All posts in Self Development

The Price of Excellence

The Price of Excellence – Pursuing Non-Mediocrity

When you’re a young, in school or starting off at work, you want to be cool, accepted and liked. You want to feel that your part of the cool gang, part of the pack. That’s inevitable.

However, if you want to do something different, or have a life that isn’t merely mediocre or actually excel at something, there’s a price for it. There’s a difference between security and excellence.

Some times, the opposite of cool is performance.

The majority of the world is concerned about your security, that includes your parents and your friends. When you pursue non-mediocrity, firstly, you’re going to give something up in yourself, you’re going to have to take the risk, you’re having to have to be responsible for your own decisions, and secondly, you’re going to piss few people off around you.

It’s inevitable.

Okay, here’s a great example I faced for the last half a decade. When I was busy pouring myself into books, pushing myself through world travel, chasing girls, failing my first couple of tries in business, attempting to take everything life has to offer, I’m sure the world felt that I left them behind. I was also sure that a lot of my friends couldn’t stand what I was doing. In fact, a couple of them unfollowed me on Instagram.

Initially, I thought, fuck them, they can’t do anything with THEIR life, they see me doing it and it’s uncomfortable for them to see me do it. That may or may not be true. However, true friends should support each other in one other’s success right? So, fuck them I thought.

However, if I dig deeper, I realized that it’s not about leaving anyone behind, or anyone leaving you behind. It’s just an incompatibility of values. Your values have just changed. You became from a lazy underperforming sack of shit, to someone who isn’t afraid to care about something, whilst the rest of the world still stood still.

If you dug even deeper, you now face a different set of problems. Perhaps you started out thinking: if I read this pick up artist material, I would now be able to sleep with girls and be happy. Great, you got that down, however, now you’re exposed to a different set of problems: attachment theory, long term happiness, life purpose, connecting with your deeper values and more.

What the hell!?!

The Price of Excellence: Societal Values

It’s funny that you read stuff like that online, you go back home, feel guilty about change and never do end up doing anything.

‘I shouldn’t be doing this, it’s too selfish’.
‘What if I failed?’
‘What if I succeeded?’
‘What if my friends all laughed at me?’

This was a huge problem I faced. I thought to myself: what if I started posting nerdy shit like good grades on Instagram? What will my friends back home think? What if I started telling my bum friends: I want to be rich, I am going to start a business.

What if I told your friends: I know you think I’m crazy, I’m going to quit my finance degree, and take a psychology degree, I know it’s a long shot, however, it’s something I always wanted to do in my life

How will they react?

These are problems that I face today. It spiraled out of just wanting to be good with women. These are completely different set of problems from just going out and talking to girls. These are a set of problems you’ll face when you start pursuing non-mediocrity in any area of your life.

Growth Versus Acceptance

This set of problems hit me a couple of times a year or two ago when I started noticing different set of people falling off from my life when I made several decisions in my life. It was extremely tough for me. I even told myself: maybe I shouldn’t be doing all of these. Perhaps I should go back to school, get my accounting degree, get a job, and lead a non controversial life.

That’s exactly what I did for a year. Well, it was a half assed effort and I flunked it.

Did I feel accepted by society? Yes. Did my friends pat me on my back for doing something realistic? Hell no.

I figured this:

If I did a degree like I really enjoyed: unrealistic idealist.
If I did an accounting degree: obsessed guy over money.

I’ll share with you a story. After going back and forth on a decision about taking a certain degree for years. I made the decision, fuck this, if I failed, and if everyone thought I was being unrealistic, so be it, I’ll figure something out.

When I made this decision, I told a long time friend that I paused my accounting degree, signed up for a degree that I’ve always wanted to do.

She rolled her eyes.

I was expecting something like: You’re crazy Marcus. However, it’s really cool that you are finally trying to do something you’re really into.

