Why is Among Us Fun!? Because it is.

Among Us has become a cultural staple in the realities of the Pandemic, and it’s not obvious why. A game that is several years old, and can be purchased for a pittance compared to most modern games (The Steam version is a mere $5), gained prominance in 2020 as we all were locked down in our homes and forced to take a two week* break from life. The game itself is actually quite simple, and the graphics are reminiscent of an old SNES game, 2D and using a set of controls so simple you could play with a NES controller. Yes, I realize I’m showing my age here.

For those that aren’t familiar with the game, it plays thusly: you and up to nine other players, tatertots in spacesuits called “crewmates”, are dropped onto a ship, and must complete a set of tasks. The number of tasks are set by the room owner, but the tasks themselves are random. In order for the crewmates to win, they have to complete all tasks before the Imposter(s) kill too many crewmates. Oh and if you die? Your work isn’t done; your ghost must complete the tasks.

Speaking of Imposters, between one and three players, depending on how the room was set up, are not what they seem. They aren’t crewmates, and they don’t complete tasks. Instead, they run around, commit sabotage, and attempt to murder the crewmates before they can complete their tasks. When a player runs across a body, which my group has dubbed “butt-ham” because of how it looks, they report it, and everyone gets to guess who the Imposter is, voting to kick off the ship the person they think is guilty. They can also skip. The Imposter has to try and lie their way into not being the one ejecteed.

Game ends when either all Imposters have been kicked off, the crew finishes all tasks, or the Imposter kills the whole crew, minus one (it’s assumed they sabotage the ship or otherwise would be able to kill the remaining member). When a player is thrown off, it’s in a suitably final manner: for the space ship, your fellow players toss you out an airlock; for the weather station, you’re dropped off the platform; and for the terrestrial HQ, they drop you into a lava pool.

So what is so fun about this game, which you’d think would be more likely a way to cause anxiety than have fun? If I had to guess it’s that you get the benefit of the adrenaline rush, along with getting to spend time with your friends. In this age of social distancing, finding a way to socialize is especially difficult. Among Us is, in a lot of ways, a return to the old Party Game, where you and friends all get together and just have fun together. While I know not all groups do this, my group has gotten comfortable enough to have open comms while we play, with the rule that we can’t talk about the game. Other groups will mute mics during play, but turn them on when in meetings (deciding to throw others off) and between rounds.

Additionally, there is an unofficial game mode called “Hide and Seek”. The setup is such that the Imposter has almost no vision, and to play correctly is denied sabotage. Then they have to reveal their identity at the beginning of play. Players can’t throw anyone off the ship, and thus they must complete the tasks before the Imposter finds them. Overall, this is my favorite way to play, and when imposter we all range from laughing evilly to giggling uncontrollably when looking for other players. The whole thing is hilarious, and reminds me of days long ago when playing things like Trivial Pursuit with family in the early 90s.

In the end, I’m pretty sure that’s what causes it to be so awesome: Among Us is a fun party game that has helped all of us weather the nightmare that was 2020, and whilst we still have some “rough sledding”, to use the vernacular my own Governor used, it will certainly be remembered as a serious contributor to us getting through it.

Stakeholder Capitalism

In my podcast that will release tomorrow, I take on The Great Reset, and how it plans to use “Stakeholder Capitalism” in order to solve the inequities of our world. Stakeholder Capitalism, as proposed by Klaus Schwab, is a method in which public-private partnerships are used to ensure that our economy works for everyone, and that business owners, the government, and employees, all have a say in how the company produces. In theory, this three-way partnership would allow for everyone to have a say, and a share, of the profit that the company produces. For the government, they can educate the company on what would be most beneficial to society and the nation as a whole; for the owners and shareholders, they would reap the benefits of a market where there is almost guaranteed to be a buyer; and the employees reap the benefits of a business structure that is focused on ensuring that they get the lion share of the profit. Win-win-win, right?

As I researched this, I watched podcasts on it from various pundits. Majoritatively they were from the right, with Glenn Beck being the most prominent, though the Lotus Eaters (which includes the highly controversial Carl Benjamin) and (form the Left) Tim Pool have also weighed in on it. I also sought out other commentary on it, though it was sparse, in support of the Great Reset. Then I dove into the World Economic Forum’s website, and started watching what they had on offer.

