Last time I told you to listen to music because it makes you feel good. So if you followed my advice (doubtful) then you probably experienced a huge surge of energy and motivation to GET OUT THERE and DO STUFF and WIN. This means you were motivated to seek all the extrinsic rewards that characterize success in your social mileu. Maybe you vowed to get back in the gym, get back in school, get a 3D gf IRL, learn to cook, learn 10 new words every day, call your mom more, and generally go hard. And of course, about a week later that willpower dried up and you’re back to the corn, porn, and attention whorin’. What went wrong?
It’s very frustrating to burn out, and if you do this enough times you can slip into learned helplessness and depression. This boom-and-bust cycle comes from an ignorance of how willpower and momentum work in theory and practice. You probably think that working out becomes its own reward after you get in shape—I know I did, but it turns out intrinsic motivation doesn’t work like that. To mediate this knowledge gap, I’ve boiled down Drive by Daniel H. Pink into two paragraphs. (This was going to be a guest post on Fight Failure but I needed it here.)
The traditional carrot-and-stick, reward-and-punishment management style actually hurts performance in jobs that require even rudimentary problem solving. People take an average of three and a half minutes longer to solve Duncker’s candle problem if they are expecting to make more money by solving it faster. Extrinsic (dopamine-based) motivators like money, status, power, and love only improve performance on algorithmic tasks like working on an assembly line.
ERG theory* teaches us that “when people have what they need to survive [having solved their third-world problems], they move on to making friends and finding mates [second-world problems]. When they’re satisfied with their relationships, they focus on doing things they enjoy and improving their skills in things that interest them.” To perform at a high level in the heuristic-heavy jobs of the modern workplace, humans require intrinsic motivators. These are summarized by Self-Determination Theory as autonomy (AKA self-sufficiency, the feeling of deep work), mastery (AKA the feeling of peak performance, flow), and purpose (AKA “connectedness”, or meaning/value within a larger context). Do this exercise to learn more about those in practice, or just sperg out and read a couple of these books.
Bringing this scientodific goodness back around to the scientodastic woo that’s more familiar to blergh readers, it’s important to understand that the new underclass is primarily made up of mappers, not packers. We are not people who have to be directed by authoritarians to read Mises and Evola via carrot and stick. Mappers are, by nature, overwhelmingly driven by intrinsic motivation. The problem is that we live in a sick society where (((they))) desperately want to replace white and Asian male programmers (mappers) with underperforming minorities, women, and other packers who are more responsive to carrot and stick. And so we’re in a devious catch-22: the new underclass is stuck in jobs unsuited for mappers while the packers who pushed us out are wondering where all the good men have gone.
What’s the solution? The key is in imitating the marginal genius strategy.
The second kind of social adaptation may be called the marginal strategy. These individuals were typically born into a lower socio-economic class, without gifted parents, gifted siblings, or gifted friends. Often they did not go to college at all, but instead went right to work immediately after high school, or even before. And although they may superficially appear to have made a good adjustment to their work and friends, neither work nor friends can completely engage their attention. They hunger for more intellectual challenge and more real companionship than their social environment can supply. So they resort to leading a double life. They compartmentalize their life into a public sphere and a private sphere. In public they go through the motions of fulfilling their social roles, whatever they are, but in private they pursue goals of their own. They are often omnivorous readers, and sometimes unusually expert amateurs in specialized subjects. The double life strategy might even be called the genius ploy, as many geniuses in history have worked at menial tasks in order to free themselves for more important work. Socrates, you will remember was a stone mason, Spinoza was a lens grinder, and even Jesus was a carpenter. The exceptionally gifted adult who works as a parking lot attendant while creating new mathematics has adopted an honored way of life and deserves respect for his courage, not criticism for failing to live up to his abilities. Those conformists who adopt the committed strategy may be pillars of their community and make the world go around, but historically, those with truly original minds have more often adopted the double life tactic. They are ones among the gifted who are most likely to make the world go forward.
Do you see how this ties in to the title? Get the autotelic experiences you need in your free time, then use that intrinsically derived willpower to go outside and make some IRL friends in your local subcultures. Energizing relationships are an unending source of extrinsic motivation and the best sort of networking. All you have to do to get along in most subcultures is show up most of the time and not be a buzzkill.
This is how momentum really works: Spend your intrinsic motivation to invest in the social capital that our dumbass Boomer parents burned down for kicks. Or as Temple Grandin put it, “specialize, then generalize”. If you understand this, you can beat the odds. This is how white babby formed and waifu get pragnent. #NeanderboonLyfe #EnergyMomentumFocus
*The Personal MBA, Josh Kaufman, pg. 41