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What are crazy things people still believe in all over the earth?
Cannibalistic gum chewing in Turkey
In some parts of Turkey you may want to think twice before whipping out a piece of chewing gum. There is a belief that if you are chewing gum at night it’s bad luck. This is because at night instead of chewing gum, you’d actually be chewing rotting dead flesh (Eew).
Groaning cheese for a newborn
You’ve probably heard of Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, or pepper jack cheese but have you heard of Groaning Cheese? In Medieval England, expectant mothers made what they called a ‘Groaning Cheese’ which was a large wheel of cheese that matured for nine months as the unborn baby grew. When the ‘groaning time’ or time of birth came, the whole family would celebrate by eating this cheese until nothing but the outer rind was left. The newborn would then be passed through the rind on Christening day to be blessed with a long and prosperous life. What a cheesy superstition!
Good luck horseshoe
Some people believe hanging a horseshoe in the bedroom or on a door knob with its ends pointing upwards will bring good luck and keep nightmares away. This belief comes from the fact that a horse shoe has seven holes, which is considered to be a lucky number. Also the fact that is made of iron can supposedly ward off evil spirits that may haunt you in your dreams.
Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th has been a source of superstition ever since the 19th century. Though it’s origin is shrouded in speculations and theories, it’s impact is quite evident. Many people will purposely avoid doing anything significant (like business meetings, socials, banquets, etc) due to the belief that the day is cursed and its a source of ill fortune.
Curse of the Opal stone
If your favorite stone is the Opal, you’re out of luck…literally since this stone is said to bring bad luck to whoever wears it. This superstition comes from the 1829 best selling novel ‘Anne of Geierstein’ by Sir Walter Scott. In the novel, Lady Hermione was falsely accused of being a demon due to her sudden death after a drop of holy water accidentally falls on her opal jewelry and changes its color. This book had such an effect on the image of the Opal that shortly after its publication, the Opal market crashed and Opal prices dropped by 50%.
Ringing of the Bells
Have you ever wondered why bells are always associated with weddings and special occasions? As it turns out, the association stems from the widely held belief that bells frighten evil spirits away. This belief originated during Queen Elizabeth’s reign for two reasons; to ask for prayers for the departed soul and to drive away the evil spirits who stood at the foot of the bed.
Bird poop equals riches
Don’t worry, you read the title right. In Russia, there is a belief that if a bird defecates on you, your car, or your property it’s a sign of good luck and may bring you riches. The more birds involved, the richer you’ll be! So next time a bird poops on you, count it all joy.
Old, new, borrowed, blue
This popular wedding tradition is said to have originated during the Victorian era and involves giving the bride various gifts. One of the gifts is something old and represents continuity; another is new and represents hope and the future; the third is borrowed and symbolizes borrowed happiness while the last is blue and is supposed to bring purity, love, and fidelity.
Black cats, bad luck
Most people have heard the saying that if a black cat crosses your path its bad luck (if you haven’t well now you have). This interesting superstition finds it’s origin in the middles ages. Single women (usually elderly) who associated themselves with many cats where believed to be witches who could become cats themselves. Thus a black cat crossing your path could actually be a witch.
Unlucky smoking triad
From the Crimean War through World War I, it was considered bad luck among soldiers to light three cigarettes with one match. It was theorized that by the time the third cigarette was lit, a sniper would have had the time to have the soldier in his sight, ready to make the kill. However, some believe that the superstition may have been invented by match tycoon Ivar Krueger to drum up more business.
No, im not referring to the 90′s band. It’s believed that the amount of crows in a murder has the ability to predict your fortune as exemplified by the popular phrase: “One’s bad / Two’s luck / Three’s health / Four’s wealth / Five’s sickness / Six is death.” More than six however seems to be up to the person whose counting.
The Wryneck or Jinxtorquilla are a breed of birds that can twist their heads very liberally. A superstitious belief among the locals is that if this bird twists its head towards you, death is on the horizon.
Soul capturing mirrors
Most people use mirrors daily which means, according to this superstition, most people are soulless. There is a superstition that states that looking into a mirror steals your soul. This helps explain why the evil queen uses a mirror to harm Snow White, why Narcissus was ensnared by his own reflection, and why soulless vampires have no reflection. Think twice before you look into the bathroom mirror…you have been warned.
