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Rising to the Occasion

Rising to the Occasion

It’s mid September. My plan is to quit working as an ALT at the end of March next year. Six months left.

However, there have been a couple of complications since I started preparing to quit. For one, the studio that my wife and I built got flooded during a recent storm. While most valuables in the house were left undamaged, the studio itself stinks badly of mold. There are a lot of places in the studio for mold to hide. The flood was a rather large setback for us. I wanted to have English lessons in there, but unless we can fix the smell, having lessons in there won’t be practical.

On top of that, I have personal compatibility issues with the mother-in-law, so my wife and I have decided to move out into an apartment. That means we’ll be saving less money than we are now.

Those challenges have prompted me to reevaluate my plans.

My feeling was that if I could replace about 25% of my current salary with part-time, personal work, then it would be feasible for me to quit. But given these new circumstances, I feel like I need to raise that to 50%.

That’s a substantial amount of money. How can I possibly make that much?

The original plan I had was to have at least 5 lessons a week. That sounded like an achievable goal.

10 lessons a month? Now that’s a real challenge. 

How will I do it?

I have no idea.

It’s times like these that I am reminded of a scene from my favorite manga, Attack on Titan. During a pivotal point in the series, a small group of soldiers are sent to do something that had never been done before: Win a battle against the Titans. The fate of humanity rested on them.

The only way they could win and thereby save humanity was to use an experimental power they discovered. Unfortunately, almost as soon as the battle started, it looked like the experimental power failed. When they realized that, they sent a signal that the mission had failed. The mission failed almost as quickly as it begun.

When the commander of the army got the signal, his advisers asked him to order the troops to abort the mission and retreat. His response?

No.

“I won’t let them admit failure so easily. All that we can do while we are alive is struggle through this.”

The troops on the ground began to panic. Most of them wanted to retreat, but their commander ordered them to stay. They had to protect the people with the experimental power until they could escape.

In other words, they had to struggle against a seemingly invincible enemy, the weight of the future of humanity on their shoulders.

There are times in life when we don’t know what to do. In those times, all we can do is struggle through the fear and doubt. We can’t run away or accept failure. We have to fight.

That’s the burden we are given from the day we’re born until the day we die.

Time to rise to the occasion.

Launch

Launch

Launch is an online marketing guide written by Jeff Walker. In it, he describes his Product Launch Formula, a method for selling anything online.

Or is it?

Yes, Jeff talks about all of the elements of building and using a email mailing list to launch new products and businesses. However, what the book really describes is an application of the lessons learned from Dale Carnegie, Robert Cialdini, Norman Vincent Peale, and Mike Cernovich. It combines the positive, high-energy mindsets from Peale and Cernovich with the lessons on influence from Carnegie and Cialdini. Then Jeff tells you how to make money with those lessons. And after you’re done reading, you’ll feel prepared to begin making your first list and planning your first of many launches.

Jeff begins by giving his story of going from stay-at-home dad to making six-figures in a week. How? He had a list.

The key element to the formula is having an email subscriber list. Using the list, you will communicate directly with people who have already shown an interest in you and the products/services you provide. The communication will be a series of emails over a period of around a week to ten days. The communication is what Walker calls a Sideways Sales Letter. One of the best ways to get people to buy things is to create anticipation. The SSL builds anticipation prior to a product launch. The way it creates anticipation is by providing a story and high-value content, such as instructional videos or free tutorials, that provide real value to people before they’ve even bought your product.

That last sentence hides a secret. The secret is an abundance mindset and an understanding of one of the pillars of influence: reciprocacy. If you adopt an abundance mindset—a belief in the abundance of value all around and in us—then you are much more likely to give away high-value things away for free. Generosity is a defining feature of the Product Launch Formula. If you are generous to your potential customers, they are more likely to buy. People tend to reciprocate kindness with kindness, value with value.

Of course, it isn’t only the free goods that do all the heavy lifting. Jeff spends chapter five talking about what he calls “mental triggers”. If you’ve read other books like Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People, or Robert Cialdini’s Influence, then you are already acquainted with the contents of this chapter. He talks about authority, reciprocity, trust, etc.

