Wednesday, February 13, 2013

You Are Nothing But Your Fruit

The following is a paraphrased version of a blog (edited for our audience), originally found on This particular post, written by NYT best-selling author Jason Pargin (aka David Wong), shares so many similar things that Southwestern Advantage teaches our student reps, we wanted to share a few of his thoughts with our audience. Enjoy.

Start doing things that will make yourself become the type of person people want to be around.

This is a first step that is nearly always skipped. People ask "How do I get a great job?" and not "How do I become the type of person employers want to hire?" Guys ask "How do I get pretty girls to like me?" instead of "What can I do to become the type of person that pretty girls like?" Maybe the reason is because that second question in both scenarios will very well require facing fears, giving up comforts, and changing your attitudes in life.

"But why can't people just like me for me?" The answer is because people need things.

Do your actions fill the needs of others? Why not? The secret to winning in life and winning with people: when you decide to do the hard things that make you uncomfortable, and stop avoiding them, you become a better version of yourself. You're serving others when doing just one of those hard things fills a need of just one other person. You're serving others when you inspire them to do the same in their own lives.

"But I'm just not good at ___!" 

Quick secret: If you put in enough hours of practice and repetition, you can get sort-of-good at anything. Don't like the idea of pouring time into learning a skill? Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the sheer act of practicing will cause you to grow. People typically quit things because it takes too long to see positive results. They don't understand that the process is the result.

The bad news is that if you want anything worthwhile in life, you have no other choice. Nothing worthwhile is given; it's always earned in a hard uncomfortable way. In my non-expert opinion, people aren't unhappy with themselves because they have low self-esteem, or because others were mean to them. They're unhappy with themselves because they never do anything truly challenging. Not even you can just "love you for you." If you're unhappy, it's because you're not growing. You're not growing because you're not challenging yourself. 

Maybe you don't like hearing this, and you're responding with something you heard as a kid that sounds a little like, "It's what's on the inside that matters!" True, but just understand that your 'inside' is simply the collection of attitudes you have chosen and actions you have taken. 

You have a common defense to everything I've said so far, and to every critical voice in your life. It's what your ego is saying to you in order to prevent you from having to do the hard work of improving: "I know I'm a good person on the inside." 

Don't get me wrong; who you are inside is everything -- "who you are inside" is the metaphorical dirt from which your fruit grows. But here's what everyone needs to know, and what many cannot accept:

"You" are nothing but your fruit.

Nobody cares about your dirt. "Who you are inside" is meaningless aside from what it produces for other people.

Inside, some people feel like they have great compassion. Then a local tragedy occurs so they say, "Let them know that they are in my thoughts" instead of finding out what those people need and actually helping. Tragedies occur every day but millions of us tell ourselves that caring is just as good as doing. It's an internal mechanism controlled by the lazy part of our brain to keep us from being uncomfortable. 

Doctors don't say to their patients, "I just wanted to tell you that you're in my thoughts. Good luck -- let me know if that cured you."

What do you actually do? If someone had hidden cameras that followed you around for a month, would they be impressed with what they saw? Remember, they can't read your mind -- they can only observe. Would they be inspired by what you do?

Apply the same standards to yourself that you apply to everyone else. Even Jesus said a tree is judged by its fruit over and over and over. He also said, "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." We are not judged by our insides, but instead by the fruit that our insides produce. 

The human mind will always fight against thinking that it needs to change. We are equipped with layer after layer of defense mechanisms designed to shoot down anything that might keep us from staying exactly where we are. Some of you reading this are feeling your brain bombard with knee-jerk reasons to reject these ideas.

Your defense mechanisms may have spent a lifetime training you to do the following:

Interpret Any Criticism as an Insult 
"You're only saying this so you'll feel superior to me!"

Focus on the Messenger to Avoid Hearing the Message 
"Who are they to tell me how to live?"

Focus on the Tone to Avoid Hearing the Content
"Your tone comes off as offensive to me, so I'll ignore it."

Revise Your Own History
"Things used to be worse, so if I keep doing what I've been doing, they'll get better."

Mediocrity is comfortable. It's why so many people prefer it. Happiness and fulfillment takes effort. Also, courage. It's incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don't face fears in life, then you'll never fail. It's so much easier to just sit back and criticize other people.

By the way, whatever you try to do or build -- be it a job, a new skill, or a new relationship -- you will immediately find someone who will trash it. Maybe not to your face, but they'll do it. Your drunk friends do not want you to get sober. Your fat friends do not want you to start a fitness regimen. Your lazy friends do not want to see you embark on a career.

They're only expressing their own fear. Skepticism is another excuse to do nothing. Don't be that person. If you are that person, stop. This is what's making people hate you. This is what's making you hate yourself.

How about this: While other people are criticizing, decide to do anything -- add any skill, any improvement to your human tool set, and get good enough at it to impress people. It doesn't matter what -- just pick something that will be hard, scary at first, and/or make you uncomfortable.

Please don't focus on something great that you're going to make happen to you ("I'm going to find a girlfriend; I'm going to make lots of money..."). Instead, just focus on giving yourself a skill that would make you ever so slightly more interesting and valuable to other people.

Your brain will instantly create a mental list of reasons not to do it, but you have to kill your excuses. Or they will kill you.

It will be fun to see if we find even one person who actually does this, but if so, we'll look back not just on the activity, but why. You have nothing to lose; and our world needs more fruit-producing people.

PS. You can find the unedited, much saltier version of this blog here.