It is important to be a generalist and learn a broad swathe of knowledge in order to succeed in the Information Age

It is important to be a generalist and learn a broad swathe of knowledge in order to succeed in the Information Age we are living in. Technology is becoming better and better. When technology becomes better, it increases the speed in which new technologies can be introduced. Technology is not linear; it is parabolic. We are deep in the parabola.

Because new technologies are introduced frequently, niche skill sets become obsolete at a rate which never before happened. The new technology ten years ago is useless today. The service that was hot five years ago is cold and slow today. Think AOL, Myspace.

To thrive, we must adapt at the same rate of our technology. We need to be able to learn new technology and new skills. Having this ability is far more important than learning any individual skill or service.

In the age of information, it should be easier to learn these new skills. We have access to every library in the world, online courses from the best colleges available for free, and videos and forums that answer specific questions. It has never been easier to learn at any point in history. It has also never been more difficult to learn how to learn.

Learning how to learn requires discipline. Anyone used to be able to make deductions and draw insight from a group of data. Then, that became more challenging as people had more facts available to them. It became less important to be able to draw insight because other people had been insightful. People didn’t have to. At that time anyone was able to memorize what they needed and regurgitate it.

These days even rote memorization is hard. We have so many distractions, and such quick access to information, that it discourages both insightful thinking and the ability to memorize. We don’t practice either. Insight is discouraged because we have a constant stream of other people’s thinking being thrown at us. We don’t have time to think. We get the constant stream from our television, which now has Netflix and other sources we can turn to for entertainment of any kind, anytime. We have our phones, which also have Netflix, in addition to social media which floods us with content from other people, some insightful and others that just regurgitate thoughts or statements.

We don’t memorize because we have such immediate access to information. All that information being thrown at us that keeps us from being insightful is saved to the internet and tagged for future access. We can access anything, anytime. We just need to “Google” it.

We learn how to learn by practicing. We learn skills, and then we learn higher-level skills. For instance, we learn the English language so that we can then learn the higher-level skill of marketing so that we can learn the higher-level skill of sales. Sales makes money. Once you learn to sell, you can more easily sell in another language, or to a new market. You’ve learned how to learn.

Another reason to be a generalist in this Information Age is to appreciate the arts and find wisdom in philosophy and history. By learning philosophy, we learn that we can reject the materialist need to compete and acquire things. The philosopher can find meaning without work and without obtaining things and experiences.

If an individual seeks meaning through things and experiences, he has no choice but to become a generalist that can learn new skills. The world is evolving too fast not to. You need to be able to learn, or need to understand philosophically that meaning can be found and happiness achieved without participating in trade. Even to get to that level of freedom – where you can be philosophical, will often require a baseline of comfort so that abstract thoughts can be explored.

There are some professions that do not require technical understanding. These include the business programs – management, sales, marketing. Everything else is being disrupted by technology. Why would these expensive jobs be spared from going digital? These jobs will move and they will move fast once it begins to happen. Programs already recommend optimum decisions. Google Analytics recommends ads based on what’s relevant to me. The next step is to create ads specifically targeted to me.

It’s these creative positions and jobs that manage decisions that affect people that haven’t gone digital yet. But people aren’t good at managing people. Machines will be the efficient, inexpensive managers that are reported to. It will seem inhumane, but that will only last until the jobs that are being managed are turned into technology. That won’t lag far behind.

I should create a management technology. Something that assigns people work, checks progress, reports that progress compared to others, compared to the self, identifies areas of weakness, and makes decisions based on the data. The next wave of great managers won’t be people.

It is important to be a generalist and learn a broad swathe of knowledge in order to succeed in the Information Age. The business people may have a leg up on others. They have been working on projects in different industries since they graduated. The sales skills they developed have not been specific to one product or industry. They know how to adapt to a new environment. That’s what they will be doing. They will have to develop technical expertise faster than they have. But it’s not new.

Boys are not men until they have been broken and reforged themselves

To become a man means to complete The Hero’s Journey. The hero’s journey takes a man into the darkest, scariest place a man can imagine. It is depicted in mythology as the bottom of the ocean with the meanest whale, or the dark cavern with the fire-breathing dragon. That is where the mythical treasure is found, before the hero returns to the normal world. Boys are not men until they have been broken and reforged themselves.