I guess I’ll never be fully accepted either ways. I’ll never be cool either ways. Since, I’ll never be cool either ways, then fuck everyone else, I should do what the fuck I was going to do in the first place right?

Heard of Robert Downey Jr?

The Price of Excellence

Yeah, smile, agree and do whatever the fuck you’re going to do anyway.

The problem I face in collectivistic Asian culture is that almost everything is geared towards NOT rocking the boats. Don’t be selfish, don’t be outspoken, don’t be this and don’t be that. It’s a piss poor mindset for growth.

I don’t consider myself a success.

However, I know that if I want to be a true success, I need to give all of that up. Just like how you want to be better with women, you’ll need to kill a part of yourself, and be willing to be polarizing and controversial. You’re going to piss some people off; you’re also going to have to be perfectly OKAY with that.

Look, I’m not saying to go about, start pissing everyone off on purpose, or declaring that you read X number of books a week. I’m actually a lot more diplomatic than that. That’s part of social intelligence right?

These days, I never out rightly say that I am attempting to run a company. I just say that I’m an employee of a company. I don’t say that I write long self development articles like this one. I don’t flaunt the books that I’ve read, the countries I’ve been or the girls I’ve been with.

However, some of these actions are going to reverberate in my life, and it’s going to be obvious in my relationships.

  • If you’re late, I’m going to call you out
  • If you’re not growing yourself, you and I going to have meaningless conversations, it’s going to show through my body language and attention span

There is a price to pay for non-mediocrity: acceptance from the masses. I’d even argue that it’s not even the concept of non-mediocrity. Non mediocrity sounds like you’re doing something for the sake of excelling.

It’s price of a fulfilling life.

 

People Are Retarded, You Shouldn’t Give them Advice

People Are Retarded, You Shouldn’t Give Advice to The Majority

I’ve just turned 25 a couple of weeks ago. I thought I shared some quarter decade-year-old lessons I learnt from listening to advice, dishing out advice, ranging from areas such as relationships and personal finance.

I know, I’ve been writing a lot more on the generic self development and relationship advice these days. If you haven’t read the entire site, I’ve already covered quite a bit from approaching a girl to first date guides. Not to worry, I’ll be back to the specifics of social skillsets and dating strategies in a couple of posts time.

For now, I’m going to hate people who ask advice, not only do not take it but repeat their mistakes and end up hating you call them out on it. Ps. These people don’t deserve your time nor your words.

Not Everyone Genuinely Wants Your Advice

Einstein once was quoted saying that there will be true peace if it was attained by understanding and not by force. I’m not going to debate against Einstein, however, I’d argue that reality doesn’t pan out that way, especially in the realm of relationships.

The majority of people simply do not wish to understand.

I always prided myself as someone who always desired my friends and business compatriots to understand why I was doing something or why I behaved in a certain way. That was just how I rolled. I don’t like ordering people around based on authority or making empty promises.

When you attempt to help someone understand. You’re not relying on emotional selling, authority or other non factual tactics. You’re patiently picking out the facts in a scientific manner and laying them out in front of them.

Well, nothing is more boring and least authoritative than someone attempting to point you out to something in a ‘scientific manner’. This is why politicians often rely on hyperbole, instead of specific words, theories or explanations in their political speeches.

Wasn’t Singapore (the country I am born in) governed by Mr Lee Kuan Yew who said that there was no need for cheating, lying or stealing? He said that you didn’t have to flatter, charm or cajole, you didn’t have to care about frivolous things or play silly games.

Let’s just say sometimes the world doesn’t work that way.

Some people (including longtime friends) would prefer your biased advice. Especially when it comes to relationship advice with that shit hat of their girlfriend or boyfriend. They want to hear what they want to hear. Some clients would rather you promise them easy results than to tell them: hey, this is going to take some work, but if you do it, you’re going to do well. Just so you know, if you’re one of those guys, don’t bother taking any of my programs, you’re going to fail and you’re going whine and bitch about a refund. I’d rather you save me the time.

