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Lifestyle

Personality and Trajectory (Part 1)

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

Carl Jung (1875 – 1961)

Personality has always been an interesting subject for me. I’ve always been interested in what makes people tick and what separates an individual from the rest of the crowd. Personality is one of the many factors which determine individuality. Personality can be thought of as a collection of qualities that make up our overall character. Over the years, there has been much debate over what those qualities are and how they present in human behavior. Today, multiple theories have been widely accepted by the public and are used in business practices.

Learning personality is a fantastic way to connect with and understand more people than we otherwise would, but I don’t just stop there, I like to use it to help determine a complimentary life trajectory. Learning about our own personality gives us an insight into what kind of life we would actually enjoy.

It’s too easy to get caught up building our life for other people or chasing romanticised ideals. This is how people get stuck with jobs and relationships that they hate. People think they want these things because someone else told them it was worth having or because they saw it in the media. I see this with my students all the time, they stress out over which career pays the most, is the most “secure,” or looks the most glamourous. I see students intentionally repress themselves in order to fit into a mold that they will never truly accept.

The trick to avoiding this pitfall is learning about what makes up our personalities and tailoring our trajectories to fulfill ourselves. If we know what we would like to do, then we can pick a role within society that can satisfy that. Sounds simple enough, but people don’t really act this way. We live in a complex society and there are roles that need to be filled by people of certain temperament. It’s better to fill these roles with people who naturally fit into them, rather than waste resources trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Our personality is something to take into account when we are designing the trajectory of our lives. It’s something we need to grapple with. It’s much easier to put ourselves in an environment which compliments our strengths, than to reject or ignore part of ourselves which cannot easily changed.

In this post, I’m going to talk about a popular theory of personality. It’s slightly outdated and not entirely scientifically inaccurate but it is widely accepted and used in many institutions, so it’s useful to “be in the know” with this information. Plus it’s fun party talk.

Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator or (MBTI) is a method of categorizing people through a questionnaire which outlines the differences in how they perceive the world and make decisions. It was created by American mother-daughter duo, Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. MBTI is widely accepted throughout the business world as well as socially, especially in the United States.

Contrary to popular belief, MBTI does has significant scientific deficiencies, poor reliability, and is not entirely comprehensive of human personality. However, MBTI is useful to know because it gives us a common language with people who do accept it. MBTI is popular in the corporate world, because it does an excellent job in categorizing people without hurting anyone’s feelings. This theory of personality has a way of making everyone seem like they have no downfalls and can always contribute, which is powerful in business environments. Businesses tend to do better when the people who run it feel better. Empirical personality data isn’t as relevant to performance as we would expect. MBTI is also fantastic at providing a basic structure for understanding personality, but it’s crucial to know that it does not supply us with the whole picture.

MBTI is based on the assumption that people have specific preferences for interpreting experiences and pursuing our desires. It also draws from Carl Jung’s typology theories which suggest people have four modes of cognitive functions (Thinking, Feeling, Sensation, and Intuition) as well as one of two polar orientations (Extraversion or Introversion). Even though Jung’s theory of psychological types was not based on empirical scientific studies, they were based on clinical observation, introspection, and anecdotes. Since the conclusions did not originate from controlled scientific studies, they are not accepted by the scientific community. However, Carl Jung was an amazing thinker and I do believe he was one of the few operating with precision at the edge of our collective understanding. His conclusions, from his observations or otherwise, were always made with the intention of bringing man closer to truth that we all can accept.

MBTI sorts out personality in 4 major continuums. Each person leans more towards one pole of each pair similar to right-handedness or left-handedness. When a person determines which side of each continuum they express, they are assigned a type. There are a total of 16 different types, 1 for each combination of the letters.

Let me give an example using my own letters. I’m more introverted than extroverted. I’m more intuitive than sensory. I’m more of a thinker than a feeler. Usually I’m more perceiver than judger, but recently I have been more judger than perceiver. This gives me the letters INTJ. (Some days I’m an INTP) The letters come from the capitalized letter in each word: Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judger.

Extroversion vs. Introversion

MBTI and Jung use introversion and extroversion in similar ways. Introversion meaning inward-turning and extroversion meaning outward-turning. These both are often referred to as attitudes that one uses to function in the external world.