I have done both a written review of The Great Reset, which immediately precedes this article, and tomorrow’s podcast, so I won’t get into the meat of it, but being a Finance guy, I dug into the economics of it. After all, no system is perfect, and if the economics of the system work, we can keep the good and ditch the bad. As I was reading, keeping an open mind and trying to ignore the allegories from both Beck and Pool on how this was going to lead to Fascism or Neo-Feudalism, respectively, I came to a startling conclusion: this has been done before.

Stakeholder capitalism was a wildly successful economic system used in the mid-twentieth century, and helped several nations climb out of the Great Depression through industrialization, social programs, public-private partnerships directing economic growth for the benefit of the nations they were implemented in, and their allies. It could have easily been implemented world-wide, and the leaders of the nations that did so garnered high praise, one of which even rose to be Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

By now I’m sure you’ve figured out that I’m referencing Economic Fascism, and the person in question is Time’s 1938 winner, Adolph Hitler. While Germany did not practice Fascism, instead adapting a similar system known as National Socialism, the economics were essentially the same; the latter simply had some more integrated social programs. The way Schwab introduces this method to the people is insidious, talking about how it will make people more equal, and resolve the environmental and economic problems worldwide. He can assert this because it was done in Italy in the 1930s, and had Germany not decided to make everyone equal by eliminating all those who had the misfortune not to be “ideal” in the eyes of the regime, would have worked in similar fashion in Germany. That’s the problem with fascism: if you ignore the brutal authoritarianism, it actually works. Considering the efficiency of the economic system in rebuilding nations, it’s understandable that one would attempt to extract the economic system without adopting the less desirable elements of the system.

Unfortunately for Schwab, even in his own writings, it’s obvious that you cannot extract the economic system without implementing the authoritarianism. The very economic system itself requires the authoritarianism in order to function, and whilst you can in theory eliminate the worst excesses of both fascism and National Socialism by getting rid of the genocide part, you will still be required to oppress a large proportion of your population to make the machine of the largely government-operated economy move. This is a similar problem to that of Mainland China, where the CCP has essentially adopted the basics of the economic system while retaining the particular flavour of Maoist communism. It’s arguable whether they crossed the line from Modern Chinese Communism to Fascism, which contrary to what everyone in the political class seems to think, are so similar in many ways that they’re hard to separate.

So now we’re looking at a society that is either neo-fascist (maybe without the genocide, but probably not), maybe Chinese Communist (maybe without the starvation, but probably not), or neo-Feudalist (maybe without the widespread serfdom, but probably not).

Welcome to the Cyberpunk Dystopia!

The New Counterculture

Recently I started a podcast, “The Julien McBain Show”, where I use the motto “We’re navigating the Cyberpunk Dystopia.” There are many reasons to dive into why I believe we live in one, which I have gone into at length in my various Entropia Universe videos, and will expand upon in the new podcast; that is not the purpose of this article. Instead, I want to talk about why I am doing the podcast, and why I believe it is so important to establish the “Lawless subculture” that has been the staple of the Cyberpunk Genre since its birth in the book Neuromancer. We have to be able to push back against the Establishment Elite that our system, formed in good faith and adapted to the changing times, was unable to prevent. With COVID-19 still a global issue, and the people starting to rail against the increasingly arbitrary and authoritarian lockdowns, where the mere act of having a family gathering is now an act of defiance, while the Aristocracy continue living their lives as if nothing is happening, we have to be ready to face whatever those in power will do to retain that power that was handed to them in fear. So what will this counterculture look like? That remains to be seen. In all likelihood, it will have to consist of many different people with varying political and cultural backgrounds and beliefs; a Coalition that seeks to return us to something resembling the normal we had prior to COVID-19, and in direct opposition to the Great Reset, and its motto of “Build Back Better.”

I just saw several of my American readers blink at that. “Build Back Better” was not invented by the Biden Campaign, but rather adopted by it. The motto, along with its atrocious grammar, is actually German in origin, and is a common theme in Europe as the World Economic Forum pushes for the Great Reset to fundamentally alter how we live our lives. It calls for powerful governments, with some strict control over markets, and implies heavy-handed central planning. Don’t believe me? You can read about it here. This isn’t some conspiracy theory, nor a tin-foil hat trick; they’re telling us what they’re planning. Part of that plan includes the lockdowns themselves, since it’s the lockdowns that are demolishing the world economies. With the wealth extracted from the people and put into the hands of a few large Corporations, we can be directed through public-private partnerships on how we will live our lives from now on.