Fingers crossed for good luck
To cross one’s fingers is a hand gesture commonly used for good luck. Which makes sense since it was used during ancient Christian persecution by believers to identify other believers as a sign of peace. Today however, this has evolved to excuse the telling of white lies which may have its roots in the belief that the power of the Christian cross may save a person from being sent to hell for telling a lie.
Photographic soul cage
When photography was first invented in the early 19th century, people all over the world held the unfounded belief that taking someone’s picture was akin to taking his/her soul. Thus if an enemy was able to obtain a photograph of you, he/she not only held your soul but also held a spiritual power over you. Thank goodness this is just a superstition, I can only imagine how many people would have power over me…(Facebook).
Not to be confused with Friday the 13th (which is a superstition of the actual day) but similar in nature, this superstition simply states that the number 13 is associated with bad luck. That’s why many architects refused (some still do) to design stairs that ended with 13 steps or buildings that ended with a 13th floor. The fear of the number 13 is so real to many people, that an actual phobia has been created to describe it; its called Triskaidekaphobia. (try to say that 13 times fast).
When you wish upon a star
The superstition involving wishing on the first star you see in the evening is somewhat uncertain. Some Europeans believed that the gods would occasionally peer down, and when they moved the sky, a star would escape and fall down. The Greeks also believed that the stars where falling human souls, and it was lucky to make a wish on them.
Opening an umbrella indoors
According to superstition, if you open an umbrella indoors you are literally asking for bad luck to “rain on you”. One explanation comes from the days when umbrellas were used as protection from the sun; opening one inside was an insult to the sun god who would then curse you with bad luck. Another theory states that an umbrella protects you against the storms of life, so opening one inside your house insults the guardian spirits of your home (whom also protects you from the storms of life), causing them to leave you unprotected.
New broom, new house, bad luck
There are many superstitions associated with brooms (heck, that could be a list all in itself) but there is one very curious and particular superstition that we want to caution you on. As the lore goes, you cannot sweep dirt out of a new house (or apartment) with a new broom unless you sweep something in first. If you don’t sweep something in first, then you will be sweeping out your good luck. Do not sweep out your good luck!
Lucky rabbit’s foot
To have this token is an unfortunate thing for the rabbit but a magnet of fortune for the wearer. According to superstition (which can be traced as far back as the seventh century BC) the rabbit’s supernatural luck could be exploited by taking the left hind foot of a rabbit that was shot (or captured) in a creepy cemetery on a full moon.(I still fail to see how this is lucky for the rabbit).
Knock on wood
The superstition of Knocking on wood, or simply saying “knock on wood” after making a hopeful statement, is a consequence of the idea that you’re tempting fate by acknowledging your good fortune. It’s possible that the expression comes from an ancient belief that good spirits lived in trees, so by knocking on something wooden, a person was calling on the spirits for protection. Another reason why we should all be tree huggers.
Breaking a mirror
We’ve already mentioned how mirrors are believed to be soul sucking mystical items (which is bad enough) but what happens when you break these devices? Why, seven years of bad luck of course! Some superstitious sources state that the trapped souls adversely influences your luck. And here you thought you were doing them a favor! Nope. Make sure those suckers stay inside that mirror!
“God bless you”
For many; saying “God Bless You” after someone sneezes is a gesture of politeness. However, the origin of this interesting superstition is somewhat two fold. On the one hand, it’s believed that the phrase originated with Pope Gregory the Great. He would say “God Bless You” to people who sneezed during the bubonic plague in hopes that the prayer would keep them safe. However another possible origin comes from the ancient belief that the soul escapes the body during a sneeze unless God prevented this by blessing them.
Though the origin of wishing over a four-leaf clover is lost to antiquity it has long been a symbol of good luck and fortune. It has also been used in some traditions for finding a husband or a wife. The way this works (for you single people) is by first finding a four leaf clover (good luck with that one), if you happen to find one, you must then eat it (or put it inside your shoe…but eating it is more fun). After this, the luck powers activate and the first person you come in contact after the activation will be your future mate…(Word of warning, stay clear of anyone you don’t want as a future mate).
There seems to be a lot of variations on this superstition, but the idea of having an itchy palm generally refers to someone who is greedy or has an insatiable desire for money. Some people believe that if the right palm itches, you will lose money, while an itchy left palm means that money is coming your way. If both palm itches…you may want to go to a doctor for that.