Just 2 weeks ago, a long time friend of mine asked me if I could teach him how to create a website. I was impressed. He’s finally taking his first steps towards entrepreneurship. I passed him my email and told him he could email me and I’ll respond to them.

No surprises here, there wasn’t any email from him 2 weeks in.

Education isn’t Enough

Whilst I yearn for people to understand my way of thinking and behaviour, there’s nothing I can do if someone closes their ears and eyes to knowledge.

You can’t educate someone who doesn’t want to do something about it. This is especially so when you’re dishing out dating advice who wants your sympathy but not your honest feedback.

For variety’s sake, let me use an example in personal finance.

Just a couple of days ago, I was advice my father about how gold is a horrible investment in the long run, instead of admitting that he knew close to nothing about the investment field, he took up an opposite position and outrightly declared that he would invest in gold. He did it just to protect his ego.

Sure, go ahead and invest. It’s better than letting your cash sit in the bank. Well, so I attempted to persuade him to open a brokerage account. No surprises here again. No matter how hard I tried to persuade him in the next week by sending him emails daily about index funds, he never took the minimal action to open up a brokerage account.

In the realm of personal finance, I’ve always maintained my position over the years that 99% of traders lose money, the majority of hedge funds don’t outperform the market, you’re best sticking to index funds as a retail investor and that bitcoin is a shit poor form of investment.

That happens to be unpopular with the majority of the advice out there. Well, how of these people actually read a book on personal finance or bothered to look at the track records of these financial instruments?

These days, I am also careful about dishing out business of or personal finance advice. You would think that people, in general, are always looking for better ways to better their themselves or their business. That’s not always the case.

With matters to these, I wished I could quote one of my personal heroes in life, Charlie Munger: You’re smart. I’m right. Sooner or later, you’ll see that I’m right.

However, in many cases, it’s simply: you’re dumb and I’m right.

I was an idealist during my younger days, choosing to freely share my ideas and opinions with just about anyone.  Whilst I remain hopeful of the future, I became a lot more realistic and pragmatic.

I used to go around saying that Singapore isn’t a compassionate society and all of us should be more understanding. Well, what if they don’t want to understand anyway? So who the fuck cares? The death penalty wasn’t that bad after all, if you aren’t going to take the advice on drug trafficking then maybe you deserve the harsh sentence. You dig your own grave.

I found myself in similar situations time and time again. Instead of being appreciated for critical thinking skills in work or amongst business relationships, I’m often criticized for being too outright or too blunt.

You can’t have best of both worlds. If you’re going be outspoken, you got to be prepared to be feared or respected, and you’re going ruffle a few feathers. The people around you may revere you for your insight and vision, however, it’ll put a distance between you and them.

Look, I don’t go about offending people just for the sake of offending people, I’m someone who likes to be liked. Who doesn’t? However, if something isn’t right, it’s one of my values to voice it out, as opposed to keeping silent about it.

This has caused quite a bit of friction in my relationships. However, the right ones will appreciate me for my candour.

Don’t Bother Lecturing Your Friends

When you do something with your life, you might feel tempted to dish out advice for free amongst your friends. I remembered when I excitedly told my friend about the emotional progression model when I chanced upon a couple of dating advice books. Please don’t, just keep it in and go about your day.

Even if they ask, just kindly reject them.

I always felt that best friends are able to give honest feedback to each other. That’s the building block of a meaningful friendship. No? However, that’s not the case. You may be well meaning. However, let’s be honest here, everyone wants to be ‘cool’, no one wants to listen to your open feedback.

This brings me to my next point.

You’re going to clique with people that have naturally similar values as you. I dug my own grave when a bunch old relationships turned sour. I was too idealistic and afraid of making a solid judgment. When I took a couple of months abroad, I got a bird’s eye view of these relationships.

The same questions started popping out.