In addition to telling the story of his first launch, he gives several other Case Studies that demonstrate other people using his methods to launch their first products, businesses, and gain financial freedom. After reading those stories, I really felt like the results he talked about were entirely achievable for me in the future, if I am willing to do the work to make it happen.

Jeff also provides details on how to get paid to create content, using that content either as free content for future launches, or as paid products in and of themselves. Essentially, Jeff has given the details of a system for continuous product development and launching that is organic and beautiful. Some of the marketing methods and devices you’ll learn about in Launch include:

  1. Opt-in subscription forms
  2. Squeeze pages
  3. A:B testing
  4. Using ads, social media, word of mouth, and affiliates to drive people to your squeeze page.
  5. Questions to get answers to before launching a new product.
  6. Outlines for pre-prelaunch, pre-launch, launch, and post launch emails.
  7. Seed launches (for those without a product to sell currently)
  8. JV (affiliate) launches
  9. Masterminds (business and product idea brainstorming communities)

On top of the pillars of influence, supported by the foundation of an abundance mindset, sits the Product Launch Formula. It is the actualization of that knowledge in the business world.

Do you have a business and want to give it a boost? Buy this book.
Do you have a product that you want to sell? Buy this book.
Do you want to be free? Buy this book.

For those that read until the end, in this video, I talk about what Jeff calls the Seed Launch.

How to Win Friends & Influence People

How to Win Friends & Influence People

Gorilla Mindset, Mike Cernovich
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Scott Adams
Win Bigly, Scott Adams
Pre-suasion, Richard Cialdini
The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale
And now, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

To those that know me, you may be wondering why I am so interested in the “personal development” genre of literature as of late. Of the many inspiring and educational stories, two stories from Carnegie’s book illustrate best what I have in mind while studying the lessons that he and the other great men above have taught. Here I will quote the stories in full. In the chapter titled Make The Fault Seem Easy To Correct, Carnegie writes,

Clarence M. Jones, one of the instructors of our course in Cincinnati, Ohio, told how encouragement and making faults seem easy to correct completely changed the life of his son.

 

“In 1970 my son David, who was then fifteen years old, came to live with me in Cincinnati. He had led a rough life. In 1958 his head was cut open in a car accident, leaving a very bad scar on his forehead. In 1960 his mother and I were divorced and he moved to Dallas, Texas, with his mother. Until he was fifteen he had spent most of his school years in special classes for slow learners in the Dallas school. Administrators had decided he was brain-injured and could not function at a normal level. He was two years behind his age group, so he was only in the seventh grade. Yet he did not know his multiplication tables, added on his fingers and could barely read.

 

There was one positive point. He loved to work on radio and TV sets. He wanted to become a TV technician. I encouraged this and pointed out that he needed math to qualify for the training. I decided to help him become proficient in this subject. We obtained four sets of flash cards: multiplication, division, addition and subtraction. As we went through the cards, we put the correct answers in a discard stack. When David missed one, I gave him the correct answer and then put the card in the repeat stack until there were no cards left. I made a big deal out of each card he got right, particularly if he had missed it previously. Each night we would go through the repeat stack until there were no cards left.

 

Each night we timed the exercise with a stop watch. I promised him that when he could get all the cards correct in eight minutes with no incorrect answers, we would quit doing it every night. This seemed an impossible goal to David. The first night it took 52 minutes, the second night, 48, the 45, 44, 41 then under 40 minutes. We celebrated each reduction. I’d call in my wife, and we would both hug him and we’d all dance a jig. At the end of the month he was doing all the cards perfectly in less than eight minutes. When he made a small improvement he would ask to do it again. He had made the fantastic discovery that learning was easy and fun.

 

Naturally his grades in algebra took a jump. It is amazing how much easier algebra is when you can multiply. He astonished himself by bringing home a B in math. That had never happened before. Other changes came with almost unbelievable rapidity. His reading improved rapidly, and he began to use his natural talents in drawing. Later in the school year his science teacher assigned him to develop an exhibit. He chose to develop a highly complex series of models to demonstrate the effect of levers. It required skill not only in drawing and model making but in applied mathematics. The exhibit took first prize in his school’s science fair and was entered in the city competition and won third prize for the entire city of Cincinnati.