Simply put, extroverts are recharged by people while introverts are recharged by alone time. Each type is usually drained by the opposite activity, extroverts are drained by alone time and introverts are drained by social interaction. However, there are other notable differences between them.

Extroverts direct their energy towards people and objects while introverts direct theirs towards concepts and ideas. We can always find out which attitude people take by paying attention to the topics of their conversation or asking them what their ideal weekend would look like. If someone is frequently talking about people and things they’re most likely extroverted. If someone is frequently talking about concepts and ideas they’re most likely introverted. An extrovert’s ideal weekend is probably spent going out and seeing a bunch of people, celebrating at the club, or another type of high energy ordeal. An introvert’s ideal weekend would probably be spent inside with a good book or TV show along with ample time for reflection.

This is not to say that extroverts can never be alone, or that introverts hate being with people. Everyone needs some amount of social interaction and alone time. Our attitudes merely reflect our preferences and how we choose to interact with the world around us. Neither attitude is more advantageous or otherwise, they are simply two sides of the same coin.

The following statements will apply to you if you are more extroverted:

  • I am seen as “outgoing” or as a “people person.”
  • I feel comfortable in groups and like working in them.
  • I have a wide range of friends and know lots of people.
  • I sometimes jump too quickly into an activity and don’t allow enough time to think it over.
  • Before I start a project, I sometimes forget to stop and get clear on what I want to do and why.

The following statements will apply to you if you are more introverted:

  • I am seen as “reflective” or “reserved.”
  • I feel comfortable being alone and like things I can do on my own.
  • I prefer to know just a few people well.
  • I sometimes spend too much time reflecting and don’t move into action quickly enough.
  • I sometimes forget to check with the outside world to see if my ideas really fit the experience.

Sensing vs. Intuition

This dichotomy is based on how we psychologically perceive the external world. These are both functions of gathering information. Sensing individuals tend to trust information that is tangible, concrete, and understood by the five senses. They’re less likely to trust “gut feelings” or other “hunches” that come out of nowhere. For them, meaning lies in the data, what is in front of them.

Individuals driven by intuition tend to trust information that is remembered or discovered through analyzing patterns. Since they trust information that doesn’t have to fit within the five senses, they tend to be more excited by what the future has in store. For them, meaning is not in the data but the principles and theories which underlie the data.

The following statements will apply to you if you perceive through sensing:

  • I remember events as snapshots of what actually happened.
  • I solve problems by working through facts until I understand the problem.
  • I am pragmatic and look to the “bottom line.”
  • I start with facts and then form a big picture.
  • I trust experience first and trust words and symbols less.
  • Sometimes I pay so much attention to facts, either present or past, that I miss new possibilities.

The following statements will apply to you if you perceive through intuition:

  • I remember events by what I read “between the lines” about their meaning.
  • I solve problems by leaping between different ideas and possibilities.
  • I am interested in doing things that are new and different.
  • I like to see the big picture, then to find out the facts.
  • I trust impressions, symbols, and metaphors more than what I actually experienced.
  • Sometimes I think so much about new possibilities that I never look at how to make them a reality.

Thinking vs. Feeling

Thinking and feeling are based on how we prefer to make choices in the external world. Both thinkers and feelers make rational choices based on certain kinds of information which were gathered from their senses or intuition. Thinkers tend to make their decisions based on objective measures while aiming to be reasonable, logical, or causal. They are usually personally detached from their decisions and try to match their choices to a given set of rules. Thinkers also tend to have low tolerance for those who are inconsistent or illogical. Thinkers give direct (and sometimes harsh) feedback and view the truth as more important than feelings.

This is not to say that thinkers never make emotional decisions, MBTI simply lets us know one’s preference in decisions making and is not a predictor of behavior. They also don’t “think better” than their feeling counterparts. MBTI doesn’t measure cognitive ability, just preferences.

Feelings types tend to make their choices based on empathy, balance, harmony, and with consideration for others’ needs. Feeling types try to see what works best for everyone involved and are willing to sacrifice logic and truth for the good of the majority. 

Thinking types will have a hard time leading a healthy and productive life if they make their choices based on their feelings, while feeling types will have a harder time leading a healthy and productive life if they make their choices based on their logical reasoning. Both types tend to lack the opposite senses necessary to make good choices. Similar to our attitudes toward the external world (extraversion vs. introversion), one isn’t better than the other, they are both different sides to the same coin.

