19 HARSH TRUTHS YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR BUT MUST
My reply to Tim Denning
A lot of people bashed you without sharing their real thoughts or evidence of a better argument or more their life’s lessons and anecdotes, which is an easy buck to pass.
Half of this piece is pretty good advice, but the other half?
These truths feel like a very-long-Pinocchio-nose-of-a-piece.
Here are some of my ideas, feedback, and insight to add to your article. I have kept your 19 truths and added my feedback on them.
1. We all have the same problems.
Yes, many of us have the same problems, but the truth is, we all have a different set of variables to find our solutions. You and I are different, which means the variables inside the problems are always different.
I may be prone to anxiety, you may be prone to over-confidence, and someone else, may deal with a lack of self-confidence. Therefore the variables of YOUR psychology, life experience, past trauma, mental health, genetics, and outlook/perspective on life at any certain point in time inherently makes each problem infinitely different.
The truth is: we all have to find our own solution or get help in finding the right solution.
To figure out a multiple of variables for any one problem, which could be an infinite number of variables is not easy and takes self-awareness, experience, and perspective. And saying we all have the same cookie cutter problems is a really shitty way to help people, in my humble opinion.
Figuring out the variables you can control inside your problem help you find better solutions.
Our path, strategy, and hope for fixing those problems and handling those challenges will be very, very different for each of us. Many of the timeless principles and choices we make in finding the right solution to our problem’s variables may be because we are playing inside the wrong game.
Being unbreakable starts with understanding how to play James Carse’s infinite game. Many of the solutions to our problems have already been said and taught by the thousands of people, poets, philosophers, psychologists, and scientists before us.
2. You don’t need experience — ever.
You didn’t finish this #2, right?
“You don’t need experience — ever.”
To do what? To start? To finish? To master a skill? To go pro? To make a million dollars? To be happy?
Everyone is at different places, so this blanket statement doesn’t apply to anyone else other than someone trying to start something new.
Here, let me help you finish number two’s title:
“You don’t need experience — ever… to start learning or mastering something new, or begin changing directions with your life.”
Actually, in my 14 years of pro sports, experience is the only thing you should be trying to pursue!
To get to the highest levels of any sport, industry, career, or field, you will have to start chopping wood and mastering the basics to get the experience necessary to earn success.
So yeah, start with no experience, but good luck being the CEO of a multi-million dollar company with thousands of employees.
I played professional basketball for 14 years and to say a kid or adult could just come join my professional team and be a master point guard without any experience would just be ridiculous.
Maybe what Tim is trying to say is this: “It doesn’t take experience to seek experience.”
Yes, we can all start learning, start studying for whatever we want to eventually become in life. If we are curious, then we should start chopping the wood, mastering our craft, and our passion.
But you failed on explaining #2 brohan.
People lacking experience in startups, sports, business, career, and life can’t just expect to show up at the top with some magic pill and become successful unless they can win the battle of their mind, which comes from building their experience and incremental improvement one day at a time.
3. We’re all going to have someone die on us — expect it.
I sort of agree with this one, Tim.
We should all be reminded that life is short and rather than pretend that death is never going to happen to us, or to our loved ones, we should accept it.
We should accept it and use it to make our lives more fulfilling. More meaningful. More connected.
Death is going to happen.
But to expect death every day, that applies a different meaning.
I would rather not wake up expecting death today, Tim.
The idea of positive thinking and self-talk is pretty well-established in the sports psychology community.
Yes, accepting death as a natural part of life is a way to embrace living a more fulfilling life because we realize we need to value our time, and the time of our loved ones more.
Rejecting or expecting death is short-sighted. This denial takes time and energy away from us. Anyone of us can die tomorrow, so what do we want our lives to stand for, what legacy do we want to leave, and how much love/connection do we want to practice in our lives?
Tim Denning said:
“Death is guaranteed for all of us. It’s the only certainty we have and it’s the only motivation you should ever need.”
I get what you are saying here, but death isn’t the only motivation we should ever need. I can think of many, many internal aspects of my life other than death that motivate me to change the course of my days.
Love. Beauty. Competition. Altruism. Dreams. Community. Expression of mind and body.
These things all motivate me more than death.