Why the hell does Sally put me down and criticize my ideas all the time, whilst she herself can barely back up her own ideals? Why the hell should I stand for that anymore? Why the hell does Rochelle slight my ideas when I excitedly told her that I just finished reading one of Lee Kuan Yew’s book?

There are going to be people who’re inspired by your pursuits, and there’s going to be people that look at you and say: Who the hell is he or she to be able to do that? Either way, the majority of them are retarded, don’t bother advising them, go start a blog, you’ll have better results.

The Fucking Idiots Who Don’t Listen

When I was working for a company managed by a multi millionaire, I thought he was going to be a good mentor for business and life. He was driving a luxury car that could easily pay off a public housing flat in Singapore IN FULL. He also had multiple properties in all around the world and often had something wise to say about something.

Through the next couple of months, he splashed the company’s cash on unneeded events, brokered poor business deals and landed himself in hot soup. Throughout the months, I attempt to get him to act otherwise not once, but a couple of times! However, instead of being appreciated of my advice, I was left out of company meetings.

It taught me that there’s a difference between inherited success and success that is self made. It also taught me that there are many ‘successful’ people out there that are actually playing a game of bluff.

I also figured that whilst it’s good to take advice from the best, it’s much better to work alongside with people who have the same desire and hunger as you do as compared to working with someone who is already successful or comfortable.

These days, I enjoy working with technicians. They know what they’re talking about.

When someone describes to you something in specific, you know he’s actually been on the ground and worked on the solution ground up.

If someone asked me for my advice on I marketed his site. I’ll simply detail it:

Writing quality content using keyword research, understand what the fuck us a unique selling proposition, understanding my target audience: their hopes fears and dreams, understanding how search engine optimization works, doing in depth academic research on my content, lugging my camera around, not screwing up on the memory card, creating videos using iMovie, testing out different business models, tracking keywords, tracking user acquisition through Google analytics, understanding how to pitch to the press and the list goes on forever.

You can bet that’s solid advice.

So, what kind of advice would you personally like in your life?

Ultimately, whether be it business, relationships or academic performance, it’s going to be largely defined by 1) The standards you expect of yourself 2) The standards that are expected of you from others.

You can choose to expect less of yourself by lowering your own standards or surrounding yourself with individuals that don’t expect much from you. Or you can surround yourself with people who aren’t here to mess around with the willingness to dish out and accept brutal honesty so that both parties can grow towards each other’s path of self-actualization.

I just don’t see it happening any other way.

How to Stop Feeling Miserable

How to Stop Feeling Miserable – 5 Steps That Actually Work

Who was I without the hustle? Who was I without the aspirations, the dreams, the ambitions? I had just come back from a Summer exchange program in the United States. I was also feeling pretty crappy about myself, despite doing well in my modules in the States. I had just finished a pretty tough year in University and I wasn’t exactly doing well in University back home.

I landed in Changi airport, Singapore’s international airport, once again. The infrastructure, the cleanliness of it all, hits me immediately. Often not appreciate much by Singaporeans. For some reason, it didn’t feel like home. It’s a much more common sight for me these days, looking back at how much I travelled through out the years.

Everything about life in Singapore felt like it’s changed, yet it’s the same. Singapore reminded me of all my failures, or the so called failures. The lost friendships, the academia that bored me to tears, the failed business partnerships. The trips to other cultures. Was all of that passion or was it a form of escapism? Travel has helped me a lot. Pushing my boundaries in country after country, year after year, has helped me. However, perhaps it was a means of avoiding certain beliefs about myself.

They say where you go, there you are.

Why was I feeling miserable about myself? I needed to take a step back to evaluate how I was pursuing happiness in my life. These strategies took a while to implement while I was back in home, along with a cigarette relapse and a little bit of alcohol, but I’m making some progress.

1) You’re Not a Victim

I wasn’t exactly doing well in University back home. I was disinterested in my subjects. I had to drag myself to classes. I wanted to study psychology, run businesses, write a blog, travel more. There was a huge mismatch in my life.

