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Aphorisms

Human desire is mimetic.

Imitation is the fundamental mechanism of human behavior. We don't know what we want on our own so we copy the desires of others. You see this in fashion, education, jobs, relationships, everywhere. This means a lot of us are living our lives on autopilot, following momentum, and don't really know what we are doing. A conflict then arises not because we want different things but because we want the same thing since we have the same desires. Popular things might seem safe because everyone is doing it but they are the most dangerous because they are the most competitive. If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.


Everything exists in juxtaposition.

The good does not exist without the bad and you can't have one without the other. The same is true for happiness and sadness so don't be surprised when you experience both. This principle is seen everywhere including in our strengths and weaknesses. In high performers, you constantly see the theme of entanglement and eccentricity, hyperfunction and distinction are often right next to each other. I've noticed that people's superpowers are often right next to their wounds. The intensity and edge always cut both ways, what helps you professionally has consequences personally.


Trust the process.

You have to find edification and gratification in the process. Finding fulfillment in the sacrifices is important because the fundamental illusion is that there is no goal, nothing out there will make you happy and fulfilled forever except death. This is true in pursuit of a career, completing a task, buying material items, going on vacation, and in relationships. When you are finally wealthy, you'll realize it's not what you are looking for. You are entitled to your labor but not to the fruits of your labor, don't get too attached to the outcome because the beauty is in the job in and of itself. Everything that we do or achieve, after some time, becomes the new normal so no matter what you achieve in the future you’ll be about as happy as you are right now. The idea of retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for some imaginary tomorrow when today is complete in and of itself.


Happiness is a choice and a skill you develop.

Happiness can be learned and is an internal thing. You can't control external events, all you can really control is how you react to them. Being happy is when you remove the thought that something is missing in your life. It's the absence of desire when you accept things as they are and appreciate them. Practicing being grateful is a useful tool to develop the skill of happiness.


Most of the battle is getting out of your own way.

We spend a lot of time in our heads fighting the monkey brain. The person who is most effective is the one who stops trying to be effective. You have to learn to manage the inner dialogue and get out of your own head. Another part of this is that you also tend to manifest what you say. If you tell yourself you are a lucky person, you eventually become a lucky person. If you want to be rich and that is your single desire the universe has a way of working that out. You get what you want. You just need to get out of your own way and align yourself to that goal. I think meditation, yoga, and breathing helps here.


Effort is the price that unlocks everything beautiful in the world.

Nothing worth doing is easy. It's not supposed to be easy, if it was everyone would do it. Anything meaningful requires a lot of time, work, and is difficult. If something worthwhile appears easy it usually means you got lucky. I believe that if someone’s much better than you at something, they probably try much harder. You probably underestimate how much harder they try. I've heard a painter say that he‘ll never live a luxurious life because it’ll distance him from the human experience. Pain can be challenging, he said. But it can also magnify the experience of being alive.


Compounding is where the magic lies.

You need to play long-term games because that is when compounding takes place. Compound interest is one of the few non-luck-based ways to reap non-linear rewards. This is true in practicing a craft, work, and relationships. The way you get good at something is fairly simple: you do it again, and again, and again. Consistency over time equates to results. This is one of the big paradoxes in life in relation to decision-making. Every decision you make isn't the best possible decision because of imperfect information. You probably don't have the best possible job or are in a relationship with the person that is "perfect" for you. But the paradox is that it’s better to choose, commit, and spend time on something so you can start compounding instead of waiting for the best possible option, so the correct decisions are actually suboptimal.


Apply leverage.

The Pareto Principle has played a huge role in my life. Identify what is the 20% of things you should work on that will drive 80% of results. One application of this is to use systems over willpower etc., Apply this in all areas of your life and understand that working smarter is so much more important than working harder. As Musashi says "know the way broadly and see it in all things." Once you learn how to master something you can do it with other things by finding their points of leverage and putting in the time.


We are all star stuff.

Everything in the universe is connected on a molecular level. We're all made from exploding stars and are not in the universe but are a part of the universe. Through our eyes the universe is perceiving itself, there is no distinction between us and everything else that exists. Applied to humans this means that are of all the same moral worth. Some of us a smarter, better educated, wealthier but you chose almost nothing on this planet (where you're born, skin color, parents, family, location) so you're not better than anyone else. Every person is inherently valuable independent of behavior and beliefs. Everyone matters. Never make a value judgment on someone else because they have the right to believe and value what they want. Imago Dei.


Everyman has two lives. The second starts when he realizes he has just one.

We're all going to die, it's inevitable. Make sure you get what you want out of life and also don't take yourself so seriously. It's all going to be okay, it always has been.

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I've spent the past year building iSeed SEA, a seed fund partnering with ambitious founders across Southeast Asia at the earliest possible stages. I wanted to share a few of my observations and belief