A man is no longer a boy when he is ready to face the world on his own. He has the skills, the courage, and the wisdom to interact with obstacles that stand in the way and to deal with challenges without being rattled to the point of psychosis.

In mythology, this deep cavern, the source of all insecurities and evil, is where the great treasure is found – the princess that needs saving, the father that was lost, or the pot of gold. So too in life, this dark place is where glory is found. And while the dark place is always within ourselves – in our own insecurities, it often takes external circumstances to overcome these insecurities.

Glory in the “real world” is often rewarded with the material receipt – a beautiful girl to wed or monetary wealth. The real reward is the spiritual wealth. We become strong in spirit when we choose to face our deepest fears and turn around our strongest insecurities. When we are physically, mentally, and emotionally strong, we can endure tough challenges and be happy during any trials. Happiness is found in strength, and strength is required to conquer those mentioned dark, scary, unknown situations.

When we overcome our strongest insecurities – whether it be women, money, physical appearance, or relationship insecurities, we often overcome the obstacles that prevented us from experiencing that thing (eg money, women). Women are attracted to the man who is not worried about being attractive to women, and feelings of wealth work the same way.

To break down our deepest fears and insecurities, we need to go to the proverbial belly of the deep-water beast. We need to go, at least psychologically, sometimes physically, to this darkness. These deep-sea monsters, these insecurities, are not easily defeated.

Your deep-sea monster, your insecurity, destroys you in the process of you destroying the monster. To be “destroyed” in heroic journey-terms, means to crush the spirit of your previous self. The weak, immoral, and lazy characteristics in you are destroyed. It means destroying the ego that holds onto the things your old self held in regard. Free yourself from the needs of those previously held insecurities.

These traits are replaced through the new and stronger version of the individual that makes it through the hardship. Strength and confidence, industry and determination, and virtue replace the dead characteristics, and you re-enter the world to share your new strength.

There is no cheating on the journey to becoming a mature man. Help can be picked up by lessons from others or your own experience. Ultimately, you are the only person that can destroy your insecurities. You can do all the reading and philosophizing you can manage. You can understand how dragons are destroyed and how your insecurities should be managed. But, until you put in the effort to destroy your insecurities, to destroy your past self – your dragon, your sea monster, you will not be free from the insecurity. You must go to the belly of the beast. You must develop the skills and the virtue necessary to become stronger than the beast and to destroy it.

That is the first half of the battle – destroying the previous self that held you down. The second part is to rebuild yourself. To reforge yourself means to take the new skills, the new virtue, and become stronger because of it. You rebuild yourself with the new characteristics.

If you don’t rebuild yourself, you can be destroyed during your battle with the dragon. It is uncommon to face your deepest insecurities – most people won’t do it. People will go their whole lives without facing these fears.

It is uncommon among those people that do face their demons to become better for it. Too many get caught up in the demons that they find them attractive. Instead of becoming the hero that destroys the dragon, many become the dragon that is a strong force of evil or vice.

The man who becomes attractive to women only to use them and lead them on destroys the women’s virtue and adds to the suffering of the world through the woman and her future partner.

The man who builds his financial empire, not to make the world a better place by enabling new technology but to build his own wealth to build power over others, destroys his virtue and adds to the suffering of the world by eliminating the possibility of others to compete and dig themselves out of poverty.

Becoming a dragon is attractive. It is strong and can kill enemies. It gets to have lots of sex and drive expensive cars. Evil will always be attractive. It is shiny and rich and powerful. This is precisely the problem with vice and evil. It consumes you by making you want more – more women, more money, more power.

There is more strength in virtue. There is strength in knowing you did the right thing, and can always do the right thing. There is true freedom is knowing you don’t need more – more women, things, or status.

When you choose to rebuild yourself with the new strength and virtue, that is when you have something to share with the world to make it a better place. It takes touching evil – killing the dragon, to find this strength. Then, it takes the strength and virtue to choose not to be a dragon, and instead to be a positive influence on others. That’s the hero.

