Lifestyle Productivity

The Mamba Mentality

“To sum up what Mamba Mentality is, it means to be able to constantly try to be the best version of yourself. That is what the Mentality is -it’s a constant quest to try to better today than you were yesterday.”

Kobe Bryant (1978 – 2020)

The Mamba Mentality is a highly effective way of developing your skills. Kobe Bryant, aka Black Mamba, developed this method after his first season playing basketball. The Mamba Mentality is a tested and proven way to bring you from the bottom of the dog pile to the Greatest of All Time.

A trip through time…

When Kobe Bryant was about 10 or 11 he was in a summer basketball league. During this season, he scored a grand total of 0 points for the ENTIRE season. Naturally, he was crushed and his father told him it doesn’t matter if you score 0 or 60 points I’m going to love you either way. This gave Kobe the confidence the needed to confront failure powerfully but he didn’t want to score 0 points. After that season, he spent his days focused on the fundamentals while his teammates relied on their athleticism. Eventually, practicing of the fundamentals caught him up to his teammates and his athleticism followed shortly after. By the age of 14, Kobe was the best basketball player in the state regardless of age.

This sounds like an incredible accomplishment but Kobe says it’s simple math: If you are playing for 2-3 hours every day and everyone around you is playing 1-2 hours twice a week, who’s going to be better? Skill development is not only a function of time, but time is a necessary ingredient.

There are two main pillars of the mamba mentality:

  • Show up and work every day, no matter what.
  • Rest at the end not in the middle

Incremental Consistent Progress

Putting work in every single day, even just for a few hours, is the edge you need over your competition. The sad fact of the matter is, not everyone will be giving their 100%. So, if you are giving your 100%, then you can’t lose. And part of that effort is showing up every. single. day. no. matter. what. By the time a years rolls around, or even 6 months, the results are noticeably different. I’ve seen this idea represented in Jeff Olson’s The Slight Edge and I’ve tried it for myself.

I apply this pillar of the mamba mentality to my learning. I learn something new every single day no matter what. It brings a child-like bliss into my life and I become a better person every day. After a few years, people have no considered me an expert in things that I would never dare claim expertise in. Apply this everywhere and watch the unimaginable unfold.

Restful rest vs. Stressful Rest

The difference between restful rest and stressful rest lies in the second pillar of the Mamba Mentality. Kobe suggests to rest at the end and not in the middle. This can apply to workouts, homework assignments, projects, whatever goal you have with a definite end. When we forstall resting and push all the way to the end, we train ourselves in endurance and tenacity but we also get to rest much more peacefully. When we rest at the end, we know the work is over and we can enjoy the much deserved breakrestful rest. When we rest in the middle, we have to get over the activation energy required to start again (which sucks) but we also can’t rest as peacefully because we are anticipating the stress to begin again – stressful rest.

I’ve applied this to my workouts and I’ve gotten better results than when I was resting whenever I felt tired. Make no mistake, it’s painful to rest at the end but it’s worth it. I’ve also applied this to cleaning my room, writing, making music, working, and tons of other places.

In this interview Kobe beautifully lays out the foundation of the world renowned, Mamba Mentality.

Starts at 2:11

Show up every damn day and just do it. Don’t stop until you accomplish what you set out to do. Apply these two principles and skill development is a piece of cake.

Education Lifestyle Productivity

How to Find Purpose

“The whole law of human existence consists in nothing other than a man’s always being able to bow before the immeasurably great. If people are deprived of the immeasurably great, they will not live and will die in despair. The immeasurable and infinite are as necessary for man as the small planet he inhabits.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 – 1881)

Definitive Purpose

It seems as if having a definitive purpose can have tremendous benefits, but how do we know what our purpose even is?

The following are three strategies that I have used to develop a strong and authentic purpose that serve as my foundational context:

Reflecting on My Interests

I try to pay attention to the things that I’m interested in. Our interests are often unique and the origins of their magnetic pull are hard to explain. I believe that our life purpose – the mission we take on to offset the inherent suffering of life – is hidden within our unique interests. Robert Greene refers to these unique interests as inclinations in his book Mastery.