The following statements will apply to you if you decide through thinking:

  • I enjoy technical and scientific fields where logic is important.
  • I notice inconsistencies.
  • I look for logical explanations or solutions to most everything.
  • I make decisions with my head and want to be fair.
  • I believe telling the truth is more important than being tactful.
  • Sometimes I miss or don’t value the “people” part of a situation.
  • I can be seen as too task-oriented, uncaring, or indifferent.

The following statements will apply to you if you decide through feeling:

  • I have a people or communications orientation.
  • I am concerned with harmony and nervous when it is missing.
  • I look for what is important to others and express concern for others.
  • I make decisions with my heart and want to be compassionate.
  • I believe being tactful is more important than telling the “cold” truth.
  • Sometimes I miss seeing or communicating the “hard truth” of situations.
  • I am sometimes experienced by others as too idealistic, mushy, or indirect.

Judging vs. Perceiving

This dichotomy is based on how we relate to our perceptions of the external world. This continuum is heavily influenced by our sensing and/or intuitive natures, because we are either judging or perceiving the information obtained through those perceptions.

Judging types take in information with the intention of using it later and, in the words of Myers, like to “have matters settled.” They usually have a plan in mind and are only interested in information if it’s related to their goal in some way. They tend to be more comfortable once decisions have been made and the environment around them is under control.

Perceiving types take in information for the sake of learning. They love knowing things just to know them. Perceiving types learn about and adapt to the world around them rather than structure it themselves.

The following statements will apply to you if you perceive your information by through judging:

  • I like to have things decided.
  • I appear to be task oriented.
  • I like to make lists of things to do.
  • I like to get my work done before playing.
  • I plan work to avoid rushing just before a deadline.
  • Sometimes I focus so much on the goal that I miss new information.

The following statements will apply to you if you perceive your information by through perceiving:

  • I like to stay open to respond to whatever happens.
  • I appear to be loose and casual. I like to keep plans to a minimum.
  • I like to approach work as play or mix work and play.
  • I work in bursts of energy.
  • I am stimulated by an approaching deadline.
  • Sometimes I stay open to new information so long I miss making decisions when they are needed.

For more information on each of the MBTI traits, I suggest going to myersbriggs.org. It’s the place to go for more thorough explanations of everything MBTI and where I got most of this information, like the relevant statements for each type.


Like I said earlier, personality changes throughout our lives and these letters are just letting us know our proclivities, not defining who we are as people. However, knowing my MBTI can give me an insight into what kind of life trajectory I would be the most satisfied with with the least friction.

According to my MBTI, I would most enjoy a trajectory which: provides me with ample alone time (I). opportunities to discover new information (N). puts me in environments where the culture values reason, logic, and causality (T). gives me the opportunity to make decisions on my own time at my own pace (J).

Through understanding our personality, we can create paths for ourselves which compliment our proclivities. For example, if I were extroverted, I would probably best enjoy myself in an environment surrounded by others.

While MBTI can give us delightful insight into what life trajectories would best compliment our nature, there are some criticisms that are important to consider:

  • These types are generalizations which do not accurately describe an individual.
  • There are people who do not fit nicely into these 16 groups.
  • MBTI suggests that there are no negative personality traits.
  • MBTI is widely accepted in the workplace, even though there is no evidence that supports MBTI is predictive of performance.

There are others, but these are the ones I’ve encountered to be the most substantial. All these criticisms bring up the question:

Why still use MBTI?

It can give us a rough idea of what kind of life trajectory we would fit well with and as I’ve talked about in my other posts, we do things badly before we can do them well. If we want to design a beautiful life trajectory, we need a rough starting point. MBTI is great for that. Plus it’s fun party conversation if you ever run into an MBTI nerd. Additionally, since MBTI is commonly accepted in the workplace, it’s useful to be in the know when people try to use it’s coded language.

Find your letters and start discovering which paths most align with you.

In the modern world we have choices, why not choose what fits us?

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Lifestyle

2019 Yearly Review: Birth of Tradition

“Time is the friend of the person who trains his mind to follow positive thought-habits and the enemy of the person who drifts into negative thought-habits.”

