The Difference Between Active and Passive Hobbies

A person painting as a hobby

All hobbies are not created equal, active hobbies are the most rewarding. When you practice an active hobby you make something unique and learn valuable skills. Some examples,

  • Writing
  • Talking to girls
  • Learning a language
  • Jiu Jitsu
  • Playing the guitar
  • Painting
  • Etc.

These hobbies allow you to be creative and bring something new into the world. They also force you to grow. Along the path to mastery you’ll encounter many ups and downs. Working through these obstacles is difficult but they teach perseverance, determination and dedication.

Also, becoming good at an active hobby can get you laid. The stereotyped guitar player, painter or surfer are all good examples. Maybe Jiu Jitsu and writing not so much, but there’s still certainly potential.

Passive Hobbies

On the other hand we have passive hobbies. Some examples,

  • Watching television
  • Playing video games
  • Fantasy sports
  • Etc.

When you do these things you’re not contributing to society. You’re spending your time in someone’s else’s world . This prevents full creativity and restricts the potential rewards. Most guys recognize that girls aren’t lining up to sleep with someone who’s mastered the elusive art of watching television.

A difficult video game may inspire you with a sliver of perseverance and discipline. However, it’s going to be 2% of the benefit that you would get from talking to 10 women a day for a week. You can learn from a television program but you could have learned the same thing from 8 minutes of reading. In 9 out of 10 cases there’s no favorable comparison between an active and a passive hobby.

How are you spending your time?

Responsibility & Honesty: Lessons from Jordan Peterson

Jordan B Peterson

A psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, Jordan Peterson’s audience is 80% male (particularly young men). Peterson has speculated that he resonates with men because he encourages a philosophy of responsibility and achievement. A quote from one of his videos,

It’s necessary for men to stand up and take responsibility. They all know that and are starving for that message.

He also expounds upon the effect that responsibility has on one’s life,

People are starving for the antidote and the antidote is truth and responsibility. It isn’t that that’s what you should do – it’s that that’s the secret to a meaningful life.

Peterson’s message is similar to one of my core philosophies: a person must accept full responsibility for their life. To blame your problems on another person is ineffective. To accept responsibility is empowering and it makes change possible.

Speak the Truth and Stand Behind your Beliefs

Even in the face of protest, Jordan Peterson is not afraid to say what he thinks

Jordan Peterson is willing to go against today’s “politically correct” trend. A great example is this video where he advises young women that having children is often more meaningful than having a successful career. This is based on his experience of working with powerful female attorneys.

Peterson is not telling women to become homemakers or advocating a return to the 1950’s. He’s simply stating that in his decades of experience as a psychologist he’s discovered that many women find children to be more meaningful than a successful career. 

As rational as that sounds, it takes courage to say it. Whether you agree with Peterson or think he’s nuts, he’s not afraid to voice his opinions and back them up with lucid argument.

I find it admirable to hear someone speak his mind so honestly. I’m guilty of distorting the truth as much as anyone else. I tell my boss what he wants to hear, I withhold truths from my family, I’ve been known to omit details when speaking to friends. However, Jordan Peterson has been instrumental in convincing me that this behavior has a short term benefit but long term drawbacks.

Bill C-16 and a Refusal to Back Down

I find “gender fluid” to be particularly baffling

Peterson gained media recognition when he fought against the the Canadian C-16 Bill. The then proposed bill sought to mandate the use of pronouns for transgender and “gender fluid” individuals. Some of the more popular pronouns include zie, zir and sie, although there are many more.

Peterson took his stand because the bill mandates that people speak in a certain way. This is an imposed restriction on free speech. Peterson was willing to risk his wealth, job and safety to speak openly about his beliefs. Although the bill did pass, his commendable actions have not gone unrewarded. The controversy netted Peterson hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers. He now has plans to use his popularity to open an online university.

Get Inside Peterson’s Head

Jordan Peterson’s two podcasts with Joe Rogan are captivating

Peterson did a podcast with Joe Rogan which Joe stated was his favorite interview of all time. An honor considering it was the 958th episode. He also did an earlier podcast which is almost as good. While both interviews amount to 6+ hours I recommend listening to them.