Some people start out on their journey to conquer their insecurities by consciously attacking them. Others may be called by accident. A firing from a job, a hard breakup, or an encounter with evil – these are some events that can trigger the journey of the hero – or the villain.

Boys are not men until they have been broken and reforged themselves. This is because it takes breaking down and destroying the ego so that men can learn the wisdom and strength to handle challenges in the future.

While this is how all people become mature and learn to deal with hardship, there is a double standard that makes this more important for men that women. This process is required for men to be attractive in the sexual market, which is not the case for women.

Cities are unnaturally stressful for the human body and mind

Cities, almost by definition, are unnaturally stressful for the human body and mind. Cities are centers for industry and entertainment. The largest quantity of jobs are in cities because that’s where the people are, and it takes more jobs to support people that work all those jobs.

This is how complexity works. A man with nothing has no need for complexity. When he acquires things, he needs somewhere to store things. So, he buys a box. When his boxes fill up with things, he buys a shelf to store his boxes. When his shelves are full, he gets a storage unit for more shelves, and then a warehouse. It takes time to go through shelves and storage units and warehouses to find what you want.

Stress occurs when you can’t get what you want. When you can’t find what you want, you become stressed. Other forms of stress happen when people don’t behave how you expect them to, which throws obstacles in the way of you getting what you want. Same with sitting in traffic – other cars interfere with what we want.

The man who has nothing, and lives far from everything, has no need for boxes, no need to sit in traffic, and no need for the complexity on which stress feeds. The man with nothing, and desires nothing, is free from stress. The poor beggar is not necessarily stress-free just because he doesn’t have things – which lead to stress. The beggar wants. He yearns for things, and therefore is stressed, because he doesn’t have what he wants. It’s the poor stoic that is free. Or, simply, the stoic.

Cities are the opposite of freeing. Cities introduce complexity to us and they introduce wanting. The beggar and the slick city playboy have this in common. They want. The beggar wants his next meal and the playboy wants his phone to be faster and the local transit to get him to his destination faster.

Living in the city, he can influence those things. Cities are the innovation hubs. Engineers are at work trying to make phones faster and trying to speed up transportation. While these engineering feats may allow us to solve problems faster, they still leave us wanting.

If we were told 20 years ago we would have cell phones with wireless internet access with pages that load in 5 seconds, we would be blown away. We wouldn’t fathom that 5 seconds would be slow and that we would need to make that faster. Yet, here we are, 20 years later. 15 years after dial-up internet and 10 years since wifi devices made their way into every home, and buffering is one of the ultimate evils.

A more complex phone doesn’t solve our problems any more than dial up internet did. We still want, just as much. We may want more, since we expect so much more. We expect delivery in 2 days instead of a month. We expect pages to load in 3 seconds instead of 20. Our technology has improved, but it hasn’t solved us. We still want.

Complexity doesn’t solve our problems. It masks our problem. Our problem is that we want things. Complexity sells us an image that’s worry free. Complexity – the boxes, the storage racks, the newest phone – they all promise us less worry without addressing the real problem.

The real problem is we want. Not wanting doesn’t sell. No one is incentivized to sell not wanting things.

It’s ironic that we are told the cure to complexity, and the cure to the stress caused by complexity, is to buy more things. It starts with a storage bin and ends with a city full of technology and industry that’s working hard to create more complexity.

The real cure to stress is to eliminate things by first eliminating the want of those things. This is a hard sell. It’s hard for two reasons. One, the more complexity we introduce in our lives, the more complexity seems to be the answer. I mean, if we have boxes full of things, we can’t just get rid of the boxes and have things laying all over the floor. That doesn’t make life easier.

We started this feedback loop of complexity and stress the day we wanted something and went out and got it. The only way out is to be content with what you have. That is easier when you have fewer things than when you have many, since, as we went over, more things require complexity to manage.

The second reason is that incentives are all out of whack. Apple sells us, through their advertisements, that we will be less stressed when we use their phones because they’re fast and easy to use. But we’re only using them to add to the number of things we own. Sure, we can get rid of the fax machine, camera, and book library. But we are still left with the problem of wanting. We want the phone to be faster. We want it to get us where we’re going faster than not only the physical map, but faster than the Waze app navigates. There is no “good enough” in advertising, and a lot of people get paid a lot of money to keep us thinking that way so we will continue to spend money.

