Most of the episodes of this podcast are me talking about a topic that’s currently on my mind—oftentimes meanderings that don’t lead to a clear conclusion, or challenges I’m facing that yet lack a satisfying solution. It’s inner work in progress.
Today is a little bit different: I’m sharing an heuristic of my inner work that’s tried and tested. It’s been valuable for me thousands of times, and it’s been part of my daily toolkit since 2008. I always carry it with me and make use of it all the time.
You know what I’m going to start really liking you is when you start editing in those little moments that are offbeat, where I’m brilliantly funny, but off topic, people need to see that side of me. People don’t know it’s a little treasure. I want to keep for myself, but don’t be selfish.
[00:00:16] This is, this is a forum for us to share Steli with the world. Can’t have it all to yourself. Gobble it up. You have to give, share, pass the plate around, be in an album at some point, three hours of use funniest moments never released. Yeah. True. But first we’ll have to practice seeing three, three T H three, not tree.
[00:00:40] Not two, three hours. I mean, maybe in the forest they’re tree hours, but here in the city, it’s three hours, you know?
[00:00:52]only this morning I was thinking, what are some inner work principles that I’d been using for a long time? Most of what we publish and share right now are sort of raw in the moment, what I’m going through, my wild incoherent thoughts, observations, day-to-day life, and there’s gems in there.
[00:01:12] And I’m sure over time with polishing, eventually, there’s going to be some diamonds that we’re going to develop, but I was asking myself, what a, what would I say are. old inner work wisdom that I picked up from other people that had long-lasting effects. Right? Maybe that’s an interesting part.
[00:01:28]The longevity of certain practices and knowledge. I have read a gazillion books. I have tested and tried all kinds of thought practices, all kinds of. Meditation practices or any kind of inner type work that you can imagine. I fucked around with it. And one thing that happens when you’ve tried and tested many, many things, is that you get a bit cynical over time because you know that a lot of things will spark an excitement in the room moment that won’t turn into a long lasting.
[00:01:58]Productive fire in your life. There’s something that I tell to friends all the time, Sophia and a common friend. Who’s also a little bit of a magician that constantly is amazing by some new book you read or some coachee interacted with, or some philosophy or some self-help approach or some hack. It doesn’t matter if it’s about nutrition or biology or psychedelics or.
[00:02:21]Psychology. He constantly has a new thing, something that he is excited about. And I always tell him, I love his excitement. I want to hear about all these crazy new schemes and things that he’s involved with, but what I’m really interested in is what will this look like a year from now Because oftentimes when you try something new, here’s his process. Read something you likes. It tries, it sees a benefit within the first week goes to tell all his friends that he has discovered a new truth of the universe and something, anybody, and everybody who knows needs to do. And this is a common pattern, not just for him.
[00:03:01] I’ve done this many times in my life. This is a human thing to do. You learn something new? You tried, you get an immediate positive result. Well, you see some, feel, some positive changes and then you advocate as hard as you can. You get excited, you have enthusiasm. I always tell him, I love that enthusiasm.
[00:03:18] I want to get it, but I really, what I’m really interested in is what will that enthusiasm look like six months from now, those results? What do they look like a year from now? Some things they will last. Those are the things I’m very interested in. Most things don’t last and it’s not as simple of a formula where everything that lasts for him will last for me too.
[00:03:36] Right. So some things that he can try and won’t work for him long-term might work for me. So it’s a good idea to share. But there’s almost amnesia. I always had this today. I don’t have this anymore where I had amnesia in the sense that I would get so excited about something new. And I would’ve forgotten that last time I got super excited was also within the first week of results or the first month, the first couple of days or the first month.
[00:04:00]Uh, not enough. I have a working theory now about all this. My theory is that whenever you make hard changes in your life, it doesn’t even matter what the change is. Whenever you make a heart change, positive results will first emerge. There’s something in your body and mind that loves a reset and will reward you for it.
[00:04:21] this is the same thing with diets. I’ve followed so many fighters, for instance, professional fighters, or even professional cross fit athletes that I’m a fan of and they’ll switch to a new diet and then they will report, Oh my God, here’s the results. This is so much better. This is the thing that everybody should be doing.
[00:04:39] This is why I’m doing it. I’m just sharing. And I believe them authentically. They’re truly enthusiastic about it. And then six months later, there’s a PO post about why I stopped this diet. Well, yeah, I did see some good results, but I also see some saw some problems. They’re all. So all these other things that were inconvenient and I’m now doing these new thing and I’m getting much better results with it.
[00:04:59]And if you follow an athlete long enough as I have now, where some of these people I’ve closely followed for six years, You see the pattern again and again and again and again, and then you go, Oh, I guess the body really likes it when you make a heart shift and change completely how you eat. But it doesn’t mean that that’s the best way to eat forever for everyone.
[00:05:19]My people have insane results when they go to the carnivore diet, which is just eating meat all day. That’s the only thing you eat anymore. Just meat. And people that have diseases that go away, lose weight, they gain muscle they go to the doctor and do blood tests and all their, levels are through the roof.
[00:05:37] Positive all of them. Now, does that mean that for the rest of your life, every human being should just eat meat all day long, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, never. Anything else? Just meat, meat, meat, meat with meat and meat. Mixed with meat. She really do that for the next 40 years, 50 years. And you’ll be super, super human health level.
[00:05:54] Fuck. No, there’s no way. I believe this. And a lot of people that were hyped up on that diet. And so all those positive results again, a year later, you hear them. They’re not on that diet anymore, I guess. Something didn’t work out as beautifully as it did in the first month.
[00:06:08] And that’s fine. That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad idea to shift things or to try and radical new ideas or ready to new diets or whatever it is. All that is good shit. I’m for all of it. I’m here for it. I like it. I’m interested. I’m curious. I’m doing some of this shit myself all the time. That’s fine. But I realized that some of the big returns you’re getting instantly.