When we are young this mysterious force is strongest, but as we get older we tend to drown out this force with practical nonsense and delude ourselves into thinking that something else is our purpose. I try to pay attention to the times when I lose myself in an activity or lose track of time because these are the things that are connected to my life’s purpose. I love learning. I love helping people learn. I love being creative. I love helping others be creative. I wouldn’t have known these things about myself if I never paid attention to what specifically I am interested in.

Letting Myself Get Lost

It may be cheesy when people say they have to “find themselves,” but I believe there’s some truth to that. Once we find ourselves and our purpose, life becomes easier and pursuing goals becomes exciting, especially with clarity. But in order to find ourselves, we must first get lost. People tend to hate relinquishing control, but I suggest to aim to lose control and pay keen attention to the kinds of things you think about. Get lost with the intention of finding something new within yourself.

Letting yourself get lost could also play a double meaning. Whenever I notice that I’m losing myself in my work, I keep riding that momentum. Nothing is more important than doing the work that we feel we are made to do, and losing ourselves in our work is a sign that we are doing that.

Seek Out Resistance

Training myself in many different skills was one of the best ways to finding my purpose because once I was competent in these skills, I was able to use them in creative and unique ways. I believe that this uniquely expressed creativity is where purpose is found. The only problem is…

it’s painful to learn something new.

We love to avoid pain and discomfort, but on the flipside we can find great accomplishment and fresh perspectives when we are learning. Where we find resistance is where we can learn something new, and where we learn something new is where we can create something amazing for the world.

False Purpose

“Man would rather have the void as purpose than be void of purpose.”

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)

With our frantic need for purpose, it’s easy to align ourselves with a purpose that would cause more harm than good. I like to refer to these as false purposes. False purposes are incredible attractive but centering our lives around these things tend to create more problems than their worth. Chasing false purpose will drag you down. Not only will your goals not be accomplished, you will have a much harder time trying to bring these “purposes” into fruition. In my own experience, whenever I chased down a false purpose, I never got what I was after and I was often left feeling insatiable. Here’s a few examples of false purposes that I’ve chased and determined are not worth the trouble:

Money: whenever I chase money, I end up feeling more broke. Plus, if I do reach my financial goal, I have a bad habit of moving the goal post. Money comes and goes, chasing money is like chasing the wind. It’s always relative and you will always want more. I promise.

Unjust reward: this takes the form of gaining something for nothing, or gaining more than the work put in. I’d be lying if I said I never tried to do this. It’s simple, you reap what you sow. Rarely do we ever receive more than we give and it would be foolish to center our lives around this uncommon exchange.

Vanity & Egotism: the more I make myself the center of attention, the more pressure I feel to achieve at a high level. At first, this doesn’t seem like a bad thing, but the trouble starts when I don’t achieve at the level I expect. My identity gets tied up with how I perform and that’s a slippery slope to Hell. This also goes for looks too. Chasing good looks is fleeting and futile, I never feel good about myself when my main objective is to look good.

Absolute Power Over Others: chasing absolute power makes me hyper aware of the power imbalances in all my relationships. Sometimes I have more power and sometimes someone else does. The problem arises from when the other person has power over me – if absolute power over others were my main purpose, then this person is a direct obstacle to my goals. Rather than trying to shoot for absolute power, I found it better to recognize my position in each relationship and finding the ways I can leverage someone else’s power to my benefit.

Intoxicants and Other Drugs: you can chase a high for a lifetime. They really do feel that good. Pursuing intoxicants or other drugs is like applying a compressor to your emotional state. It brings the both lows up and the highs down to a middle hum that isn’t too bad or too good either. Chasing the high makes the low feel better, but it’s a short term strategy. Plus it makes the highs feel like any other day. Chase intoxicants and watch everything start becoming a 7/10. Finally got that dream job. Eh. Got married. Eh. Birth of your first child. Eh. The choice is yours.

