The Question Is, Why Aren't You Doing It (on The Iced Coffee Hour) Pt.2 March ‘22 Ep 513



In this in-depth conversation, Alex discusses his transition from a religious background to embracing nihilism, provoked by a long and challenging five-year journey. Despite receiving criticism for his previous statements on faith, Alex clarifies that his views are personal conclusions, not attacks on others' beliefs. He recounts seeking a Christian therapist to reconcile his spiritual crisis but ultimately realized that his pursuit of meaning was hindering his ability to function in society. Alex's shift to nihilism, recognizing no inherent capital "M" meaning in life, allowed him to let go of societal expectations and find liberation in defining his own "little m" meanings. Additionally, Alex and the guests explore the power of identity in shaping behavior, with Alex sharing his admiration for Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger as role models for their wisdom and life choices. The discussion also delves into the challenges of personal change, using Alex's insights to help another guest confront his struggle with weight and the realization that boredom, not hunger, often drives unhealthy eating habits. Alex emphasizes the importance of starting change immediately, accepting failure as part of the process, and understanding that identity is formed by consistent action, not by succumbing to past failures.

Summary Notes

Directional Progress and Persistence

  • Alex emphasizes the importance of consistent movement towards goals rather than perfection.
  • Persistence over a long period is key to achieving objectives.
  • The podcast aims to discuss customer acquisition, monetization, retention, and lessons from failures.

"We just need to strip away the perfection and get to the like. If I directionally move in this way over a long enough period of time, I will get there as long as I don't stop."

This quote encapsulates the philosophy that gradual progress, rather than perfection, is essential for success. It sets the tone for the podcast's focus on business growth and learning from past mistakes.

Transition from Religion to Nihilism

  • Alex underwent a five-year journey transitioning from religious belief to nihilism.
  • He received messages from religious listeners who felt attacked by his previous statements, prompting him to clarify his stance.
  • Alex consulted a Christian therapist to reconcile his religious upbringing with his personal beliefs.
  • He studied the formation of the Christian canon and sought answers to existential questions.
  • Despite exposure to compelling arguments from both religious apologists and secularists, Alex ultimately found no personal truth in religious beliefs.
  • He respects others' beliefs but is content with his own conclusion that there is no afterlife.

"It was five years and it was very hard for me... my statements are not an attack on your religion. They are simply an expression of what conclusions I have come to."

Alex describes his long and challenging journey from being religious to embracing nihilism. His statement clarifies that his personal beliefs are not meant to offend others but are a reflection of his own conclusions.

The Impact of Nihilism on Alex's Life

  • Nihilism helped Alex define and crystallize his previously vague thoughts.
  • He distinguishes between 'capital M' Meaning (universal) and 'little m' meaning (personal significance).
  • Rejecting inherent universal meaning allowed Alex to free himself from societal expectations and anxieties.
  • He advocates for individuals to find personal meaning in their actions.

"I think it crystallized thoughts that I already had... I just inherently believe that there is no capital M meaning."

Alex explains that nihilism provided clarity to his thoughts, leading him to believe that there is no inherent universal meaning to life, which has been liberating for him.

Admiration for Authenticity and Wisdom

  • Alex admires Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger for their wisdom and authentic living.
  • He aspires to embody the traits of people who are true to themselves.
  • Nihilism has empowered him to live authentically without conforming to societal norms.
  • Alex reflects on how the people we admire often possess qualities we wish to have ourselves.

"Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are probably my two heroes... They've lived a life that I admire... I think nihilism actually helped me do that a lot."

Alex expresses his admiration for Buffett and Munger's wisdom and authentic lifestyles, attributing his ability to live authentically to his nihilistic beliefs.

Perspectives on Role Models

  • Jack and Alex discuss their role models, with Jack admiring his parents and Alex respecting public figures like Buffett and Munger.
  • Jack appreciates his parents' kindness, charity, and respectfulness.
  • Alex notes the transition from mentors to heroes in his life as he achieved certain goals.
  • There is a recognition that our heroes often reflect our own aspirations or perceived deficiencies.

