In Part 1 of this 5 part series I talked about how good social skills and the ability to build a social network or social circle depend on your ability to bring people value. I also pointed out that value is different for different people so that one man’s treasure is another man’s trash. Even more importantly, as self-absorbed people, we all tend to wrongly assume that everyone makes the same value assessments that we do, so we need to resist the urge to judge others for having different values than ours.
While this seems pretty obvious when you think about, most of the time, we’re not actively thinking about anything at all. We’re just acting on old patterns. An important step in self-development, self-improvement, and getting more of what you want in life is to learn how to short circuit your immediate, automatic responses and gradually replace those with more effective behaviors that return better results more consistently and reliably.
I also mentioned in part 1 that there are 3 areas that you have to know and understand to skillfully and purposefully bring value to others. They are:
- Resources you have to offer: time and attention; skills, knowledge, and experience; connections, money, other assets
- Understanding people by asking questions, listening to them and watching them
- and, finally, using good communication skills and developing charisma
In this article, I’ll talk about the first one…
The Importance of Resources
The resources you have now and your ability to increase your resources are the key to becoming incredibly valuable to others. The first on the list is time/attention which is valuable to people because both are limited and any time you use towards one person is time you can’t use towards another person or activity. The second is skills and knowledge which are quite similar to one another. Skills, such as the ability to fix a car, mean that there are circumstances that most people face at some point in their life where you would be the solution to their problem. Knowledge and experience are similar in that there are so many things in the world that we encounter and don’t fully understand. Sharing even one piece of information that you learned could eliminate a problem someone has been wrestling with for months, or years even. Connections are similar since you can give someone resources via your social network, while money pretty much buys anything already listed.
The resources you have at your disposal depend largely on two factors: the life you were born into and the decisions you’ve made about how to allocate your time and energy. There’s no doubt that if you are a winner of the lucky sperm club you could have inherited resources accumulated by your family that make it easier to increase your own resource base. You also could have squandered what you started out with. By the same token, you could start with very few resources and through diligence, hard work and perseverance, very carefully build up a store of resources.
The Details Take Care of Themselves
Some resources are much easier to build up than others but, ultimately, it depends on what you think is important and allocating your time accordingly. Jim Rohn, my favorite motivational speaker, in one of his speeches says, “some people specialize in happy hour”. No wonder they don’t have a lot of value to bring to others. If you want to bring massive value to people, you’ll have to spend your time in more productive ways. Most people fail to do this because they have their lives backwards. They think that they have a lot of control over the little things in life like getting to work on time. In reality, they have very little control over what happens on a day-to-day basis. Ask any disaster survivors, and they’ll tell you that.
None of us have control over whether we die today, tomorrow, or the day after, but we do have control over whether we die in Japan, Europe, or India. You have control over what you do for a living, and how you spend your days, but any number of tiny things can thwart your plans for a day, or forever. It’s the context that you have massive control over. You can decide whether you’re your own boss, or whether you work for someone else. You can decide if you want to learn a craft, or develop a new skill. These are the things that create a unique lifestyle that leads to you acquiring more resources.
Purple Hat Club?
It’s about how you order and prioritize the activities in your life. No lifestyle is inherently better than another. There are pros and cons to all of them and only you can decide what trade-offs you’re willing to make. But the most important thing to realize and one of the great things about the internet is that whatever lifestyle you can imagine, you can find hundreds of people out there living it. You can find out how they did it and you can start creating it for yourself.
For me, it wasn’t until after University that I started to create a value-adding lifestyle. Like most people fresh out of University, I had little to offer other than dumb labor. I really wasn’t fit for much more than monkey’s work. However, the summer after I graduated and before I moved to Japan, I started reading non-fiction books where I’d only read Fantasy and Sci-Fi before. At first this didn’t mean much, but as I read more and more books I started learning a lot. I built a pretty big library, which was hard to do 10 years ago before ebooks were so big which, meant I often shipped 5 or 10 books to Japan at a time. One of the reasons I could become close to one of my first mentors was because he often borrowed books from me and we’d discuss the concepts in them together.
As a westerner, there are things that are common knowledge for us that are almost magical to Asians and vice-versa. Giving them a piece of this knowledge adds a tremendous amount of value. Once I brought a girl back to my place and I showed her YouTube videos of F-14s landing on Aircraft carriers, and another time I took a girl sailing with me. Even showing them things about their own city they never knew about can add a lot of value. When I lived in Osaka, I made sure to know as much as I could about the city. I had a to go to a different restaurant for lunch each day. Over time, I knew more restaurants in the area than anyone else. This meant that I could pick the perfect spot whenever I went out with a Japanese girl. And because I had been to so many place in Osaka, I took women to areas of the city they’d never even been to before. I rented a dinghy for about $30 and another time, I took her around Osaka on the back of my bike. Not only do these things make great experiences, they’re also easy and cheap to do.
In parts 3 and 4, I’ll cover the basics of reading people, and communication skills. Part 5 will give you a simple framework to effectively bring value to the people in your life.