Get in the Game
“The curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding, or better at explaining than doing.” ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”― Theodore Roosevelt
“The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”- George S. Patton
“Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80-hour to 100-hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40-hour workweeks and you’re putting in 100-hour workweeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing, you know that you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.” – Elon Musk
You are either a spectator in life or you are in the game. You have heard about skin in the game. Ensure you are an active participant in life. Watching life pass you by each and every day is the saddest way to live our lives if we are aware about our inner potential.
If you are healthy and have the capacity to work and engage yourself in the pursuit of life you need to do it like your life depended on it. Life is like a torrential river. We need to plunge in and swim. It may take you to places you thought never possible.
There are always twists and turns but those who really gain the most out of life are those who are not afraid to risk it all and go for it with one heart. Those who take the necessary action and pay the price day in and out understand that taking action is the real deal in life.
Take massive action
Those who achieve the most are usually the ones who usually take the most action. Action is really what life is all about. Our senses are alive when we are out taking the necessary action.
Our bodies only remain healthy when we exercise them. This analogy applies to almost any dream or pursuit we are trying to fulfill. Massive and relentless action is usually what makes the ultimate difference in life.
If you study the lives of true achievers the are blessed with the action gene. They do not rest on their laurels and are always thinking of the next pinnacle to achieve. They never settle. We only remember those who have the capacity for action.
The most visible entrepreneur who is making exciting inroads in the scientific and technological field is Elon Musk. He is one of those rare individuals who is aiming to do the impossible. Create a human colony on Mars. In order to achieve this goal, he has ventured into three key industries and aims to be number one in these respective industries.
Solar power generation through his company Solar City, Space X for Space Exploration and Tesla the Electric Vehicle company. He is aware the advancement and innovation of technologies in all these sectors are the foundation bed for any meaningful conquest of the planet Mars. That’s his end goal.
He has made significant headway in all these industries despite what the critics say. He made his first fortune in Silicon Valley in the Commerce industry through the founding of the payment processor Pay Pal.
What makes him special is that he lost his first fortune from PayPal building up his new three ventures. He was ridiculed by the press and friends but he kept on going and stayed in the game. His efforts are now paying off and his future is bright
His key dominant characteristic trait is that once he sets a goal he takes massive action to ensure the goal gets achieved. He is a real workaholic and this one outstanding trait has propelled him to fame. He never gives up and goes for the price whatever it takes. .
Anecdotes from his biography Elon Musk – Tesla, Space X and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
“Farooq said. Musk’s intensity has continued to be a constant in their long relationship. “When Elon gets into something, he develops just this different level of interest in it than other people. That is what differentiates Elon from the rest of humanity.”
“After one economics exam, Musk, Farooq, and some other students in class came back to the dorms and began comparing notes to try to ascertain how well they did on the test. It soon became clear that Musk had a firmer grasp on the material than anyone else.”
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great was a Greek King from the City State of Macedonia and was one of the greatest generals the world had ever witnessed. He never lost any major battle and accomplished great feats that no one thought possible at the time. He actually defeated the Persian Navy on Land.
He was born in 356 B.C and died in the year 323 B.C. at the age of 33 years. Some of his exploits include conquering Asia Minor, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Middle East, the Persian Empire, Afghanistan, Sogdiana, Bactria; and part of the Indian subcontinent.
He campaigned for over 10 years consecutively and covered over 10,000 miles. He left one of the ancient wonders of the world the Light House of Alexandria and the Library it contained. Egypt’s second largest city was named after him. Key excerpts about Alexander state this about his character-
“Alexander, like his father and like so many of history’s greatest generals, led from the front.
Leading from the front was Alexander’s trademark. He was in the thick of the fight, and often in the front rank. He must have seen and smelled the fear and blood-lust of close battle, and thrust and swung his weapons with extraordinary effect.”
Shaka the Zulu
Here in Africa one general stood out for his exploits. The Zulu King Shaka created the most formidable military force Africa had witnessed. He was born in the year 1795 and died in 1828 at the age of 43. He was born of royal lineage of the Zulu clan one of the clans of the Nguni tribe.
His parents had a fall out when he was young and his mother was forced out of the Kingdom. He grew up with distant relatives but eventually matured into a great soldier. He was reunited with his father King Senzangakhona later on in life. His father passed away and he took over the Kingship after his half-brother Prince Sigujana was killed in a succession battle.