I wasn’t writing the way I wanted to write. I wasn’t exactly happy with my social life. I wasn’t sure of doing what I wanted to do. School bored the hell out of me. I wasn’t exactly happy with the girls I was dating either. I was also relying on questionable strategies to market my entrepreneurial projects.

Did I choose all of this myself? The victimized student, the victimized lover, the victimized entrepreneur. The victim student who had to do, what he didn’t like to do, because of certain circumstances. Was I victim of society’s standards? Was I victim of my parent’s expectations? Was I a victim of my own expectations to fit in, and be just like everybody else?

For what sake? The chance to feel normal? The chance to ‘belong’?

How many of us in our lives choose the lives our parents or society expects us to take? Was it a product of circumstance? Or was it unknowingly our choice as well?

Fuck cute cat photos. This is the real life.

How many of us choose to stay the way we are amongst our friends? How many of us choose the same relationships or go out with the same shit-y romantic partners, just for some bragging rights amongst our friends, the same beliefs that we hold dear to ourselves year after year: that I don’t deserve it?

It’s easy to think that we’re a victim of life’s circumstances, of our own deeply held beliefs about our identity and our life. Perhaps there’s an anger underneath all of that, an un confronted anger. There was a need for change. There was a need for responsibility.

I asked myself: how can I take responsibility for this tough spot I find myself in my life? How can I not paint myself as a victim?

I took action, I filtered out my posts. I reached out to other sites, requesting for to guest blog for them. I got featured on the ‘Thought Catalog of Asia’. I sent multiple emails, built new business relationships, and stopped relying on questionable marketing strategies. I started reading up on proper marketing strategies. It isn’t about just search engine rankings anymore. I had to understand branding, marketing position, client needs, persuasion and many other entrepreneurial facets. I stopped going out on dates that I wasn’t fulfilling to me. She has to be amazing. That’s my metric.

Life got much better.

2) Stop Trying to Prove Yourself

I read somewhere that the root of all misery is trying to prove yourself.

I questioned my life’s approach towards academics. Was I enjoying what I was studying in University, or was I trying to prove something? I was doing accounting. However, I fucking hated it. I hated putting the right numbers in the right place. It just wasn’t my jam. I wasn’t enjoying the process. I was forcing it. I wanted to prove that I was smart. I wanted to prove that just like everyone else, I could do it. All of this at the expense of my own emotional health.

How to Stop Feeling Miserable – 5 Steps That Actually Work 2

In the real life when you fall. Nobody picks you up. You pick yourself up… or you get shovelled away.

Just like a bitter smack of my face, I was forced to give up the notion that I could do anything I put myself into. Here’s the thing about skillsets in life: You’re going to end up being good at something that you enjoy doing. It’s as simple as that. You can’t be good at everything. Well, unless you’re Elon Musk.

I questioned my approach towards my dating and social life. I was facing a high quality problem. I was going out with girls that I didn’t really enjoy being around with. I guess invest years into getting good at this, you get arrogant in a certain sense. I was still doing it prove something to myself, and prove something to everyone: I was good with girls.

Something that I tried to prove over years and years, whilst sacrificing true emotional fulfillment.

It was until I realized that, that I alleviated some pressure off myself. I cut my dates short, if she didn’t fit my values, then screw it, I’m leaving. If I wasn’t genuinely interested in dating her, then I’m not going to ask her out. It wasn’t about them anymore, it’s about compatibility. It was about how I feel about her.

3) What if You are Wrong about Everything?  

Feeling miserable has something to do about feeling certain about something in life. You’re miserable because you’re certain that, that problem cannot be solved, no matter what. This can be in academics, career, friendships, romantic relationships and etc. It’s one to belief all of those stories, and another to take a step back at question those beliefs.