Immortality: the fear of death is natural, but for me the fear of being forgotten haunts me more. The idea that the universe will move on as if I never existed really messes me up sometimes, but to deny this fact and chase it away is a denial of life itself. Life is finite and that’s what makes it beautiful. Instead of chasing immortality, I’ve chosen to make as much of an impact with my creative endeavours instead. By focusing on being creative, I create something that takes on a life of its own and can live on once I’m gone and that new living being gets to influence others (hopefully in a positive way).

Being the Hero/Heroine: “I would have been totally screwed if it wasn’t for you” is a phrase I secretly love to hear. Being a hero is a fantastic feeling but I wouldn’t recommend trying to be a hero all the time. By focusing on saving humanity, I found myself focusing on problems and no solutions. Additionally, when other people ended up playing a pivotal role in solving problems, I wasn’t happy with the outcome because I wasn’t the one who fixed everything. I should have been happy that the problem was solved and everyone is moving forward, but instead I was bitter and resentful that I wasn’t the hero. How narcissistic. Making this your purpose is perfect for developing a messiah complex.

Pleasure: Hedonism. I was a devout hedonist in college. It’s easy to believe that life is for pleasure. It’s easy to believe that there are only peak moments and the moments you spend in pursuit of the pleasure. In Pinocchio, Pinocchio was in the pursuit of being a real boy, but in the process he lost sight of his goals and found himself on pleasure island. On pleasure island, Pinocchio ends up getting sold to the salt mines where him and the other misfit toys are subject to misery and sacrifice with no payoff. I believe that life works a lot like that. We pursue something and in that pursuit we seek short-term pleasure to get us by. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying life, but losing the ability to sacrifice the present for the future and prioritizing present pleasure over future benefit is a perfect way to end up in the salt mines of life. Seeking pleasure first will drag you down. It took me years to reverse my hedonistic tendencies.

Attention: Focusing on getting the attention of others is fleeting and it’s something that we would always have to be striving for. When this was my main focus, I never had a chance to look inwards. I was never able to see the things within myself that no one could take away, the things that I could cultivate, the things that I could bring wherever I went regardless of circumstance. When I decided to let go of attention as a main goal, I had the beautiful opportunity to get to know myself and as a result, I ended up getting more attention from people because I was interesting. Everyone loves people that can bring something to the table.

This is not a list of things to stay away from. These are just some things that can be mistaken for our main purpose in life. All of the desirables on this list can be obtained as a byproduct of aiming at our true purpose.

Take the time to find why getting up in the morning is worthwhile. The world is not short of reasons to live, it is up to us to find them.

Education Lifestyle Productivity

The Most Dangerous Habit That Everyone Has

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)

In the book, Outwitting the Devil, Napoleon Hill describes a prevalent habit among all people which brings about suffering and destruction. This habit is known as drifting. When someone drifts, the devil, so to speak, takes hold of their life and ends up doing the devil’s work for him. When I first heard that, I didn’t think it was true. But when then I thought about it longer, I realized that people end up making things worse when they are not deliberately and wholeheartedly aiming at a goal.

The Drifters

Drifter noun – someone who has an uncertain direction in life and who does little thinking for themselves. This person accepts anything and everything that life throws at them and doesn’t put up a fight to get what they want. They probably have a great mind with amazing potential but are too lazy and indifferent to use it.  A drifter has many options but none of them are their own.

Drifters practice the habit of drifting. They allow their lives to go wherever the wind blows and do not exercise their will to create a life that they would actually like. Drifters are aimless and there is nothing more dangerous than to be aimless. When we don’t aim at something, we allow space for something else to be created. That something else is always chaotic and much worse than any of us would like. I talk a little bit about this phenomena in my other post about the Reality-Possibility Exchange. If we do not choose what is created in front of us, then something less desirable will be created in its place and that is precisely what the devil, as discussed in Hill’s book, is trying to take advantage of. If we aren’t actively working towards something we want, then our lives will devolve into a mess created by the devil.

Drifting is extremely threatening and super common. Hill suggests about 98% of people are drifters. I think it’s more around 99%.