"I would say probably mainly just my parents. Big idols of... They're great people. I love their philosophies, and I think they're super nice. They're charitable, they're respectful, good people."

Jack shares his admiration for his parents, highlighting their character and values as reasons for his respect.

"The entrepreneurial career path that I went on it went from having mentors to heroes... There were fewer and fewer people in my close proximity that I was like, I look up to you because I feel like I'd already kind of hit some of these check marks."

Alex discusses how his role models evolved as he progressed in his entrepreneurial journey, eventually finding inspiration in public figures rather than personal mentors.

Understanding vs. Memorization

  • Richard Feynman emphasized the importance of understanding over memorization, as true comprehension integrates knowledge into one's being for application in various scenarios.
  • When encountering different perspectives, the objective should be to comprehend them fully, allowing for personal growth and broader application.

"The point is not to memorize eyes. The point is to understand. It's like once you understand something, it becomes a part of you and you take it with you, and you can apply it in a number of scenarios."

This quote by Alex reflects on the philosophy that understanding is more valuable than memorization because it leads to internalization and versatile application of knowledge.

Learning Process and Knowledge Sequence

  • Knowledge acquisition is sequential, similar to progressing from simple addition to multiplication in math.
  • Respecting previous stages of learning is crucial as they provide the foundation for advanced understanding.
  • Life can be viewed in components (health, wealth, relationships, spirituality), and learning from others with deeper knowledge in these aspects is beneficial.
  • Public figures often remain influential due to their extensive knowledge, which many people do not surpass.

"There's also a sequence to knowledge. [...] You can look up to people who have an understanding of the topic that is more in depth than your current understanding or has an understanding that you prefer to your understanding, and then learn of them in that."

Alex discusses the concept that learning is a step-by-step process, and it's natural to progress from learning basic concepts to more complex ones, each building upon the last.

Personal Insecurities and Validation

  • Alex admits that his biggest insecurity is the need for validation from others and the influence of ego on his decision-making.
  • Despite improvements, he still struggles with separating his self-worth from external feedback and seeks to reduce the impact of validation on his choices.

"My biggest insecurity. It's probably the dual sided coin of ego and validation from others. [...] I still am sensitive to the fact that I know that it still drives me. And I don't like that it does."

This quote highlights Alex's introspection regarding his ongoing battle with seeking validation and the desire to overcome its influence on his self-perception and decisions.

Seeking Wisdom and Living with Perspective

  • Alex aspires to adopt character traits from individuals like Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett, especially their perspective on life's brevity and the insignificance of trivial matters.
  • He aims to apply the wisdom of old age early in life, prioritizing what truly matters and avoiding the trivialities that often occupy younger minds.

"I'm trying to live my life as an old man for a longer period of time, rather than waiting until I'm 70 to realize that it doesn't matter and I'm going to die."

Alex expresses his strategy to embrace the clarity and priorities that often come with old age, to lead a more meaningful life from a younger age.

Entrepreneurial Limitations: Skills, Traits, and Beliefs

  • Entrepreneurs face limitations in skills, character traits, and beliefs, with beliefs being particularly challenging due to their inherent acceptance as truth.
  • Alex identifies a skill gap in understanding capital markets and fundraising, recognizing it as an area for growth in his business career.

"There's three things that limit an entrepreneur, right? There's skills, there's character traits, and there's beliefs."

Alex outlines the three main areas that can limit an entrepreneur's growth, emphasizing the importance of awareness and improvement in each.

Content Creation and Audience Feedback

  • Alex discusses the challenge of content creation, where audience reception can influence a creator's self-esteem.
  • He strives to separate his self-worth from the performance of his content, aiming to take feedback objectively without letting it reflect on his personal value.

"You make a video, you think it's awesome, people think it sucks. [...] Do I now suck? Right? Which is like, am I taking the performance of the thing and then projecting it onto myself?"

This quote reveals Alex's internal conflict when the content he creates is not well-received, and his effort to not equate his value with the success of his work.