 

That did it. Here was a kid who had flunked two grades, who had been told he was ‘brain-damaged,’ who had been called ‘Frankenstein’ by his classmates and told his brains must have leaked out of the cut on his head. Suddenly he discovered he could really learn and accomplish things. The result? From the last quarter of the eighth grade all the way through high school, he never failed to make the honor roll; in high school he was elected to the national honor society. When he found learning was easy, his whole life changed.”

It’s said that Americans love a good comeback story. From poverty to riches, from enslavement to freedom, from failure to success, Americans love the reversal of fortunes. There is something powerful in the idea that humans can overcome overwhelming odds against them. The comeback story tells us that there is strength in humanity, in country, in friends and family, in me. It tells us there’s hope. It tells us when we want something truly, we can have it. It tells us that the fears we have about the future can be defeated.

From brain-damaged to national honor society. From ashamed to proud. From boy to man. I want to have the strength of character to make this happen for myself and my own children if we ever face such adversity.

But, I’m not only looking at my own house. The consequences of not being strong, of lacking strength of character, can be far reaching and tragic. I’m deeply worried about the effects that I can have on the future if I don’t fix myself.

In 1915, in the middle of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to bring peace. William Jennings Bryan wanted to negotiate peace, but Wilson appointed Edward M. House, Bryan’s close friend. When House broke the news to Bryan, Bryan was understandable disappointed. But, House put it this way:

“The President thought it would be unwise for anyone to do this officially, and that his going would attract a great deal of attention and people would wonder why he was there…”

Carnegie writes,

“You see the intimation? House practically told Bryan that he was too important for the job—and Bryan was satisfied.

Colonel House, adroit, experience in the ways of the world, was following one of the important rules of human relations: Always make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.”

Carnegie then tells another story of when Woodrow Wilson made someone feel important and happy to do something for him. Carnegie says of his methods, “He had a delightful way of putting things; he created the impression that by accepting this great honor I would be doing him a favor.”

However, it wasn’t all roses for Wilson. Carnegie writes,

“Unfortunately, Wilson didn’t always employ such taut. If he had, history might have been different.

 

For example, Wilson didn’t make the Senate and the Republican Party happy by entering the United States in the League of Nations. Wilson refused to take such prominent Republican leaders as Elihu Root or Charles Evans Hughes or Henry Cabot Lodge to the peace conference with him. Instead, he took along unknown men from his own party. He snubbed the Republicans, refused to let them feel that the League was their idea as well as his, refued to let them have a finger in the pie; and, as a result of this crude handling of human relations, wrecked his own career, ruined his health, shortened his life, caused America to stay out of the League, and altered the history of the world.”

The stakes are too high for good people to neglect learning and living the lessons that people like Carnegie have taught. The future isn’t set in stone. We make it. It is the duty of good people to make the future. We can’t let broken, corrupt people make the future, or else we have no future at all.

That’s why I’m reading Carnegie, Peale, Adams, Cialdini, and Cernovich. I believe wholeheartedly that the future of humanity may depend on my actions some day. Will I directly influence the future of humanity, or will I influence someone else who does the influencing? I don’t know.

When Carnegie writes story after story of important people in our history who were influenced by others because they were genuinely interested in other people, I listen. When he tells story after story about the transformative power of praise, I take notes and look inward. I may be able to fix the world through merely recognizing someone else’s achievement. I may be able to destroy the world by ignoring their achievement. That person could be a friend, a student, a neighbor, or a stranger online. I don’t know. Nobody knows what power we have to influence the future. But, we do know that we can influence it. The potential to achieve greatness or cause disaster is there for everybody.

If you want to join the honored ranks of those who have influenced the future toward the good, then you should read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

For those that have made it to the end, here are the top five things I learned from the book.