4. Complaining is a F*cking waste of time.
Again, not true. Just look at the three benefits of accumulating intelligent, introspective, self-aware complaining:
(1) The joy of speaking out against something you judge to be wrong — should we not complain or speak out about what we find wrong in the world? If no one complained about sexual harassment, what the kind of world would we live in?
Exactly, a very unethical one, one where greed, (typically white) men of power, and ego always wins (no offense white guys, I’m just sayin’ a majority of us have more variables working in our favor to make it to higher income situations).
(2) The joy of possibly finding a community which shares your voiced judgment — if you lived in a world where you were a minority, a female, or different sexual orientation, wouldn’t you want to find your people, your tribe, and join together to change the world through voicing your complaints, experiences, and goals for equality?
(3) Lastly, complaining to complain about the weather doesn’t help yourself, but the possibility that complaining will help you find like-minded people and act in concert to make changes only happens by those willing to share their experience.
So complaining has a place in startups, in life, and pretty much everywhere there is injustice, inequality, or shared suffering.
The real problem is not the complaining, it is the blaming, shaming, projecting, and not doing anything about your complaints.
Complaining to complain, acting as if you are always the victim, making excuses, or crying about things you can can actually control, is a real problem in our society. If you are always the victim, you should ask yourself why and how you can find a solution.
If you fall into this victim bucket, then immediately figure out if you can do something about it — build it, or burn it, change your attitude, your course of action, talk to someone, find a solution, a group, or a community to figure out a solution to the problem you are complaining about in the first place.
One of my friends was in the Brussels Airport when it was bombed. He has had ten surgeries. A multitude of health problems. Mental and physical trauma. But what I admire about him is he never allowed himself to be a victim of a terrorist act, he found ways to spread compassion, love, and understanding towards towards people of difference race, religion, and sexuality.
If you are part of the problem, then recognize it and stop complaining and do something about it.
5. No one gives a hoot about your personal brand.
Branding should be very important to you. What you give to your customer, what they see, what value/product you bring to the table matters. When they join your social media handle, what do they see?
When they follow you, what do they get?
Follow through, or fluff?
Your brand, your product, your marketing plan, it should all align with your theme, your customer, your mission statement, and your authenticity/culture as a company.
Back that brand up with value, but make sure that brand looks, feels, and summarizes you or your company.
6. Other people’s opinions don’t matter.
I value trusted, well-respected, well-rounded, and ethically-sound humans’ views on my life. Asking these typically older and wiser people what they think is actually a smart way not to make the same mistakes they probably did. We can save a lot of time, energy, and suffering by trying to pursue the right opinions in regards to our goals and dreams.
Once again, #6 is a bit murky, because a lot of opinions are bullshit. As they say in the pro sports world, the public’s or media’s opinion is like an asshole, everyone needs to excrete their garbage out of it.
7. You don’t need education or permission — they’re both optional.
“Not everyone can be a corporation president, although some who have competed for that prize may be vice presidents or district managers. There are many games we enter not expecting to win, but in which we nonetheless compete for the highest possible ranking.” — James Carse
If you are playing the finite game, go try to win whatever that game is. Our society typically rewards those that pursue education and learning in whatever field they seek to improve.
I like this quote Tim Denning used: “Whatever you do, don’t waste time seeking approval. This habit comes out of overthinking, laziness or lack of execution.”
Education isn’t inherently bad or good. It’s what you do with the education that matters.
If you want to become something you know you want to become, then do it with conviction.
Well, I think that is what Tim is trying to say here.
8. You never want to have regrets.
I mostly disagree with Tim on this quote (below) here:
“When you realize that there are no barriers and you should just try everything that your heart desires (well maybe not drugs), you live a life of no regrets.”
Um, if you break your arm and try to play hoops, that’s a barrier.
If you want to go travel, yes, there are actually barriers. There is savings, expenses, and general accounting involved. By saying yes to something, you are saying no to something else.
By saying no to crack, you are saying yes to health. By saying no to complaining about your fitness and rather going to work out for a half hour, you are saying yes to health.
But if you want a career in a certain field, there are barriers. To getting experience. To starting and getting the information you need to succeed.
I can’t wake up tomorrow and be a master welder, or carpenter even if I wanted too. The fire would burn my eye holes out. The nail gun would rattle off like an AK47.
I’d hurt someone.
The barrier is experience, incremental growth, and displaying the grit necessary to get your experience and overcome these barriers is what you NEED.