If Apple told us we could reduce stress by throwing away our phones, a lot of people wouldn’t drive sports cars and have luxury yachts that all come with their own imperfections and maintenance costs. Imperfections and maintenance are complexities, and complexities are stress.

Escaping the city escapes the engineers building the latest digital shelf. Escaping the city escapes the dwellers that pay high rents that need engineering jobs to cover. Not that engineers are the bad guys. The human brain is at fault. The human brain wants more things. We see things as status symbols, which are sexy to the other sex. The marketing department sells us the image of success, and the engineers build it.

Cities are unnaturally stressful for the human body and mind. They add unnecessary complexity and disguise that complexity as the answer to complexity. We are all the culprits to blame. We choose to be the bad guy every time we desire something – every time we consume something. No thing will ever solve the ultimate problem.

Through annihilation of the ego, each person has the potential to realize that they are God embodied. Jesus Christ did this.

God is an ideal. In any religious text, the words spell out an ideal way to live – a peaceful, virtuous spirit that reigns over the heavens.

Unfortunately, religion steps in and tells us to hope and pray for the acceptance of that all-mighty spirit. This is not to what the biblical stories really symbolize. The biblical stories give us an answer to how to live now. Not just now meaning before death, but now meaning right now, in the moment.

It is in the moment, when we aren’t wanting for the future or fearful of what comes next, that we find this peace and that we find happiness. Happiness is available to anyone that chooses happiness. That peace comes from rejecting the fear that religious leaders instill about undesirable afterlife. It comes from rejecting all fears. That peace comes from rejecting the fear our boss instills about meeting deadlines and showing up on time.

The peace comes from within – from understanding that we have everything, because there is almost nothing we really need. Any wants and fears are nearly all externally pushed onto us – whether from teachers, preachers, bosses, or marketing departments. We can reject the wants that all these individuals push onto us, and then we can be free from the burdens that come with chasing those wants.

Rejecting wants from others means risking that we won’t be accepted by others. It means being courageous and risking humiliation from others that judge us based on our ability to satisfy the wants encouraged by others. Having the courage to say no to all these people – many of them our colleagues, family, friends, and potential lovers, means we must reject the ego that holds onto wanting the affection and acceptance of these people. By destroying the ego that holds onto the want of acceptance, we can be free from the need of this acceptance.

Jesus Christ did this. The story of Jesus is an archetypal example of a man who rejected the need to be accepted by his friends, teachers, and potential lovers. He led his loved ones and promoted peace and virtue, and was unwilling to compromise his values when those loved ones did not have the strength to stand by him. The death of Jesus was the extreme example of a man standing by his conviction. He did this by accepting humiliation from the crowd, instead of giving in to the wants of the crowd – wants that Jesus did not agree with.

The death on the cross was the most extreme example of the carrying out of the death of the ego. Even when faced with public execution in a horrific manner, Jesus refused to give in to the people that wanted him to want to fit in. In doing so, Jesus died living out his ideal. It was an ideal that he wanted – one of virtue and determination to never give in to the wants of others.

We can be Jesus like, but the struggles he faced are struggles we must endure if we are going to be free. Freedom comes at the cost of rejecting the wants and ideas that society places on us. We may not need to become martyrs for our freedom, but we must be so strong in our sticking to our values that we would rather face criticism and dislike than to fit in – if it means compromising those values.

To want to fit in is to keep the ego intact and to prioritize acceptance from others over our own free will. We can only understand our free will when we do reject all wants – materially and the expectations of others. By doing this we can become the decision makers of our own fate. We can choose to follow others or we can lead our own life wherever it takes us. We can control the heavens and find beauty and positivity in the world when we choose to look for that everywhere. That beauty and positivity is found in the present moment.

When we reject the need for our ego, when we drop the persona that faces others and start living our own ideal, we can truly be at peace and in control of our lives. And we don’t need God or anyone else telling us what to do. We are ultimately powerful when we are not controlled by others. God is not controlled by others. We are god embodied when we are not controlled by others.

