Play Your Game

People might distract you from what you are doing. It’s important to know how to play your game, even when others might criticize, prod, or make fun of how you play.

There is a fine line between stubbornness and conviction, a difference between playing and winning despite, not because ofFirst of all, play for yourself, with your interests in mind. Do not expect others to play for you. It’s only after you can consistently and reliably win for yourself, that you might consider if you’d also like to play for others.

You should expect that when your play-style clashes with another’s, that questioning will arise. “Why aren’t you doing what they’re doing?” One side might be asking this question. Both sides might be asking this question.

You can respond to that question in different ways: self-judgment, judging the other, hating, mocking, adjusting, maintaining, ignoring. Whatever the response is, it should be in deference to the art and goal of Winning.

Play your Game. If it needs to change, then change it. If it needs to stay the same, then keep playing that way. See you at the finish line.

Winning with a Line of Retreat

On my path towards Winning, I think it is important to leave a Line of Retreat.

For firefighters entering a burning building, it’s important to make sure they have a path to escape in case the fire spreads too much. For employees preparing in case of a natural disaster or other emergency, it’s important to remember evacuation plans and assembly areas. For poker players seeing a good hand, it’s important to be able to figure out when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. For rationalists trying to find the Truth, it’s important to identify what they believe, why they believe that, and if they should continue to believe that. For us Single Players trying to Win, it’s important to recognize when our thought processes and actions are actually leading us to Lose.

As a matter of self-respect you should try to believe the truth no matter how uncomfortable it is.”

As we build our beliefs about truth up, like laying bricks on other bricks, we must be able to see which beliefs are dependent on other beliefs, and which beliefs are strong enough to form a solid foundation. We shouldn’t overly favor or ignore certain beliefs; each brick should be inspected and evaluated fairly for their truth-iness.

“Be a true coward, and plan out your retreat in detail—visualize every step—preferably before you first come to the battlefield.”

As we build these beliefs up, we must also be ready to trace back and remove these bricks in case we laid them incorrectly. We may believe Y, which depends on belief X. If we later see fault in belief X, then it only makes sense to re-examine belief Y as well.

“You must at least be able to admit to yourself which ideas scare you, and which ideas you are attached to.”

Humans are not wired to be complete rationalists. We have biases and calculation errors. We may have our pet theories and hidden lies. The better we are at not lying to ourselves, the better off we will be at finding and building upon the right beliefs.

“What is true is already so; owning up to it doesn’t make it worse.  You shouldn’t be afraid to just visualize a world you fear.  If that world is already actual, visualizing it won’t make it worse; and if it is not actual, visualizing it will do no harm.”

Winning is the ultimate judge. Whether our theorycrafting or strategizing leads us to approach Winning a certain way, in whatever forum we are trying to Win, the world does not care how much time we devoted or how much sweat we put in. After acting, we will either have Won the way we wanted to Win, or we will have Lost.

While trying to Win, we should also recognize how we might Lose. While walking down our paths towards Victory, we should also be preparing a Line of Retreat.

A Lone Story: Give & Take

Part 1: Being Alone

I was alone once. I will never be alone.
But you picked me up. I picked you up, but it didn’t have to be you.
You gave me things I could not obtain on my own. I simply gave you things now that you would pay for later.
Without even wanting anything in return. I never wanted any immediate return, nor did I need it.
I couldn’t even give you anything you needed. For I would take from you much more than what I gave you, in time.
Yet you stood by me, watching over me. So I stood by, monitoring you.
While I met new life-long friends, tasted new delights, experienced new adventures. Friends that you wouldn’t meet again, $5 food that you paid $25 for, dragged to places you never wanted.
You enabled me. I allowed you to get all that, knowing it would be wasteful and eventually forgotten.
You let me be free. I let you get trapped.