Included in the rhetoric are things like “You won’t own anything, and you’ll be happy. Everything you have, you will rent, and will be delivered by drone.” Ignoring the fact that this would be a fundamental violation of the Right to Property, it also implies that we won’t have the ability to own anything; while not explicit in my research, it seems to contend that we are unhappy through the simple act of having property. Thus we should not be permitted such property, but rather pay our fees for use of the possessions we need and when we are done with them, faceless drones will carry them away. Without property, there will be no wealth; thus we will all be equal in our social standing…except for those that rule.

This is the part that is often glossed over, as it puts it in a very positive light, despite the despotic undertones. World leaders will determine how the economy will operate, form a single, global economy, and somehow manage it at scale. Experts will give us programs to accomplish the goals of the Reset without the input of the People; we are not to be trusted. After all, it was us, acting in our personal best interests, that created the largest and most successful economy in history before the Virus came out; an economy that could not be controlled. The downside of a more laissez-faire system is that it’s prone to bubbles; we find something that we like, it trends, the prices balloon, then as the house of cards is discovered, summarily collapses. This happened with the Dot-Com bubble, and later the housing bubble. However, this very system has, in the last hundred years, brought more people out of absolute poverty than any other system ever created before it. This doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but it does mean it’s worth defending.

Thus we must push back. In the Cyberpunk tabletop game, the people of the Counterculture were known as Cyberpunks, or Edge Runners. We must be willing to become those Edge Runners, willing to defy the mandates of our government when they violate our fundamental rights of Life, Liberty, and Property, and remind our government that they are there to serve us. This does not mean we should act violently; quite the contrary, violence often leads to a loss of the message, corruption of those that use force, and a net detriment to all. Instead, we must show the Aristocracy and Technocracy that we see what they are doing, we understand it, and we will act using whatever means we have available to ensure that we retain our rights. I encourage you to read the US Declaration of Independence and US Constitution, and internalize what they really mean. Then, if you are a US Citizen, read the Constitution of your state, or if you aren’t, the equivalent of your nation. Be the educated rebel; the one that pushes back on the Establishment and states that you will not accept the propaganda they’re feeding you.

Most of all, realize that the majority of people don’t pay attention; they are low-information. This isn’t an attempt to cast shade; often times their lives are inundated with the nuances of what they need to do and contend with to live. After all, life itself isn’t easy; and when you’re on the grind trying to get beyond surviving, you often ignore the stresses of how the people in power regard you. Especially since they don’t regard you well. They are a club, and we aren’t in it. Thus we need to form our own, become the very Cyberpunks that were conceived of in fiction, and do what we can to succeed in an ever-more authoritarian world. I look forward to seeing you out there.

Are We Cyborgs?

I’ll be covering this at length in my Wednesday podcast, but having written the production on the subject, I had some thoughts I wanted to get out. As technology continues to develop, and we become increasingly dependent on it, the cyborgization of humanity has become inevitable. From the early days of science fiction, we have assumed that at some point, humans will start to graft technology directly to our bodies, and in an example of life mimicking art, it has indeed begun. From wearable technologies to subdermal body modifications, we have created a localized Internet of Things around each and every one of us.

So then comes the notion: are we already cyborg? To some, the mere act of wearing glasses makes us a cyborg, even though it’s a 100% passive effect; you wear a supplemental lens that is perched on your face, and you can easily remove it. However, no person that wears glasses, including myself, would argue that we are at a loss when we aren’t wearing them. In my case particularly, as my vision has gotten progressively worse over my lifetime, the mere act of dropping them causes a small amount of anxiety lest I step on them before finding them.

In a more modern sense, however, we are cyborg not because of how we interface with tech, but because we are dependent on it. Take away a person’s smartphone, and watch how they flounder. We have become so wired into our devices, that they are essentially an extension of ourselves. A mere ten years ago, having a cell phone out at work was a disciplinary problem, which often led to termination. Now, many companies are encouraging people to use their phones in the course of their work, most notably Best Buy, who have designated cellphones used by both Blue Shirts and Geek Squad as their “sidearms”. This expansion of technology use has created a world where we view our devices as extensions of ourselves, a piece of our body that isn’t necessarily attached, which if you think about it is very machine-like on its face.

