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Juan David’s Newsletter - April 18th, 2023
Once upon a time, I attended a self-help talk by a "businessman." Although I didn't expect much, I decided to give it a chance. I like to prove myself wrong, and sometimes I'm surprised, so I showed up. As I walked into the auditorium, I was hit by a wave of boredom and indifference because the audience was either forced to be there or was getting extra credit. I was late, so I quickly took a seat, hoping to be proven wrong about the talk's potential to be helpful.
When I go to engineering talks, they flush out useless calculations and are hardly engaging. But I find "business" talks just as tedious and substanceless. They often resort to copying cheap public speaking tactics like telling "stories," hyping up the crowd with "high energy," and asking questions.
And that's fine... I know they're using these tactics and can point them out because I've read many of these books myself.
While the talk was unremarkable, and I didn't learn much, it left me with one crucial insight: the value of self-help books.
No, I'm not telling you to read self-help books. Far from it. "Really?" You might respond. Ok, fine. Sometimes they're useful. Heck, I've read lots of them myself.
After attending the talk, I realized that self-help books help people find more convincing reasons to do things they don't want to do.
Without discovering your "why," how else will you muster the energy to push through unpleasant tasks like work, homework, or networking events?
(In dudebro voice) “But my guy, you gotta find your why and your purpose. It’s how I’m able to do so much boring and meaningless work.”
Phrases like finding your "why," your "passion," your "mission," and any other vague, abstract, and horseshit word are important. Why? It helps people carry on!!!
As Kansas sings in Carry On Wayward Son, "Once I rose above the noise and confusion / Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion / I was soaring ever higher / But I flew too high." CARRY ON WAYWARD SON!!!!!! FIND YOUR WHY!!!!!
You know what is also a joke? “Making a world a better place.”
Why does every company’s mission these days include “making the world a better place” or “making the world (add any bullshit comparative adjective such as better, bigger, stronger, faster. Remember the vaguer, the better).
So what the actual mothertrucker went wrong? Are we all bullshitting each other, or is this part of the human experience?
Don't tell me you are making the world a better place. You are doing what you are doing to make money. And that's fine!!! And your why, mission and purpose help you brainwash yourself and your employees, but what bothers me is the lack of real people out there!
Do we not have anyone anymore making and creating real things? Is everyone lying to themselves?
The "find your why" bullshit is just one of our society's many examples. I won't name them, but one thing is for sure, my friend, we live in a battle of ideologies.
How about you and I have a little secret? Yes, you and I only. Please don’t tell anyone. This will be our secret.
We will still use the "Make The World A Better Place (MWTABP)" thing.
But every time we hear it, you and I are going to think the following:
MTWABP does not stand for Making The World A Better Place.
MTWABP stands for "Mindlessly Tagging Along With Bullshit Propaganda."
Say it with me, “Mindlessly Tagging Along With Bullshit Propaganda.”
Ok, I'm saying all this, but what am I following? Because I'm not perfect! We're all following things, and I'm probably following something too!!!
David Foster Wallace once said, "There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”
The things we follow often become so deeply ingrained in our minds that they take on a life of their own, like tiny people inhabiting our heads. They can seem almost autonomous, with their own motives and desires, and exert a powerful influence over our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
It's like the character of Remy in the movie "Ratatouille," who is a little chef that lives in the head of the protagonist, guiding him through the kitchen and helping him create unique dishes. In the same way, the things we follow can become like little voices in our heads, telling us what to do and how to think.
But what am I following?
Perhaps this notion of "following your curiosity" is all nonsense. Or maybe writing this piece every week is a futile exercise. It's possible that trusting my intuition and believing everything will fall into place is nothing but a pipe dream. Perhaps all the various projects I'm working on only serve as distractions, preventing me from focusing on the more significant ones. And maybe college itself is just a way to procrastinate, using the idea of creating an exit strategy to avoid facing the question of what I truly want to do.
Who knows for sure?
One thing is certain - we all have a "Remy-like" figure in our minds. This little rat can persuade us to mindlessly follow propaganda and waste our mental energy. It's our responsibility to acknowledge its existence and decide whether to take control of our minds or redirect our energy toward a worthwhile endeavor that we do for its own sake.
(Sigh and sigh again).
What will we do? One option is to use the power of these ideologies to our advantage, dancing to the beat of our goals. People blindly follow their beliefs, but we can harness these ideologies to reach our aspirations (not ideal). Alternatively, we can share the truth with each person, leading them to a life of fullness, free from the constraints of dogmatic thinking. We need an ideology that is more than just finding our "why" because who cares about mine or yours? Let's strive to be the best versions of ourselves, soaring together to new heights.
So let's not MTWABP. Instead, let's find out what it's all about because, in a world of WAP, we need better stories and narratives to forever inspire the spirit of the human mind.
The creative power of our mind, the greatest of all time, is our only superpower. With each thought, a universe is born, and it's our responsibility to adorn it with the brilliance of our imagination.
Juan David Campolargo
I highly recommend the entire quote.