Shaka had a vision of uniting the various clans of the Nguni tribe under coercive force. His vision was to bring all the multiple tribes in Southern Africa under his leadership. He devised new military tactics and weapons for his own army.
He went on a ruthless campaign that subdued other clans, tribes in the next 10 years forming the Zulu nation. He always led from the front and was a brilliant tactician and strategist until his assassination by his own family members.
Shaka was always in the game and was constantly innovating his battle tactics. He always led from the front and managed to achieve distinct accomplishments. The Zulu Kingdom is still a force to reckon with in South African politics to this day. This was all due to the achievements and exploits of it’s founder in the 19th Century.
Julius Caesar was the first self-declared Roman Dictator. He was born in 100 BC and died in the year 44 BC. He was one of the greatest military generals the world has ever seen. The Roman Empire was one of the greatest empires the world has had. Its capital was based in Rome and it stretched across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
He influenced the creation of the Roman Empire from the former Roman republic after a clash with the senate. A civil war erupted in Rome and he emerged the victor and was declared Dictator of Rome. He was born of noble heritage but his father’s passing away early in his life led to harsh living circumstances.
These early tough years forged him and led him to join the army. After that destiny took its course and he won many pivotal battles. He led a life of massive action he had skin in the game. Here are excerpts about his leadership style
This was a scene from the Battle of Munda
“For Caesar, it was clear. If his army wouldn’t attack, then he would. By himself. After shedding his helmet and making sure that they saw him clearly, Caesar questioned the bravery of his soldiers. He then turned around and charged headlong uphill toward the enemy army. Alone.
One Roman general, sword in hand, running unprotected to take on an entire army.
Caesar led by example, even in the face of death. If he wanted his army to act, then he knew that he had to expect the same of himself.”
George S Patton (2nd World War General)
George S Patton was the best field general the Americans had in the 2nd World War. The Germans feared no general other than George Patton. He was the best General at offense even his own peers feared him and had respect for his tenacity. He was born in the year 1885 and died in the year 1945.
He gained his reputation in the first world war where as a young lieutenant in the army he led his tanks in war in France. He always led from the front. Below are excerpts about his leadership style extracted from the book
The French delivered some 225 light tanks to equip two American battalions. Of this number, Patton’s brigade received 144 tanks. Before they arrived, Patton made meticulous preparations. Not only did he plot out every detail of the expected delivery and reception of the tanks, from their unloading at the rail head to their deployment to the front, but he set out on a hazardous reconnaissance patrol to assess the German lines and also to personally confirm that the ground on no-man’s land was firm enough to support the vehicles
As is typical in war, after the plans had been carefully laid, higher command made major changes in what it wanted. Undaunted, Patton personally reconnoitered the new ground set for the attack, efficiently drew up a new set of battle plans, and saw to it that everything necessary, including some 10,000 gallons of gasoline, was delivered to the newly selected point of departure.
On September 11, the day before the operation was to start, Patton spoke to his troops. Even this early in his command career, his message reads as vintage Patton. It is one of attack, advance, and attack. Use the tanks as if they were the ancient warrior’s dogs of war:
The attack on September 12, was preceded by a four-hour artillery barrage, then stepped off at 5:00 A.M. By 6:10, Patton was positioned at a hilltop observation post, from which he could watch the action. Twenty minutes later, however, seeing some of the tanks bog down in muddy trenches, Patton walked two miles to personally attend to their extrication.
This accomplished, he did not return to his command post on the hill, but, with his staff and on foot, he pressed forward with the advance. This practice would become a Patton trademark. He always led from the front.
His personal maxim was “A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution ten minutes later….”
Bill Gates – William Henry Gates III is the founder of Microsoft the world’s largest personal computer software company. Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975. He was one of the pioneers of the micro-computer industry in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. He was born in the year 1955.
He led the company personally until the year 2000. He was a brilliant programmer and mathematician and dropped out of Harvard to pursue software development and sales to the business industry. He started programming at the age of 13. This became his key interest in life.
At the age of 17 he formed his first company Traf of Data to make traffic counters. After he and Paul Allen were contracted by a company called Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) to write an interpreter for their hardware using the BASIC programming language.
