervous system does: sensation, perception, emotions, thoughts, and action.
That’s all for this week. Do consider writing to me if anything resonated with you. What did you think about the questions I posed earlier? The goal is not to be pessimistic about the world. It is to ask questions with a sense of wonder so that we are being intentional with how we go about our lives. Happy Sunday! :)