How do I know if I’m a drifter?

  • If all the options in front of you seem lifeless and boring
  • If your life seems to be filled with unfair circumstances that crush you under the weight of their significance
  • If you find yourself avoiding and ignoring different aspects of your life
  • If you find that your life is filled with negativity and are constantly wondering how all of the suffering you are experiencing got there in the first place
  • If you feel as if you are not where you want to be and it seems like that place is a far and distant land that you will never see

It sounds as if all negative and unpleasant experiences come from drifting behavior, but what about circumstances that are truly terrible and did not come about from our behavior?

There will be many life circumstances that are not ideal but it is always possible to get out of any situation and reach any goal that you set for yourself. There are people who have came from worse situations and achieved more success that you are aiming for. Our negative and unpleasant experiences comes from our judgement of our situations, not from the actual situations themselves. As long as we don’t simply accept what life throws at us but embrace it and try to live in a way that emulates our ideals, then we will not become victims of our situations but the architects of our lives.

You can identify yourself as a drifter through examining your feelings but you can also see it in our actions as well. If you notice someone acting like a drifter, I recommend being mindful of getting trapped by their magnetic field of purposelessness. Drifting is contagious.

24 Other Signs of Drifters from Outwitting The Devil

They never accomplish anything requiring thought and effort.

They are conspicuous by their lack of self-confidence.

They spend all they earn and more too, if they can get credit.

They have little or no imagination.

They are ill-tempered and lack control of their emotions.

They lack enthusiasm and initiative to begin anything they are not forced to undertake, and express their weakness by taking the line of least resistance whenever they can.

They will be sick or ailing from some real or imaginary cause, and calling to high heaven if they suffer the least physical pain.

They have opinions on everything but accurate knowledge of nothing.

Their personality is without magnetism and does not attract other people.

They may be a jack of all trades but good at none.

They neglect to cooperate with those around them, even those on whom they must depend for food and shelter.

They make the same mistake over and over again, never profiting by failure.

They never reach decisions on anything if they can avoid it, and if they are forced to decide they reverse themselves at the first opportunity.

They eat too much and exercise too little.

They are narrow-minded and intolerant on all subjects, ready to crucify those who may disagree with them.

They begin many things but complete nothing.

They take a drink of liquor if someone else will pay for it.

They are loud in their condemnation of their government, but they never tell you definitely how it can be improved.

They gamble if they can do it “on the cuff”.

They criticize others who are succeeding in their chosen calling.

If they work for others, they criticize them to their backs and flatter them to their faces.

They work harder to get out of thinking than most others work in earning a good living.

They expect everything of others but are willing to give little or nothing in return.

They tell a lie rather than admit their ignorance on any subject.

What would happen if I maintain my identity as a drifter?

Choosing to remain a drifter will cause to us fail without even knowing. Most people don’t want to direct themselves to something specific because it becomes glaringly apparent when we fail, and we hate failing. But when we refuse to specify our criteria for failure we still fail, but significantly worse because we’re not aware that we’re failing.

Every day that we’re not dedicated to something, we’re still not doing the things we need to do to get where we want even if we don’t know it. One day we may find ourselves in a terrible life situation asking “Where did it all go wrong?” or “How did my life get this way?” and it will all be due to our repeated failure over the years. It would be better to set a goal and know when we are failing because at least we will have the ability to do something about it. It is possible to fail and not know it.

Do yourself a favor and live with clarity, learn what is failure and what is not. Pretending that it doesn’t exist, does not mean that it is not happening. It hurts to fail, but it hurts more to hate your existence. If we do not create the best for ourselves, the worst will be given to us. Give yourself a fighting chance.

“Many a false step was made by standing still.”

Timothy Ferriss (1977 – )

How do I stop becoming a drifter?

The best way to stop being a drifter is to live with definitive purpose. We must aim at a goal with purpose that inspires us to bring out the best in ourselves. Our purpose should be something so much bigger than us that we cannot help but to live in service of it. Purpose makes life worth living and can even make the most mundane tasks seem exciting and pleasurable.

