The Fastest Way to Become Smarter Cover

The Fastest Way to Become Smarter

Four monks decided to meditate silently without speaking for two weeks. They lit a candle as a symbol of their practice and began. By nightfall on the first day, the candle flickered and then went out.

The first monk said: “Oh, no! The candle is out.”

The second monk said: “We’re not supposed to talk!”

The third monk said: “Why must you two break the silence?”

The fourth monk laughed and said: “Ha! I’m the only one who didn’t speak.”

95% of all talking covers only two topics:

  • The person whose mouth is open.
  • Stuff that’s outside our control.

The first monk got distracted by an outside event and felt compelled to point it out. He could’ve just re-lit the candle.

The second monk reminded everyone of a rule that had already been broken. He could’ve just kept meditating.

The third monk vented his anger. He could’ve just stayed calm.

The fourth monk got carried away with his ego. He could’ve just enjoyed his success in silence.

What all four have in common is that they shared their thoughts without filtering them, none of which added anything to improve the situation. If there had been a fifth, wiser monk, here’s what he would have done: Remain silent and keep meditating.

In doing so, he would’ve shown each of the other four monks their shortcomings without a single word. The more you talk, the more likely you are to say something stupid. The less you talk, the more you can listen.

Listening leads to learning.

What’s more, when you’re not talking, you have time to observe the situation until you spot the moment when it’s actually important to say something. Only speak when what you say is likely to have a significant, positive impact, for wisdom is cultivated in silence.

The less you speak, the smarter you get. And, maybe not quite coincidentally, the smarter you get, the less you speak.

6 Unwritten Social Rules Everyone Should Know Cover

6 Unwritten Social Rules Everyone Should Know

When you drive into Area 51, past the sign that says “Restricted Area,” you know what rules you’re violating. You’re trespassing on secret government property, you can be searched, photos are forbidden and boy, you better not launch any drones.

But there’s also a set of unwritten rules of Area 51. Nobody knows exactly what they are, but they’re what leads to all the rumors and myths surrounding the place.

  • Will you never come back?
  • Will you come back, but not be the same?
  • Can you ever talk about what happened?

Every place on this earth is like Area 51. There are rules, written and unwritten, and they depend on the time, the people, the country, the culture, the politics, and a whole lot of other values.

Following these rules as best as you can is less a sign of being a blind follower than it is a gesture of respect for others. Adapting can be a way of being kind. That said, sometimes you can also lead by making your own social rules and hoping others will follow.

  • When you enter a quiet room, be quiet. When you enter a lively room, be lively. Read the room.
  • When your opposite is talking to you, don’t use your phone. Don’t even touch it. When your opposite is on their phone, don’t be on your phone also. Maybe you can bring them back.
  • When people pass you in the street, acknowledge them. Look, nod, be part of the world. Don’t stare at the ground. Don’t be an antibody.
  • When you love someone, don’t tell them all the time. Just show them. Look at them, be attentive, listen. They’ll understand, even without words.
  • When you disagree with someone, ask: “Does it really matter that I disagree with them?” Is it worth starting a fight? Most of the time, it’s not.
  • When you can help people without really going out of your way, do it. Including, but not limited to, holding doors, standing up and giving exact change.

These are some of the ones I try to follow. So far, I haven’t ended up in Area 51.

The Most Important Rules to Break Are Your Own Cover

The Most Important Rules to Break Are Your Own

When I first began learning how to live a better life, I decided to watch a video every day. After 67 days, I branched into more specific habits. With every individual habit, I took the same approach: do it every day.

  • When I stopped drinking, I didn’t drink for two years.
  • When I started writing down my priorities, I did it every day for a year.
  • When I quit coffee, I didn’t have any for 100 days.

Once I started coaching people and helping them with their habits, I found a tool called The Habit Tendency Quiz. I’m an Upholder. The creator of the quiz, Gretchen Rubin, says Upholders are great at picking up and letting go of habits for one reason: they play really well by the rules.

Whether I set them for myself or am handed a guidebook, once I know what the expectations are, I’ll work my ass off to live up to them. But this is also the dark side, Gretchen says:

“Upholders are too driven by getting the Goldstar. They look for the rules beyond the rules. It’s too important for them to know what the rules are. They’re almost boxed in by the rules. They don’t know what to do when there aren’t any.”