Usually grumbled by an expert who just lost a game to a novice, "beginner's luck" is the idea that newbies are unusually likely to win when they try out a sport, game or activity for the first time.
Beginners might come out ahead in some cases because the novice is less stressed out about winning. Too much anxiety, after all, can hamper performance. Or it could just be a statistical fluke, especially in chance-based gambling games.
Or, like many superstitions, a belief in beginner's luck might arise because of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a psychological phenomenon in which people are more likely to remember events that fit their worldview. If you believe you're going to win because you're a beginner, you're more likely to remember all the times you were right — and forget the times you ended up in last place.
Find a penny, pick it up,,,
And all day long, you'll have good luck. This little ditty may arise because finding money is lucky in and of itself. But it might also be a spin-off of another old rhyme, "See a pin, pick it up/ and all day long you'll have good luck/ See a pin, let it lay/ and your luck will pass away."
Don't walk under that ladder!
Frankly, this superstition is pretty practical. Who wants to be responsible for stumbling and knocking a carpenter off his perch? But one theory holds that this superstition arises from a Christian belief in the Holy Trinity: Since a ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle, "breaking" that triangle was blasphemous.
Then again, another popular theory is that a fear of walking under a ladder has to do with its resemblance to a medieval gallows. We're sticking with the safety-first explanation for this one.
Bad luck comes in threes
Remember confirmation bias? The belief that bad luck comes in threes is a classic example. A couple of things go wrong, and believers may start to look for the next bit of bad luck. A lost shoe might be forgotten one day, but seen as the third in a series of bad breaks the next.
Three sixes in a row give some people the chills. It's a superstition that harks back to the Bible. In the Book of Revelation, 666 is given as the number of the "beast," and is often interpreted as the mark of Satan and a sign of the end times.
According to State University of New York at Buffalo anthropologist Philips Stevens, the writer of Revelation was writing to persecuted Christians in code, so the numbers and names in the book are contemporary references. Three sixes in a row is probably the numeric equivalent of the Hebrew letters for the first-century Roman Emperor Nero. [End of the World? Top Doomsday Fears]
Make a wish on a wishbone
The tradition of turkey bone tug-of-war goes back a long way. Legend has it that first-century Romans used to fight over dried wishbones — which they believed were good luck — and would accidentally break them, ushering in the idea that whoever has the largest bit of bone gets their wish. Bird bones have also been used in divination throughout history, with a supposed soothsayer throwing the bones and reading their patterns to predict the future.
Most common one
1. A bird in the house is a sign of a death
2. A loaf of bread should never be turned upside down after a slice has been cut from it.
3. Never take a broom along when you move. Throw it out and buy a new one.
4. If the first butterfly you see in the year is white, you will have good luck all year.
5. If a black cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it takes the good luck with it.
6. An acorn at the window will keep lightning out
7. A dog howling at night when someone in the house is sick is a bad omen.
8. It’s bad luck to leave a house through a different door than the one used to come into it.
9. A horseshoe hung in the bedroom will keep nightmares away.
10. If you catch a falling leaf on the first day of autumn you will not catch a cold all winter.
11. If a mirror in the house falls and breaks by itself, someone in the house will die soon.
12. Dropping an umbrella on the floor means that there will be a murder in the house.
13. All windows should be opened at the moment of death so that the soul can leave.
14. If the groom drops the wedding band during the ceremony, the marriage is doomed.
15. To dream of a lizard is a sign that you have a secret enemy.
16. If a friend gives you a knife, you should give him a coin, or your friendship will soon be broken.
17. You should never start a trip on Friday or you will meet misfortune.
18. Dream of running: a sign of a big change in your life.
19. If a clock which has not been working suddenly chimes, there will be a death in the family.
20. It is bad luck to light three cigarettes with the same match
Never In My Wildest Dreams
You came into my world like high beams on some two lane highway in the middle of a desert night; just as I lost the fight between thirty more miles and pulling over for a nap until sunrise. Fracturing my momentary dream into a million pieces of panic and surprise as your light burned through the lids of my eyes and your horn’s noise grabbed at nerves that shook my insides alive.
I remember the giant halo of your glow and light coming head on, the fog in my brain was overwhelming, as muscle memory spurred both hands and they registered on the wheel. My grasp was wrapped tight and pulled sharply, sending me into a wrenching swerve; a sudden desperate attempt to avoid our impending collision, as you careened head long my way. In the moments that came, I couldn’t tell if you were slowing or attempting to avoid the obstruction of my vehicle that had wondered into your lane. I only knew the fear as my life flashed before my frozen, bulging eyes. I felt my knuckles strain, threatening to rip flesh, as they pulled against the tension of my grasp on the wheel.