Weight Loss and Identity

  • Alex and another speaker discuss the psychological aspects of weight loss, including the importance of identifying as a healthy person rather than someone trying to lose weight.
  • The conversation touches on the challenges of maintaining focus on health without becoming obsessed, and the importance of making lifestyle changes that are sustainable.

"What would a healthy person do in this scenario? [...] It's just simply like, what would a healthy person do?"

Alex advises on the mindset shift needed for successful weight loss, suggesting that decisions should be based on what a healthy person would do, aiming for gradual improvement rather than perfection.

Obsession and Mastery

  • Obsession is often a temporary but necessary phase in achieving mastery in various aspects of life.
  • The goal is to reach a state of unconscious competence, where actions become automatic and do not require willpower.
  • Judging oneself for being obsessive can be counterproductive; it's more about transitioning to a new normal.

"But most people who have really exceptional physiques were obsessed with it for a period of time. Most people have exceptional marriages. We're obsessed with it for a period of time. People have really good personal finances. We're obsessed with it for a period of time."

This quote highlights the commonality among those who have achieved exceptional results in any field: a period of intense focus and dedication, which can be seen as obsession. It underscores the importance of this phase in mastering a skill or improving an aspect of life.

Distraction and Focus

  • Obsessive behaviors can be distracting and counterproductive, especially when they interfere with other important tasks.
  • The key to losing weight, being in a caloric deficit, can become an all-consuming thought, detracting from work and other responsibilities.
  • Recognizing the negative impact of such obsessions is crucial for finding balance.

"It was literally distracting me from my work. I would sit there and I would be working, and all I can think about was like, okay, at 05:00 p.m.. I obsess with the numbers, and this is good."

This quote illustrates how an obsessive focus on dieting can become a distraction from other important tasks, such as work. It shows that while understanding the mechanics of weight loss is important, it should not overshadow other aspects of one's life.

Root Causes and Identity

  • Addressing surface-level issues without understanding the root cause may not lead to lasting change.
  • Sometimes the root cause isn't a deep-seated issue but rather simple evolutionary desires for certain types of food.
  • Identity plays a crucial role in behavior; changing self-perception can lead to changes in actions.

"I think a lot of us, because if we have a big problem, we want to find a big root cause, and sometimes it's not."

This quote suggests that not all problems have profound root causes. Sometimes, the issues we face are due to basic human nature, and understanding this can help us address them more effectively without overcomplicating the solution.

Decision Making and Procrastination

  • Making the decision to change can be challenging, and procrastination often takes hold, with individuals believing they can start at any time.
  • The illusion of choice can lead to indefinite postponement of action.
  • Recognizing that there is no perfect time to start can be a catalyst for change.

"There's no reason. So we could do nothing. But there was nothing holding me back yesterday or the day before."

This quote captures the essence of procrastination and the realization that there is often no tangible obstacle preventing change, other than the decision to act.

Pain, Pleasure, and Change

  • Change often occurs when the pain of staying the same outweighs the discomfort of changing.
  • Individuals have different thresholds for what constitutes an unacceptable level of discomfort, which influences their motivation to change.
  • Once a new state of being is achieved, maintaining it becomes the new normal.

"You might have to get bigger. What? Yeah, you might have to get bigger."

This quote suggests that sometimes individuals need to reach a personal low point, or "rock bottom," before they are motivated to make significant changes in their lives.

Environment, Habits, and Identity

  • One's environment and daily cues play a significant role in reinforcing current behaviors.
  • Changing one's environment can be an effective strategy for breaking old habits and forming new ones.
  • Identity is shaped by repeated actions, and changing habits can lead to a change in identity.

"There's a million ways you can do it. And that's why when you say, like, the root issue, it's like there's lots of tiny cues in Alex's environment that reinforces current behavior."

The quote emphasizes the importance of the environment in shaping behavior. Small cues in one's surroundings can reinforce existing habits, making it essential to alter the environment to facilitate change.

Overcoming Discomfort and Making Change

  • The discomfort associated with change must be less than the pain of staying the same to motivate action.
  • Having multiple reasons for change, a "big bag of whys," can provide the necessary motivation to push through discomfort.
  • Identity is a powerful driver of behavior, and consistent actions over time solidify a new identity.

