Creation, Evolution, and the Progress One Makes in Life

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Creation. A divine, all-powerful Being set a plan into motion through which the whole universe came into existence.

Evolution. Bang. Out of nothing came something and through billions of years of randomness and chance, here we are.

I have always believed I was a created being. My existence on this earth is for a purpose. Regarding evolution, I believe we have adapted over the years, but the greatest adaptation occurs in one’s lifetime. I have evolved from the child I once was. I evolved again from an irresponsible young adult to the mostly responsible older adult I am today.

Being an “evolved” individual was something I considered a remarkable achievement. But if evolution is an improvement through chance, then maybe my progress is not as wonderful as I hoped. It may have been the slowest way to get from my starting point to my desired destination. This was a thought that never occurred to me until I read the following passage from Peter Thiel’s Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future:

Actually, most everybody in the modern world has already heard an answer to this question: progress without planning is what we call “evolution.” Darwin himself wrote that life tends to “progress” without anybody intending it. Every living thing is just a random iteration on some other organism, and the best iterations win.

What’s this book about? Peter Thiel explains, “Zero to One is about how to build companies that create new things.” Most new companies are not doing this. Instead, they are only copying other companies, which can be limiting factor in how successful they will be. As I read this book considering my own business, I cannot help but wonder how it also applies to my own life. And if I treat my life as a business, do I want to leave its growth and development solely to chance? To evolve is to move from point A to an unknown point B. Even though B may be better than A, is it the B I truly want?

Photo by Marissa Grootes on Unsplash

What is the better solution? Creation. Creation is a plan. It is visualizing the point B and then designing a path that gets me there. Nothing is left to chance. Of course, fortune does play a role offering a good turn here or an obstacle there.  Yet, the planned destination remains the same. I improve as I get closer, but this is not evolution. It is a part of the plan. It is a part of the life I am creating.

Our lives are too short  and too precious to leave it to chance. To get to the place we desire, we must plan it and then relentlessly execute it. And maybe along the way the plan gets revised. That’s okay. Create the next iteration. Adapt, adjust, and continue to execute.

Examining Epictetus #32 Daily Improvements

I am believer in destiny. Specifically, I am a believer in my own destiny. There is a person out there who I am meant to become. If there is one primary objective I have in this life, it is to become that person.

Though I have always believed this to be the case, I have not always lived it. I have spent years trying to discover who this person is supposed to be. I have spent an equal amount of time coasting along and not even searching for this person. And unfortunately, I have also spent a considerable amount of time trying to deny who this person is. Sadly, those were the times when I was my most miserable. To be someone you are not supposed to be is a most unhappy existence.

But what does Socrates say? “Just as one person delights in improving his farm, and another his horse, so I delight in attending to my own improvement day by day.

Epictetus

Several years ago, I had an epiphany. I wasn’t happy with my personal progress and needed a change. I got comfortable and was once again coasting through life. Diet and exercise were the first major shakeup. If I wanted to change who I was on the inside, I must change who I was on the outside. It is amazing how many people understand this concept, yet do not take the steps to make this change!

Once I established a routine for my external being, I began to work on the internal. This meant watching less television, spending less time idling through the days, and more time hitting the accelerator on my own development. Believe it or not, this was the easy part. As an avid reader of fiction, all I had to do was switch my content. No longer was I delving into someone’s fantasy world. Instead, I began immersing myself in the real world.

What were the benefits of these two changes? I look and feel better, and I am more attune to my surroundings. A step in the right direction! Finally, my feet were firmly on the ground and walking toward the person I was supposed to become. But that step was not enough. I had to keep going by adding more layers. The next step was to share my journey and begin helping others. Yes, I was on a very personal quest, but part of that quest was to leave some portion of this world a little better off than when I found it. And the only way to do that was to keep improving.


Every morning,  I wake up with the desire to take another step. With these words from Socrates in mind, I attend to my own improvements daily. It is truly a delight as I see the progress being made, as well as  the potential of what is to come. Someday, I will be the person I was destined to become. And if I can do this, so can you. All you must do is take that first step.

Examining Epictetus #12: To Improve, Seem Ignorant

The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life.

Tony Robbins

The above is one of my favorite quotes of all time. I have spent hours considering it and how to ask a better question. And though I ask many questions on a wide array of topics, I am certain I can still do better.

What is the direction I want to go in life?

Where can I improve?

How can I get there?

The first two questions, I can answer on my own. The last one, however, requires more questions. It demands better questions than the ones I am asking today. I don’t know how to get there because I simply don’t know. And therefore, I must consider these words from Epictetus:

If you wish to improve, be content to be seen as ignorant on certain matters. -Epictetus

A student who wants to attain mastery will watch and learn. She will look at those who went before her to see what they did right and what they did wrong. She will experiment, fail, and try again, repeating the process until it works. She will learn to ask the right questions until she gets the answers she is seeking. If she is humble and doesn’t pretend to know it all, if she is pleasant to work with and working hard herself, those with more knowledge and experience will be more apt to help her.