The Power of Positive Thinking

The Power of Positive Thinking

In Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking, he says that we should do everything possible to push negative thoughts out of our mind and replace them with positive thoughts. He believes that positive thinking is the key to solving our many personal and professional problems. Such problems include a lack of energy, anxiety about the future, anger problems, addiction, and having problems making friends or keeping work. Pushing out our negative feelings and replacing them with positive ones is the key to solving all of those problems. Every chapter is filled with story after story of people that have used those methods to fix their problems.

If you’re wondering if the book is worth your time, consider this: Multi-billionaire and US President Donald Trump went to the church Peale ministered at. Peale was a famous minister in his time. His influence on Trump, and therefore the future of the US, is incalculable. What he taught continues to have real, lasting power. I look at results, and the results are clear: Listening to Peale is one method of becoming rich and powerful.

As you might expect from a Christian minister, he talks extensively about things like faith. Faith, or belief, is the core of his thesis. The first chapter is titled Believe in Yourself. Chapter eight is titled I Don’t Believe in Defeat. Belief, faith, is a key element of every bit of advice Peale gives. But, to the person that doesn’t believe in themselves or others, how do they learn to believe?

One of the main tools for developing belief is prayer or affirmations. Take some idea or ideal, write it down (if it isn’t already written down) and repeat it to yourself. For example, the first affirmation he mentions in the book is a quote from the Bible, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) Many more passages are sprinkled around the rest of the book. Prayers are a form of, Peale writes, “sending out of vibrations from one person to another and to God.” He goes on to say,

All of the universe is in vibration…When you send out a prayer for another person…you transport from yourself to the other person a sense of love, helpfulness, support—a sympathetic, powerful understanding—and in this process you awaken vibrations in the universe.

Bible verses aren’t the only form of affirmation, however. He also advocates for personalized prayers. He often speaks of prayers in scientific terms, reflecting the rising popularity of turning everything scientific in his time, as he does when he describes the prayer “formula” he recommends. “The formula is”, he writes, “(1) PRAYERIZE, (2) PICTURIZE, (3) ACTUALIZE.” A friend of his, relating this formula to Peale, said that when he had a problem, “he talked it over with God very simply and directly in prayer”.

While reading TPPT, you see those elements of the formula come up in every chapter. In chapter 7, Expect the Best and Get It, he writes,

Learn to expect, not to doubt. In so doing you bring everything in to the realm of possibility… If you expect the best, you are given some strange kind of power to create conditions that produce the desired results.

In Christian terms, have faith.

He also writes,

Take the best into your mind and only that. Nurture it, concentrate on it, emphasize it, visualize it.

Once you have the best in mind and visualize it, Peale advocates that you act upon that visualization. Since actualizing requires a knowledge of the details of each problem, he has less to say on actualization. He occasionally gives handy lists of things to do during the prayer and visualization steps of his formula, such as at the end of chapter 9, How to Break the Worry Habit. Number six on that list: “Never participate in a worry conversation. Shoot an injection of faith into all your conversations.” And he does give actualization advice in a sense. In Chapter 16, Prescription for Heartache, one form of actualization he advises for overcoming heartache is physical activity. However, for the most part, Peale focuses on the first two steps of the above formula.

I found a lot of good advice in Peale’s book. In the following video, I will tell you the lessons that were most important to me. At the end, I tell you the next book I’ll be review.

By the way, Peale writes about a conversation he had with Thomas Edison’s wife! He knew Edison personally. It’s crazy to think that we are only a short time removed from that guy.

親は世界を壊滅する、親は世界を創造する

親は世界を壊滅する、親は世界を創造する

最近、友達は義理の父と難しい会話をした。親はどういうことかという話をした。僕は何年間に子育てを考えている。YouTubeで親が起こされた子供の問題の話をよく観たことがある。悪い子育ては子供に壊滅的で、黙示的に社会にも壊滅的だ。大規模な人間に関しての問題についてよく考える人は同じ結論に達すべき:世界は必死にいい親が必要だ。

じゃあ、いい親は何をするか?

僕は自分の子供がまだいないのに子育てについて話すなんてっていう批判がよく言われたことがある。なぜ僕はいい親になる方法が分かっているのか?なぜ僕は自分の子供がいないのに傲慢に親を批判できるのか?