Decide to do that every day; to plan, execute, and make it happen and barriers diminish over time.
No regrets is a cliche for a reason.
This cliche exists because there are barriers to any and all of types of success that we regret not overcoming in life: mental barriers, physical barriers, job barriers, financial barriers, health barriers, skill barriers, and it is up to us to figure out what those barriers are and how we beat them.
If we don’t have the grit (Angela Duckworth tells us this quality alone is a better indicator of success than I.Q. or ACT/SAT scores in life) to beat the barriers we face, you’re right Tim, we may have regrets.
9. The human experience is full of suffering. Time to master it.
Your #9 is pretty good.
You wrote: “When you see suffering as a necessity and you learn to use it to your advantage, that same suffering becomes fuel for your goals and dreams. All of a sudden, when suffering enters your life, you know what to do with it… Suffering is part of the struggle which will help you do wonderful things in this world.”
Suffering is something we can’t run from or escape, but we can control how we react to it. Learn from it. Grow from it.
As they say in pro sports world, “Suffer with a smile.”
10. Quit wasting your time and throwing it down the toilet.
Yes. Wasting time is a stupid, I agree, unless you want to waste time on purpose.
11. Create value ahead of everything else.
Tim Denning wrote: “The question is whether you’ll help other people get what they need so you can get what you need… You’ll never have to worry about money again when you focus on creating the most value you can and growing through personal development.”
Value is important no doubt, but the usefulness of something for someone else would mean less to you if the process of creating that value wasn’t something you felt passionate or compelled to do.
Let me say that again.
If you want to create value, find something you love to create, some process you enjoy doing, some job or career you want to explore, or some craft you can improve and share with the world (the infinite game), then that value, or feeling, or thing of value you create will come as a byproduct of you playing in the right game.
Creating value or a product or a business ahead before knowing what what you want to do is shallow thinking if you don’t enjoy the process of creating that value for someone.
Tim is trying to say that here, but again, he fell just a bit short.
12. Gratitude is a bloody superpower!
I like this one, Tim. Being deliberately grateful is important and has been proven to make people happier. I love the practice of journaling. Maybe that’s why I write now, because I can see the patterns of my mind and actions and break the cycle of victim mentality thinking. It also shows me what I have to celebrate and be grateful for, which comes back to practicing happiness, and unique self-awareness.
13. Hate to break it to you; money won’t make you happy.
I like this quote from Tim, “We’re all chasing feelings, not money. You don’t want the money you want the feeling you get when you have it and buy stuff with it. Meaning and purpose give you even better feelings and they are free.”
Money and a baseline of happiness are inextricably linked, and most people that don’t have money would fall into the bottom of Maslow’s basic needs categories would disagree with you.
This research has been proven in Easterlin’s study on income relative to personal happiness relative to a country’s income spectrum — meaning if you lived in USA and made 75k versus someone making 20k, you’d be much more likely to be happy. But that same 20k of income living in Guatemala would also give you a chance for higher levels of happiness relative to your peers since Guatemala’s income levels across the board are lower.
Basically, income and happiness are all relative to what country you decide to live in, how much money you make in that country, and how you tap into the variables that raise your happiness.
But let’s be honest here, Tim, happiness levels really suck for the people that have to worry about their basic safety and physiological needs, so let’s just back up a bit and lean on scientific research:
Maybe a better question to ask is how do we get happier once our basic needs are met?
Here is a great article on 8 stats of living happier, which I’ll summarize quickly:
- Spend 6–7 hours socializing with 10 or more friends (share texts, share weird, share laughter, share it all).
- 5:1 positive interactions to negative with your spouse and co-workers. Find your tribe of aligned values people.
— Make more money, save more money. 75k is the hot spot for happier people.
- 33, 55, 70’s. The happiest ages. I want to debunk the science, I feel happy as ever at 38.
- 40% of your happiness is up to you. Hey, it’s the stat, I didn’t make it.
- Live within a mile of your closest friends. Again, find your weird clan and get them together already. Get external with new groups/communities, join MeetUp.com, or find someone to talk too.
14. Be you and stop being an actor.
Tim Denning said, “If you’re hiding the real you because you’re ashamed of who you are then know this: you can always become the person you’ve dreamt of being. It takes discipline, courage and a sense of fight to grow, adapt and admit when you’re wrong.”
