This is a topic I have wanted to write about for a while. I’m not sure if it’s controversial or not. Some people might not like it. Some people might think I’m closed minded.
It’s all good, I’m just here to help people who are listening.
This is a hidden truth that isn’t spoken about much. The reason being - it’s impossible to measure.
How can you measure how much destruction you’ve avoided by behaving correctly? You can’t, really. The only thing you can measure is the consequences of your actions.
Good habits lead to success, bad habits lead to destruction.
“Behaving correctly”. “Good character”. “Successful”. These are subjective claims. They are obvious to some people, and completely foreign to others. A lot of it depends on how you were raised, what instruction you were given and the experiences you’ve had in the past.
It’s only subjective because there are certain ideologies that differ widely on what’s “good” and “bad”.
I’m not here to judge, and I’m not the arbiter of truth. But, I can certainly give you some examples that are reasonable and as objective as possible to demonstrate my claims.
Don’t you have to fail to become successful?
Yes, but there’s a caveat. Failure is not destruction. Failure is not ruin. Failure is simply making the wrong decision in attempt to make the right decision.
Failure is course correction. It helps you understand how reality works, so you can re-align your mindset. When you do something you think is right, and it turns out to be wrong, then you can learn from that and make the right decision moving forward.
This is how knowledge becomes wisdom. Wisdom is applied knowledge. Sometimes you don’t know what the right answer is until you try something. Then, once you have feedback, you can make better decisions moving forward.
Destruction is an entirely different beast. Destruction is habits, actions, and decisions that actively work against you. They prevent you from being successful.
Destruction is easy
Making a mess is easy. Cleaning it up is hard. Avoiding the mess altogether is the goal.
The masses (group think, mainstream, modern culture) tend towards destruction. Certain decisions they make keep them bound in place, and never allow them to escape mediocrity.
The majority of the reason why, is because everyone around them is making the same decisions.
Not exercising. Not saving and investing money. Not getting enough sleep. Optimizing for comfort. Entertainment when bored. The list goes on. These are examples of my “subjective” claims. But it’s easy to see how those things could be bad in a person’s life.
All of these things are easy to do. Destruction is easy.
Following the crowd is easy. Mimicking those around you is easy. Fitting in is easy.
What’s hard is making your own decisions. Thinking for yourself. Optimizing for growth over comfort. Not everyone is doing that, and that makes you stick out. You don’t fit in with the crowd.
Doing the right thing when you don’t feel like it is hard. Growth is hard. Progress is hard. Success is hard. Chances are, if it’s hard, you’re doing the right thing.
Doing the right thing can lead to failure in the short term. It can mean going backwards slightly. But the difference is you’re not destroyed. Now you’re in control.
Good character is long-term invincible
Simply put, if you don’t do anything wrong you won’t be haunted by your past actions in the future.
So many (it’s actually crazy at this point) high-profile people have been torn down by their actions in the past. Sometimes it’s just stupid stuff, other times it’s criminal.
Hard work can bring you success, but hard work doesn’t make you invincible.
Those high-profile people all worked hard to get where they got in life, only to have it torn down by the bad character that haunted them and revealed their true character.
This truth is not just for high-profile people, though. This is true for everyone. For you and me.
If you consistently do things that could be perceived as evil, wrong, or illegal, eventually those actions will catch up to you and you will reap what you have sown.
But, if your character is intact, and you always look to do the right thing (and actively avoid the wrong things), your success will be protected. There’s nothing against you, so you can sleep well at night.
Being invincible from destruction is successful by default. You can consistently take action towards a goal, knowing full-well that you will eventually get there and nothing can stop you.
As a side note, people can change. Your character isn’t set in stone. If you’ve been careless in the past, your past still may haunt you. If you improve your character, you can point to a time where you made a decision to behave differently and reject destructive habits.
Typically it’s beneficial to bring forward your past wrongs. It puts you in control of the narrative. Being found out is always the worst position to be in, as people assume many things that are probably not true.
Avoiding the appearance of evil
One of my favorite examples of this truth is something that everyone loves to hate.
It’s the “Modesto Manifesto”. Or, the “Mike Pence Rule”.
The rule is this: Mike Pence never eats alone with a woman other than his wife, Karen, and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side.
I love the line just after that (in the Wikipedia article linked above): “Socially liberal or non-religious people may see Pence’s practice as misogynistic or bizarre”. How closed minded can they be?
Mike Pence’s success is invincible, because his character goes before him. Not only does he actively avoid evil (destruction), but evil avoids him, because they know his stance.
And if you think I’m saying being around women is evil, please leave this article. I don’t care what you think. It’s safe to assume we won’t be seeing Mike Pence in the same situation as Bill Clinton in the White House.
Plenty of high-profile men and women have had their lives destroyed because of careless decisions made behind closed doors as a result of a lapse in character and good judgement.
Hard work leads to success. Careless character leads to destruction. Good, strict character leads to invincibility.
Avoiding destruction (theoretically)
Okay, I’ve talked about the benefits of avoiding destruction - so what actually causes destruction? What should you be avoiding in order to remain successful?
It would be impossible to list all of the things that you need to avoid in order maintain your character.