まず、自分が親じゃなくても、悪い親を見分けることができる。僕は医者じゃないけど、足の小指を切断することで頭痛を直そうとしている医者さんを見れば、なんか違うということに気付けるでしょう。エンジニアじゃないけど、アイスキャンディーの棒で高層ビルを組み立てようとしているエンジニアーを見れば、ちょっと不安になる。フィットネスインストラクターじゃないけど、僕のフィットネスインストラクターは運動する前にドーナツを密食べなさいと言ったら、僕は前のお客さんの写真を求める。そして親じゃないけど、あるお母さんの2人の息子は自殺したら、お母さんの子育てを疑っても仕方がない。

僕が間違っている可能性があるだろうか?専門家は僕が知らない情報を持っている可能性があるだろうか?そうかもしれないけど、大きい失敗する専門家を何度でも見たら、証拠が見せられない人の経験や決断力など疑ってもおかしくない。

それは重要なポイントだ:証拠。以前のお母さんが極端的な状況で一生懸命だったって?それはいいけど、それでもお母さんの頑張りは足りなかった。善意があっても、あの時のあの状況の中から考えたら、お母さんの子育てがそんなに違わなかったとしても、他の人から子育てのアドバイスを探すと思う。もちろん、お母さんは世界の問題に100%の責任があるわけじゃない。その男性は自殺することを選んだ。しかし、自分のためにも、自分の子供のためにも、お母さんがどんな子育てでどれぐらい責任があるとかをよく考えなくてはいけない。

前の質問に戻ろう。

いい親は何をするのか?

まず、いい親は自分の仕事が大事で意味があることを認める。親どれぐらいの負担を背負っているかわかりにくいことを認める。親は世界を創造する能力と世界を壊滅する能力を持っている。知っても、知らなくても、いずれにしても親は世界を創造しているか壊滅している。しかし、どれぐらい理解しようとしても、親が大事だってことを完全に理解することが不可能かもしれない。いい親になるために親と子育てのことを最初から最後まで理解することは必要な前提条件ではない。必要なのは親の仕事を深刻に扱わないといけないことだ。

次、いい親はいつも子供の将来の幸せと健康と成功を考えている。将来に集中しているので、人生に目的意識を持つ。その行為が子供に将来にもたらす結果を今の行為と繋げる。悪い親は現在中心で、今自分に何が居心地がいいしか考えない。

次、いい親は人間が互いに影響あって、親は子供に特に影響力が高いことを理解している。僕たちの言葉と行動が他人に影響を与える。人を言葉で崩せる。人間を言葉で教えたりインスパイアーをしたりすることができる。自分の行動で他人をがっかりさせることができる。自分の行動で他人をワクワクさせることができる。僕たちは尊敬する人を真似して、僕たちを尊敬する人たちは真似する。不成功で、幸せじゃない男性を見れば、彼の周りの人たちも不成功で幸せじゃない可能性が非常に高い。

そして、子供は大人より1000倍ぐらい親による影響が高い。子供は真似するロボット。親は子供が大きくなればなるほど、非常に書き直しにくくなるコードを書く。子供に見せる行動と聞かせる言葉で子供のプログラミングをする。テレビで出てくる知らない人、学校にいる学生、親の友達、親せきや親自体の言葉と行動を含めている。子供は親を神様として扱う。

いい親になりたい人は大事な質問を答えないといけない:もし子供がすれば幸せで健康的で成功になると思う行為をモデルしているのか?つまり、今でも将来にも自分を幸せで健康的で成功になるために行動しているのか?いい親はその大事な立場に応えることを大切にする。

そしてもっと質問を自分にするかも:今幸せのか?成功になっているのか?どうやって幸せで成功になれるのか?これは子供にあげたい生活なのか?

