Dateline: Hong Kong

I read one of Andrew’s Facebook posts about being “stuck” and it really got me thinking.

The thrust of Andrew’s post is that sometimes we blame others for the situation we’re in. We tell ourselves things like, “That won’t work for me, because I haven’t had the lucky breaks that guy has had.” Or, “I want to make a major change, but the people around me and/or the government keep blocking me.”

And this thinking is by no means limited to aspiring expats or people interested in moving assets off shore. It’s the same for people thinking about becoming private pilots, or learning to speak French, or participating in a triathlon.

We can get into the mental habit of finding obstacles and then assigning them fantastic, insurmountable power over us year after year. And the reality is, most ‘problems’ are only a matter of perspective. Can any of us truly point to an insurmountable obstacle to our ambitions apart from imminent death?

I work with people who want to build online income, often as a way to become an expat. The #1 obstacle I hear from people is, “I’ve wanted to do that for years, but I don’t know where to start or what to do.” Well, that’s normal. It basically applies to 100% of people. So why does it stop some people for about five minutes and other people for ten years?

If you think of super-productive people like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, can you ever see them saying, “I don’t personally know how to create an ultra-thin laptop computer from a single block of aluminum,” or, “I don’t know how to improve the power-to-weight ratio of a lithium-ion battery,” — and then letting that completely stop their progress toward their goals? For years?

They asked somebody! They found out who could help them and they kept moving. It’s what everybody does, when you think about it. Nobody was born knowing how to drive a car, or operate a computer, or how to become and expat, or how to build an online business. We find somebody who can show us how, or can do it for us, and we keep moving toward our ultimate goals.

What is Your Threshold for Taking Action?

As Ludwig von Mises discussed in Human Action, only when a person reaches a certain level of dissatisfaction will he take action.

We are are bombarded relentlessly to accept the status quo. To be satisfied with how we are treated, where we live, what we must go without, what dreams are not for everyone, and on and on.

Guys like Jobs and Musk are never satisfied with how things are. Neither were any of the people who built the modern world. They had a low threshold for taking action. A little bit of dissatisfaction triggered massive action.

Most of us aren’t like that. There is a spectrum, with all the Westinghouses, Edisons, and Teslas of the world on one end. The other end of the spectrum has the guys with high IQ’s, bright ideas, and good personalities, but who still stay in miserable, bad situations they hate because no amount of pain will move them to improve their lives.

Most of us are somewhere in the middle. We have some skills and experiences, and we know we can improve our personal situation, if never the whole world. The key is to pay attention to the pain signals and let them move us to action. It’s normal to be stuck every now and then. But it’s never good to stay stuck. And it’s poison to look for others to blame for us being stuck. The answer is always, always out there. We just need to ask.

Pete Sisco
Last updated: Dec 27, 2019 at 3:56PM