What is Your Life Code?

‘The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila’ by Italian Renaissance painter, Raphael.

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What’s your code?  Does your code have a price?  Is it conditional or non-negotiable?  The motto of the French Revolution was Liberté, Egalité, Fraternite.

What’s your code?  Is it money, sex, power?  Is it vanity, manipulation, ignorance?  Or is it a much more enlightened code?  Life gets so hectic that we overlook the most important of matters like what are my highest ideals and what values would I be proud to live by?

You must be the Michelangelo of your life, sculpting, with utmost perfection, every aspect of your life.  From Da Vinci to Raphael the Renaissance gave birth to some of the most impressive people the world has known and I believe financial freedom can be an accelerator of excellence and greatness in the world, allowing people to pursue their passions and talents irrespective of monetary concerns.  The more people who are financially free the more the human race will achieve and progress forward.

I’m willing to go through hell and back to stand up for my ideals and spread truth, justice, and knowledge so that people are empowered and live up to their highest potential.  This is the central reason for creating this site; to spread empowering financial information with a philosophical lens so that people can achieve financial freedom and contribute to advancing the human race.

I value growth over comfort, knowledge over ignorance, and freedom over status.   When meeting friends and potential lovers if these values are not complimentary to their values then I move on.  

It’s imperative to decipher the values of people you let into your life.  If you value growth, but your lover values comfort that’s a relationship destined to end prematurely and is a waste of your time.  You’ll be less likely to waste your time if you know your values.  

State them, proclaim them, and live by them.  You will undoubtedly attract people who have similar values.  Having people around you that live by the same code will supercharge your life.

I want to be remembered as someone who stood up for what was right, fought the good fights, and made a meaningful contribution to build a more enlightened world.

Life is too short not to be financially free.  Life is too valuable to live below your potential.  Arm yourself with the intellectual weapons a personal life code provides and conquer the challenges coming your way on the road to financial freedom.

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Revolution or Evolution?

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I don’t believe in revolutions. A revolution is a misunderstood evolution.  

In 1789, after centuries of aristocratic rule, the French people shocked the world and began a revolt that would change the course of World history.  Almost as fast as a passing wind the French people reached the point of no return and put a nail in the coffin of aristocratic rule.  

King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette were guillotined for treason.  Not long after the leaders of the Revolution, Robespierre and Saint-Just, were also guillotined.  

Were these thunderous events caused by a spark never before ignited or did a political revolution occur because of numerous factors over a long period of time that finally coalesced to form the visible spark the world saw as violent rebellion?  

Of course, such complicated events do not occur in vacuums and their eventual fruition is the result of many factors occurring over time, but not widely noticed.

The same applies when someone revolts against their lifestyle or dramatically changes their life in a relatively short time period.  The high school kid who was deathly afraid of public speaking becomes a renowned motivational speaker before 30 or in the opposite direction the straight A student in high school and captain of the football team who is in and out of drug rehab by 25.  

Did these revolutions happen in one day?  Does someone gain the confidence and skills to master public speaking in one day?  Do we lose people to drugs because of one bad decision on one day?  No, but ostensibly it appears an unfathomable event has occurred and we attribute this to some unexplained revolution.  

The truth is that revolutions are just well disguised evolutions.  Just because you can’t observe with your eyes the changes in someone’s life or the life of a nation does not mean nothing is changing.  

There are very powerful undercurrents that course through the veins of each of us.  These are the undercurrents created by our values, virtues, and actions.  

You may know at an intellectual level that justice is an ideal, but it doesn’t become a value until it’s practiced on a consistent basis in your everyday life.  If you have extreme discipline and focus you are already a force to be reckoned with.  Discipline and focus give you enormous power.  The most transformative power of all is the power to reshape your life.

If you are seeking financial independence a personal revolution seems awfully seductive.  A rapid change to discard the parts of your life you loathe is extremely attractive.  

I understand this, but there is no such thing as a revolution.  All large scale changes are the result of an evolution of consistently improving yourself each day for a sustained amount of time.  The outward revolution comes after the internal revolution.  This is crucial to understanding the human condition and how you can radically change your life.

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The Enemy in Your Head

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You have an enemy that subtly lurks in the last place you’d look.  Only wisdom and virtue expose this enemy and free you from its primitive control.  

The enemy is between your ears.  It’s the primitive part of our brain called the reptilian brain.  It has an important evolutionary purpose, but can inspire destructive behavior if we live life through its primitive ego lens.  

It is solely concerned with survival.  Its chief characteristics include regulating our fight or flight responses, inspiring territoriality, slavish obedience to rituals and authority, cold blooded behavior, and an inability to adapt to change.  