Part 2: Never Alone

You always had such a kindness about you. People tend to think I am kind, but I don’t really care about them.
Why were you always there for me? I don’t have to always be near others to get what I want from them.
No matter if I ignored you. I don’t mind if I am ignored.
You never seemed bothered when I did that. In fact, I want you to ignore me.
When none of my friends were available to help. I can spread my attention to others, those same others you call your friends.
And I needed help with planning for the future. I had them all, so much so that they couldn’t help you; only I could help you.
You always assured me that I would succeed. I assured you when you faced fears of failure, no matter how false that comfort was.
There was always someone to return to. You didn’t have to worry, I would always be there for you.
There was always you. But you thought I only had you.

Part 3: No Longer Alone

I remember when I first talked to you, my family and friends introduced me to you A lot of people want to meet me, so I’m used to talking with strangers everyday.
I was nervous just walking up to you, but your smile calmed me down. I was just waiting, for anyone really, but it was you who came to me first that day.
You asked me for my name, where I was born, what I was studying, what I wanted to become. I started by asking you about yourself, a common technique that calms people down.
You even asked other odd questions about how I would identify myself. I wanted you to keep talking, giving me some of your most personal information.
I found that curious side of you interesting and endearing. I always have to get some facts first before considering getting closer to someone.
I could feel a bond deepening between us from those exchanges. I have to ensure that they were truthful, I need people committed to me.
You gazed at me for just a moment more. That’s not always evident from what people tell me, so I always look up a few more things about them.
And then you decided you would be mine. And then I decided you were good enough.
And then I decided I would be yours. And then you decided you would give your future to me.

Part 4: Better Off Alone

We hardly even talked after we first met. I didn’t need to talk to you that much.
Every month you would send me a text message or email. I only had to check in on you monthly.
On our yearly anniversary you would send me a letter in the mail. I reminded you of our yearly anniversary with a letter in the mail.
You were always consistent. It’s the pattern that breaks them.
I could tell you never forgot about me. I never let the people who commit themselves to me get away.
But I was slowly forgetting, not about you, but about what I saw in you. I don’t mind if they discover my ugly side, it’s not like I was hiding it in the first place.
What was it that I saw in you that made me devote myself to you? It’s just that they fool themselves at first because they are tempted by me.
I couldn’t take it back, I could only continue down the path you laid before me. Even if they have regrets, it’s already too late.
I was starting to fear that I could never get away from you. We would be together until I got what I was owed, I always make sure of it.

Part 5: A Loan at the End

I learned what you wanted from me. They eventually figure out what I am.
I learned how you would take it. They find out about my methods.
I learned when you would take it. They find out how long they are trapped for.
It was at that point I felt betrayed, cut beyond the flesh. They always blame themselves thinking that it was their own fault.
I even thought you were enjoying every bit of my suffering. It’s at this point that they give in to despair.
I could have given up, but that would be just what you would gain most from. It’s when they give up that I gain the most from them.
Treating you like something more than you were would just be foolish. If they don’t change their minds about what I mean to them, then they can never forget about me.
You were worse than that; you just didn’t care at all. But I don’t care.
That’s when I decided I would rather be alone. What did you expect? I’m just a loan.

 

My Type – A Loan at the End: Paid in Full

Thanks, now GO AWAY!

a loan at the end

 

Taichi on Winning

I don’t simply want to be granted victory. I want to have not run away.

I won’t be happy with just being at the top. I want to have earned my way there.

I can’t let the success of others distract me from pursuing my own success. I want to have won my way, for me.

Winning is not just about receiving a prize. It’s about learning how to face yourself, and to bring that self to the Win.

“Rather than just being promoted to A-class, I want to be someone who didn’t run away.”

Taichi Mashima, Chihayafuru, Season 1 Episode 20 (~19 minute mark)

Winning Despite, Not Because Of

Sometimes the world doesn’t work the way we would like it to work. We might call it “Unfair” or unjust, but stuff happens. When we don’t like what happens, we either Accept it (by changing our expectations of what happens) or Reject it (by changing what ends up happening). As a Single Player, a lot of the time I find myself having to play in a multiplayer world where I have less control over what happens. Instead of situations where my clear go-to decision would be to Reject what happens, there are other considerations that must be accounted for when more players are involved. It is hard enough to play for myself as a Single Player, but also playing with and/or for others?

