5 Things I Learned in SE Asia
Shit man. For some reason writing this post feels like an uphill battle.
For one, I really don’t know where to start. It’s been 5 months and I’ve learned so many things.
The second is a bunch of this stuff is private. Some stuff people may not agree with. And being vulnerable at scale is uncomfortable.
But I’m going to do it because I feel like its the right thing to do.
Okay, so here it goes, the lessons that I learned in SE Asia:
So let’s begin with my first love, Bali.
I remember arriving there, it was just the culture shock of a lifetime.
I’d never even imagined a place like this existed. Maybe in my wildest dreams.
It was basically the complete opposite of NYC (where I had been living the two years prior).
Arriving at Bali, I was greeted by a wonderful Balinese man named Gede. That kept insisting that I stop worrying and I just be happy:
“Mr. Tom, Don’t worry, Be Happy”
That was the first thing I heard, and basically the theme for the next two months.
Appreciate the simple things in life
Being from NY and having these high goals and expectations for myself, I was constantly worrying, and thinking.
I was in my head all day and all night.
Every little thing I had to apply my problem solving skills to.
I had a million and one things processing in my head at all times, and it was almost impossible to just sit still and live the moment.
Learning to control my mind and live in the present moment was one the the greatest gifts I could have received.
I think if NY’s gift to me was to go after what I want and believe in, then Bali’s was to just enjoy the simple things in life.
Now, that’s easier said then done.
But meeting my mentor and now good friend Alistair Larmor, made it much easier.
He gave me the tools to be able to start training my mind to relax, and start acting from my heart.
The next one up would be a word that was roaming around the co-working space everyday, since the day that I got there.
Almost everyone you talked to had this goal, and it was of being authentic.
I really admired this goal.
Removing the shield of acceptance and valuing what others think over what you think is a recipe for disaster and a poor self esteem.
Further, I find that if you really want to connect with people, you need to move past the small talk and get DEEP.
The faster you shock someone with how open you are with your feelings, the faster the conversation will be meaningful and you and the person you are talking to will both feel like you’ve gotten closer.
It’s a wonderful thing. Truly.
Stop being so hard on yourself
This one is still a work in progress.
I think mainly because I still get down on myself if I get turned down by a girl, or my business takes a hit.
My goal for myself is to always stay positive and be in an empowering mindset. 100% of the time, and effortlessly.
Some people call this enlightenment. I think it's something to definitely strive for.
Like if I get turned down by a girl, well then, isn't it empowering to just think, "it must have not been meant to be".
Or if the business takes a hit, let it go, stay positive, it will go up again.
I look at it, that life is this fun game and you’re constantly being tested.
Emotional attachment is how you fail the tests that life brings you. Being able to not get emotionally invested and continue on course is the way of the wise.
In Bali, I constantly realized how grateful I was… for things I simply took for granted before hand.
A great example is, how lucky I am to have been raised in White Plains, NY, and more importantly by such incredible parents.
It was especially nice to share it. Every time I’d feel grateful I’d shoot them a text with a reminder that they’re awesome.
They appreciated it :).
Being a man of your word is one of those things that I don’t think has enough emphasis.
Following through on what you say, AT ALL COSTS, and maintaining your integrity is what I’m talking about.
It’s so basic, but so powerful.
If you’re truly a man of integrity, you think 50 times before you commit to something. You don’t just say, “Yeah I’m coming to your party” and then not show up.
You’ll tell the person in their face, "Don’t feel like it tonight, but thanks much for the invite”.
This is even more important in business when theres money involved. A wise man I met in Koh Phanghan said it best:
"Every relationship starts off as a honeymoon. It’s how you end that relationship is what matters."
For me this was key because early days in my business, I was selling a lot but 100% ethically. I would bring HELLA excitement to the sale and usually over-promise.
This resulted in unhappy customers and high-churn in my business because I wouldn’t deliver.
Once I learned this lesson in my life and in my business, I sold less, but the clients that came on didn’t leave me. At least not because I didn’t deliver on my promise.
It feels great.
I “tried” to be humble in NY. But it wasn’t real humility.
The main reason was because I THOUGHT that the value of a man is what he takes home as a salary.
So although I wouldn’t brag about how much money I was making, deep down I felt like it was my way of me being superior.
And this was a SHIT feeling. Because with a contrived feel of superiority comes arrogance, and with arrogance, comes no connection.
Whilst I don’t know Bill Clinton personally, from what I’ve read, he’s EXTREMELY charismatic because when he talks to people he talks about them and they feel like he TRULY cares.
If you think you’re superior, then you will come off as arrogant, and won’t be able to connect with a single soul.
I think human connection is the most beautiful gift this planet has to offer. It’s the ULTIMATE human experience.
And so what I’ve learned is that if I want to have a truly rich life, have a lot of beautiful connections.
(This realization comes from another realization that I made, although this one in NY, that money does not equal happiness)
As you can see, these are pretty damn fundamental and lots of them you probably heard growing up. But coming up with these realizations myself, and what’s right for me and my life, was absolutely enormous.
It’s like the whole “Money doesn’t make you happiness” quote that I heard growing up. Every time I’d hear that, I’d say to myself “BULLLLSHITTTTT, that’s lazy-talk”.
But actually experiencing it for myself was one of the major catalysts for this whole find-yourself journey that I’ve been on. As cheesy as that may sound ;).
So, just to wrap this post up, the key learnings that have been truly life changing are:
Appreciate the simple things in life - Tony Robbins calls this magic moments. Try to pick two things a day that happened that you appreciate.
Authenticity - Be true to yourself and others.
Love yourself - you can’t love others if you don’t love yourself.
Gratitude - Kind of like the first one, just show gratitude and appreciation for others.
Integrity - Your word is all you got.
Humility - no matter how successful you are, don’t forget your just human like everybody else.
Peace, beautiful people.