It’s quite interesting to notice the attributes are all valuable in a ruthless Hobbesian dystopia where physical survival is never guaranteed, but in today’s world such attributes will lead you to a certain early death, whether it be physical, social, or spiritual.

19th-century German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, put forward the idea that all of humanity, at some level, is driven by a will to power.  This is not necessarily dark or sinister.  It all depends on why you want power and what you will do with it.  

In all of us exists the potential to commit great acts of Good and Evil.  The destructive Evil is born from your reptilian brain and its power over you is directly proportional to your unawareness of its existence.  

So what does financial freedom have to do with your reptilian brain and Friedrich Nietzsche’s idea of the will to power?  The dominant attributes that stem from the reptilian brain are antithetical to achieving financial freedom because one must be adaptable in the face of a constantly changing landscape.  

One must have the ability to question established dogma and societal rituals and create a life of their choosing.  Additionally, you must be cognizant of what is motivating your will to financial power.  Someone living in a primitive state of mind seeks such power to exert their will on others, to impress their contemporaries, and prove through the endless accumulation of wealth that they are ‘elites’, while all others are plebeians.  

Those are some of the primitive motivators, but what’s deleterious to human progress are the methods employed by someone living in a primitive state of mind to achieve financial power.  

Of course, there are degrees of barbarous actions, but they express themselves in more benign forms by way of selling products based on deception and manipulation all the way to the most grotesque acts of human indecency such as instigating a war in order to sell weapons to the opposing armies.  

These are expressions of Mankind’s primitive self, emanating from the reptilian brain.  Do not think you are incapable of such acts of moral degradation.  The truth is we all are because these are hardwired features of all of our minds.  

Just because we all have the potential to commit inhumane acts doesn’t mean we are destined to, but the acquisition of power is an extremely dangerous circumstance to someone who has not sought virtue and self knowledge beforehand.  

This is the key point I want to convey.  If you do not heed the counsel of Socrates and acquire virtue and wisdom before power, then power will destroy you, as it has done to millions before you.  What would be the value of acquiring wealth if the seeds of self destruction, by way of lacking virtue and wisdom, conspire to assassinate you when you are at seemingly untouchable heights?  

Showing humanity the importance of knowledge, wisdom, and virtue was so important to Socrates that he did not blink to die in the name of these principles.  

At the conclusion of Socrates’ speech to 500 of his fellow Athenians he said, “When my sons are grown up, I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them…if they seem to care about riches, or anything, more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are really nothing, – then reprove them, as I have reproved you, for not caring about that for which they ought to care, and thinking that they are something when they are really nothing. And if you do this, I and my sons will have received justice at your hands.”

What good is there in a life lacking virtue?  Make wisdom, virtue, and self knowledge your number one priorities and your motivations will remain loyal to you as a human being and your eventual success of achieving financial freedom will not serve your primitive self, but your more enlightened self.  Furthermore, your success will become an instrument for Good instead of an instrument used to accelerate Man’s self destruction.

“Someone will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that this would be a disobedience to a divine command, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say again that the greatest good of man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living – that you are still less likely to believe.”

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

That was one of several crucial ideas Socrates sought to ingrain into the consciousness of his fellow Athenians.  Again Socrates bestows on us timeless wisdom that those seeking financial freedom can use as a growth accelerator.  Let’s dive deeper into the consequences of living the unexamined life and the examined life.

Wouldn’t life be so much more comfortable and less turbulent if we weren’t constantly questioning our motivations and the way we lived?  We could blame a litany of forces that are responsible for our failures.  Common punching bags include our parents, our ‘friends’, our government, the economy, or maybe plain bad luck.  Who wants the discomfort of responsibility and critical thought?

Furthermore, how about people born into poverty in America?  If anyone has a cause to curse their circumstances and the things outside their control it would be the young child born on the unforgiving streets of any ghetto in America and raised by a single parent and the brutality of crime.  

The reason poverty is so persistent is that it’s a self reinforcing intergenerational phenomenon.  We should have compassion for people who, at no fault of their own, were given an unjust start to their life.  We can all understand someone being angry at the world for what they had to go through as a child because of the harshness of their circumstances, but blaming others can only get you so far because wherever you are in life can be transcended by strategic action.  

You will only see what needs to be done if you consistently live the examined life.  If you never turn the mirror inwards the blueprint will never materialize.   How else can you improve if you are not open to feedback from the universe?  This applies to financial success just as much as any other worthy endeavor in life.  