Napoleon Hill (Outwitting the Devil)

When last year was coming to a close, I had a terrible realization that I couldn’t remember anything that happened that year and I felt like life was slipping through my fingers. Every week moving faster than the last, and while I was in the grips of it all my days seemed to have amounted to nothing. I knew that this wasn’t possible because I was working really hard, dedicating myself to (what I believed to be) noble causes, and some things in my life were moving along in a generally positive direction, but it just didn’t feel like it.

I was tired of feeling stagnant, so I told myself in 2019 I had to track my life somehow. (I learned a lot about tracking this year and I outline it in my post on Tracking vs. Loss Aversion.) I wasn’t open to journaling or writing at the time, but I’ve discovered that writing is of my favorite ways to record myself and look back on later. In the early parts of the year, I tried to take pictures of something I was doing once a day or record a quick vlog, but those didn’t stick and I felt like it didn’t accurately captured what I was actually like.

I was really disheartened to think that one day I’ll be gone, and all that will be left of me are the things that I leave here. All that will be left of me would be those pictures to capture my day or that quick vlog.

That didn’t sit well with me at all.

I understand that entire civilizations have come and gone and most individuals are not remembered in time, but I want my existence to at least have a chance to impact others, even after I’m dead and gone. I thought about how much beauty and tragedy I can experience in a day, how I’ve learned so much throughout my time here, and I should try my damndest to share it. Not only life lessons and academic lessons, but lessons about the human spirit that can only be communicated through experiencing another individual. Every person I’ve come across has an undeniable uniqueness, and I’ve always believed that’s what makes people special. It was so terrible that my own unique individualism was being squashed and forgotten because I was too lazy, afraid, or [insert any relatively insignificant emotion here] to dedicate the energy and time required to preserve it. If I couldn’t even remember what I was doing in the past year, how could I expect to preserve my individuality over time?

With frustration, fear, and angry heavy in my heart I went on to find some way to accurately capture who I am. I discovered that I could carve out a little piece of the internet and create a space that captures all the different sides of me, and if I dedicated the proper time and energy, then I could capture who I am in my entirety. So I ditched the “picture a day” crap and took my documenting more seriously. I created a plan to build an online city that expresses the different sides of Christopher Sagala Mukiibi. Each project I build isn’t a perfect representation of me, but it is a small part of me. The goal is my future and (hopefully) expansive body work will capture who I am in my entirety and no part of me will be left unsaid, so to speak.

To capture my nonverbal emotional states, I dedicated myself to building a musical district in my online city. This is starting off as my beat store and Sagala Productions, but I hope to nourish and build this to something more beautiful that I could imagine. I’m in the early stages of figuring out how to make beat making videos. I feel like my music district will be a little more substantial once that is written out.

To teach the beautiful ideas that help me make sense of the world, I dedicated myself to building an educational district in my online city. This is starting off as my blog, but it is also developing offline in my tutoring sessions and classes that I teach at the Temecula Tutor center. This blog is an opportunity for me to expand and refine ideas that will be further synthesized into my online courses and (hopefully) a book. This educational district will give students scaffolding to receive a quality education that actually helps them operate in the world from a system that isn’t designed to do that.

To capture the parts of me that are less understood by myself, I dedicated myself to building a talk show. I don’t really want to go into why a talk show is perfect for capturing the unknown within in this post but I plan to cover it sometime in the future. The show is in it’s early developments, but we have a few episodes shot and I can really see this building into something beautiful. Even if it doesn’t go anywhere, I’m anticipating this to be one of the most accurate depictions of myself. I’m hoping in 2020, I’ll be able to drop some high quality entertainment and capture some priceless memories.

To ensure consistent improvement, I’ve dedicated myself to doing a Yearly Review every year. I tried a few different ways to track consistent improvement. I was looking for a method that was low pressure enough to keep me going but was still effective. It took a few months but I think I’ve found a way that sticks. (We’ll see though.)

So it’s pretty simple, every month I pick two of my weaknesses that I will try to get at least 1% better by the end of the month. I keep the bar low so I will actually do it, but I always pick the things that I really really really really really really do not want to focus on.

I write the themes on the whiteboard in my room, because I look at it all the time so I’m constantly reminded of my weaknesses and that it’s my job this month to get better at them. I’ve found that as long as I’m trying to get better and I know what I’m trying to improve, I actually get better! What a concept.