In 2014, I decided to take online business seriously. In 2015, I decided writing would be my way to win. So I lived by the rule I knew to have worked, the only rule I knew: write every day.

For over two years, I have lived by this rule.

In 2015, I wrote 250,000 words. In 2016, I published a book summary each day. 500,000 words. In 2017, I kickstarted my journey on Quora the same way.

For a while now I’ve known it’s time to let go of this rule. I wanted to finish my year of daily answers and then quit. But once you’ve chosen a new path, there’s no use in delaying it. That’s a new rule I’d like to try.

The most important rules to break are your own.

Replace them with better rules. When you find a better rule, it’s your responsibility to implement it immediately. So today, I’m moving into new territory: The land of no rules.

When a post takes me three days, it takes me three days. If I feel like writing three answers in one day, that’s what I’ll do. And if I don’t feel good about any piece for a week, I won’t publish.

Knowing the rules is important. It allows you to pinpoint which ones you better follow and which ones must be broken to win. But on top of the rules of the game, you’re playing by your own.

These rules are invisible. They’re hard to see. You may never have consciously set them. Some serve you for a while. Others keep you from moving forward.

You can’t find these rules in a guidebook. They’re part of who you are. Which makes them hard to let go. Much harder to reject than others’ rules.

When you discover your own rules, do you have the courage to break them?

“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

How To Compete With People Cover

How To Compete With People Who Are Better Than You

If we get on the treadmill together, there are two options: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die.

Will Smith

But who are you running against? For most of your life, the person on the other treadmill is yourself.

Right now, the field might be crowded. Many people are ahead of you, and you can’t see who leads the pack. But once you start running faster than everyone else, you’ll soon be the only one left in the race.

  • You’ll be the only one left in the study room at school at 7 AM.
  • You’ll be the only one left who sends emails at 10 PM.
  • You’ll be the only one left working, while your friends are out partying.

Very few people have an outstanding work ethic. That’s what makes them outstanding. But it also means it’ll get lonely.

You don’t want what your friends want. You want what you want. So you shouldn’t care about winning against them.

Your true competitor is also your greatest fan.

(Barack Obama on 20th of January, 2009, about to take the oath of office)

Look at Will Smith again. He could’ve long stopped running. There’s no one for him to beat any more. As of 2016, his movies have grossed $7.5 billion at the global box office.

Why does a guy like that turn around and go straight to making more films?

When people like Will Smith glance at the other treadmill, they see a different version of themselves. One that’s not as good, as generous, as humble, as disciplined, as honest or as dedicated as they are.

That’s who they’re running against. Running from. Before long, you’ll be running against yourself too. You’ll have to, in order to keep going.

When you get there, I hope you’ll do what Will Smith does: keep running anyway.

Why You Don't Have the Life You Want Cover

Why You Don’t Have the Life You Want


In a world of Amazon, McDonalds, Netflix, Spotify, AirBnB, Uber and Tinder, nobody wants to do things the hard way.

Nobody’s willing to give up comfort now for greatness later. Everything in life has to be cheap, fast and easy.

Cheap, fast, easy.

Nothing worth having comes easy.

Nothing worth having comes fast.

Nothing worth having comes cheap.

  • If you’re not willing to walk, you’ll never run a marathon.
  • If you’re not willing to write, you’ll never publish a book.
  • If you’re not willing to sit on the floor, you’ll never have an office.
  • If you’re not willing to cook, you’ll never eat healthily.
  • If you’re not willing to get up, you’ll never make your dreams a reality.
  • If you’re not willing to go to the gym, you’ll never be fit.
  • If you’re not willing to turn off the TV, you’ll never read.
  • If you’re not willing to go on an actual date, you’ll never find love.
  • If you’re not willing to press publish, you’ll never know if you’re any good.
  • If you’re not willing to show yourself on camera, you’ll never become a Youtuber.
  • If you’re not willing to wear old shoes, you’ll never have new ones.
  • If you’re not willing to practice the piano, you’ll never give a concert.
  • If you’re not willing to save money, you’ll never have peace of mind.
  • If you’re not willing to travel, you’ll never go places.
  • If you’re not willing to invest, you’ll never be rich.
  • If you’re not willing to work, you’ll never make money the way you want to.

If you’re not willing to be uncomfortable, you’ll never have the life you want.