I remember feeling my knee slam under the dash as terror took me and I over compensated. With pang in knee, I stabbed my foot back down at the break. I remember the feeling of gravity shift as my vehicle began to swerve and my body flatten into the door panel as I began the fight to regain control of my vehicle, careening down that lonely highway.
I remember my body recognized and felt something I couldn’t have truly felt. At least something felt different, this specific time, than any other before or after. Both the fear of loosing control and this new feeling are forever linked somehow. It was something I felt as my shoulder pressed into the drivers side door panel: the feel of the gravel beneath my tires, not in the normal sense of peeling out, or hot rodding around a turn, or when you are navigating a gravel incline and a tire slips, spinning a bit. But, I remember feeling every, single, piece, of gravel, as my tires slid over them, like they were brail desperately attempting to be read by someone with an untrained hand.
And suddenly, I remember, I was fighting gravity to avoid being thrown into the empty passenger seat next to me; with the dutiful assistance of my seat belt I remained square in seat. By this point my perspiration was beading at my brow and my palms were slick and damp. The smell filling my nose was terrible: rubber skidding across tar and the metal chemical burn of clutch mixed with burning metallic fumes of locked, red hot breaks. The noxious smoke produced from the instant tire tread wear of tires attempting to grapple with the texture of pavement at sixty miles per hour and the dust thrown up from the narrow desert road was thick in the air as my vehicle began to spin violently. This must have been one of my wildest dreams.
Your tail lights passed by my view out the front windshield a few times before I came to a slow, lazy roll backwards, eventually coming to a halt on the pavement; vision now dizzy and disoriented. My motion had not stopped however. The spinning had turned my head into one of those twirling carnival rides and transformed my extremities into shaking nerve noodles, who’s vibration emanated from my core.
Regaining my composure, I found myself immediately worried about who I had almost collided with and what state they were in; my concern seemingly met with reply as your hazard lights lit up from the tail lights of your vehicle ahead. I remember blood pumping in my temples as I raced toward your vehicle, grateful to be alive, and grateful you were still on the road and in one piece as well. Closing the distance to your flashing hazards just hoping you were okay. I felt embarrassed and foolish for putting myself, and you, at risk not stopping a few miles back. I prayed you were not scared or upset with me. Not knowing what to expect as I slowed to a jog nearing your vehicle, I took in the details of the multiple spins my vehicle completed as it whipped round and round directly down the center of the highway. I took in the sight of fresh tread on the pavement left by my tires, scrawled like a signature of some artist signing their work of near miss.
I remember as I looked up again to where your vehicle had come to a stop, that you too where now running my direction. As we approached each other I could tell we both did a quick visual assessment of each other, our vehicles, the tire tread scrawl on the road. We asked each other if the other was okay and learned no harm had come to the other other than shaken nerves and a bit of embarrassment on my part.
I remember hearing your laugh for the first time as we sat on the side of that highway in the middle of the night and lost track of time. We talked about everything, and nothing, as we watched the stars and smiled at each other honestly. Morning came faster than either of us expected announcing it’s a rival gloriously. The sunrise was exceptionally beautiful that morning. As we peacefully watched, finally pausing in conversation for the first time since we met, we took in it’s orange, blue, yellow, and pink shifting colors sharing glances at each other now and then, smiles and blushing cheeks as we did.
As the morning sun’s heat set upon our skin and the brightness of the desert view began to become overwhelming you turned to me with a smile. I remember taking your business card and the electricity fire through my fingertips as our hands touched for the first time.
Your touch felt so exotic then, like some distant land I had read a million books about and knew every detail of but had only learned from in the texts written in those pages. I imagine I looked like an adventurer, captivated and in awe, as they stepped of an old steam engine train onto a new landscape. Amusing the locals watching a new traveler standing starstruck seeing, smelling, and feeling the foreign environment they had read so much about but were only experiencing in person for the first time.
As I put your business card into my wallet, so many unknown feelings and pressing questions that I wanted to ask you were coming to my head fighting each other for place in line and internally pleading for one more second of your time. They were interrupted by one major new question I hadn’t considered so distracted by my internal conflict.