This type of situation, where we see something we don’t want to happen but allow it to happen because others might accept it (either deliberately or by not caring), can lead to conflict. Why do we have to put up with this? Why can’t we all just reject it? Why do we have to sacrifice something for something else that’s not even better?

Even after we self-reflect, asking ourselves if we are correct in our beliefs, checking our thought processes and seeing if we are messing up somewhere, searching for a potential hidden truth that we might have missed. Do they know something I don’t know? Why do I believe what I believe? How did I make this conclusion? And how did I conclude this with as much confidence as I have? Even after we self-reflect, honestly, in deference to the real, actual, lawful, Simple TruthEven after all of this, and we still would decide to Reject what happens, but have to Accept what happens because of others around us.

Cue negativity: resentment, jealousy, distrust, hate.

What do we do with this negativity? How do we handle it? Do we transform it into positivity, a working force to strive to be even better? Or do we embrace it, purport it, promote it, reflect it, so that we generate more negativity?

Consider Kobe Bryant, professional basketball player, will most probably be referred to as a generation-defining player. A superstar attracting both fans and haters on and off the court. Kobe, self-professed contributor to his own hate. Why? He fed off that negativity. Fueled by hate of teammates, opponents, fans, and media. Says he wouldn’t have it any other way, that was what drove him to greater heights. Is this him lying to himself? Rationalization? Regardless, it’s what he chose, what he did, and part of his story, why he is great now and will be remembered as one of the all-time greats.

Consider Dansgaming, professional streamer, feeding off jealousy

@Dansgaming: #Jealousy you’re going to feel it on Twitch, it’ll never be gone completely. it’s normal, let it motivate you to be better not to hate. (tweet from 2016)

Would he really not have had it any other way? If he could choose jealousy or not jealousy, would there really be consideration? Would he still have been great if circumstances were different? Would Dan still be the Twitch icon he is today, without the satire and sarcasm, without the rage and self-rekts?

Consider Darth Vader, professional Sith Lord, proponent of the Dark SideHe had cared too much, so much so that it exposed him to resentment, jealousy, distrust, and hate. These negative emotions ended up fueling him, driving him, acting as negative energy that actually gave him some pretty cool powers. Does that necessarily make him bad? Why is he a villain? If we consider his circumstances, doesn’t he become more relatable?

What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. But sometimes, we contribute to our own almost-killing. We are faced with challenges, and we either overcome these challenges, or we falter and fail before them. However, I think that sometimes we contribute to our own struggles. Sometimes, we even create them or exaggerate them. Sometimes, we make our own hurdles just to show ourselves and others that we straddled over those hurdles.

Stepping back, is everyone naturally attracted to the struggle? News segments filled with tragedy. Rubbernecking on the highway. Do we need the negativity? Do we rely on negativity? Or do we act despite the negativity? We may realize that negativity will be there. But do we contribute to it all? I think in the best outcomes, we either transform negativity, or deflect it away from ourselves and others. However, sometimes we are tempted to absorb it or reflect it back.

Consider these example dichotomies:

  • Being an underdog; Staying an underdog
  • Being a victim; Becoming the victim
  • Underpaid and under-compensated; Under-performing and setting minimal goals
  • Raising yourself up; Keeping yourself down
  • Being in Control; Being Controlled
  • Winning; Losing

I think the greater feat is when we Win despite negativity, not because of negativity. Make it clear, to ourselves and to those around us, that there is a difference. Even if in certain situations that difference is subtle, it is imperative that we recognize it. We choose to Win, even when facing Losing conditions. But we must not contribute to that Losing. If we do, and somehow we think we are better off, I am pretty sure we would find out after honest self-reflection, that we are lying to ourselves.

We must choose to Win, first for ourselves, and then for others if we can. And we must carry ourselves towards this Winning despite, not because of, (insert negativity here).

There is No Such Thing as “Unfair”

“Unfair” is a Japanese television drama where one of the catch-copies is “UNFAIR koto nante nani mo nai”, or roughly “There is no such thing as Unfair”. Besides being a clever and catchy phrase, there is more we can take from “Unfair” (it’s also a fun thriller drama!).