So this year, I started my themes may and june but I didn’t record anything from those months and I can’t remember what I was working on and how I felt about it but I did notice an improvement. So in July I started writing it down in my note app so I can at least keep track of something.

I would also keep a to-do list written above my themes and if I felt proud of myself that day then I would take a picture of the list and save it into my themes. As the year went on, I started taking more and more pictures of the lists. It’s crazy to think that there were a few months this year when I only felt proud of myself less than 5 days out of the month but it’s also nice to know that there were some months when I felt proud of myself almost every day.

As the months went on, I rediscovered the value of writing more and taking less pictures, but I never sat down to thoroughly write my thoughts out so I’m going to give myself the opportunity to do that now with this review. The memories won’t be perfect, but they’ll do. I’ll put what I initial wrote down in my notes app in italics and my elaborated thoughts will come afterwards.

July: Continuous Humility & Patience

“at the beginning of the month I found it scary to take on these themes. I knew they were weaknesses.

“I feel way more humble and patient. So much so that I want to try this every month to see if I can overcome more miraculous things. I’ve accomplished so much this month. This is a fun little thing to do. And there’s no stakes”

CM: Like I said, I didn’t take much time to elaborate so this is all I wrote. I knew that I had an arrogance issue and I was quite impatient. It was annoying confronting this, but this month was important. By the end of the month, I was ecstatic to look at the progress I was making. I was learning things quicker and producing things faster. I knew that it was in direct correlation to my humility and patience. Arrogance and impatience are the death of progress and this little experiment helped me see that. It really didn’t cost me anything, I felt like I was getting better, and I actually was getting better. Why not try it again?

August: Discipline & Clarity

“I feel like my life lacks discipline and I have a hard time believing that I am sane so clarity seems to be the antidote for that.”

“one week in and it’s a lot less tough to focus on the theme. I’m working out more. I’m getting so much done. I’m more honest too. I’m a little more tired, but I feel like a better man for it.”

“end of the month: I’m so happy I did this. I am more disciplined and I rarely think im crazy anymore. I’ve been working out more consistently and I’ve noticed changes in my body. I’m great at getting myself to start things now. I’ve been more honest and clear with my writing and speech. I accomplished so much this month and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen over the next few months. I honestly think this is a great way for me to get over any flaws I have or enhance any ability I want. I’m going to give it another try for September.”

CM: Turns out my experiment was a success and the benefits far exceeded the costs and/or expectations. I started working on my creativity section of my body of work, recording what my creative process is like. I also completed 13 beats that month! I can barely believe that now. I started posting on my website and I was simultaneously confronting multiple weaknesses and actually making something beautiful out of it. This month the first episode of So to Speak was filmed. I don’t think that episode will ever be released, but we’ll see. The future is full of unexpected events.

September: Completion & Order

“I have a hard time finishing things and I’m constantly feeling out of control. I want to be able to see my impact in the universe. I will reach out and move things. No longer will I sit back. I will finish my plans, hopefully. I’ve developed two months as a success spiral. I want to see how long this will last and if it can overcome these things.”

“first week in: I’m seeing all the things I never finish. I’m hyper aware of all the new projects that I’m dying to start. I’m going to try to just write those ideas down – and attend to them when I finished what I’m set out to do.”

“Last week: I did slightly better with completion and order than I was expecting, but I don’t feel like I had the same level of success as I did with my other months. So I’m going to keep completion as the theme for next month but I’m changing order. I started Thus Spake Zarathustra and Nietzsche says we need to have much chaos within us to give birth to a dancing star.

CM: I remember this month. It was painful to notice how often I want to start new ideas and leave all my old ones unfinished. I told myself, I had to finish whatever projects I was working on this month before I could start a new one. I dropped this idea as soon as the month was over because I figured that as long as I’m starting to create the truly great projects will be the ones that get completed and not the ones that are forced. I’m not saying this is the case for everyone, it’s just a belief I’m trying out right now. This month I injected a lot of order into my life and rejecting the chaotic side of me made it difficult to create. There is definitely a balance to be found between chaos and order. This month consisted of a lot of cleaning, physical and digital. Not the most exciting stuff, but I’m very happy to know that I’ve dedicated at least 1/12 of this year to entropy management.