Being purpose driven is the best antidote to aimlessness. With a definitive purpose, learning will not have to be a difficult task that feels like a waste of time but as a way to develop ourselves in the skills necessary to reach our goals. Definitive purpose helps us find reasons to be engaged in things. It makes being present so much easier, which enriches the experience of our lives.

Watching ourselves take actions that move us closer to fulfilling our goals brings us happiness and fulfillment. We feel positive emotion when we move closer to a goal. Which means, in order to feel happy or fulfilled we first need a clear and definite goal, then we need to chase it down.

Some benefits of being aligned with our true purpose:

  • We will always be determined to bring it about no matter long it takes or the price that must be paid.
  • Once we have our purpose, we will no longer explain away our current situations. We will have the power to create the opportunities that we need to bring about our ideal lives.
  • It provides us with many feelings of accomplishment and we will be happier watching ourselves move towards our purpose.
  • We will be able to easily admit when we do not know the answers
  • We will always be able to take responsibility for our mistakes and have the strength to never blame others
  • We will have a mind of our own and be an inspiration to all those who are familiar with us
  • We will be able to extend to help to many other people while simultaneously accepting few or no favors for ourselves
  • We will never need an excuse for our shortcomings, they will appear as mere areas of impending improvement

I believe that most people are drifters and the people who aren’t drifters have to work really hard to not end up falling back into drifter-esque actions. Personally, fighting drifting is an every day battle and I have to constantly remind myself to be intentional. Similar to when my mind wonders during meditation, when i catch myself drifting I simply acknowledge that it happened and try to get back on track. It’s not about how many times I fell off, but how many times I get on. Drifting is an easy thing to do, which is why we do it, but it allows space for chaos to have it’s way with us and the only way we can defend ourselves is through living with definitive purpose.

Education Lifestyle Productivity

5 More Tips for Better Scheduling

“There are two types of time: alive time and dead time. One is when you sit around, when you wait until things happen to you. The other is when you are in control, when you make every second count, when you are learning and improving and growing.”

Robert Greene (1959 – )

If you haven’t read my other post about scheduling you can find it here -> 5 Tips for Better Scheduling. I believe that scheduling is a skill that needs to be developed over time. Over the years, I have found a few things that work best for me. One thing I love about scheduling is that it’s a metaskill, meaning getting better at scheduling will help with your other skills too! So here are 5 more tips for better scheduling – take what you love and leave what you don’t.

Change Your Repeating Unit of Time

A balanced life, the ideal of many people. But what does it mean to live a balanced life? If we were to take a 24 hour period and divide up the time based on what was important to us, what would that day look like? Most people work an average of 8 hours per day and sleep for the same amount. So if we did the math, after working and sleeping we’re only left with 8 hours for the rest of our lives. How much of that do we want to spend with our families? Or making art? Or watching TV? Or reading books? How much can we actually accomplish in 8 hours? It’s pretty much impossible to have a balance life this way. There are only so many hours in the day. But what if we used more than a day?

We have 24 hours in a day, so in a week we have 168 hours. If we subtract 8 hours per day for sleeping and working, then we are left with 56 hours for the rest of our lives. I find it a lot easier to think about my time in terms of weeks and not days. 56 hours is much easier to work with than 8. Another thing about this scheduling hack that I love, is if the 56 hours still aren’t enough time for you, then you can observe the repeating unit of time as two weeks and you have 112 hours to deal with.

Let me break this down further.

If we considered Monday at midnight to be the beginning of the week, then the middle of the week is Thursday at noon. So don’t stress if the first half of your week is a little unbalanced, you can make up for in during the second half of the week.

Hour Sweet Median Dots (2019) – Christopher S. Mukiibi

A balanced life is a myth (for the most part). Sometimes the key is a paradigm shift and a little self restraint. We can’t live our entire lives in a day, but thankfully we’ve been given more than one.

Internalize Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law comes from Cyril Parkinson’s The Economist, which basically states that:

“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”

I noticed this whenever I put my assignments off untill the last minute.