ということは、いい親はこう思っている:

  1. 大事な責任がある
  2. 子供の将来の幸せは自分の今の幸せより優先すべき
  3. 今も出る言葉と行動が子供の将来に影響を与える

この考えの流れの自然な結論はこれ:いい親は今と将来に幸せで健康的で成功になる行動をモデルする。いい親は理想の自分になる。理想な自分になるためには深い思考と勇気と神経的な自粛が必要だ。しかし、理想な自分になるために、その理想な自分をまず想像しないといけない。

いい親はもう理想な自分になっていなくてもいい。でも、なるための道に進んでいる状態にならないと。いい親は今の生活、自分、業績などに満足しない。いつも自分の技能、知識、経験、影響力、業績や豊富を増やそうとしている。いい親は今持っていないけど、稼げる物事に憧れる使命があると思っている。それらの物事に憧れて、努力して稼ぐことが使命だ。子供に強いロールモデルを見せることで、エネルギーを放出して、子供がそのエネルギーを吸収して成長する。

悪い親何をするのか?

悪い親は快適になる。動かない。理想の自分を想像さえしない。子供のために指導できる光になろうとしない。悪い親は過去か、現在に集中して、今自分に心地がいいことしか考えていない。神様のような立場を考えずに、悪い行為をモデルする。悪い親は動くなくて、さらに自滅する。暗黒とネガティブの考え方の脳ウイルスを頭の中に招く。そのウイルスを子供に感染する。悪い親は子供にエネルギーを上げなくて、逆に子供のエネルギーを奪って、将来を食う。

そして子供はその行為を見る。お尻が重くて、憂鬱で、不健康で、不成功な人が作った環境の中に住む。自由の人じゃなくて、奴隷のマインドセット(考え方や世界観)をモデル親と一緒に住んで成長する。他の選択肢があることでも、今住んでいるケージの中から脱出する方法があるでさえも分からないまま成長する。そして、真似するマシーンのように、親がすることを真似する。自分のケージを組み立てて、自分の家族をその中に閉じこむ。

止まろうとしなかったら、このパターンは永遠に繰り返す。あの脳ウイルスは普及するはず。

じゃあ、想像してみてください:いい人は他人にいい影響を与えることができるけど、悪い人も悪い影響を与える。悪い人の集まりは家族、学校、会社、国の中に大きくなったら、悪い人の影響はいい人の影響を圧倒する。ほとんどの家族のメンバーが太っていたら、自分も太る確率が高い。クラスメートと友達の大部分が勉強しなかったら、自分も勉強しない確率も高い。同僚は会社から泥棒をしたら、自分が会社から何か奪う確率が高い。自分が政治家で、他の政治家はお金や勢力を高めるために違法な裏取引を行ったら、自分もするだろう。脳ウイルスは普及する。

ルールを守らない人が十分な人数いたら、ルールの意味がなくなる。実は悪い人がいい人に向けて使う武器になる。脳ウイルスは普及したい。人、組織や制度が堕落する傾向を強める。悪い人が制度を悪用すればするほど、その制度を直すための勇気がだんだん必要になる。その制度の中に入っている人たちを殺すことになるまでに、その闇の脳ウイルスの普及で制度が堕落することもある。

その流れは悪い親で始まる。

親は世界を壊滅できる。

でも、創造することもできる。そのために、今の自分を育てて、勇気を出してもっといい未来に向けないといけない。理想の自分を想像して、その理想の自分を作るために努力しないといけない。そのあと、そのマインドセットを次の世代に教えたり、見せたりしないといけない。いい親はその暗黒の脳ウイルスの普及を食い止めて、直せる。自分の子供の心を幸せで前向きのアイデアでいっぱいにすることで、自分の人間的な弱さと戦うために装備できる。

弱さは人間の中に存在する。毎日、その弱さと戦争しないといけない。その弱さは朝に「あと5分で…」と言い、夜に「あと1つのツイート・・・」と言う小さな声だ。いい親ははいと言うほうが簡単だけど、勇気を出して、ダメと言う。いつの日か、その中に存在する声は自分の子供の声になる。本気の「ダメ」と、子供に言えるように準備しないといけない。