October: Completion & Consistency

“2nd week in: I feel a lot better about my ability to complete and be consistent. I’m feeling like I have more control over what’s happening. Finishing things and not finishing things has become more of a choice rather than a reflection of my circumstances “

“October 17th: I feel like I understand my body more with my consistent workouts. Aries is happier too. He loves the morning walks and I think he’s losing weight. I’ve been trying really hard to complete my tasks each day. I can’t manage that, but I am finishing a lot more than I usually do. What gets measured gets improved is such an accurate statement.”

“21st: It feels real fucking good to check off everything today. I finally feel like completion and consistency are completely mine. What gets measured gets managed. What gets managed gets improved. Aries is definitely losing weight. And it feels good being in control of whatever I choose. It’s a little humbling to see how much that really is, but knowing my limits is good.”

“Last day: I feel like I’ve gotten a good hold on completion and consistency, but I feel like I’ve lost hold of some of the other themes I’ve been practicing. Specifically patience. It’s almost like I’m only able to have a grip on a few of these abilities at a time. Anyways this month has been wildly productive. I feel healthier, and so is Aries and I’m pretty confident in myself. It’s all those success spirals 😁”

CM: This month was critical for my development, or at least seems so when I look back on these thoughts. I feel like my relationship with completion has changed since this month. I learned that completing things is a choice, and if I pay enough attention, there’s a specific moment when I decide to finish a project or not. All I have to do is be honest with myself and decide to finish. Or not. The confronting part is knowing that this capacity for completion is a decision that I make if I’m paying attention. I remember being really consistent this month. I was constantly working out and finishing tasks on my white board. I feel like I truly learned how much I could accomplish in a day. I learned where my cognitive load caps out and how much cognitive load each task takes. It was humbling to learn that I can’t get as much done in a day as I’d like, but at least I get stuff done at all! 70% there is better than 0%. After reading these thoughts, it looks like completion and consistency are the recipe for confidence and feeling awesome! I learned that during October, but somewhere between then and now I’ve forgotten it. It’s cool reflecting and rediscovering lessons that were so crucial to my peace of mind.

November: Patience & Focus

“1st Day: I’m upset that I’ve lost proficiency, so to speak, in patience. And the past few days I’ve been unfocused so let’s run it! As usual I’m pretty intimidated by these themes but I’m not as intimidated as usual.”

“Book Goal for the year!! 11/11!! Whoop whoop! Can’t wait to see all the books im going to read next year. Picking up reading was easily one of the best choices I have ever made. All the information in each of these books changed my life for the better in ways I could never have even imagined.”

“11/12 – I felt like was going crazy last week because nothing was going right and everything seemed so much more difficult than it needed to be, but now I see that it was me rejecting the themes for this month. I was not patient and I was not focused but now that I’ve realized that, I just kept my head down, focused, and now things are starting to work out. Patience is really hard for me to get under control.”

“11/20 – it’s like I’m just believing that staying focused helps me be patient but I feel like I’m slightly better at focusing. Not as good as my MCAT study days (I want to beat my old record 3hr attention span with 1.5 hr no breaks), right now I break at around 1 hour. Patience is interesting though. I’m finally able to teach this class next semester even though I pictured being done with the whole thing within 8 months. It’s a year and a half and it lives. It’s much better to take my time and slow cook it. Everyone I presented to was impressed with it. I just need to be patient. Tonight was proof that patience is key. I just need to stay focused as I have been.”

“End of November – i feel like I’m slightly more patient but I feel as if my focus isn’t as high as it could be. At the beginning of the month, I was only able to sit and work for like an hour but I’ve gotten up to about an hour and a half It’s an improvement but I feel like the work im doing requires the artist to be able to focus on it for long periods of time. Once I get my attention span up, I’ll make my work better.”