The world operates in certain ways, which we may understand as physics or laws or black-box as “magic”. Whether we actually understand how the world operates is a separate issue. If we think the world will behave one way, but the world actually behaves a different way, we can see this as our “map not reflecting the territory”, and we should update our maps accordingly.

We humans are also a part of physics, a part of this world, and to that extension we also can cause things to happen. Often, people point at situations and say, “well that’s unfair for that to happen”, thinking someone shouldn’t be Winning or shouldn’t be Losing. What really is happening, is that the conditions for that event to occur, for that “unfairness” to occur, was caused by something, which was caused by something else, which ultimately may lead to involvement of us humans.

We can shape what happens (most of the time, but more often than we usually recognize). If I say I will walk off the cliff and fly in the sky, well, physics will think otherwise (assuming gravity of our Earth 2016). Is this also “unfair”?

I think a better concept of “fairness” would have to stick to situations we can affect. If I were walking off the cliff with a jetpack equipped, knowing that I tested this jetpack a few hours ago and was able to fly, well I have a clearer idea of what will happen as I walk off that cliff and activate my jetpack.

Now if someone had come in to tamper with the jetpack since I last tested it, without my knowledge, then we might call this situation “unfair” (or criminal). But really, what extra information does saying “unfair” add?

Stuff happens. Sometimes, that stuff is not what we humans want to happen. When we say things are “unfair”, do we really just mean that we should improve things so they happen more like what we would want to happen? Or when we say “unfair”, are we actually meaning “well I should Win more than you because that’s what I want”?

If we taboo the word “Unfair”, what is it we are referring to? Really, we should think less of “fairness”, and more just of “What Is”. Are we unhappy with “What Is”? Then let’s improve it, where we can, in ways we can control. Let’s focus on what we can improve, not just whine about the world not working how we would like it to.

There is no such thing as Unfair. There just Is. We should either change our expectations, or improve the situation so that “What Is” is more like “What We Want”.

Asking More of Myself, for Myself – I Want it All

Why does it feel so wrong sometimes to ask for more? Is this about me, or about the situation?

I think I usually ask a lot of myself. I set relatively high standards for myself. Keyword: relatively. Maybe I wouldn’t feel the need to ask for more if, relatively, I felt what I contribute is average. But when I look at myself in comparison to others, beyond naivety, I do more. So since I do more, should I not receive more? Or, at least, receive the same?

I brought up this topic of lack of compensation 2-3 years ago. It was heard but not acted upon, and I thought maybe that was just a sign that I was just not contributing that much compared to what was expected. Since then, I’ve tried to observe more, to see maybe I was just naive in my expectations. But time went by, and I feel even more confident in my first observations.

I do more. I am asked to do more. I am expected to do more because of the more I’ve done previously.

But I still receive less.

Even so, why do I feel pressured not to ask for more?

This pressure is from my internal thought processes, some form of conditioning. Maybe humility, maybe temperance, maybe conformity, maybe avoiding confrontation, maybe a sense that I am still receiving more than unemployed and homeless.

Relatively, I receive more than a lot of people too.

How do we determine what is the right amount? Is there even such a thing?

Is what I earn reflective of what I need? Or is what I earn an indication of what my contributions are worth? Is what I earn determined by how long I’ve been working? Or is what I earn based on what my work produces?

I’ve considered the idea of doing less, of lowering the expectations of myself, so that I will feel less distance between my merit and my earning. But I still want to do more. I must do more. I want to continue to do more, because there are larger things to Win, first for myself, and then for others. I want to ask for more, despite the internal struggles of not wanting to ask for more.

I ask more of myself, for myself. It’s myself who I should first rely on, who I must take care of.

“There is no time to hesitate,

and although I’m feeling scared,

I want it all.” – Bis

It’s Not About Winning or Losing, It’s About Having Fun… While Still Trying to Win

“It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about having fun.”

This sentiment I feel is important, but not quite fully complete. Maybe it is taken out of context and cut short, but whoever originally said this might have continued with: “And while having fun, we must not forget that we are still trying to win.”