After this stint he got his first major breakthrough and developed Microsoft Disk Operating System MS DOS for IBM microcomputers. He never looked back from there as he licensed MS DOS to other computer manufacturers.
From this he branched out to personal productivity software like Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft became a world reknown brand.
His personal style is reflected here:
Gates said he personally reviewed and often rewrote every line of code that the company produced in its first five years
That was one of the more interesting things about Bill,” said Znaimer. “Compared to the rest of us at Harvard, he was much more broadly grounded. You could find other people who were really good mathematicians or really good physicists.
But Bill had a lot more hands-on experience. He had gone and worked in various environments, like TRW.”
One day Ed Roberts was taking a group of visitors on a tour through MITS when he stepped over a body in the software area. It was Gates, curled up on the floor, sound asleep. “Bill and Paul were very, very intense,” said Curry. ‘They had a clear understanding of what they were doing, in the sense that they had a vision of where they were going.
Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo Da Vinci is considered the world’s greatest genius and one of the most brilliant, talented individuals to have ever lived. He was born in Italy in the year 1452 and lived until the year 1519. The Renaissance Age was named so as it was a rediscovery of the fine arts and sciences after the dark ages after the demise of the Roman Empire.
He dabbled both in art and science. He produced some of the most famous pieces of art. The Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. He conceptualized machines far in the future like helicopters, tanks, solar power, adding machines. He delved and studied in many different fields such as anatomy, civil engineering, geology, optics, tribology, and hydrodynamics.
Leonard Da Vinci had one key principle that stood out extracted from How to Think like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Everyday- Michael J. Gelb
“ ‘Dimostrazione’ In his search for truth, Da Vinci insisted on questioning conventional wisdom. He used the word dimostrazione to express the importance of learning for oneself, through practical experience”
Throughout his life he proudly referred to himself as uomo senza lettere (“man without letters”) and discepolo della esperienza (“disciple of experience”). He wrote, “To me it seems that those sciences are vain and full of error which are not born of experience, mother of all certainty, first hand experience which in its origins, or means, or end has passed through one of the five senses.”
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States and the youngest president ever. He assumed the position at the age of 42. He was born in the year 1858 and died in the year 1919. He served as President from the year 1901 to 1909.
He was reknown for his energy and virility. He was the ultimate action oriented individual. He was actually born small and sickly he suffered from asthma as a child.
His list of great accomplishments as President include; construction of the Panama Canal, breaking of trusts, regulation of the rail roads, he established national parks, forests and monuments. He ended the Russian- Japanese war and earned the Noble Peace Prize in 1906.
Extracted from book, The rise of Theodore Roosevelt- Edmund Morris
“He was also an accomplished Author. The Elkhorn Edition of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, just published, comprises twenty-three volumes of history, natural history, biography, political philosophy, and essays.
At least two of his books, The Naval War of 1812 and the four-volume Winning of the West, are considered definitive by serious historians. He is also the author of many scientific articles and literary reviews, not to mention an estimated total of fifty thousand letters—the latest twentyfive of which he dashed off this morning
A typical day at the White House on New Year’s Day 1907. Roosevelt is personally greeting the public, diplomats at the White House. He is known as one of the fastest hand shakers at 50 handshakes per minute. He begun greeting the invited guests at 11 am and will go on until 2 pm. He has greeted 8150 individuals.”
The President manages to get through at least one book a day even when he is busy. Owen Wister has lent him a book shortly before a full evening’s entertainment at the White House, and been astonished to hear a complete review of it over breakfast. “Somewhere between six one evening and eight-thirty next morning, beside his dressing and his dinner and his guests and his sleep, he had read a volume of three-hundred-andodd pages, and missed nothing of significance that it contained.”
Summary and Action
Do not be afraid to get as much experience as you can get early enough. Get involved in the world around you. Only by repeatedly failing and standing up again and again will we learn to conquer our fear and succeed in life.
Patton – Alan Axelrod
The Washing of the Spears_ The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation Under Shaka and its Fall in the Zulu War of 1879 – Donald R Morris
Julius Caesar the Colossus of Rome – Richard A Billows
Hard Drive- Bill Gates and the making of the Microsoft Empire- James Wallace & Jim Erickson
The rise of Theodore Roosevelt- Edmund Morris
How to Think like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Everyday- Michael J. Gelb
Elon Musk – Tesla, Space X and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Ashlee Vance