If we seem to be ignorant in the areas in which we wish to improve, we could one day attain the mastery we seek.

Feature photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

A 4% Investment that Pays for Life

Some say compounding interest is the 9th wonder of the world.

Imagine you invest $4 a day for 20 years at 6% interest. Four dollars is a small sum of money. After twenty years, you would have almost $60k. If you did it for 40 years, it would be closer to a quarter of a million. Not bad for $4. If you only made a $100 a day, those $4 is just 4% of your earnings.

How many people know this but don’t do it? After all, $4 a day is $120 a month. $120 a month is a bit more daunting.

And if you do invest the money, you are not guaranteed the return. The interest could change, the value of the currency could change, or disaster could hit. No guarantees. No security.

What if there was a guarantee? What if there was a sure-fire way to get a return on a 4% investment, a return that would pay dividends for the rest of your life? Would you do it?

If you said yes, then it is time to invest in yourself. What is a 4% investment into yourself? It is…

One hour of your day.

Imagine spending one hour of your day:

  • Working on your fitness. How much more enjoyable would be your life in your senior years?
  • Reading. How would this improve your mental development and ability to think critically?
  • Meditating. Oh, the peace of mind and presence that could be achieved?
  • Developing a hobby into a future career. Doing what you love and getting paid to do it. That’s a hard one to beat.

One hour a day doing something that could make your life better. It might mean sacrificing something else. Is there something you could cut away? Anything, that is not as important as your future you? Who is too busy to spend one hour a day improving one’s self?


Feature photo by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash

The Two Step Process to Achieving the Best Day Ever

Hope 11/9/2019

The rational part of you, your mind, has had enough. It makes an agreement with the emotional part you, your heart. The mind tells your heart, “We can’t keep going on like this. We were meant to do better.” The heart sees the logic. Together the mind and heart go to the body and informs the body of their decision. The body is in agreement, “Change must happen. So how are we going to do it?”

Step 1: The Prep Work

It begins the night before. Mind, heart, and body agree to go to bed at a decent time. They have to remember the events of the day, but they cannot let that impede their tomorrow. How do they (your three parts) do it?

-End the evening with a clean conscience. Anger must not be allowed when the sun goes down (Ephesians 4:26-27). The mind must be sober, the heart not hindered, and the body free of toxins. In other words, you need to be sober.

-Journal. There has to be some kind of reckoning. In order to make tomorrow better, today has to be accounted for. What went well, and what went wrong? This is a good time to note any items of gratitude. It is a time to consider how to make things better the next day. There has to be a plan.

-Go to bed with it on your mind. Visualize the best day. What does it look like? It may sound a little hokie to some but consider the words of Thomas Edison, “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” See it, request it, and pray for it.

Step 2: The Best Day Ever

The prep work is complete. The mind is willing. It has involved the heart. The heart has sent its nutrients to the body with a little side note, “Take this and go do what you were born to do.” The body revived by sleep, supported by mind and heart, will begin the day full of energy. When the body tires, the heart (soul) and mind (spirit) will give it wings to continue its mission.

The plan has been formulated. All that is left to do is to execute it. Do that, and it could be the best day ever. There may be obstacles and distractions. There always is. Deal with them accordingly and then get back to the mission.

The Next Night

Was it the best day? If not, no worries. You can always try again tomorrow. The goal is that every day gets better than the day before. In order to improve the next day, go back and do the prep work again at night. Repeat steps one and two over and over. You will eventually get there.

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Moving Mountains

Faith 11/1/2019

I am thinking about this new house my wife and I recently purchased. It is a lovely 1972 ranch that has not been updated since 1972. It is almost overwhelming when I consider how much needs to be done to it.

Right now, we are working on the kitchen, ceiling, floors, garage, and the land. Each area seems to require immediate attention. This house is a mountain’s worth of projects, and we can only move it one stone at a time.

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away a small stone. –Confucius

When I take a look at my own personal journey, it isn’t much different than the house. On this quest to become the best I can be mind, body, and soul, I am discovering that it will take a lifetime. In a world full of distractions, where so many people and “stuff” are vying for my attention and time, the best I can hope to do is chip away a little bit at a time. The progress from day to day may seem minuscule. But if I persist daily, then the body of work over the decades will seem monumental. I will indeed have moved my own mountain.

We don’t luck into progress. We work on it every day. The other ways to get ahead may seem more desirable, easier, but they are fleeting and will not garner the same appreciation and gratitude as the slow way. Work on yourself daily and see the mountain of results build up over a lifetime.

Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily. –Epictetus