友達と義理の父の会話の話を聞いたら、その義理の父がネガティブの性格を持っているなと思った。大事なところに、僕の友達と友達の奥さんが義理の父の不健康的な行為の文句を言っても、義理の父が真剣に聞いてくれなかった。友達は子供が欲しいけれど、義理の父が子供に悪いロールモデルになりたくない。彼は家族と一緒にもっといい将来を作りたいのに、義理の父は彼と奥さんを奴隷のマインドセットのケージの中に閉じこもうとしている。

僕の友達の話は僕の父と、父の義理の母との経験の話に聞こえる。僕の友達が将来に大きい挑戦が待っていると思う。

Parents Destroy the World, Parents Create the World

Parents Destroy the World, Parents Create the World

Recently, a friend told me about a difficult conversation he had with his father-in-law. They talked about what it means to be a parent. Parenting has been a subject on my mind for several years. I’ve watched many Youtube videos in which people talk about the problems that bad parents have caused for them. Bad parenting is absolutely devastating to children, and by implication, devastating to society. Anybody that thinks long and hard about how to fix large-scale human problems will inevitably come back to the same conclusion: The world desperately needs better parents.

However, what do good parents do?

I’ve often been criticized by people for talking about parenting, even though I have no children of my own. How can I possible know how to be a good parent? How can I so arrogantly criticize others for being bad parents when I have no children of my own?

For one, we don’t need to be parents to be able to recognize bad parents. I’m not a doctor, but I know that any doctor trying to cure a headache with a pinky toe amputation is making a mistake somewhere. I’m not an engineer, but if I see an engineer trying to build a skyscraper with popsicle sticks, I’m going to be concerned. I’m not a fitness instructor, but if my fitness instructor recommends eating at least three jelly donuts before working out, I’m going to ask to see some pictures of past clients. And I’m not a parent, but if I hear that a mother’s two sons committed suicide, I have no choice but to question the mother’s parenting.

Is it possible I’m wrong? Is it possible the so-called experts know something more than me? Maybe, but when you watch experts make huge mistakes on a regular basis, you begin to question the value of credentials that aren’t backed up by evidence.

And there is the critical point: evidence. You say that the previous mother was doing the best she could under extreme conditions? That’s fine, but the evidence suggests that her best wasn’t good enough. No matter her good intentions, no matter how her parenting methods compare favorably to the standards of her society under the circumstances of the time, I think I’d find someone else to take parenting advice from. Obviously, mom isn’t 100% to blame for all the problems in the world. The men chose to kill themselves. But for our own sake and for the sake of our children, we have to think carefully about what part she played.

Back to the question at hand.

What do good parents do?

First, good parents acknowledge that their job is meaningful and important. I will say that it’s difficult to understand the magnitude of the burden parents bare. Parents have the ability to create or destroy the world. Indeed, that is exactly what they do, whether they know it or not. However, it may be impossible to completely understand just how important parents are, no matter how hard we try to understand. Knowing everything about parenting is not a necessary prerequisite for being a good parent. What is necessary is taking the job seriously.

Second, good parents have their children’s future happiness, health, and success always on their mind. They are future-oriented, and being future-oriented gives them a sense of purpose and meaning in their life. They connect their current actions to their future results on their children.

Third, good parents understand that humans influence each other, and that parents have an oversized influence on their children compared to their influence on others. Our words and actions influence others. We can destroy people with words. We can teach and inspire people with words. We can disappoint people with actions. We can excite people with actions. We imitate those that we respect, and people that respect us will imitate us. If you see an unsuccessful, unhappy man, there is a very good chance that the people he surrounds himself with are influencing him in that direction, and they are almost certainly unsuccessful and unhappy themselves.

And that is 1000x truer for children and parents. Children are imitation robots. Parents can write a lot of the code in their children’s software, much of which is exceedingly difficult to rewrite as they get older. Parents program their children through the words they let their children hear and the behaviors they let their children observe. That includes the words and actions of strangers on TV, kids at school, parents’ friends, family members, and the parents themselves. Children treat their parents like gods. Good parents realize that they need to live up to that title.

People that want to be good parents have an important question to answer: Are they modeling the behaviors they believe will make their children happy, healthy, and successful in the future? In other words, are they acting to make themselves happy, healthy, and successful now and in the future?