Winning and Fun are not mutually exclusive. Some may even define their instance of “winning” to include levels of enjoyment and other essences of “having fun”. It’s sometimes easier to conceptualize winning as separate from having fun in competitions like sports. But we must not use “having fun” as an excuse to allow for a losing mindset. We may happen to lose in a given sport or situation, but we can’t just let that happen without first trying to win. In doing so, we do not have to give up on having fun.

I think what happens in some people’s minds, is that they substitute out “caring about the outcome of winning or losing” with “having fun”. But once we stop caring about winning or losing, we will most probably find out we are losing and will continue to lose. I think we should still care about the outcome, and as part of that we can still have fun.

I think people in general accept too many situations at the expense of fun. We often submit ourselves to do things which we don’t find fun-ness value in. This can be both because we don’t explicitly recognize aspects we enjoy about a certain situation, and because maybe we just don’t enjoy it at all but want some other reward from it. I find it important to be able to recognize which of these situations can become fun (based on our own criteria), and which legitimately cannot meet our fun criteria, and decide which situations we want to remain in and which situations we choose to escape from.

What situations do I find myself in now which don’t seem to have enough fun-ness value? How can I increase my level of enjoyment? Or do I need to take myself out of those situations?

I want to Win, and have fun while doing it. Is that so much to ask?

The Time Value of Fun

There is a concept commonly referred to in finance as the “Time Value of Money”: Money available at the present time is worth more than the same amount in the future due to its potential earning capacity. The core principle of finance holds that, provided money can earn interest, any amount of money is worth more the sooner it is received.

I think there should be a similar concept for having fun. “The Time Value of Fun”: Fun enjoyed at the present time is worth more than the same amount of fun in the future.

Why? Is it that fun can earn me more fun later? If I have fun now, will that subtract from the fun I can have later?

I think it’s more a matter of fun sustaining me now, so that I can continue to have fun later.

There is a mindset currently that we work until retirement so that we can enjoy the fruits of our labor then, having fun at that time through travelling or other hobbies. Why do we have to delay our fun so far away? What if we were to incorporate some of that fun to be experienced later, into what we are doing today?

I think a lot of people try to do this, whether it be through taking vacations from work to travel, or spending weekends on hobbies. The common obstacle for a lot of people is finding the time to have fun, since we have a lot of obligations elsewhere which may not be as fun.

Time waits for nobody. Eventually, time marches on to a point where we will have less and less available time to have fun. There is another concept of fun, maybe we could call it “The Timing Value of Fun”: for the same experience, my value of the fun-ness of that experience varies depending on other factors at that time, such as personal health, others’ health, and surrounding circumstances. If I am being distracted by other ongoing events in my life, or if my health prevents me from enjoying it, a previously conceived fun event may not be as valuable to me.

The longer we wait to have fun, the shorter the time window we have to partake. In that smaller timeframe, the specific timing of events we can value as fun will also become smaller. If I delay fun as I work until I retire at 70, I maybe have 10-20 years left to have fun. In that time-frame, there may be small windows where I can have fun with the people I want to have fun with: maybe 3 days of the week I am in medical checkups, some other days are when kids or people’s kids are in school, maybe certain areas I wanted to travel to are locked down, maybe the weather will be too harsh for me in my old age. There can be a lot of obstacles to having fun later on than we cannot conceive of today, where we may be limited to thinking of our current health and surroundings.

Let’s have more fun now. This fun can lead to more fun in the future. But really, it’s more about enjoying what we are doing now while we can. The fun I have today will help sustain me to have more fun in the future. If I sacrifice what I am now just so I might have fun later, I think that I will not / cannot last long. But most importantly, there is no reason to. Why can’t I have fun now, and also later?

Fun is not a single object, to be experienced now or later. It is an accumulation of experiences that a certain person values, for whatever reasons they may have. There are certain fun experiences which take a lot of preparation to reach. Fun from travelling to exotic foreign lands requires money, which we have to earn over time. In a sense, we must delay certain gratifications. But in that delay, there are other experiences of fun we can have while we are preparing for more fun later. Those are what we should take more advantage of, so that we do not burn out while preparing for that long vacation or big purchase later. We can have fun now, while we prepare and plan for more fun later.

