The Economics of Self-Improvement

I wrote this book because I came to realize that there’s a rate of return on being a victim. It’s really low. I myself was offered the chance to be a victim at a young age — blind at 16, with most of my fingers blown off.

But as an investor (which I later became) I realized that although that rate of return was positive, it was very puny. So, I wanted to do something different.

I came to realize that our circumstances don’t produce our narratives, although that’s what we think. But what if our narratives produce our circumstances? That is, are there some narratives that support us, and others that limit us? And which are which? And how do we shift from those that hold us back to those that push us forward?

These are the core questions explored in my book – What is the rate of your return on your current narrative, and are you satisfied with it?

Approaching the conversation of shifting narratives in that way, from the standpoint of investing and economics, is something that began long before I actually began working in those disciplines.

As I began to experience life, I began to be an investor and understand that economics is the study of scarcity. When you’re limited, as I was, blind and handicapped, you live in scarcity, or you’re inclined to do so.

Therefore, naturally, it occurred to me to ask, “Well, what is scarcity? How does it work? Maybe I can understand that. Maybe there’s something to learn here.” I later figured out that there are always two things happening in the world: There are assets that are scarce and assets that are abundant. And then, much later I met George Gilder and he taught me the first law of wealth, which is that wealth flows to the organization or individual who squanders the abundant resource and preserves the scarce. He also taught me that it’s really hard to figure out which is which.

While many other books in the self-help genre approach the conversation from the idea of tapping into and acquiring abundance, that “You can have anything you wish for,” my approach instead asks: “What would be valuable, and how could I offer that?” Instead of: “What would be abundant?”

If you go around our big cities you see food stands on the city streets, and they’re abundant. I eat there all the time, and they’re really good and valuable. But it’s not a way to get wealthy. They’re too abundant.

Another difference with this book is in the language. I frequently say, “It’s language, all the way down.” For instance, where the promise of many books is to “change your life” the promise of mine is to “shift your narrative.” Personally I don’t know how anyone could change their lives without shifting their narrative first. Perhaps, if they were in a plane crash their lives could be changed. But that wouldn’t be of their own choosing. Shifting your narrative puts you in the cockpit of the plane.

There are two classes of reader who might find a narrative shift to be valuable. The first class, is people who are dissatisfied with any aspect of their lives. The second contains those who are already satisfied with their lives but should read this book anyway just to make sure they’re not missing something.

The biggest goal for this book that I would like to see happen is an awakening, a waking up of people so they say, “I want to have more responsibility in my own life and I’m going to start today. I choose to do whatever I can to affect the outcome of my life versus waiting for life to happen to me.”

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