While many technologies help to reduce or eliminate handicap (such as glasses, and hearing aids), others expand our senses and capabilities. With a few taps on my phone, I have access to the World Wide Web (yes, that is still technically what it’s called), and the sum of all knowledge that humanity has come up with (although good luck verifying the veracity of what you find). I can download an app that uses the phones inboard sensors to detect radio signals, ambient radiation (with an attachment), light, directional sound, and other environmental factors. I can instantly communicate with everyone in my network, no matter where in the world they are.

That last part, taken to its extreme, will of course result in a Borg Collective, however I doubt we’ll go quite that far. That said, it is not too far to state that we should start looking at ourselves as having started the process of integrating into the very technology that we have come to depend on. So next time you are compelled to pull out that cell phone, or reach for the Bluetooth collar you wear as both fashion and device, take a moment and think about where this could eventually go.

Honestly, I’m waiting for the port in the back of my neck so I can play videogames using only my brain.

A Torch in the Darkness

So over the course of many months, I have been doing some soul searching, and am trying to come up with a better way to serve those that consume my content. I know I haven’t been spectacular about updating this blog, nor the other written content that I had intended to pump out this year. Ironic, considering COVID-19 kept most people stuck in their homes, I know, but as an “essential worker”, I didn’t haven’t had down time.

As 2020 fades from “waking nightmare” into “awful memory”, and we watch to see if our governments will indeed keep their promises to us with the advent of the vaccine, I have come to realize that I’m not optimistic. Governments rarely give up power they have managed to claim, and this age of soft martial law, rule by executive edict, increasing censorship, and monitoring by Megacorporations that would make the writers of Shadowrun novels stare in awe, it came to my attention that we are now living in a Cyberpunk Dystopia.

Dystopia were once the realm of novels; primarily written by the likes of George Orwell, HG Wells, Ayn Rand, and the plethora of people that write for the Warhammer 40K universe. Now it has come to real life. We are ruled by a technocratic and oligarchic elite; our lives managed by an aristocratic ruling class that issues rules for us, but flaunts them in our faces. We are monitored 24/7 by the very tools we use to make our lives easier, and that data is used in order to cater to our every desire and need, serving ads to us, providing us with the products we want, keeping us happy while the Constitution is slowly eroded into meaninglessness.

This week, I started production of the Julien McBain Show, a podcast dedicated to navigating this Cyberpunk Dystopia. With it, I will help hold a torch up against the darkness. Furthermore, I will be adding improvements to this site, increasing the amount of content (I swear I’ll make it happen this time), and have plans to institute a membership program on this site, to eventually phase out my Patreon (which has a history of censorship).

I will be increasing the amount of work I do and start providing exclusive content to my members by the end of 2021, which I plan to include extra videos for subscribers. I will roll out exclusive content to Patreon in early 2021, then transition them to this site as I figure out how this site works more in-depth.

So I want to thank you for joining me on this journey. The Cyberpunk Dystopia is upon us, so we must pick up a torch and navigate it as best we can. I will continue to be a voice, and push back against the excesses of those that would rule us, and remind them that in Cyberpunk, underneath the censorship, and the oppression, there is a lawless subculture ready to challenge their status quo.

Time Management and Batching

Time management is the most illusive dream for many of us that spend our time juggling competing priorities.  How best to use the limited time we have in the day, to be the most effective we can be, while still accomplishing everything we set out to do for the day.  To some, Time Management requires rigid adherence to a schedule, that allows them to put together their day the best way possible; to others, it’s just a habit they have acquired over the course of years of practice, either by accident or because it was required of them.  Lee Iacocca believed that the ability to effectively use time was everything, and that concentration was the key to success.  He was right, of course; without the ability to concentrate, you won’t be able to complete the tasks you have set out to do for the day.

When thinking time management, you should also keep in mind the Pareto Principle: that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.  Thus if you can hone in on what 20% of the work you do provides that 80% results, you can prioritize it effectively, and thus have greater results in less time.  In fact, whole books have been written on the subject, most notable The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.  While I personally have yet to pare down my week into four working hours, I have noticed a technique, first introduced to me by Sunny Lenarduzzi, on how to be more effective in using my time: batching.