When would I would see you again? This question was followed by an even larger: Would I see you again? I was so caught off guard at their staggering weight I remember feeling intimidated by how much it meant to me. I chickened out. I didn’t ask and though in that moment didn’t know what to do with myself, or my shaken emotions, as we said our good byes.
Before you turned to depart I managed to make sure you too had my number and awkwardly, shuffled back, half facing you, half trying to walk away. I could tell you noticed in the words your smile always seemed to hold.
I remember you driving away and the stress I felt realizing we were going in opposite directions for the first time since we met and how something immediately felt missing in my world. I remember kicking myself not wanting to end up just some guy who you met and called you down the road or being just a story of a time you almost got hit head on by some guy in the middle a desert one night. A bit late, but just in time, I buckled my seat belt and decided not to become that guy. I threw my vehicle in drive and accelerated after you. Headed in your direction for the first time.
My heart raced as I drove fast to catch up to your vehicle once again and as I pulled up behind you, obnoxiously got your attention with my horn and the flashing of my lights. I couldn’t believe I had chased after you like a crazy! What would you think of this? Was I crazy?
As you stepped out of your vehicle your beauty was staggering and I confidently acknowledged, almost applauded myself; I had made the right decision. I jogged up to you on the pavement of that two lane highway and blurted out “When will I see you again?!”. Your laugh told me everything as it often did, I would learn.
I canceling my plans, my new job would have to wait, or I’d find a new one when I got to my destination. I suddenly had you placed at the center of my life’s main screen and didn’t for one second consider what else was on outside in my periphery. Everything seemed like it mattered just a little bit less than the focus my mind found when trained on you. I spent the day with you, headed in your direction. We played, both lost in the world together, on a new adventure, and loving every moment of it.
By that evening I was already in love, and knew it as for the first time I watched the sunset reflect forever in your eyes. I will never in my wildest dreams forget your smile when I admitted my love to you as we watched those stars again, together, that second night.
I also remember how we really met, and this isn’t it! Not even close! But it sure could have been. I mean, some things are similar to how we met all those years ago. You do remember don’t you?
The night we first met we were hurling in each other’s direction at a million miles per hour and barely missed colliding. That near miss put us into permanent dance as we orbited each other - dancing in and out of each other’s life, always friends, lovers, strangers, family; whatever we needed to be for the other at that specific moment in time. The first night we met I knew I had met the most amazing woman and I couldn’t believe that I had finally found you; never in my wildest dreams did I think you were really out there.
We did watch the stars and talked until the sun came up. We also spent the next day playing together and I really did watch the sunset reflect forever in your eyes. I did fall in love with you, only immediately, almost at first sight.
My love switch flipped the very moment you said “Hiiii” that way you did. Your mysterious brown eyes - strands coloring them wonderful, as your cheeks smiled for days. They reached into me latching onto my heart and I did not resist the comfort of your grasp. There was just something so familiar in the way you drew me in and made a place for me in your world. I felt like I had seen this smile of yours before somewhere and it belonged right after that “Hiiii”, and right in front of me. There was also something so familiar in the way you said my name, always smiling, you giggled a lot more back then.
I chased after you and that smile, following the echoes of that giggle from that moment on without any regret and loved every moment you chased me back laughing as we played. I remember how grateful I was getting to know you, and how grateful I always will be to have spent all the moments we shared through the years, building our story. The rest of that story and how we really first met is ours. A story to be remembered another time I think.
I remember the many other things that are similar in the story I have told but happened completely differently, to a completely different moment, in a completely different part of our story that I’d like to share in this letter to you. I think it is supposed to help...telling you these things, we always shared our deepest feelings with each other and It’s hard holding them all by myself. I’m working on it, love, I promised. Writing these letters to you and the chapters of our time together contained within.
In this part of our story, the true part of this story, and part of our chapters I’m sharing in this letter is a moment where I remember a collision that happened head on and it all started with a phone call.
I remember we were both asleep at the wheel and wholly unprepared as I raced down the highway to you. I remember how sudden the impact came after I reached your side. I remember the pain and jarring as your light in my world, that light that engulfed my vision completely, was in a moment no longer present. I remember my confusion as my momentum came to a complete, and immediate, stop. I remember that I didn’t even have time to scream or brace myself as everything in my world shattered in a devastating explosion and all it’s shiny pieces showered into the air around me. I remember that I didn’t even have both hands on the wheel as my life turned upside down. I remember that there was no seat belt to fasten me in as my breath choked in my throat, stalled, as if suspended mid air.