It would go something like…my professor would give me 30 days to do an essay. I spend 29 of them (if I’m being honest) doing nothing for the paper. The night before the due date, my anxiety kicks in and my adrenaline fueled hands bust out the 20 page monster in less than 12 hours. Thankfully, I kicked this habit by the time my semester-long chemical engineering senior design project came along – that probably wouldn’t have been finished in 12 hours.

This phenomena is seen all over the world, from people of all ages, and in all fields of expertise. People tend to use up all of the time they plan for something. Most people have an 8 hour workday but don’t need all 8 hours to do their work, yet it takes them 8 hours anyway.

This is why deadline and due dates can be useful. Whenever we see that we are at risk for experiencing something really painful like embarrassment or a misstep, we get down to the really important parts to get our goal accomplished. When we procrastinate the night before a paper is due, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about which font to use or even which words could best convey our ideas. We just focus on getting the entire paper done as a whole. When it comes down to it, there is something that activates within us, cuts the fluff, and gets shit done.

Set deadline that seems a little too short. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done.

However, beware of the planning fallacy – we aren’t good at predicting how long things will take. Sometimes we will need more time for a project and sometimes we don’t. Parkinson’s Law is not like gravity. It’s more of a rule of thumb that tends to happen if we aren’t being 100% intentional. I have this small theory that this can apply to bags when I pack clothes too or money I budget for a trip, but those are for another time.

Maintain an Impeccable Calendar

When I first started to schedule things, my calendar quickly turned into something that I couldn’t trust. When I got a notification to study or work on a project, part of me wasn’t sure if I really needed to be doing that thing so I didn’t. Over time, my calendar wasn’t reliable and honestly just an extra burden in my life. This is when I found the importance of maintaining an accurate and updated calendar. Scheduling is meant to be a tool to help you, not an extra chore or another “right things to do.” Our calendars can only help if they are reliable, and they can only be reliable if we take time to make sure the inputs are accurate, specific, and updated. If not, they’ll turn into just another hurdle and not only will it be a hindrance in our lives but our calendars could actually make things worse!

So keep a good relationship with your calendar. Trust it and put in the effort to make it something that you trust. It can help keep you on the path.

Nothing is Too Small To Schedule

This is something that took me a little while to really understand. One of my mentors even told me this when I first started using my calendar consistently. I used to just schedule the big things (e.g. lectures, work, client meetings, etc.) and honestly, I thought it was a waste of time to schedule in the small things. I figured, as long as I had the big events covered then I was good. But as the fate of all false perspectives, this wasn’t sustainable over time and I found myself in a worse position. My schedule wasn’t working for me the way it should and I felt more pressure trying to keep it up.

So I took my mentor’s advice and started to schedule the small things like texting my boss back, rewriting a song lyric, or uploading something to the internet. This brought my scheduling game to a new level. My calendar became an extension of myself. Whenever I get the feeling like I’ll forget something, no matter how small it is, I put it right in my calendar. Now, the only time I forget to do something is if I forget to schedule in my calendar. Still human right?

Always Set Alerts – the More Obnoxious the Better

I like to set alerts for when to leave. Smart phones usually update as the traffic changes so we can be alerted when we need to leave a little earlier. This is super helpful (if you trust technology like that). In order to get the notifications to leave and when traffic changes, you must set the location of the event. This goes with the Be Specific as Possible tip from the last scheduling post. Give your calendar as much information as it can and let the technology do the work for you.

Usually, I am 100% against notifications. Notifications are terrible for our productivity and mental health. I have all notifications of my phone shut off except for 2. The notifications constantly grab at our attention forcing our minds to task-switch which prevents us from doing any real deep work or being present.

The 2 notifications I still keep on my phone are when my bank account balance falls under a certain amount and when it is time to leave for the next event on my calendar. The first one is so I can make sure no fishy business is happening with my money and the second is to make sure that I am punctual to my appointments. I like to use the Apple calendar app synced with my gmail account so I can have my calendar on all my devices.