Batching is the act of taking all of the work of one particular type and scheduling a time to do the entire week’s, or even month’s, work in one or two sittings.  As an example, like me, Sunny is a YouTuber amongst other business interests.  She therefore needs to produce her weekly videos in a time-effective manor, so she can provide the content her hundreds of thousands of subscribers want to see, without taking too much time away from her other responsibilities.  This is where batching comes in; she schedules a time each month to do all of her weekly video production, a time period of about four hours, according to her video on the subject, to produce the videos she produces for each Monday of the month.  This allows her to effectively manage her channel, without taking swaths of time out every week to make sure the next week’s video is ready.

In my own work, I’ve done some experimenting with batching, and where I have used it, it tends to work very well.  My Let’s Play series were all batched each week, and when done correctly, I always managed to have the content produced and uploaded on time.  When I don’t batch, I have noticed that it’s easy to drop the ball and miss a scheduled upload, much to my chagrin.  In order to combat this, I have decided to implement some changes in how I produce videos, and will be making those changes in early September, to see how well they work out:

–Video Content for any individual segment will be produced in one sitting, split by a short break between videos. This means when I sit down to produce content, it will likely turn into a two-hour session.

–Thumbnails will be produced at the same time, in one sitting. This should only take approximately one hour for all seven weekly segments.

–Uploads will be done in one session. This should take only two hours per week.

–Articles for McBainmanor.com will be written in one sitting for the month, with an eye on producing content with a full month buffered (so articles written in May go live in July)Video content for any individual segment will be produced in one sitting, slit by a short break between videos.  This means when I sit down to produce content, it will likely turn into a two-hour session.

You may wonder why I’m telling you this.  After listening to Ferriss talk about how much time he recovered by focusing on his high-effectiveness activities, and how they have allowed him to recover a large amount of his free time, I reviewed what it takes to set up, and break down, for a recording session.  I realized that when I record my Fallout 76 videos, which go live every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, my work is usually efficient, set up happens once (usually taking about 15 minutes), as does breakdown (5 minutes), and the inevitable breaks in-between each video (5 minutes each if nothing happens).  This means that on top of the 90 minutes of recording, I also use 30 minutes of set up, take down, and rest.  In the event I don’t batch, and do videos separately, that same time would add up to 60 minutes extra (15 minutes of setup for each recording, 5 minutes of break down, but no break times).  This means I’m saving 30 minutes by batching these videos.

You may scoff at saving a mere 30 minutes of time, but to put things in perspective: I do 7 segments a day.  If each segment I batch together saves approximately 15 minutes in production time, less the first one per day, that means I’m recovering almost an hour and a half of my week.  This is the same amount of time it would take to produce all seven thumbnails, if done in similar fashion.  Additionally, while I upload videos in batch, I can use that time to do other things while I wait for the videos to upload and process, and start adding things such as end screens to my videos, something I have been long neglecting.  If you have ever tried producing anything on YouTube, you’ll know that end screens and postproduction extras really help grow a channel, and it’s something I’ve neglected, thus this will be an effort to correct for that.

So while I try my grand experiment in batching, I encourage you to do the same, and let me know how things go.

The Philosophy of the Sword

As a fencer, I find myself deeply rooted in the philosophy of what I am doing when I practice. There is measure, tempo, beat, rhythm, commitment, and balance. There is work, and there is pleasure. There is purpose, and there is recreation. While reading like something written by Lao Tzu, there is a definite wisdom to be had when practicing the Art of Defense, or any martial art; it is the wisdom of perfecting a skill.

In the modern world, we value competence, even when we don’t admit it. When we lack this competence, we look for other values to replace this core one, or come up with alibis for why we can’t become competent. This set of excuses does not work in martial arts, whether in forms, or in competition. This is because when practicing a marital skill, the exact level of competence in the art becomes readily apparent. In fencing, which is marked by speed, grace, precision, and calibration (control of how much power is in a blow) it becomes inescapable.

The sword is a weapon; in fact it was the first weapon that was designed specifically with the purpose of fighting other people. To date, it is the only personal weapon that can be used for no other purpose effectively (with the notable exception of the cutlass, which Americans call a machete when not used in warfare). To the fencer, however, the sword is not just a weapon; it’s a part of their being. To quote Lt. Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation in the episode “Reunion” when introducing his son Alexander to the Bat’leth, a sword unique to that series:

“No, no. Do not think of it as a weapon; make it part of your hand. Part of your arm. Make it part of you.”