I remember the look, taste, sound, smell, touch, and feeling of every, single, thing, in that hospital room. I remember the smell of my tears in your hair. I remember how soft your skin was and that your fingernails were not painted like they normally were as I held your hand. I remember the feeling of my nerves as they achieved complete pandaemonium within me. I remember I was trembling as I struggled to breath between crying, then breathing, then crying, tasting the snot running from my nose mixed with the salt that clung to my face as I sat at your side. I remember hearing the sobs in the room as your heart rate monitor stopped blinking. I remember that exact moment you left me. I remember all of the feelings I felt at that moment as my emotions burned deep within and imprinted them as if by brand, permanently emblazoned on my soul. I remember not having the words for them then and I still do not have words for them now.
I remember every single detail, reflected in the pieces of my world as they crashed to the polished surface of the tiny room’s grey and white checkered tile floor. I remember that for the first time in a long time we were no longer running toward each other, or in the same direction together, and you weren’t there to make sure I was okay. I remember praying that you would be okay but my heart didn’t hear the echo of yours anymore to be sure. I remember hoping you were not lonely just minutes after you left and began crying: differently, because I didn’t know how to be there for you like I promised I always would be. I remember wanting so badly to chase after you, especially in the months that followed your funeral to keep that promise I made. I remember wanting to make sure you weren’t alone and be by your side as you took off on this new adventure to make sure you got under way okay. I remember trying to lighten my mood and joke about you making a new friend jealous, telling them about a guy that loved you unconditionally in another life. But, I remembered I could not chase you this time; I couldn’t be there to hold you if you happened to fall in love with him and he broke your heart. There was no catching up to you minutes down the road, just to see your smile again and hear you laugh at me for being silly. There was no way to pick you up off the ground and piece your heart back together with pieces of mine if it was broken this time.
I can only hope you receive all the letters like this one and that you are able to answer my call when I get home. We can meet in the middle of some two lane highway in the clouds, talking about life down below, or everything, or nothing, and laugh at the concept of time.
I can’t wait for that moment I see you again and we can remember all the years since the night we first met and remind each other how that story really went. I want so badly to be reminded exactly how it feels seeing the sunset reflect forever in your eyes like I used to.
I remember you every single day and wrote this letter to remind you: that more than anything, I patiently wait to learn how we finish our story, because never in my wildest dreams, could these stars be as beautiful as I remember, all those moments, I spent watching them with you.
The only technique to learn something new
By James Altucher
I had a friend who wanted to get better at painting. But she thought she had to be in Paris, with all the conditions right. She never made it to Paris. Now she sits in a cubicle under fluorescent lights, filling out paperwork all day.
Someone stole $90 million from a company I was involved in. I'm a poor judge of people. The company collapsed.
Some things I can't learn. I tend to like people too much.
So it's hard for me to be a good judge of people, no matter how much I try. So I find other people who are good at judging people and I ask them to help me.
Don't force yourself to learn something if you don't want to or it's not a natural talent.
What's the role of talent? Very small. But you have to start with it. Talent is the seed of skill.
How do you know if you are talented? If you loved it when you were ten years old. If you dream about it. If you like to read about it. Read the below and you'll know what you are talented at.
Trust me when I say: everyone is talented at many things.
￼ This story is from James Altucher's website. He let us it after we asked nicely.In the past 20 years I've wanted to learn how to do some things really well. Writing, programming, business skills (leadership, sales, negotiating, decision-making), comedy, games.
So I developed a ten step technique for learning.
1. LOVE IT.
If you can't start with "love" then everyone who does love will beat everyone who "likes" or "hates".
This is a rule of the universe. The first humans who crossed the arctic tundra from Siberia to Alaska in -60 degree temperatures had to love it. The rest stayed in the East Africa Savannah.
The very first day I wrote a "Hello, World" computer program I dreamed about computers. I woke up at 4am to get back to the "computer lab" and make even bigger programs.
When I first started to write every day, I would write all day. I couldn't stop. And all I wanted to talk about with people were different authors.
When I was 10 years old I wrote a gossip column about all my fellow 5th graders. I read every Judy Blume book. I read everything I could. I loved it.