What if I was wrong about everything? What if I was already smart, and I just didn’t credit myself with it throughout the years. What if I was already good enough for all the girls and I self sabotage and got shit faced when I stood in front of them? What if I spent time and effort writing, promoting this blog the right way, I need not rely on questionable SEO techniques to compete in this niche?

What if I was wrong about my past successes?

Happiness is said to come from struggle. There’s no real happiness without rejection and failure. This is why going out, getting rejected the whole night while approaching girls you genuinely into, will feel much better than spending 5 hours on a date with a girl you’re feeling so-so about. How long are you going to avoid those feelings of inevitable rejection?

When I was in the US, studying psychology, I was freaking out. I was studying at a top University in the States, and hell, I wasn’t prepared for it. However, I will powered my way through. I woke up early every morning, spent the entire 6 weeks in San Francisco, mostly in lecture rooms and libraries. Was it tough? You bet. However, today, I am proud of the fact that I pushed through that.

4) Step Back and Examine Your Beliefs about Yourself 

In social psychology, there’s the self verification theory. It asserts people want to be known and understood by others according to their firmly held beliefs and feelings about themselves.

I took a step back from my beliefs. Perhaps I believed that I needed a degree to prove that I was smart or capable. So what if I had not done well in academics during my Junior college years? Did any of that mean that I wasn’t smart, and does a degree define my capabilities or cognitive abilities? Having a degree or not doesn’t determine if I was smart or not. I pushed further. Being smart shouldn’t be an indicator of how you feel about yourself either.

I wasn’t writing high quality material for the blog. I wasn’t writing the way I wanted to write. I believed that no one wanted to read my writing. I asked myself: did you really have to use short term strategies to better your business? Why are you writing content that you aren’t proud of in both this blog, and your other blog. Cause you secretly believe that your writing isn’t good enough.

I also believed that I couldn’t make new connections, after my old relationships blew up in my face. Why can’t I start start a mastermind of my own. I know people in my circles who are entrepreneurially driven, why wasn’t I not picking their brains? Why can’t I make new friends, go out and network? For all the stuff I wrote about soft skills, why wasn’t I taking my own advice? So, I signed up for a couple of entrepreneurial events.

Career wise, I believed that the only way to get a good job in Singapore is through a formal education, a degree. I discounted the fact that I had had digital marketing skillsets and certification built up over the last two years. Was I going to force myself with accounting for the next couple of years, or was I going to do something that’s probably more compatible for me.

I questioned my perspective on self worth. Why did I always feel like I was under valued or I undercharged during my freelance days. Did I market myself correctly? Did I really understand market positioning, differentiation, was I really a good entrepreneur? Did I reach out to other sites for media coverage, guest blogging and etc?

It was only when I took a step back, and re-examined these beliefs and strategies, that I could take practical steps to solve these problems.

5) Ask Yourself, How Do You Want to Change the World?

Lastly, I was also miserable partly because I felt was solving things I felt that would not contribute to society. It might be a millennial problem, say whatever you want, but tons of research show that how we derive meaning is different from the one your father or grandfather had.

Happiness requires contribution in some sort or form. You got to pick a problem you want to solve, that gives you a sense of meaning in your life. It’s picking how you want to change the world. This can come in the form of volunteering, putting your whole life into raising a healthy child, curing cancer, or going to the moon.

It’s how you want to be remembered, and what your legacy looks like. It’s how you want to be remembered.

In modern capitalistic society, it’s easy to get dragged back into the money chase. The bigger condo and the flashier car. Yes, all of that is all good. I am about profit, I wouldn’t be building this blog if not for the potential of profit. However, all of that accumulation of wealth and status can be a natural side effect if you find meaning in your work. The solution is to start digging, start testing and failing, and find what drives meaning in to your life.

That’s the hard part. Then again, I did mention happiness requires struggle right?

Why Self Help Doesn't Work

Why Self Help Doesn’t Work

It’s not uncommon for your Facebook newsfeed to be flooded with posts dishing out mainstream self help advice from time to time. Stuff like ‘When you’re in love, you don’t walk away when things get hard’. Or, ‘I don’t love you yet, but I know I could’.