We realize we are god embodied when we live out our ideal and refuse to compromise that ideal for anyone. This takes detaching ourselves from our ego that holds onto the wants and expectations of others. We, like god, are subject to no one’s control when we are able to do this. Jesus Christ demonstrated this when he died on the cross.

Vipassana is the art of focusing on the Process of living properly. Vipassana is the second most important thing to know in the world.

Vipassana is the second most important thing to know in the world. Vipassana is the art of focusing on the process of living properly. Vipassana, as a concept and practice, dates back to the earliest concepts and practices of Buddhism. The goal is to gain power over all things by gaining power over the mind. By controlling the thoughts that enter our minds, we can have more control over how those thoughts manifest in our behavior and our attitude. By being conscious of our thoughts, we can be aware of which thoughts are being pushed on us by outside forces – such as wants for status and wealth, versus those that we naturally come up with.

Vipassana is most often practiced by individuals that attend 10-day meditation retreats. During the 10-day retreat, the practitioner meditates for hours each day, does not indulge in any vice, conversation, or distraction of any kind, eats minimally and only for sustenance, and is to pay attention to each behavior that the individual engages in – whether that behavior is normally conscious or unconscious.

By bringing attention to not just the conscious behaviors but also the unconscious, we learn to focus on what we are doing at all times. By focusing on what we are doing at all times, we train our minds not to wander. When our minds don’t wander, they stay present on the activity we are doing. When we are fully engaged and focused on the activity we are doing, we receive the pleasure of not worrying about the past or future. Vipassana can be considered practical because we are more likely to excel at the task at hand if we are giving it our full attention. It can also be considered practical if we eliminate activities that do not benefit us through realization of what really matters.

Vipassana is so important because it is one of the few activities required for being happy. Worry, desire, and fear are three things that prevent us from being happy. These all necessarily require us to be thinking about the future. Worries and fears will only manifest in the future. Desires are things we want to obtain in the future. By living in the moment, we necessarily eliminate worry, desire, and fear. Regrets from the past cannot be undone. Vipassana eliminates regret.

When we eliminate worry, desire, and fear, we are happy. This requires rejection of external stimuli, a mind that is kept from distraction, and focusing on the present moment and any activity that is being done right now. When our mind wanders, we begin to think about future obligations. Those obligations are always means to satisfy our desires and eliminate worry. But fulfilling those obligations only makes us better at fulfilling obligations. It doesn’t make us better at ceasing to worry. Ceasing to worry happens by living intentionally in the moment, not in fulfilling obligations.

The only thing in life more important than Vipassana is the Buddhist concept of Samatha. Samatha is the calming of the mind. This is practiced by meditating, and can be practiced anytime. The concept of Samatha is to clear the mind of all thoughts, or at least get to a point where we don’t have uncontrolled thoughts.

It is only when the mind is calm that we can engage in Vipassana. We cannot concentrate on the present activity if we have an active mind that is full of constant thought. By practicing Samatha, we can calm the mind by training it to have fewer thoughts. This isn’t suppressing thoughts, it is an exercise we can do to have fewer thoughts that act as distractions from our lives. Instead of having numerous thoughts, we can control our thoughts by practicing Samatha.

In summary, Vipassana is important because it is necessarily required to live in the moment. Living in the moment is important because:

  • Focusing on each moment is important for peace of mind and understanding the right thing to do.
  • Happiness is found in the moment, where there are no worries, fears, wants, or regrets.

Vipassana is less important than Samatha, which is the most important thing to know in the world. Samatha is the calming of the mind. Only with a calm mind can one focus on each moment and, doing so, practice Vipassana. Because it is prerequisite for Vipassana, Samatha is more important.

Everyone’s Wrong But Me

I got off the train yesterday on my way to my girlfriend’s house. I’ve made this commute hundreds of times. I would get off the train, walk three blocks to the bus stop, and catch the bus straight to her place. It’s the first bus stop on the route, so I’m guaranteed a seat.