Most of my friends got bored with me and soon I was very lonely. Except when I was writing.
2. READ IT.
Bobby Fischer wasn't that good at chess. He had talent but nobody thought much of him.
So around the age of 12-13 he disappeared for a year. He did this later in his 20s.
But at 13 when he came back on the scene he was suddenly the best chessplayer in the US, won the US championship, and became the youngest grandmaster in the world.
How did he do it? He barely played at all during his year of wandering.
Instead he did two things:
a) he studied every game played in the prior century. In the 1800s.
When he came back on the scene he was known for playing all of these antiquated openings but he had improvements in each one. Nobody can figure out how to defeat these improvements.
In fact, the final game of the World Championship many years later, in 1972 when he was playing Spassky, he brought out his 1800s arsenal to become World Champion.
Spassky desperately needed to win to keep the match going. Fischer needed to draw to win the title.
Spassky started with a very modern attacking opening ("The Sicilian") But then around 13 moves in, all of the commentators watching gasped.
Fischer had subtly changed the opening into an old-fashioned very drawish 1800s opening called "The Scotch Game." Spassky didn't have a chance after that.
b) He learned enough Russian to read the Russian chess magazines. At the time, the top 20 players in the world were all Russian. The Americans didn't really have a chance.
So Fischer would study the Russian games while all of the Americans were sitting around with openings and styles the Russians already knew how to defeat.
Consequently, when Fischer competed in the US championship in the early 60s it was the first complete shutout, all wins and not a single draw.
Studying the history, studying the best players, is the key to being the best player. Even if you started off with average talent.
3. TRY IT. BUT NOT TOO HARD.
If you want to be a writer, or a businessman, or a programmer, you have to write a lot, start a lot of businesses, and program a lot of programs.
Things go wrong. This is why quantity is more important than quality at first.
The learning curve that we all travel is not built by accomplishments. It's only built by quantity.
If you see something 1000 times, you'll see more than the person who sees the same thing only ten times.
Don't forget the important rule: the secret of happiness is not "being great" - the secret is "growth".
If you only "try" you'll get to your level that is natural for you. But growth will stop and you won't be happy.
4. GET A TEACHER (PLUS THE 10X RULE).
If I try to learn Spanish on my own, I get nowhere. But when I go out (and now marry) someone who is from Argentina, I learn more Spanish.
With chess, writing, programming, business, I always find someone better than me, and I set a time each week to ask them tons of questions, have them give me assignments, look over my mistakes and tell me where I am wrong.
For everything you love, find a teacher and that makes you learn 10x faster.
In fact, everything I put on this list, makes you learn 10x faster. So if you do everything on this list you will learn 10 to the 10th power faster than anyone else.
That's how you become great at something.
5. STUDY THE HISTORY. STUDY THE PRESENT.
If you want to learn how to be a GREAT programmer (not just good enough to program an app but good enough to be GREAT, study machine language.
Study 1s and 0s. Study the history of the computer, learn how to make an operating system, and Fortran, Cobol, Pascal, Lisp, C, C , all the way through the modern languages of Python, etc.
If you want to write better, read great books from the 1800s. Read Hemingway and Virginia Woolf and the Beats, and the works that have withstood the test of time.
They have withstood the test of time. versus millions of other books, for a reason. They are the best in the world.
Then study the current criticism of those books to see what you have missed. This is just as important as the initial reading.
If you want to study business, read biographies of Rockefeller, Carnegie, the first exchange in Amsterdam, the junk-bond boom, the 90s, the financial bust. Every Depression. All the businesses that flourished in every depression.
Read "Zero to One" by Peter Thiel. Watch "The Profit" on CNBC. Read about Steve Jobs. Read about the downfall of Kodak in "The End of Power".
Don't read self-help business books. They are nothing. You are about to enter a great field, the field of innovation that has created modern society. Don't read the average books that came out last year.
Step up your game and read about the people and inventions that changed the world into what it is today.
Read how Henry Ford had to start three car companies to get it right and why "three" was the important number for him.
Read about why Ray Kroc's technique for franchising created the world's largest restaurant chain. Read how the Coca-Cola makes absolutely nothing but is the largest drink company in the world.
Write down the things you learn from each reading.
6. DO EASY PROJECTS FIRST.
Tony Robbins told me about when he was scared to death on his first major teaching job.
He had to teach a bunch of Marines how to improve their sharpshooting. "I had never shot a gun in my life," he said.