Beyond the podcast Jordan Peterson clips are widely available on YouTube. His main channel features full lectures and talks. However, the easiest way to explore his content is: Bite Sized Philosophy. These short clips are easy to understand and fascinating.

My Three Favorite Videos 

  1. How To Not Waste Anymore Of Your Time (Living up to Your Potential)
  2. Let Your Insufficiencies Burn Off Like Deadwood
  3. The Tragic Story of the Man-Child

Three Changes to the 10,000 Hour Rule

The 10,000 hour rule claims that to reach the top 0.01% level of skill you’ll need 10,000 or more hours of practice. As a conceptualization of mastery this is a good idea. However, we must address several caveats.

  1. One can be unbelievably talented with less than 10,000 hours of practice. In fact, by the time you’ve put in a couple of thousand hours you’re probably already in the top 5% or less.
  2. Becoming famous or “blowing up” does not require 10,000 hours. It’s easy to recognize singers, actors and writers who have become famous without an absurd level of talent.
  3. There is a difference between 10,000 hours of mindless practice and 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Practicing a skill without reflection, feedback or goal setting is ineffective. Mastery requires deliberate practice.

10,000 Hour Rule Criticisms & Deliberate Practice

Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule theory has helped many people to understand mastery, but it’s not bulletproof

Malcolm Gladwell is the person most associated with the 10,000 hour rule. He repeatedly mentions it in his book Outliers, which spent 11 weeks on the bestseller list. This popularized the idea, however, Gladwell has faced criticism for his claims. For example, this article on Salon points out that,

  • Gladwell chose 10,000 hours because it’s a nice round number. In reality, it’s not like this point marks some magical change. Depending on the circumstances a person could be world class with fewer hours of practice. Or it may require even more!
  • Gladwell didn’t distinguish between the type of practice that the musicians in our study did — a very specific sort of practice referred to as “deliberate practice” which involves constantly pushing oneself beyond one’s comfort zone, following training activities designed by an expert to develop specific abilities, and using feedback to identify weaknesses and work on them.

This last point is key. Deliberate practice is a conscious effort. It involves a critical self examination for strengths and weaknesses, a careful review of performance and the setting of future goals. It’s not as catchy, but perhaps a better name for the 10,000 hour rule would: Plus or minus 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

33 Books to Read Before You Die

33 Books to read before you die

Happiness / Being Content

1. Mastery

Mastery looks at intuition and the process of going from no skill to world class. It’s also a case study of many famous/revered people and what their learning process looked like. Finally, Greene touches upon the mystical level of skill that some people possess, and explains why there’s nothing magical about it.

2. Magic of Thinking Big

This book is a blueprint for happiness and achievement. There is so much content in The Magic of Thinking Big that other authors have taken a single chapter and turned it into a book. It’s practical, immediately applicable and easy to read.

3. Letters from a Stoic

The advice, though thousands of years old, might as well have been written yesterday. It’s a breeze to read and digest. If you were to shape your life around this book you’d have a good time of it here on earth.

4. Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court

This book is a guide to becoming a decent human being and tackling challenges. Written by one of the most successful college basketball coaches of all time, Wooden has a lifetime of wisdom to offer.

5. As a Man Thinketh

What you think about and focus on is what you achieve. This makes sense. Have you ever obsessed about a problem that never seems to go away? This book explains why it’s better to focus on a solution. It’s a short read with a large impact.

Spiritual

1. Power of Now

If you haven’t read about spiritual development or reducing stress in a healthy way, this is the book to start with. And if you can’t stand this new age approach, maybe you’ll like Spiritual Enlightenment by Jed McKenna, which is a polar opposite..

2. My Big TOE

My Big TOE (My Big Theory of Everything) is an exploration of non-physical realities. It also defines the meaning of life (entropy reduction). I think this is an important book because it presents other possibilities and Thomas Campbell doesn’t ask you to believe him, he asks you to think for yourself.

