The hundred dollar idea

As an American, you are part of the global 1%. You have your basic necessities of food, water, shelter, warmth, and then some. When you see the world through that perspective, you realize that you have it good, though you may consider yourself “broke”. “Broke” mentality prevents many of us from giving back to those in need or treating your friends or getting your parents gifts. How long do we have to wait until we can start giving back? What income bracket do we have to reach? Or can we start doing it right now?

My father has this lesson I like to call “The Hundred Dollar Idea”. He encourages me to be generous to our loved ones when we can, especially when they have treated us well. He says,

When people treat you right, treat them right. Don’t worry too much about the money. A hundred dollars won’t make you richer or poorer.

Of course there are situations when a hundred dollars do make a significant difference and one hundred is an arbitrary number. However, this idea makes an important point when it comes to maintaining relationships and contributing to society.

Buy a bagel for a homeless person. Volunteer a few hours to a local non-profit. Surprise your friends and pay for the bill. Send a card or letter back home.

Being generous does not require large amounts of money, as giving time, thought, and energy are other ways of providing value.

There is more good than bad in this world

Many parents teach their kids never to speak to strangers. That strangers are dangerous. That there are many people that can hurt you. Even that most men want to assault women. These parents may teach this due to fears created by their past experiences or from a skewed worldview fostered by the sensationalization of negative news. Regardless of our parents intentions, we begin to learn the truth about the world when we become independent. As we grow older and begin our careers, we realize that not all strangers are threats.  That there are more good people than bad people. That most strangers are surprisingly kind and generous. That maybe our parents were wrong.

In my experiences moving to a new city, I have been overwhelmed with love and generosity from the community. When I tell people I had just recently moved to the Bay Area, they light up and are excited to tell me their favorite things about it. People willingly give me advice about how to navigate in the city, my job search, and the marketing field. I have encountered and reached out to countless strangers, only to realize that they can be a crucial resource in your time of need.

Though it is essential to continue to be cautious and aware of your surroundings, there are great advantages in being open to new people from all walks of life.

Strike a conversation with the person sitting next to you in the coffee shop, grocery store, or a local event. You might be surprised as to where it will lead you.

Start with clarity

With any goal you pursue, it is necessary that you establish clarity of that goal.

By “clarity”, I referring to your Why.

Why do you want to achieve goal X? 

You have to dig deep to understand your true motives and how goal X links up to your ultimate goal and the life style you want to achieve. Analyze your current habits and actions and how they compare to the habits and actions needed to reach your goal.

The deeper you think, the more crystalized your thoughts become, and the more clarity you have in reaching your goals.

Dr. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, psychologist, and author of the world-renowned book Man’s Search for Meaning says,

Those who have a Why to live for can bear almost any How.

Your Why is your true North. It is what will guide you in how you prioritize, make decisions, and execute. When overwhelmed with information, refer back to your Why, determine which initiatives align with it, and eliminate what is irrelevant and unnecessary.

Establishing clarity in my career path has helped me create results in my job search. For months, I applied to any job that sounded suitable to my job criteria. These jobs ranged from sales to human resources to marketing. When I realized this strategy was futile, I stepped back to recalibrate. I took a honest look at my core skills and thought deeply of fields I was genuinely curious about but also matched my past experiences.

I chose marketing and shifted my efforts accordingly. In a matter of two days, I revamped my resume, LinkedIn, and the story that I was telling recruiters. After sharing this new vision with friends and sending out a few applications, I am now in the third round of a marketing role that deeply interests me. Despite my lack of expertise in the field, I was able to convince the recruiter of my story and clearly express how my past work relates to my future in marketing.

If you are not clear about your goals, how is anyone supposed to help you achieve those goals?

Clarity gives you the lens you need to filter out the noise and focus on what matters most.

 

Reciprocate, pay it forward

Reciprocate.

If someone treats you out, does you a favor, or gives up their precious time to help you problem-solve, do it back. If you want to be less overt, then reciprocate the next time you meet with them. Or surprise them with their favorite snack, flowers, or tickets to a sweet show. When someone pays it forward to you, you can either continue spreading the positive energy or let it die with your taking.

You’d be surprised how great you feel after showing your appreciation.

Make it a habit and you will be surprised at how often life works in your favor.

Success without challenge is mediocrity

If you know me, you know I love food. I love watching food. I even wrote an ode to chefs.

When I tell people I spend my free time watching food documentaries, they next ask me, “Do you cook?” I answer, “Yeah, I’m getting into it. It’s a work in progress.” Then they ask, “Oh, what do you cook?” This is when I get sheepish. I scan my mind for the most complicated dish I made in the past few weeks and say, “Oatmeal and fish.” (This raises questions because it’s so peculiar. It’s actually extremely delicious when I add all my fixings.) In actuality, my go-to meal is the classic sunny-side up egg and bread. However, since it isn’t complex, I find myself feeling too ashamed to even mention it.

Sunny-side up eggs and bread is the breakfast of my childhood. I dress my eggs with different ingredients depending on my mood for the day: soy sauce, pate, pepper, red chili flakes, harissa, chives, spinach, etc. I also experiment with different types of bread: Vietnamese baguette, french baguette, wheat, rye, etc. It is extremely delicious, equally satisfying, and ultimately, very simple.

Today, I realized, there is nothing shameful about having eggs and bread as your favorite dish. Moreover, there is nothing shameful about saying that you are a beginner. That you are just starting off. That you are not entirely knowledgeable (yet). Or even that you are a highly skilled cook yet your favorite meal is the most elementary food.

There is a vengeance to obtain from knowing you are mediocre at something, great excitement in knowing that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and undeniable humility is admitting you love the simplest things. 

After all, great cooking begins with the egg.

Similarly, being in a state of uncertainty is not shameful. Whether you are unemployed, recovering from an addiction, going through a divorce, or “failing at life” (for the record, if you are trying, you are not failing), own it. There are crest and troughs. There are mountain and valleys. There are great moments and terrible moments.

You are human. It is normal.

What you make of the troughs is, however, should not be taken with mercy. These challenges are tests of your mental toughness. Push. Act. Rise. Be the contender and tap into your inner strength.

Success without challenge is mediocrity.