When I see one of these articles popup, I know it’s going to be generic advice. . Sometimes they sound like merely a bunch of emo guys or girls going on and on and on. If I’m curious enough, I’ll peek inside. Usually, I’ll end up with a mental face palm. I got to say it, I don’t like mainstream self help advice. It’s just not for me, especially the stuff published many other content magazines.

However, it’s what sells. Positivity sells. Stuff like, failure, be nice to everyone, smile more often and etc. No one likes to read about ugly truths or failures. If someone published a book on that, it’s highly likely that it’s not going to sell.

Whenever I hear friends using big words such as ‘follow your passion’, ‘living a life of abundance’ or ‘the law of attraction’, I don’t say anything, however I secretly do a mental face palm. It gets worst when you combine all of these with a free loving hippie yogi. If he or she is willing to give me a listen, I’ll go on and give them the reasons why I think the majority of self help advice sucks.

Self Help is Not Scientifically Validated

Well, most of the self help material out there isn’t scientifically validated.

Let me ask you, which advice would you rather? Tens of years of research or an 18-year-old girl dishing out advice on some random internet magazine? Unfortunately, it’s the latter that gets shared the most, just because the content strikes an emotional chord. Well, just because something is fun to read and it feels true doesn’t mean that it’s true.

Personally, I prefer concepts that are researched and put together by really smart people: Psychologists, sociologists with one or too many PhDs to their name. This is why I base my writing on psychological research and the application of these theories. I don’t like making claims without date.

This also can be observed when it comes to dating advice. Social interactions are hard to break down and are often arbitrary in nature. What might feel right to me might feel completely off to you. There’s a huge difference between writing advice and actually going out and failing nights after nights, testing out the material itself itself. This is one part of the pick up artist community got right. That was also one thing I did when I started as a pick up artist. It was to go out and fail.

It Reinforces Shame and Inferiority

Self help reinforces the idea that we’re fundamentally not enough as a human being. That we got to be something more than what our current state is. This is good for the people who are overweight, got nothing going on in their lives and need a kick in the ass to get moving.

There are two types of people that get hooked on self help material. It’s those who feel something is fundamentally wrong with them and are looking for self help as a replacement of their identity, and those who believe that they’re already a good person, but have blind spots and want to become better people.

There was a point of time in my life where I had read tons of books, was well spoken and travelled, launched a business as a dating coach, studied really hard, hit the gym regularly, and yet I didn’t feel worth of talking to some random hot girl.

It came a period of time when I thought to myself: you know what, fuck this self help shit. I don’t care about feeling better. I don’t care about being more productive. I just don’t. No number of self help books is going to help me, no amount of reading is going to help me.

The only thing that’s going to help me is to change the way I think of how I perceive myself and others.

Self help can be good as a supplement for the guys that already got good things going on in their lives. However, for the guys that are shit poor. It merely reinforces their shame and inferiority. The problem isn’t doing more or being more, it’s their perception of themselves and their world.

For self help to actually work, it’s to accept yourself as a good person that makes mistakes. Simple as that.

Some Self Help Ideas Can Hurt Rather than Help in an Asian Setting

What’s actually hard is the application of self help in the Asian cultures. I find that some of the self help concepts in Westernized cultures can’t be applied to the Singaporean setting. Asian cultural values are one of sensitivity and inclusivity, whilst many self help concepts often promote individuality and independence.

Speak up, assert yourself, pursue your passion at all cost. Instead of improving your results, you might actually get a backlash. I’ve heard tons of guys getting into the dating advice community lamenting that it’s impossible to pick up a Singaporean girl. Is it really the advice’s fault?

However, the way I see it, it’s because the way they are going about it is completely wrong. They’re using Westernized concepts such as: isolating, derogatory teasing, which goes against the Asian culture of sensitivity and inclusivity.