This is what every fencer strives for; they seek to make the sword an extension of themselves. Fencer or Fighter becomes an integral part of their identity. This is because they are learning to do something that by its very nature is hard to do. It takes years of practice to perfect the art of defense; and I doubt there are any masters that would state it’s possible. However, in attempting to achieve that perfection, the fencer learns something that many of us have lost:

Perseverance, grit, and the pride of competence.

While I am not suggesting that everyone should go out and learn how to use a sword (although I do encourage you to take up a martial art for at least a year), I would encourage you to think about what such a philosophy of competence could do for your life.

In the meantime, I will continue working toward finding competence in my own art, even during these interesting times.

You Won’t Be for Everyone

As a content creator, you often find that what you produce is something you take great pride in. You live it, you breathe it, and you want your content to not only do well in the marketplace of ideas, but also to be genuinely enjoyed by your readers, viewers, or listeners. Sometimes, however, you run into someone that comes upon your content, and it’s not what they expect. Sometimes it’s because they ran into older content you made that was dynamically different than what you produce now; other times it’s because they were looking for something within your niche, but you didn’t provide them the information they were looking for.

Most people that run into that issue simply scroll on by; they realize this wasn’t what they were looking for, and continue with their lives. Others, on the other hand, decide that they need to let you know. In most cases, that feedback may be due to a genuine misunderstanding of what you were producing; for instance, criticism of an article that explains a procedure, but it’s for a different piece of technology than they were looking for, despite a similar or identical name (look for content on the Legend of Zelda and you’ll find yourself in a mess if you are imprecise in your search terms). Occasionally, you’ll find someone that decides they don’t like the direction your content developed in, and need to voice their opinion on it.

Rule #1: Don’t take it personally. Many people feel the need to express frustration, for any number of reasons, and in all likelihood you aren’t even the source of their underlying frustration. Nod at the comment and continue with your life. If you feel the need to respond, do your best to remain positive; biting remarks, sarcastic retorts, and the like do nothing to help the situation, and frankly make you look bad.

Rule #2: Don’t delete the comment unless it contains objectionable content. By objectionable, I mean the FCC’s definition of the term, OR the term as defined by the Terms of Service for whatever platform you provide content on. This allows people that search your content to know what criticisms you have faced for producing it, so they can provide constructive feedback if such feedback is needed.

Rule #3: Don’t give up. All too often we’ll find these comments inevitably come on the heels of a rough day; this can often rob us of our desire to continue on whatever path we’ve chosen to take. No matter what, you have to shake it off. Don’t let the negative feedback stop you; rather, let it feed your desire to build on what you already have.

Last but not least, while I have mentioned “haters” in the past, it is more often the case that the majority of these comments aren’t coming from true haters. Haters are people that are jealous of what you are doing, and the success you are building on by doing so. You will run into haters as you build yourself up, and you should appreciate every one of them; they tell you you’re succeeding. The majority of the people mentioned as the subject of this article, however, are just people that didn’t click with you. Thank them for their time, and keep on sailing.

It Won’t Be 100%, 100% of the Time

Those who have been following my work for the last two and a half years know that I try my best to put forward a positive attitude. I also encourage everyone that listens to constantly put their best foot forward, and drive themselves to do more, do better, do harder. “Embrace the Grind” and “nil satis, nisi optimum” (Latin for “Nothing but the best is good enough”) have been my mottoes from day one, and I have done my best to always put that foot forward. It may be assumed by many that I live that life 100% of the time.

I don’t. In fact, every day is a struggle to push forward and live that ideal. Life is traumatic by nature, and there is ever more in our lives that adds to that trauma, especially now. Coupled with an ever-growing number of addiction sources, from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, to the ever-growing social media addictions, the need for clout and recognition, and the desire for attention, our emotions are easily swayed by small occurrences that may provide us fame, or infamy. As a content creator, I am not immune to this; in fact it is stock-in-trade in the whole content creation sphere. That said, even though I too must ride the ups and downs of the analytics section of my Channel, and of course this site (when I remember to post /facepalm), I also have to navigate Real Life in a way that allows me to provide for my son.