3. Spiritual Enlightenment

Jed McKenna has a no-nonsense approach to spiritual enlightenment. For example, he causally makes the claim that “all of the world’s religions are bullshit”. Reading Spiritual Enlightenment is like running a marathon, it can suck but it feels really good after.

4. The Bhagavad Gita

Do the work for its own sake, forget the result. Easier said than done, but it’s an interesting ideal to work towards. This book is also “The Bible” of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and reading it will help to explain why those chaps sit around and bang on bells.

5. The Kybalion

A book about different levels of consciousness, the characteristics of these levels and “vibrational energy”. The Kybalion goes deep on this energy, particularly how we’re affected by people around us.

Novels

1. Shantaram

I couldn’t put Shantaram down. I read its 900+ pages in a couple of weeks. It’s the gripping story of a man who escapes from prison and finds himself in India. He makes friends, learns the language, and is put on a dangerous path by a nefarious mentor.

2. The Fountainhead

Howard Roark is a socially uninterested gentlemen who cares about becoming an architect, nothing more. Along the way he encounters obstacles that would crush most people but he keeps going. I think that philosophy aside, this novel is brilliant and it’s easier to digest than Atlas Shrugged.

3. Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson is a gifted writer. In this novel, published in 2000, he predicted the future. A compelling book, even if science fiction isn’t you’re thing you’ll still get a kick out of this. The characters are believable and the plot is unpredictable and fun.

4. For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a beautifully written story. The vivid characters feel as real as any person you’ve met. Strength, sacrifice and love are all wrapped up into a couple of hundred pages.

5. Dune

In terms of characters and plot structure, Dune is one in a billion. The beginning of the book is steep but the journey is worth the effort. You’ll meet the Atreides family as they struggle to survive on a hostile planet.

Money Management / Wealth Creation

1. Richest Man in Babylon

Money management, retirement savings and getting out of debt 101. The lessons are simple but powerful. Follow them and you will find yourself in a better financial situation. I like it because it’s written through parables which makes it more interesting to read.

2. Think and Grow Rich

Perhaps the most respected book on wealth creation, Think and Grow Rich dictates that you must set a target wealth then aim for it. Imagine yourself with the money and think what you’ll do with it. Based on the experience of some of the richest people to have ever lived, Think and Grow Rich is famous in its sphere.

3. The Millionaire Fastlane

Written by M.J. DeMarco, The Millionaire Fastlane states that people don’t become millionaires by working a regular job. The best way to make a fortune is to start your own business and find a way to earn money while you sleep.

4. The Education of Millionaires

Michael Ellsberg argues that many wealthy people gained their education outside of the classroom. If you have lofty goals for your life, a traditional education is probably not the best route. I like this message because I consider myself an autodidact and much of what I’ve learned didn’t come from a classroom

5. Rich Dad Poor Dad

Similar to The Richest Man in BabylonRich Dad Poor Dad teaches basic financial literacy skills. It shows the power of compound interest, investing in your business and taking risks. Multiple stories are used to backup the points and I consider it an instrumental book about the mindset of the wealthy.

Kicking Ass

1. Relentless

The best person on the court is the one who has practiced the most. While Relentless is written through the medium of basketball, it’s designed for everyone. The message: go out and practice. The people at the top of every field are the people who work the hardest, are you willing to put in the hours?

2. The Art of Learning

One of my favorite books of all time, The Art of Learning follows Josh Waitzkin as he becomes a chess grandmaster and then a world champion at Push Hands. Few people ever become world-class at a single skill, let alone two skills which are seemingly unrelated.

3. The Slight Edge

The little things that we do every day matter. It’s the incremental 0.01% improvements that eventually lead to massive success. The current focus on getting results without hard work is unfounded and The Slight Edge presents a more realistic way to achieve what we want.

4. Way of the Peaceful Warrior

One of my favorite books about becoming an optimal version of yourself. There are many lessons about healthy eating, personal responsibility, long term thinking and so forth. All of these are wrapped up in a compelling package which keeps you wanting more.

