Monday, February 12, 2018

What do you care about - your values ?

Dave Mustaine was kicked out of a band at a most inopportune time - when they had a recording deal and they were ready to record. Dave felt awful and he decided that he will start a new band. He decided that he  will sell so many records and he will become so famous and popular that the original band that kicked him out will regret that decision. His new band was Megadeth and it sold 25 million albums. He should have made it, but he still felt like a failure as he couldn't become more famous than the original band he was kicked out of - Metallica which sold 180 million albums.

Pete Best was a drummer of an upcoming new band called the Beatles. When they got their first record deal, they decided to put his face on the album. But all the other members of the band convinced the manager that he should fire Pete. The manager was unwilling but finally went by the wishes of the band and fired him. Pete was also surprised and sad. He sued the Beatles, all his other music projects went nowhere and he even contemplated suicide. But then he got married and had children and he became happier. He had a loving family and a simple life. And he still got to play his drums.

These two stories are awfully similar but the outcomes are wildly different. Why is that? It depended on what those two chose to care about . i.e is their values.

Values determine the metrics by which we choose to measure ourselves. If our value is to earn enough to be able to pay for necessities, then by that metric Dave is a grand success. But his value was - 'Become more popular and sell more records than Metallica' he was a failure. This metric always tortured him though he was really successful. On the contrary Pete best just valued having a loving family and simple life along with drumming. By that metric he was successful inspite of not being as famous as Beatles.

Values are a guide to priorities. Everybody wants to be famous and get lot of money. But are you prioritizing them over everything else? Do you want to do that ? This is why your values are important and you should clarify them.

These stories show us that they are good values which create good problems which can be solved easily whereas there are bad values which create bad problems which can't be solved. Good values are internal. They are within your control and you just have to think in certain way to achieve it. Bad values need something external to happen which is not always in your control. They need superstitions and socially destructive means to achieve them.

Some common bad values are pleasure (pain is inevitable in a good life), material success (not in your control immediately), always being right (not possible without cheating oneself)  and staying positive (it is a form of avoidance and creates emotional dysfunction)

Some good values are honesty, innovation, vulnerability, standing up for oneself, standing up for others, self-respect, curiosity, charity, humility and creativity

Self-improvement is choosing better values which gives you better things to care about. With this you get better problems to solve. If you solve better problems, you have a better life.

Five life changing values are

1. Taking complete responsibility for everything in your life, even when you're not a fault.
2. Acknowledgement of your ignorance and constant cultivation of doubt in your own beliefs
3. Willingness to discover your flaws by failing, so that they can be improved
4. The ability to both hear and say no, clearly defining what you will and will not accept in your life
5. Contemplating one's own morality because keeping death in our mind can give perspective to all other values.

Source: The Subtle art of not giving a f*ck - Mark Manson . This is a great book. Do read this.

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