"You've got to make it. And it's when the reality of the condition is real for you. It breaks my heart."

This quote conveys the emotional weight of recognizing the need for change and the personal responsibility one must take to initiate and sustain that change. It underscores the significance of belief and identity in the process of transformation.

Health and Perfectionism

  • The concept of "perfect health" is often seen as binary and unrealistic.
  • Healthy can be redefined as avoiding extreme behaviors like bingeing.
  • It's more about consistent behavior change than achieving perfection.

"And so a lot of people have a binary vision of what, quote, perfect health style them looks like. And that's silly. And it's a farce."

The quote highlights the common misconception that there's a perfect state of health, which is unrealistic and unattainable. Instead, health should be viewed as a continuum.

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

  • Self-doubt and impostor syndrome can hinder the willingness to make lifestyle changes.
  • Confidence is not a prerequisite for making healthy choices.
  • Calories and health behaviors are not influenced by one's confidence levels.

"But the one thing I think that is holding me back, the more I think about it, is the feeling of, like, I don't know how to describe it, other than impostor syndrome."

This quote reflects the speaker's personal barrier to change, indicating that emotional factors like impostor syndrome can impede progress in health and wellness.

Learning from Failure

  • Past failures should not prevent future attempts at change.
  • Expecting and accepting failure as part of the process is key.
  • Perfection is not the goal; directional movement and persistence are.

"If you failed in the past, if you project that failure into the present, then that past failure continues to repeat itself by you don't even trying."

The quote emphasizes the importance of not allowing past failures to dictate current actions, suggesting a shift in mindset is necessary for progress.

The Role of Habits

  • Habits are mental shortcuts that can lead to unhealthy behaviors when triggered by cues like stress.
  • Identifying and addressing the root cause of unhealthy habits is crucial.
  • Small environmental changes can have a significant impact on habit formation.

"Because habits are created for mental shortcuts so we don't have to make decisions. And so it's like, I feel stressed. I can resolve this immediately with this thing."

This quote explains the automatic nature of habits and their role in decision-making, particularly how stress can trigger unhealthy eating without conscious thought.

Hunger vs. Boredom

  • Differentiating between hunger and boredom is essential for healthy eating.
  • Physical hunger leads to a desire for nutritious food, while boredom leads to cravings for snacks.
  • Recognizing the true nature of one's hunger can prevent unnecessary eating.

"You learn the difference when you're really hungry. You're like, chicken sounds great. Like, an apple sounds delicious. You know what I mean? But when you're bored, you're like, I could go for some chips."

The quote illustrates the distinction between the physical need for food and eating out of boredom, which is a common obstacle in managing diet and nutrition.

Caloric Intake and Weight Loss

  • Understanding and managing caloric intake is fundamental to weight loss.
  • Being larger can make it easier to lose weight due to higher basal metabolic rates.
  • Hunger does not always necessitate eating, especially when managing calorie intake.

"You already know the calorie stuff. There's no point in getting into that. If you really want to do it. You already know. You google it. You know you need to eat less than you are right now, and you would just do that."

The speaker is reinforcing the basic principle of caloric deficit for weight loss and the importance of applying known information rather than seeking new solutions.

Personal Epiphanies and Realizations

  • Personal insights can be transformative in understanding and changing behavior.
  • Recognizing the difference between hunger and boredom can lead to an epiphany in dietary habits.
  • Accepting and acting on these realizations is a critical step towards improvement.

"I think I don't know the difference between being hungry and being bored. Bored. I know that sounds stupid."

The speaker has a moment of realization about their eating habits, which is a significant step towards making meaningful changes in their health behaviors.

Reflection and Learning

  • Engaging in reflective conversations can lead to new insights and learning.
  • Being open to different thoughts and structures can be educational and beneficial.
  • The process of understanding one's motivations and beliefs is ongoing and can influence various aspects of life.

"I think it's chunking down and chunking up in terms of thought process, which is like, why are we doing this?"

This quote encapsulates the reflective process of understanding the underlying reasons for our actions and behaviors, which is crucial for personal growth and change.

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