5. The 10X Rule

Grant Cardone is a guy obsessed with money and his barometer for success seems to be wealth. I disagree with this notion but his ideas are sound. Namely, in order to achieve massive success you’ll need to put in 10x more work than the average person. When I told my dad about this book (an entrepreneur and small business owner of 20+ years) his response was,

Only 10x more work? To me it’s always felt like 20x more..” 

Psychology / Philosophy

1. Influence

Influence shows how marketers, advertisers and salesmen use strategies to gain compliance from their targets. Or, it shows you how to gain compliance from your own unwitting targets. Whether you use this book for good or evil, knowledge is power.

2. Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow is interesting and informative, but dry. That being said, it gives you a deep understanding of how humans thinks and why we act so irrationally. Reading Thinking, Fast and Slow won’t change your life over night, but it is written by Daniel Kahneman who has won a Nobel Prize.

3. Antifragile

Antifragile is one of those books that people from multiple disciplines recommend. The idea is that in order to thrive you need to be antifragile. That is, you won’t be hurt by cataclysmic events. I found it to be an easier read than Taleb’s other well-known book: The Black Swan.

4. Personality Types

Personality Types speaks about the nine personality types that define every living human. Within each personality type are nine subsets of that. When you read about your own personality type and subset it’s creepy. You’ll also read about others and say “That’s my mom!” or “That’s my best friend!”

Motivational People / True Stories

1. Unbroken

Unbroken is the true story of Louis Zamperini. As a young man he had the potential to set a world record for sprint speed but ended up in a Japanese internment camp. That’s the story of Unbroken and it’s uplifting. Perseverance and a refusal to quit are the key takeaways from this incredible book.

2. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman

Mr. Feynman worked on a number of high profile projects but he never lost his sense of humor. He’s done a lot of really fascinating things with his life, from cracking government safes to learning Japanese. The book is filled with gems and it’s tough to put down.

3. The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff begins by describing the scene of a young aviator who’s spilled his brains out over a tree. The story goes on to describe the hot-shot test pilots who were the envy of the Air Force, and who were eventually usurped by astronauts. You’ll learn what “augered in” means and how well beer and super-sonic flying go together.

4. Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People

This book won’t teach you how to be a better person or change the world, but it is funny as hell. Amarillo Slim is a genius in his own right and his exploits put most of our lives to shame. I loved reading this book and finished it in a week. Even if you have no affinity for gambling there are plenty of other engaging stories.

Still looking for more? Check out a full list of all the books that I’ve read.

The Tim Ferriss 80/20 Analysis

The 80/20 analysis works amazing. Consistently applied it can quickly increase your efficiency and also aid in your understanding of the world. Here’s one way to apply it to your daily regimen.

1. Look at your to-do list. If you don’t have a to-do list, make one (The app Todoist is brilliant and free). Now, staring at everything you have to do, answer this question: what can I do that would make everything else irrelevant? In other words, what are the two or three things that are going to have the biggest positive impact on my life.

2. Do those things. This idea is based on a concept called Pareto’s principle. It dictates that 20% of your effort creates 80% of your results. Conversely, we can see that to get those last 20% of results you have to put in an extraordinary 80% of your time! Unless that remaining 20% is crucial that’s a shit deal.

The Next Logical Step

The 80/20 Rule applies to multiple domains

We can extrapolate this principle to a wide variety of domains. 20% of people own 80% of the wealth, 20% of people drink 80% of the beer, just as 80% of people only drink 20% of the beer, and so on. Once you train yourself to look for this principle you’ll be surprised by how often it occurs.

For example, at the gym compound exercises (squats, deadlift, bench, dips, pull ups, etc.) produce a disproportionate result. When a person focuses exclusively on those exercises they build up their entire physique, even when they don’t specifically target certain groups.

Going back to our to-do list, our mission is always to figure out how we can consistently perform those actions that take up 20% of our time and result in 80% of the results. This style of thinking doesn’t happen automatically overnight, it’s a tool that you have to train yourself to use. However, once you learn to properly implement it the results will speak for themselves.

*Brian Tracy has also written a great article called: The 80-20 Rule Explained.