The path to financial independence is not a linear ascension.  The single most important factor in your rate of acceleration to financial freedom is your ability to learn, adapt, change, and overcome.  If you buy a triplex in San Francisco, for example, with the strategy of renting to young well to do professionals and having $500 in cash flow per month, but after the first 4 months you’re cash flow negative, then the situation is trying to teach you something.  Examine your analysis before buying the home and pinpoint where you went wrong.  The examination will tell you the blueprint.  

In the end, your choice to live the examined or unexamined life is a reflection of your highest values.  If you seek comfort and ease then the unexamined life is preferable, but if you seek continuous improvement, growth, and achievement then living the examined life is absolutely necessary.

 

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Build Your Own Personal Philosophy

Raphael’s painting of the School of Athens. At center, Plato converses with Aristotle.

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If you are to transcend societal norms and attempt to break the mold built for you then it’s imperative that you build your own personal philosophy on life that keeps you strong in times of defeat, informs your decision making, and provides the intellectual framework to achieve financial freedom.  

One of the untold differences between those that are bricks in the wall and those that throw bricks at the wall, so to speak, is their belief system.  

What are your belief systems?  Did you purposely pick them or did you inherit them from your culture, society, or family?  Beliefs are a powerful psychological phenomenon that have a direct effect on your reality.  Here’s an example of a belief system that empowers:

My life is short.  My potential is unlimited.  The purpose of my life is to achieve the impossible before I die.

Here’s an example of a belief system that disempowers:

Life is short I die in the end so what difference does it make how I live?

What’s the significance of these two types of belief systems?  The actions the person takes based on these beliefs.  The person who is motivated by death to achieve their potential before they die will work 100x harder, endure the unbearable, and in the end, will achieve their goal.  

Why?  Because they know that the only way life would have any value to us humans is if we die.  If we lived forever life would have no value because there wouldn’t be consequences.  

On the other hand, someone with a nihilistic mindset sees the same thing, but reacts as if death was defeat.  With that thinking, death has truly defeated you because you are basically dead before dying.  

We humans transcend death by making it a motivation to be the best, work harder than we thought possible, and living up to our highest ideals.

The one quote that sums up the ethos I’m expressing comes from the late Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius:

“Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back.”

By pursuing financial freedom many of you are attempting to scale the proverbial Mount Everest.  You will need your mind on your side at all times. You cannot fall short of your goal unless you psychologically sabotage yourself.  

If you have an enlightened personal philosophy that arms you with intellectual weapons to fight self doubt, failure, and the opinions of others then you will reach your destination much quicker.

The answers to the following questions will give you sufficient substance to iron out a personal philosophy and will make you psychologically stronger on your journey towards financial freedom.

1)   What is the purpose of your life and why?

This is not an easy question to answer and tragically most people never answer it.   Life is an amazing paradox because we don’t come into this world with an instruction manual.  

Our purpose is what we will it to be.  If you are nihilistic you live without purpose, but how does that make you a better human being?  How does that give you superhuman strength when you’re going through hell?

2)   What are you willing to go through hell and back to achieve?

What are you willing to stake your existence on to achieve?  What’s the one thing that you would be willing to endure pain and heartache to make a reality?

3)   What are your highest ideals?

How do you see your ideal self living?  Do you honor your ideals even when it’s not in your self interest to do so?

4)   What values do you wish to live by?

What are the values that invigorate your spirit?  Which values inspire you most when you see them being acted upon?  Is it a commitment to truth or justice or honor or integrity or patience?

5)   How do you want to be remembered by generations to come?

3.5 billion people are living on less than $3 per day.  They are fighting for their life every single day. From 1914-1989 Germany was one of the harshest places to live in the western world.  Over 3 generations had to endure the horrors of World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, and the Cold War.  Where was their opportunity for freedom?  

On the night of August 12, 1961, the residents of Berlin went to sleep having no idea that when they woke up there would be a wall, guarded by armed soldiers, dividing East and West Berlin. Many Germans died without ever seeing their loved ones on the other side of the wall.  

If anyone is living on $3 per day in America it’s by choice and there will never be walls dividing Americans.  To be American is to live life in a privileged sphere.

Of course, no one working their ass off just to make ends meet wants to hear they are in any way privileged, but if you’re strategic, unrelenting, and committed to personal growth then you’re going to succeed.  

Being in a very powerful position I want you to think about what you will do with the power of being able to control your time. What will your life look like? What time will you wake up?  Will you travel?  If so, where, how long, and how often?  Will you learn a new language?  Will you volunteer for your favorite charity?  Will you write an inspiring manifesto in the French Riviera laying under the warm Mediterranean sun?  