Not yesterday. Yesterday there was a “Women’s March” and there were tens of thousands of people walking around after, well, whatever they did that day, and there were one hundred people waiting for my bus.

I went into a bar down the street, got a scotch, and caught an Uber.

I’m writing this post to outline why I think I’m right and why I stand my ground and stick to my definition of right even in the face of the millions of protesters that filled out in the streets yesterday across the United States.

1. They aren’t happy.

This is by far the most important reason. There wasn’t a united effort keeping these women and “men” together. I know this from the signs they were carrying.

Some wanted “more rights” for trans people. Some wanted to let the world know they were drugged and raped by horrible people one time in their life. Some wanted to signal to women that they aren’t like the rest of men that drug and rape women to fulfill their sexual urges.

The only thing in common with all these people is that they aren’t happy – there is something keeping them from being happy.

That something is men. Donald Trump more than other men.

I don’t agree that anyone holds your happiness hostage. Only you can choose to be happy. No one will make you be happy, and no one will make you be unhappy.

The mindset of the people gathered yesterday was one of victimhood. They are being oppressed by someone or something. Men, Donald Trump, corporate greed, the patriarchy.

This mindset, spread by others at the rally and fear-mongering media (remember, fear is the most powerful psychological trigger, so it’s what we choose to watch which creates the demand that the media fills so we pay them for it) is unhealthy because it removes personal accountability for individual happiness.

This doctrines spreads the message that we can’t be happy because someone or something is preventing us. There were tens of thousands of people wearing pink hats reinforcing that belief.

Everyone there attended because they are unhappy and unwilling to take responsibility for their own happiness. Happiness is a choice and a mindset, and all marchers choose not to. It’s lazy to play the victim and contradictory to the whole theme that women are “empowered”.

2. They don’t represent the truth.

The protesters do not spread truths. They even shame truths when they collide with their feelings.

There are two genders, no matter if someone wants to be called a third. 

Women are getting less and less happy the more they get in the way of feminist policies and social media gathering. 

I had a coworker ask me recently, “Ian, why are you always smiling? You always seem like you’re in a good mood.”

I said, “Because I am in a good mood. I accept the world how it is. Once you accept it how it is, and not how it should be, you can choose to find beauty in it. There is so much beauty in the world that is often missed.”

Feminists don’t accept the world as it is. They have a vision that’s purely emotional, and that vision is not productive and not utilitarian.

Feminism builds grand expectations that an “empowered” woman must reach success in a career, have sex with great men, and raise a great family with a great man when she decides to settle down.  

This isn’t honest because there are no consequences in this feminine picture. Not only is there a decreasing window to physically have children, but if a woman spends her younger years fucking dudes and building a career, a great man with options can choose to go younger and hotter.

You can’t have a beautiful, genetically-gifted cake that others want and fuck a lot of cakes too.

3. They don’t value beauty and strength.

This one is more of a personal vendetta because, like I mentioned under truth, I enjoy looking for beauty in the world. There is nothing more beautiful than a pretty woman.

There is nothing more masculine than a male warrior. No lion, bear, or wild horse can hold a candle to the human warrior when it comes to a sign of strength.

Beauty is a feminine quality. It is one that men find attractive and one that women should value, if not for personal esteem than for the men that find it attractive.

In a competitive market place, and there is none more competitive than the sexual marketplace, you must do the utmost to find a quality mate. Be beautiful, or you limit your options to men with no options. Attractive people have options. Don’t limit yourself to unattractive people.

Everyone I was with yesterday stood in opposition of me. They stood confidently together against truth, beauty, and personal accountability.

It brought a tear to my eye to see people brought to tears of joy at the sight of tens of thousands of people in no control of their emotions or happiness.

People brought their children to preach their doctrine of how men are the root of all problems.

How is a person supposed to think critically if they are raised in a pink hat being told by parents and teachers and people with signs that they cannot be happy if one individual remains an elected official?

This march, this movement – our current sociological state is unhealthy because it discourages happiness, discourages the search for truth and reason, and it’s visually unattractive.

March all you want and join others in your sorrow. But for the love of God and science and beauty, please leave your children at home.

Allow them the choice to be happy.