CM: This month I noticed that my patience for everything was running thin, so I decided to make it a theme again. I was hesitant at first, but I figured I’m never going to perfect this skill within a month so I’ll repeat it as many times as necessary. Plus when I start adding in more rules, things get too complicated. And when things get more complicated, friction comes and I stop doing things. Friction is probably my number 1 worst enemy. I also reached my book goal for the year in this month. I read 20 books, some of which are on my Must Read Book List. This was the first year I took reading seriously, and it was easily one of the best choices I’ve ever made in my life. The knowledge I’ve acquired from these books has given me a new way of looking at the world and experiencing life. Reading is one of those things that can’t be done too much. I was able to compare my attention span between now and when I used to be a pre-med study fiend. I’ve lost some skill, partly due to lack of practice, but I’ve been trying to get back on the long-term concentration horse. It’s been getting slightly better, but I’m nowhere near where I used to be. This was the month I showed my course to prospective parents and students and it was a hit! People loved what I had to say and couldn’t wait to sign up in the spring. We’ll see how much of that will hold into the new year, but it’s nice to know that there are people out there who are receptive to my work. It helped offset my incessant delusion that what I’m doing isn’t worthwhile. It just took way longer than I expected, so I guess it’s fitting that I had that experience during my “patience” month. My patience and focus got a little better by the end of the month, and it’s something I try to improve on every day. At the moment, I don’t really see any noticeable gains, but I know in a few months or weeks I’ll notice a difference in my focus.

December: Integrity & Vulnerability 

“12/1 – fuck these themes lol integrity is something I know I need to work on for myself. It’ll make my experience of my life easier to handle. Vulnerability is necessary for my art to really find a place in the world. I keep holding things back bc I don’t want to be vulnerable and my art, my business, and my productivity is suffering because of it”

“End of December – I didn’t write as much this semester because my bargaining ass knew I was writing this blog post and it “counts” for the month of December, but as I write this I realize how purely idiotic that was. I spent a huge portion of the month working on bringing Integrity back into my life. I came across opposition of all kinds. External, internal, physical, psychological, you name it. I was able to bring back integrity to my room, but as far as much schedules, routines, and other aspects of my life, my integrity still isn’t whole. I probably hit 70% of my integrity goals this month so it’s very likely that I’ll start 2020 off with integrity as a theme again. As for vulnerability, I made an effort to show more positive emotion towards people and showing the work I’ve created despite my fear of judgement and rejection. I’ve been resistant towards these themes pretty much the whole month, but I do think I’ve gotten at least 1% better. I know I’ll need to do this theme again too.”

CM: I really liked reflecting over this year. I feel like I understood what I was doing a little bit better and I’m actually excited to bring just as much, if not more, energy and attention into 2020. I aim to expand on the foundation I’ve built, and hopefully reach out to more people. This was the year I finally feel like I have a grip on the world around me, how it works, and how I am going to navigate in it and with that knowledge came a flurry of creative projects designed to express my multidimensional existence. I used this year to learn about myself and birth new traditions that hopefully fit into something bigger and worthwhile to other people. I’m excited for the story to continue. I know I have more work cut out for me than ever before, but it’s exciting work that I find useful and meaningful. Cheers 🍻to a tough, challenging, but rewarding 2019 and more of the same in 2020.

If you made it down here thanks for reading this! I know I don’t usually post these kinds of things but the reflection is important and I figured I might as well share it since the theme for this month is Vulnerability.

Categories
Education Productivity

The Valley of Disappointment

“We often expect progress to be linear. At the very least, we hope it will come quickly. In reality, the results of our efforts are often delayed. It is not until months or years later that we realize the true value of the previous work we have done. This can result in a “valley of disappointment” where people feel discouraged after putting in weeks or months of hard work without experiencing any results. However, this work was not wasted. It was simply being stored. It is not until much later that the full value of previous efforts is revealed.”

James Clear

The Expectancy Curve

In James Clear’s fantastic book Atomic Habits, he explains the idea of the expectancy curve. I think it’s a great tool to overcome imposter syndrome or any other form of the attack. The expectancy curve helps us keep going by giving us a frame to understand our insufficiencies.

Whenever we learn something new, we expect our progress to follow a straight line but in reality our progress is more parabolic. This results in a period of time when we are performing at a lower level than we’re expecting. This time period is called The Valley of Disappointment and it’s duration depends on the skill and how much deliberate practice we choose to put in.

When we feel like we’re underperforming, it’s easy to feel like we aren’t “meant” to do that new thing but all we need to do is stick with our newfound skill until we reach the critical point. The critical point is where the level of our skill matches our expectations. When we reach the critical point we stop suffering from imposter syndrome, feel more confident in our abilities, and (most importantly) keep developing our skills.