He studied quite a bit from professionals but then he came up with a technique that resulted in the best scores of any sharpshooting class before then.
He brought the target closer.
He put it just five feet from them. They all shot bullseyes. Then he moved it back bit by bit until it was the standard distance.
They were still shooting bullseyes.
Richard Branson started a magazine before he started an airline. Bill Gates wrote BASIC before his team wrote Windows.
E.L. James (and yes, I'm including her) wrote Twilight fan fiction, before she wrote "50 Shades of Grey".
Ernest Hemingway never thought he could write a novel. So he wrote dozens of short stories.
Programmers write "Hello, World" programs before they make their search engines.
Many chess grandmasters recommend you study the endgame first in chess (when there are few pieces left on the board) before you study the other parts of the game.
This gets you confidence, it teaches subtleties, it gives you greater feelings of growth and improvement - all steps on the path to success.
7. STUDY WHAT YOU DID.
The other day I threw everything out. Everything. I threw out all my books (donated). I threw out all my clothes.
I threw out old computers. I threw out plates I never used. I threw out sheets I would never have guests for. I threw out furniture (four book cases) and my TV and old papers and everything.
I wanted to clean up. And I did.
I found a novel I wrote in 1991. 24 years ago. It was horrible.
For the first time in those 24 years, I re-read it. I studied what I did wrong (character unrelatable. Plot too obvious. Deus ex machina all over the place).
Someone told me a story about Amy Schumer, one of my favorite comedians. She videotapes all her performances.
Then she goes back to her room and studies the performance second by second. "I should have paused another quarter-second here," she might say.
She wants to be the best at comedy. She studies her every performance.
When I play chess, if I lose, I run the game into the computer. I look at every move, what the computer suggests as better, I think about what I was thinking when I made the bad move, and so on.
A business I was recently invested in fell apart. It was painful for me. But I had to look at it and see what was wrong. Where did I make a mistake. At every level I went back and wrote what happened and where I might have helped better and what I missed.
If you aren't obsessed with your mistakes then you don't love the field enough to get better.
You ask lousy questions: "Why am I no good?" Instead of good questions: "What did I do wrong and how can I improve?"
When you consistently ask good questions about your own work, you become better than the people who freeze themselves with lousy questions.
Example: I hate watching myself after a TV appearance. I have never done it. So I will never get better at that.
8. YOU ARE THE AVERAGE OF THE FIVE PEOPLE AROUND YOU.
Look at every literary, art, and business scene. People seldom get better as individuals. They get better as groups.
The Beats: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and a dozen others.
The programmers: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ted Leonsis, Paul Allen, Steve Wozniak and a dozen others all came out of the Homebrew Club
The art scene in the 50s: Jasper Johns, De Kooning, Pollack, etc all lived on the SAME STREET in downtown NYC.
YouTube, LinkedIn, Tesla, Palantir, and to some extent Facebook, and a dozen other companies came out of the so-called "PayPal mafia".
All of these people could've tinkered by themselves. But humans are tribal mammals. We need to work with groups to improve.
Find the best group, spend as much time with them, and as a "scene" you become THE scene.
You each challenge each other, compete with each other, love each other's work, become envious of each other, and ultimately take turns surpassing each other.
9. DO IT A LOT.
What you do every day matters much more than what you do once in awhile.
I had a friend who wanted to get better at painting. But she thought she had to be in Paris, with all the conditions right.
She never made it to Paris. Now she sits in a cubicle under fluorescent lights, filling out paperwork all day.
Write every day, network every day, play every day, live healthy every day.
Measure your life in the number of times you do things. When you die: are you 2 writing sessions old? Or are you 50,0000?
10. FIND YOUR EVIL PLAN.
Eventually the student passes the master.
The first hedge fund manager I worked for now hates me. I started my own fund and his fund went out of business. My evil plan was ultimately to be better than him.
After all of the above, you find your unique voice. And when you speak in that voice, the world hears something it has never heard before.
Your old teachers and friends might not want to hear that voice. But if you continue to be around people who love and respect you, then they will encourage that new voice.
There's that saying, "there are no new ideas." But there are.
There are all the ideas in the past combined with the new beautiful you. You're the butterfly.
Now it's your turn to teach, to mentor, to create, to innovate, to change the world. To make something nobody has ever seen before and perhaps will never see again.