Know your ‘why,’ know your life mission because billions of people will never have the opportunity that you have.  

I hope that gives you a sense of the value of your life and how important it is that you maximize your potential and contribute to the Good of humanity.  Too many people never actualize their potential because they live in the third world, but millions of perfectly healthy people living in rather rich nations also fall short of their potential and that is something that should motivate us to honor life by utilizing every last bit of talent in our bones.

From real estate investing to internet entrepreneurship to strategic living, there is nothing stopping the committed person.  Just commit to being financially free!  

If you have a hard time with commitment in general, begin to build your commitment muscle by working on a small piece of your plan every day. Positive habits and momentum are huge.  If you can do something every day for 30 days it will become a daily habit that you won’t need to think twice about doing.

All of this forward action and progress begins with the guidance and strength of having your own personal philosophy on life.

Excellence demands an outstanding psychology.  Not one you inherit from your environment, but one you customize for your unique mission in life.

 

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Know Thyself

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How ironic that the pursuit of freedom begins with knowing you aren’t free.  

The pursuit of knowledge begins with knowing the depths of your own ignorance.  

“I know that I know nothing,” is what Socrates believed made him wiser than his contemporaries.  Knowledge of our ignorance is powerful self knowledge.

How else can someone change their lives if they don’t take extreme personal responsibility for where they are?  

In order to go from New York to San Diego, you must understand you aren’t in San Diego.  It was this simple yet profound knowledge that led Socrates to proclaim that the unexamined life is not worth living and for the Ancient Greeks to etch in stone ‘Gnothi Seautonat’ on the Temple of Apollo in Delphi.  

For those that don’t understand Ancient Greek that means ‘know thyself.’  Knowing yourself is extraordinarily powerful, but it’s strange to think that some people don’t know themselves.

Strange indeed, but look around you, how many people truly understand their own motivations, impulses, or personality? How many people reflect on themselves?  On the way they live and ideals they wish to uphold?  Far fewer than you would intuitively think.

The unexamined life is not worth living because it’s a life that is not lived to the fullest.  Anything that is rare has value and there is nothing rarer than being alive.  I understand that may seem odd, but everything that has ever lived will die.

You’re alive for a speck of time and then dead for an eternity.  I don’t want to dwell in the metaphysical or religious, but I want to make the point to not be afraid of your own mortality.  Use knowledge of your certain death as a motivator to grow and push and achieve what you were put on this Earth to achieve.

Without mortality, life would have no value at all.  We must know we are going to die to fully appreciate and honor the short time we have alive.  There’s no better way to honor life than to fulfill your potential and help others do the same.  When you’re financially free it frees up your time and that propels extraordinary achievements.

The most complex person to understand sometimes is ourselves because we are not aware of the numerous things that influence our behaviors and actions.  From popular culture to friends and family we often create belief systems based not on conscious thought, but on what the Ancient Greeks called ‘Doxa’ or popular opinion.  Instead of seeking to understand the world within the context of independent thought we simply upload the dominant culture’s views as a shortcut.

The consequences of this lazy thinking and unconscious decision making are insidious to your long term strategic interest and well being.

If you adopt the beliefs of your contemporaries without first confirming they are in line with your value system and noble purpose than your actions will be incongruent with your essence.  This is a treacherous path that can easily be avoided.

Gandhi articulated this ethos exceptionally when he said:

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

The first victim of not knowing yourself is your long term happiness.

For those seeking financial freedom in America, we are surrounded by a culture that values consumption above production and the superficial over the sustainable.  These values are incongruent with anyone who seeks financial independence.  The challenge for anyone growing up in America or any consumer culture is to break yourself from the dominant culture without alienating yourself from the people you care about.  Without meaningful relationships life becomes empty, but without freedom life feels like a prison.

In light of these conflicting forces, what is the best course of action?

One way to navigate both worlds is to take stock of your value system and think where would people who share these values be?  What activities would they enjoy?  What events would they attend?  How can I interact with them and build mutually beneficial relationships?

The stronger your intentions are the more your actions will mirror your thoughts.  This is how the financial independence community was built.  If you walked outside your neighborhood striking up conversations looking for people you are highly compatible with you would be disappointed by the results.

On the other hand, if you took a more strategic approach such as attending a local personal finance meet up or conference you would almost be guaranteed to find your people.

All of this begins with simple advice: know yourself.

If you can be honest with yourself, self-reflect, and ignore your ego, a clear mosaic of who you are and what you want will emerge.  This introspection combined with strategic action is how you can begin to defy our consumer culture, eventually achieve financial independence, and carry out your noble purpose.

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