Damn right! I agree with Tim on this truth.
Look around at social media, online feeds, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and all you see is the fantasy everyone presents to you.
No one sees or celebrates struggle, the darkness, the suffering, or the vulnerability of their challenges or problems.
Most people are afraid to let their light shine because people will judge them. People, friends, media, public opinion will use those assholes and get their garbage out and scare those of us that want to shine bright.
15. The only currency is time (Apologies crypto traders)
Tim(e) is spot on here: “Guard your time like you guard your life. Protect your time and spend it on things that will cause you to help others, live without regrets and be passionate.”
Time is our most important asset.
And it relates to #3, accept (not expect) death. We don’t know how long any of us will be here, so make sure you are using your time wisely. One hour of your time to take care of your health, spend time with your family, build your craft, study about something you love, or build something you want is only 4% of your day.
No excuses on this one. 4% is a small portion of your day so act accordingly in making small improvements with your health, family, fitness, crafts, jobs, or passions.
16. Some people dream and others just execute. Do the later.
Mr. Tim Denning writes:
“Dreaming has become a form of masturbation and it doesn’t lead to anything meaningful. Execution separates those people you deem to be successful from those people you deem to be mediocre, or worse yet, failures”
I think I understand what Tim is trying to say, but he is doing a poor job on this one. Dreaming does often lead to very, very important, meaningful products, businesses, inventions, jobs, ideas, and career choices.
But Tim is right, so does execution.
But dreaming is a natural part of life and the the real question is, “Are we going to take any action in making our dream happen?”
Don’t stop dreaming, people. Please don’t stop dreaming. Imagine a world with no dreams.
The truth is Tim, you were one of early adopters to write on Medium, and that’s why you are having success, not because you executed some amazing plan every day.
And I’m not trying to drink any #haterade here. I’m just saying that we need to dream and we need to execute and put in the work.
If MLK hadn’t dreamt of a better tomorrow, would we have heard his I have a dream speech? If Steph Curry hadn’t dreamt he could be play in the NBA, would he have shot a million jump shots before he got there?
Dreams start within and if our actions blossom out of that inner desire, we are onto something. The dreams that usually align with our authentic inner culture and desires of we want in life will only happen if we execute.
What does executing look like? Feel like? Taste like? Sound like?
I get what you are saying here Tim, but maybe this execution formula would work for some people:
Dreams + Execution Of Dream (Time/Small Incremental Improvements towards Dream) = Your Relative Success
17. Trying to meet society’s idea of success is a loser’s game.
Tim Denning writes: For us millennials, our idea of success stems from our parents who value home ownership, cars, university and stuff that doesn’t align with who we are… We have this inner conflict because we want to chase our own version of success, but then we lose society’s acceptance because we don’t fit the criteria of the majority.
I hear you on this one. I struggle with listening to society, to friends, to everyone that works a 9–5 job in conventional America. Most people struggle with living a meaningful life, because once you get your basic needs met, it becomes more about to the top of Maslow’s pyramid (the very top is self-actualization and getting a finite game into the infinite) and doing what you are felt you are meant to do.
I think defining your own success is very important. Don’t let past conditioning of our parents, society, or the majority of our friends dictate what we do with our lives.
Live your life, live it how you want.
18. Perfection doesn’t exist and never will.
Tim, your first subjective Truth!
Unless someone can explain otherwise, I’m agreeing with Tim here, don’ t go all geometrical on me. Yes, a perfect circle exists. Damn, maybe we are both wrong!
19. We’re all going to die. The End.
Tim, doesn’t #3 already say tell us to expect someone to die?
Doesn’t that someone include us?
This truth is redundant.
Live your life, fam, by investing your time, energy, and mind into deliberately doing what you must to succeed. Do less if you have to do it to succeed.
Tim Denning’s 19 Harsh Truths You Don’t Want To Hear But Must (You’ll Be 10 Times Better For It)…
aren’t exactly truths, but he did write and share his thoughts and for that I’m grateful. I look forward to embracing the feedback, the good, the bad, the ugly, and of all the people that read my words, thoughts, and opinions.
I hope I can back up my ideas and opinions with a little more substance though.
READ MORE PRO SPORTS TO LIFE LESSONS ON SELF-IMPROVEMENT, PERSONAL GROWTH, AND WINNING YOUR GAME.