Then they may ask themselves many more questions: Am I happy? Am I successful? How can I be happy and successful? Is this the life I want for my children?

Thus, good parents believe,

  1. They have a great responsibility;
  2. Their children’s future happiness takes priority over current happiness; and
  3. Their words and modelled behavior in the present influence their children’s future.

The natural conclusion of this thought process is this: Good parents model behavior that makes themselves happy, healthy, and successful now and in the future. Good parents become their ideal self. It requires a lot of thought, bravery, and mental discipline to become the ideal version of yourself. But, to become the ideal version of yourself, you have to imagine what that ideal is.

Good parents don’t have to already be their ideal self. However, they do need to be in the process of becoming their ideal self. Good parents aren’t satisfied with where they are in life, who they are, what they’ve achieved, etc. They are always looking to add to their skillset, experience, influence, list of achievements, personal wealth, etc. Indeed, good parents see it as their duty to lust after the things that they can rightfully earn but don’t have. It is their duty to look longingly at the things they want, and it is their duty to work hard to get those things. By showing their children a powerful role model, they radiate an energy that the children absorb and grow from.

What do bad parents do?

Bad parents get comfortable. Bad parents stay still. Bad parents don’t even try to think of what their ideal self is. They don’t try to be a light to guide their children. Bad parents are focused on the past or present, thinking only of what gives them good feelings now. They model bad behavior without a thought for their God-like status. Bad parents stagnate, or even worse, self-destruct. They invite a mind virus of dark, negative thoughts into their minds. They spread that mind virus to their children. Bad parents don’t give their children energy—they sap their children’s energy and eat their future.

And their children see their behavior. They live in the environment created by lazy, depressed, unhealthy, unfulfilled people. They grow up with parents who model a slave mindset, not the mindset of a free man. They grow up not knowing that there are other options, that there are ways out of the cage they are in. Then, like the imitating machines they are, they do as they see their parents do. They build their own cage and put their family in it.

This pattern can repeat–the virus will spread–if people do nothing to stop it.

Then imagine this: while good people can influence others toward good, bad people can influence others toward the bad. If there are enough bad people gathered together, whether in a family, a school, a company, or a country, their influence can overpower the positive influence of the good people. If your family is fat, you will probably be fat. If the majority of your classmates and friends don’t study, you probably won’t study. If your coworkers all steal from your company, chances are high you will steal, too. If your fellow politicians all engage in illegal backroom deals to make money and gain influence, you probably will, too. The virus spreads.

If enough people don’t play by the rules, then the rules no longer matter. In fact, the rules become a weapon the bad people use against the good people. The virus wants to spread. That further strengthens the tendency of people, organizations, and systems to become corrupt. Reversing course requires greater and greater courage from good people as the corruption of the system by bad people advances. Systems can become so corrupted by the spread of that dark mind virus that it kills the people in the system.

And that all starts with bad parents.

Parents can destroy the world.

But they can create it, too. To do so, they have to bravely aim towards a better future by improving themselves in the present. They have to imagine their ideal self, and then do the work to create their ideal self. After that, pass on that mindset to the next generation. Good parents can reverse the spread of that dark mind virus. They can fill their children’s hearts with happiness and optimism, thereby strengthening their mind against their own human weakness.

Weakness exists in the heart of every man, woman, and child. We have to go to war with it every day of our lives. It’s that little voice in the morning that says, “Just five more minutes…” and that little voice at night that says, “Just one more tweet…” Good parents bravely tell that voice no, even when saying yes is so much easier. Sooner or later, that internal voice becomes the voice of their child. They need to prepare to be able to really say no.

When I listened to my friend’s story about his conversation with his father-in-law, it sounded like the father had many negative traits. Importantly, he didn’t seem to take my friend’s concerns about their relationship or his father’s unhealthy behavior seriously. My friend wants to have children, but he doesn’t want the father-in-law to provide a bad role model for his children. He wants to create a better future with his family, but his father-in-law is trying to keep him and his wife locked in a slave-mindset.

My friend’s story reminds me of my dad’s experience with his mother-in-law. I have a feeling my friend has some big challenges ahead.