There are cultural nuances that aren’t addressed.

Self Help is Used to avoiding Taking Real Action

In the dating advice community, there’s a concept about ‘just being social’, Hi-fiving everyone, and the idea of ‘being social’ that’s being promoted.

People often take bits and pieces of advice out of context, and use it as a form of avoidance. If you’re Hi Fiving and handshaking everyone, it’s a feels good, but it doesn’t get the job done. You’re not confronting your fears about hitting on girls directly.

It basically means not to be a fucking creep when you’re talking to girls, and to talk to everyone in the interaction, and not just focus on the girl. You’re still going to have to hit on the girl eventually.

There was a point where I realized I was sitting in classrooms and reading up on theories where I should have been hitting the clubs, socializing and building my social skills. However, I didn’t. I became the sit at home ‘self-development’ guy. I never bothered to be more social, to take part in activities in school. I never bothered to generate new relationships.

That’s how self help can be a form of avoidance. You end up sitting at home, thinking all your need is to read yourself into success.

It took me 2 years to actually finally launch, and find consistency in this dating coach project. When I left school to attempt entrepreneurship, instead of actually running a business, I joined networking events, did freelance sales, failed at many jobs, joined more seminars and accumulated knowledge.

I did all of these without applying or testing out any ideas with consistency. The 2 years was a struggle. There were times my social and dating life went down to zilch. I did all of these, under the auspice of ‘self-development’

Taking action is the only way through. Failure is the only way through. It’s not enough to sit at home and read.

When Self Help Is Just Your Coping Mechanism

The self help and pick up artist community did one thing right for me: It taught me to shut up and go execute on what I wanted in life: Chase that girl, write a dating and relationship advice blog, build a business, travel solo, have cool experiences, and read widely.

However, in some sense, it fucked me up as well. It taught me to ‘suck it up’ and execute.

I realized how I dealt with people problems was just to take it in, and go ‘show them’ who is right at the end of the day. In moments of conflict, especially in relationships, I would hold in my anger and suppress it, in the name of self development, where it would have been perfectly justified to have been pissed off.

I coped like this through the years.

There’s a difference between ‘sucking it up’ and confronting someone about something important. I am able to assert myself in social situations, however, if you asked me to sit a good friend down and confront him about something he did that pissed me off the other day, I’ll probably avoid it

Confrontations in relationships are inevitable and necessary. You must be willing and able to piss someone off and be alright with it Your closest of friends is going to do something to piss you off eventually. However, for some reason, we spend our lives avoiding confronting these situations and relationships, living our lives in limbo, and stunting our emotional lives.I I guess that’s the problem with ‘self development’. The majority of the advice doesn’t touch on how to deal with the negatives.

When I was in University, I grew overly attached to the girl I was dating from University. She was hot, a part-time model and the sex was great. However, I never offered commitment. I felt I had the social skills to sleep with more girls. I felt entitled to socialize with who I wanted, where I wanted, and at any time I wanted. I started missing classes and wasn’t doing too well academically. I was also facing minor depression and isolation.

We broke off nonetheless.

That was when I identified myself as the “self-improvement” guy. The guy that reads, want to get into business, travel and ‘live his life to the fullest’. Underneath all that “self-development” and ‘game’, I was still an emotional mess.

Closing Thoughts

I don’t think self help is all bad. There is actually some good stuff out there that can give you a kick in the ass to get you going. I think people have to be careful and objective about what they read and apply in their lives. Generally, stick to the ones with some form of research and doesn’t involve your sitting in a circle or ‘purging’ your negative emotions into the Universe.

In most cases, self help merely allows people to transfer and project their feelings of inadequacy onto these ‘gurus’, and live vicariously through them. It creates the perception of progress, and not progress itself.

You can take someone else’s ideas and philosophies into consider, however, it’s ultimately the application of these ideas to your life true that truly matters.