Let’s have more fun the sooner we can, since we may not be able to enjoy that fun later on.

Questions in a Rainstorm

Sitting on a porch rocking chair, in the middle of rainstorm Nona in Sabang, Naic, Cavite in the Philippines. The rain picks up, wind brings some wetness to my hand and the book I’m writing in. A dog curled up checking itself for any creepy crawlers. The sound of raindrops accumulating in the shutters, the rustle of leaves moving in the wind, the sound of family chatting in the background.

I am sitting alone, surrounded by the happenings of the world. Where am I in this space?

The rain falls more heavily, wind lifting pages of this book. I tap my foot. The dog looks my way shortly, interrupted from his struggles against his fleas, and quickly goes back to licking his legs.

It’s not a question of belonging. Belonging infers purpose, a matter of things being where someone or something else intends them to be. I don’t belong here in the Philippines, nor do I belong in Rosemead or San Diego or Long Beach.

The clouds drift in the sky, moving in a general direction. Do the clouds belong in the sky? Do they move because they belong somewhere else? As a cloud spreads itself as raindrops, do those now belong on the ground?

Asking questions is a way to get information. But sometimes we ask questions for information we don’t need at the time for addressing the matter at hand, and sometimes we misuse that information. Sometimes we ask the wrong questions, and then think we got the right answers.

A second dog takes his spot in a lounge chair. A cousin and uncle walk by, discussing plans for building and developing the land. A sound of an airplane zooming by in the sky. Was that plane delayed due to the storm? Will my other cousins’ flight be delayed due to the storm warning level? What’s the difference between a Level 1 and Level 2 storm?

When I am alone, I find myself asking questions to myself. This might be a common habit for everyone, or maybe I’m on the more inquisitive end of the scale. I don’t really expect all of these internal questions to be answered and put into use. Which questions are more important, and for what purposes?

“Where do I belong?” is a wrong question for me at this time. A better form of this question is “Where do I want to be?” These questions are similar, but they focus on different responsible actors. “Belonging” emphasizes forces external to me, whereas the latter question emphasizes my own inclination.

As a soon-to-be 5-year employee of a reputable company, part of a larger worldwide corporation, I find myself comfortable with a decent salary and full benefits package.

What is prompting me to even consider leaving? A sense of discontent at work. Co-workers’ interests and motivations varying significantly from my own. Over-burdening of responsibility because I want us to do better, to solve problems and help our customers succeed. Lack of compensation compared to others who have less merit and commit less effort. Instability in our industry with near-term windfalls. Not wanting to rely on a 401k retirement plan, nor having to wait until retirement age to reap its benefits.

What actions can I take to alleviate the situation? Change my expectations of myself and lower my standards in work ethic. Change my co-workers. Change my company. Become self-employed.

What are the causes of the situation I find myself in? Having to work with people I don’t want to work with. Having to work at times and for a duration I don’t agree with. Having to do things in ways I don’t want to do them.

Can I control these issues? I’ve asked to change teams or team members, but have not received any change. When working in a large company, I am subject to standard shifts with a target retirement age. I also have to do things in accepted ways, even if they are not optimal. And no matter how hard I work, I still have a fixed salary, where performance appraisals and adjustments are not completely merit-based.

My parents come by. Seems like the family is going out today, shopping and probably more eating. Another cousin comes by. Seems like some are planning on paddling a boat in a nearby lake recently filled with rain. I sit here, rocking in my chair, watching some low and fast-moving clouds, hearing light rain pitter-patter, wind playing across the leaves of the trees. Seems like I could sit here for a while, thinking, observing, being.

It’s not a matter of where I belong; it’s a matter of what I want to do. It’s a matter of doing, of playing what I want to play, how I want to play, when I want to play. It’s a matter of winning, first for myself. Can I do that where I’m at now? If not, what do I need to change to give me better chances at winning?

A moment’s peace, a quiet calm in the storm. A motorcycle rumbles in the distance. Where is it going?

Where am I going? Where do I want to go?