My north star is the Bible. It has incredible nuance around the correct behavior in any situation in life. People, money, relationships, business, children, everything.
I love the progression of the Bible, because there’s a stark difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The difference is, the Old Testament focused on what you shouldn’t be doing, and the New Testament focuses on what you should be doing.
In the Old Testament, God gave his people clear rules to follow. Eight of the ten commandments are “don’t do this”. The issue with this approach, is people don’t always understand what they should be doing instead.
When Jesus arrives on the scene, he boils it down to a one liner: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Matthew 7:12.
In every situation in life, you should treat others how you would want to be treated. That’s the bare minimum. That’s going to give you 99% of the answers you need to have good character that protects your future success.
Avoiding destruction (practically)
I gave you the general answer to correct character, but let’s get more specific and talk about common pitfalls of modern Americans.
It’s funny, when you start mentioning the Bible people automatically point to black and white positions. It’s either a sin, or not a sin. It’s good, or it’s bad. That’s not what the Bible says at all.
Not once in the Bible does it say that drinking alcohol is a sin, but all throughout the Bible it mentions avoiding alcohol so you don’t destroy your life.
Here’s my positioning on this: if you take alcohol to it’s extreme, is it good or bad? When you’re black-out drunk, do you make intelligent, long-term oriented decisions that help you in the future? Or, do you end up making poor decisions that you regret and wish never happened?
More often than not, it’s the latter. Increased consumption of alcohol leads to careless character. It prohibits you from being steadfast in your rules that govern your character.
Am I saying never drink alcohol? No. You can do whatever you want. I definitely don’t, because I don’t want to entertain the thought of having one decision (when I’m not even coherent) that ruins my life.
You’re only one DUI away from destruction. You’re only one affair away from destruction. You’re only a few steps away from destroying your health by alcoholism. It’s just not worth messing with. Similarly with any kind of drugs.
We’re going there. Sex is a completely polarizing topic. In one context, it’s incredibly destructive. In another, it’s one of the best most valuable things in life.
This is a topic that the Bible is very clear on - there are definitive guidelines on what is sexual sin and what is not.
Whether you believe the Bible or not, here’s the reasoning behind why certain rules are the way they are.
Sex before marriage can be destructive simply because of the nature of having a child out of wedlock. If you’re young and not married, chances are you’re not ready to become a parent. It’s not the most successful position to be in.
Sex before marriage can also be destructive because of the spiritual bonding of sex between partners. When sex is freely performed with multiple partners, if you do decide to settle down with a partner in marriage, sex with that partner does not have the same bonding effect.
Not to mention STDs and STIs - the risk of increases dramatically with multiple sexual partners. When you take two people who have never had sex with anyone before, and they get married and have sex, you don’t have to guess if you’re going to contract an STD. By default it’s a successful decision.
Obsession with sex can lead to destruction as well. You tend to do things that are illegal or perceived as evil. Pedophiles are obsessed with sex. Voyeur’s are obsessed with sex. People who get in affairs tend to be obsessed with sex. You get the idea.
What you say
The words that come out of your mouth have more impact on your success than just about anything. The things you say not only impact you, but they also impact others.
Negative, pessimistic, and critical language tends towards destruction. Positive, encouraging, and empowering language tends towards success.
The things you say about yourself direct your actions.
Examples:— Jordan O'Connor (@jdnoc) September 15, 2020
❌ "That's too expensive."
✅ "One day I will be able to afford that."
❌ "I'm terrible at this."
✅ "If I keep practicing I will get better."
❌ "Bad things always happen to me."
✅ "I'm so grateful for my life."
You can destroy your life with your words, or you can build your life with your words. Avoiding saying things that are destructive make you successful by default.
What some parents get wrong
Parents want their kids to be successful. That’s good! And that’s the way it should be.
They do this by putting rules in place the prevent the child from destroying their life. Early on in childhood, it tends to be rules that don’t get them killed (like, you can’t play in the road.) Later on in life, it’s more about character building rules.
What some parents get wrong is implementing the rules without properly educating the benefits of those rules. The other thing they do is try to scare children into behaving correctly, instead of giving them the responsibility to make the right decisions.
They’ll put rules in place about doing their homework, dating and relationships, how much TV/Video games they can play, etc. But so often the child is unaware of the destruction that lies behind breaking those rules.
The child just thinks if they break the rules, they’ll get in trouble with their parents. They don’t fully understand the implications of what breaking those rules can lead to.
When/if you have children, be clear about the benefits of following the rules in place. Typically, your child will want to be successful as well, and they will want to avoid things that can harm them in the future.
Restricting behavior is freedom
Lastly, I wanted to make the point that avoiding destruction and following strict rules gives you incredible freedom. At first glance, it might seem closed minded to restrict your behavior.
It’s hard to be free and successful when you’re in prison. It’s hard to be free and successful when you’re paying child support. It’s hard to be free and successful when you’re drunk all the time.
By restricting your behavior, you are enabling your future to be completely free. Free to be successful, free to lead a good life, and free from past behavior that might haunt you in the future.
Success can become your default by avoiding destructive actions and habits.
Working hard can make you successful, and having good character keeps you successful.
There’s very practical things you can avoid to make sure you stay on the path to success.
That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed this reading.