Most people stop cultivating their skills when they’re in the valley of disappointment but the ones who make it to the critical point can start to reap the benefits of their faith, consistency, and hard work.

I’ve seen this play out in a number of skills but I found this especially true in music production, hurdling, and cooking.

It can take weeks, months, or even years to get to the critical point. When I first took up music production, I was told that I would have to practice producing for 5 years before I would be able to compose, mix, and master a song from start to finish.

This was me kind of understanding The Expectancy Curve and The Valley of Disappointment years before I could articulate it. The idea of The Valley of Disappointment and taking 5 years before I could complete a song gave me a longer time frame for proficiency. This longer time frame is what made it easier for me to cut myself some slack. That freedom to make mistakes helped me grow. I always thought that made me a little insane but [Kobe Bryant] talks about having the freedom to make mistakes and how that leads to accelerated growth too.

This isn’t to say that The Valley of Disappointment isn’t a tough place to be. It’s easy to think all the work we’re putting in is futile and insane but it isn’t. The work we put in while we’re in the valley is exactly what gives us the ability to move out of it and enjoy the fruits of our labor later on. Deliberate practice is never wasted effort. Our efforts compound over time and this is especially true with skill development.

It’s difficult to move past The Valley of Disappointment but I do think as we learn more we find peace in our insufficiencies. The more I learned about music production, the more I realized that the experienced producers who said music production had a 5 year valley of disappointment were right. The more I learned, the more I realized how much I didn’t know. (Which totally applies to everything btw)

“Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” 

Chinese proverb

The whole idea is to stick with things for a while. Ask people in the field how long it took them to feel comfortable and confident in their position. I remember an ER doc saying it took him 10 years before he felt like he reach his critical point. Proficiency take time.

I find that knowing The Valley of Disappointment exists helps me get through it. The upset is temporary and I know I’m right around the corner from being a badass.

Categories
Education Lifestyle Productivity

The 20 Hour Rule and Metaskills



“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” 

Robert Greene (1959 – )

A lot of people I talk to are familiar with the 10,000 hour rule – it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated and deliberate practice to obtain mastery of a given skill, but not as many of us are familiar with the 20 hour rule.

According the Josh Kaufman’s The First 20 Hours, it only takes 20 hours of dedicated and deliberate practice to learn a new skill. We don’t need 10,000 to learn something new and learning a new skill doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. 20 hours is all it takes.

Success in any field is simply learning a specific combination of skills. This means that success anywhere is just a few sets of 20 hour intervals. We can fast track our way to stellar performance by deconstructing the things we want to do into their individual skills.

The combination of all of our skills will be our arsenal to solve problems that we encounter through life. Our skills are what we sell to employers and what we implement to impact in the world.

Metaskills

Success is great, but that’s not the best part. Some of the skills you learn in one place can count towards the success in another. I refer to these skills as metaskills. This means that once you learn one thing, learning other things consequently becomes easier.

I noticed this after I became a proficient musician. Some of the skills I developed to become a musician were also necessary for learning other things, like being a good student, tutor, or EMT. Being a good student also helped me become a better music producer. This is because when I was developing myself as I student, I was developing skills like:

  • self-control
  • time management
  • stress management
  • independent thought habits
  • embracing my uniqueness
  • patience
  • problem solving
  • initiative
  • discipline
  • and many more..

Which can all be used in other areas of life. So as I got became a better student, I became a better everything because. Use The 20 Hour rule to develop your metaskills and see how success in one domain is similar to success in another.

Some people say it gets more difficult to learn things as you get older, but I think thats wrong. If we spend our time learning the metaskills, learning new things actually becomes easier over time.

Some other metaskills I’d recommend focusing on are:

  • writing
  • meditation
  • leadership
  • studying
  • critical listening
  • learning to say no
  • decision making (Click here to understand our decision making process more)
  • quantitative reasoning
  • self-awareness
  • creativity
  • resilience
  • scheduling (Click here for tips on developing scheduling)

I try to make a little time every day to develop my metaskills, even if it’s just 5 minutes. 5 minutes every day for a year is 30 hours. How do conquer the world? One skill at a time.

Categories
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.