With all of that on one’s plate, you can imagine that there are the emotional, and spiritual, ups and downs that are inevitable in life. While I am always pushing, and try to be upbeat in my work, it doesn’t mean that I’m always feeling that way. It just means that I know when I have to set those internal feelings aside, and continue grinding. Do I have off days at my day job? Yes. Do I have days where I forget to upload that day’s video? Of course! Do I have days where I am so bogged down at work I can’t focus and have a hard time getting anything accomplished? Hello, executive dysfunction! Does that mean I allow myself to get into a loop and rely on my difficulties as a crutch? Absolutely not.

When you are faced with a difficulty, or you run into a day where you have low energy, go through your mind and try to suss out what might be causing it. Did you drink too much? Eating the wrong things? Perhaps you need more sleep. It could also be external factors, such as concern over family, friends, or current events (especially if you’re hooked into the news cycle these days…).

No matter what the cause is, allow yourself to reset, then go at it again with renewed vigor. You are permitted to retreat, but only if it is strategic, and short lived. Any step back from what you are doing will cause you to lose momentum, so if you are forced to make that call, be willing to push that much harder when you go back to it; because you will have to. Doesn’t matter. Make sure you have your brainspace in order, then hit the grind again like a hammer!

What Really Matters

People often pontificate about “what really matters”. This is often described as interpersonal relationships with family, time with your spouse and children, or letting go and allowing yourself to enjoy life. It’s used in a way that subtly demonizes your efforts to get ahead, become better than you are, and achieve more.

Do not let this happen to you. Of course your family matters, and making sure to spend needed time with your children must be a priority. However, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend all evening with them; in fact, if you do, you’ll actually be hamstringing their own ability to explore their own world and define who they are as a person. Most children feel freer to explore when they are alone, something that becomes the center of most arguments once they reach the dreaded teen years. This is not advocating neglect; there is a balance to be struck. The key is to spend time with your children in meaningful, preferably scheduled, blocks of time, that allow you to focus on them for that time period, and then focus on building your success at other times.

See, children watch. They observe. They’re actually better at observation than most adults give them credit for. A child that watches their parent work toward building a good life for them, will likely seek ways to build their own success. A parent can help build on this by creating and allowing opportunities for the child to be challenged. Sometimes those challenges will result in the child failing; they will need instruction, or encouragement, to make another attempt. Sometimes you will need to show them, others you will need to let them figure it out on their own.

Sometimes, they will get hurt. Pain is something most parents don’t want their children to face, and in many cases will prevent them from doing things that are marginally dangerous in the hope that they can shield them from pain. This point is illustrated most, well, pointedly by Dr. Jordan Peterson’s rule “Don’t bother children while they’re skateboarding.” You must allow children to do things that can get them hurt, while attempting to avoid allowing them to do things that will get them injured. There is a difference.

Hurt is pain, scrapes, cuts, superficial wounds. Most childhood incidents involve hurt, where they come in with a scraped knee, sprained ankle, a cut, a bee sting (assuming they aren’t allergic). They pushed their limits, and they learned where they were. These hurts are often found during normal play that pushes limits such as bike riding, hiking, sports, skateboarding, swinging, monkey bars, nerf gun wars, foam sword fighting (you knew I’d work swords in here somehow), and roughhousing. All of these things are healthy things that push the limits of the child’s abilities.

Injury is when things are a little far. This is when you have to deal with broken bones, concussions, or the like. First, it must be noted that these things will happen. No matter how adverse to pain a child is, or how little they push their limits, they will run into injury at some point. This doesn’t make you a bad parent, and it doesn’t mean the child necessarily did anything over-the-top; a missed landing after a trick that went bad, perhaps an unseen obstacle in the woods; a hole dug by a woodchuck (groundhog for those that don’t live in Vermont). No matter how it happens, that’s when you step in and do what’s needed to patch them up.

These experiences teach children what their limits are, and build the confidence they need to gain their success. In a world without rites of passage, we need to provide children, and adults for that matter, opportunities to push their limits and risk hurting themselves to prove that they can accomplish something hard. For me, it was three years of fencing training and a brutal ten minute test. For you, it might be doing the Spartan challenge. For your children, it might be a kick-flip. In both cases, you’re building on your future success, by building your confidence; and watching your children accomplish something hard, or having them watch you do the same and seeing that they can too, is what will build that confidence.

Because that’s what really matters.