🤯Unknown Unknowns #127 - Updating the Matrix
Khe Hy left his finance job around eight years ago and he writes about discovering and examining our lives.
I’ve been following him for years now and his story resonates with me. It seemed that every issue he thought about was something I was dealing with. He recently asked, Are you a Post-Achievement Professional?
I recommend giving the whole thing a read, but I’ve been hung up on this diagram since I read his essay.
Where am I on this?
I would like to say I’m Post-Financial, because I’ve lowered my spending and saved enough to where I don’t need a traditional job. I’d like to say I’m Post-Achievement because I don’t feel the need to prove anything. At the same time, I don't feel like I've accomplished anything and I haven’t made enough money to not have a worry in the world. For both Financial and Achievement, the line between Pre and Post is blurry.
Why don't I feel like I accomplished anything? From the outside, I made money, I got promoted, and I had the career and lifestyle most people want. But from the inside, I didn’t control my time, there was immense peer pressure, and I couldn’t even wear the clothes I wanted to wear.
Most importantly, I don’t feel like I’ve produced anything meaningful or important. The finance world is a zero-sum game to me1. All the achievements are meaningless because someone else would have achieved the exact same thing if I hadn’t.
Can you achieve anything beyond status in a zero-sum game?
In the ultimate zero-sum game, professional sports, Kevin Durant had a realization:
“Everybody tells you like, 'Yo, this is what you need to be working for, is this gold ball and these rings.' And I'm just like, 'All right, cool, let me lock in on that.' And I locked in on wanting to achieve that, but I also realized it's a lot of stuff that factors in it that's out of my control.
And once I won a championship [with Golden State], I realized that, like, my view on this game is really about development. Like, how good can I be? It's not about, you know, let's go get this championship. I appreciate that stuff and I want to win to experience that stuff, but it's not the end-all, be-all of why I play the game.”
Durant realized what he wants is development. If you’re lucky, the spin-cycle of a zero-sum game can bring introspection. After chasing my tail for eighteen years, I realized that achievement is in the eye of the beholder.
In his essay, Khe writes that:
“The transition to becoming a Post-Achievement Professional involves realizing that the world doesn’t revolve around you. You know and feel in your bones what you’ve done and are capable of. It’s a quiet confidence. A surrender into a place that lets you step out of yourself (and your ego) to listen more intently, care more deeply and love others with an open heart.”
“And they’re Pre-Achievement because they haven’t done anything (besides be their High School Valedictorian).”
Pre-Achievement is before you’ve done anything, but Post-Achievement is when you realize achievements don’t matter. Something is missing, andcommented on Khe’s tweet that there needs to be a z-axis.
I was stewing over this conundrum when I came across this tweet from.
What if “Who I want to be” is the z-axis?
The problem is that we’re constantly pulled away from who we want to be by mimetic desire. The last puzzle piece is yet another tweet, this time from Ayush:
Mimetic desire is like gravity. It’s always there and you have to constantly fight against it with introspection.
Here’s my proposal for updating Khe’s matrix with the z-axis of introspection/mimesis:
If you’re heavily influenced by mimetic desire, the Pre and Post lines for Achievement and Finance are driven by the people who surround you.
If you’re more aware of mimetic desire, the line is formed by your intrinsic motivations.
I’ve always liked the quote attributed to Confucius, “Every man has two lives, the second one starts when he realizes he only has one.” You only realize you have one life when you finally see the gravity of mimesis.
📝 Writing of the Week:
I’ve been writing unpolished, around 100-word mini-essays. Just reflections on ideas from podcasts or things on the news. Here are the latest:
The message hasn’t changed in twenty-five years.
2️⃣ Tyler Durden: Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. - Fight Club
💬 Quotes of the Week:
1️⃣ "The secret of success is that it is not the absence of failure, but the absence of envy." - Herodotus
2️⃣ “He does not have to be a painter or sculptor to be an artist. He can work in any medium. He simply has to find the gain in the work itself, not outside it.” - Robert Henri
🏴☠️ Something Fun:
What if you don’t want to be a monk?
👨🔧 If you need help in your writing or creative journey, perhaps I can help you:
⇒ Concept Crafting - Have an idea for an essay but not sure how to get it on paper?
⇒ Whiteboard Ideation - Through a one-hour call, we’ll unlock your ideas
⇒ Course Catalyst - Get the most out of taking an online course
And one way to help me:
⇒ I’m always looking for feedback, and in Cate’s above essay, she suggests this tool for giving feedback anonymously.
You can find more of my writing at chr.iswong.com.
Questions, suggestions, complaints? Email me at [email protected].
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Leaving you in peace,
In 18 years of finance, I don't feel like I accomplished anything. I got promotions, raises, and praise but in the end, it was a zero-sum game. Finance boils down to regulatory and tax arbitrage. How can we avoid rules, pay less taxes, borrow money cheaper, and redistribute risk?
The movie, The Big Short, is a great illustration of this, the whole crisis was created because regulations caused AAA securities to have more demand, inspiring schemes to define and generate more and more assets as AAA.