[00:06:31] Might be more connected to the radical change then the change itself, if that makes sense. Yeah. I think there’s also, we as humans kind of perceive when there’s a change happening in a short amount of time, we notice it’s super intensely. But then there’s progress that happens slow over time.
[00:06:51]And over the course of a year, that slow progress sometimes adds up to much more it’s compounding then that fast, immediate, short term change that in the moment seems so huge. But if you look back at it years later, this is the thing later, it didn’t really do anything. And it’s, we, we mistake, I think oftentimes.
[00:07:11]The fact that we, we think that it’s, that it’s something new or innovative or that it’s this cutting edge thing. That’s why it’s working so well. There’s some new science, there’s some new approach. There’s some new philosophy, but I guarantee you, dude, if you take somebody that has never done any sports and you teach them how to play basketball and they’ll play basketball every day with some friends, It could be like, basketball is changing my life.
[00:07:33] I’m losing all this weight and it’s fun and it’s fucking basketball. Like it’s not a new thing, but it’s something this person has never done. They started doing it and they realized, you know what? It’s kind of fun to play with Prince and I’m losing weight and I’m feeling happy. Wow. Basketball is changing my life, but nobody would post this and people would not share it on social media and go crazy about it because it’s.
[00:07:56] Basketball. Like people are like, what? It’s we’ve already discovered basketball. This is not news. Right? But if it’s some new working thing, body animalistic movement, dance, yoga meditation that made me lose all this weight and feel more balanced in life. Boom. Now we’re like, Ooh, intrigue. Let me read the book.
[00:08:14] Let me download the white paper. Let me listen to the podcast. Let me also change my. Lifestyle and try this new thing. And again, there’s nothing against it. Trying new things is dope. Being inspired about new ideas. Dope. This is good shit, right? This is what to be a part of being alive is trying new things, getting excited about them.
[00:08:34] All that is good, but what I see, or my hypothesis is that 90% of the change that I see when I try something. That new and radical, or when I make a big shift or change, the majority of the benefits I see is because of the change, not because of what I’m changing. And I reserve judgment for if this new philosophy, this new brand new workout scheme called basketball.
[00:09:03] If that is the genius thing that will solve all my problems are reserve judgment on that in a year from now in two years from now, Am I still playing basketball two years from now. Am I still seeing the same benefits? Do I still love it as much? Then it is my Holy grail. Then it is the thing. And once in a while, you do stumble over things that last for you and they are a big part of your life and they are amazing to you and for you.
[00:09:31] And that’s beautiful when that happens, but I won’t make that claim in the first month, in the first five weeks. I won’t tell everybody this has changed my life because it’s not true. This has changed the last few weeks. I do it for a year and let’s talk again. So with that, disclaimer, I asked myself, what are some inner philosophies that I heard or read or learned or experienced in one way or another that stayed with me.
[00:09:59]For a very long time and I don’t know why that one popped up, but the one that popped up today, as I was thinking about this was this quote I read in a book where the author was saying, if you are angry or upset at someone. you cannot be upset with someone or angry at someone. And at the same time, be at peace with yourself.
[00:10:20]This is something that I first encountered this philosophy, this way of thinking this particular quote, I read in think 2008, this is 12 years ago. And that quote, this philosophy or this way of thinking truly has changed my life. And it has stayed with me. It’s also funny. I’ve read a million things.
[00:10:40] I’ve quoted a million quotes, but this is a quote verbatim I can still say. And I didn’t read this anymore. I just had to read it once because it clicked in that moment for me. And since then, most of the time when I get angry or upset or irritated at someone almost instantly, I check myself almost instantly. I go, well, am I at peace with myself around this topic?
[00:11:04] So for instance, if I was mad at you, Rameen because I thought, whatever, you’re not working hard enough on this podcast. Let’s say something upset me. And I thought Rameen, isn’t working hard enough on the inner work podcast. What the fuck? The very next thought that pops up for me is, wait a second.
[00:11:22] Are you working hard enough on the inner work podcast? Do you believe that you work hard enough on this podcast and Rameen I have done this like reverse psychology hack I’ve I’ve asked myself this reverse question in these situations. When I get upset with people over the last 12 years. Thousands of times, not once.
[00:11:44]Was I able to say yes, I am completely at peace with myself around this topic. And my anger at this human is unrelated to how I feel inside and what my life looks like. And if I am okay with myself in this time, not once every single time, every single time I had to admit to myself, fuck. No, I’m also not working hard enough.
[00:12:09] And I have guilt and I have self anger about not working hard enough on the inner work podcast. And all I do is I see Rameen acting in a way that triggers that guilt and that inner anger. I am not okay with myself around this. It’s not him. I need to fix myself first.
[00:12:27]Whatever irritates you the most, there’s a truth in there. There’s a kernel of truth. Something there speaks to you wants to teach you. You’re not okay. Not at peace with yourself around an important point. And for you to notice there’s irritation, there’s an overreaction.
[00:12:45] What do you despise? By this you’re truly known to yourself and to others. If you pay attention.
[00:12:51] Yeah, that’s one. Chris really hammered into me back in the days.
[00:12:56]and for me it also really stayed and it’s also, it’s like unpleasant, right? Because, and then you look at the room and you’re like, gosh, this this is one of these beautiful inner work tactics that stink right. Weights. If it hurts, it’s the truth. This is one where it almost always hurts.
[00:13:17]but this requires. Obviously a awareness and presence in the moment where you’re upset with somebody, you need to remember to ask yourself that question, to have that ability to self reflect, to reflect on yourself, to put up a mental mirror and look at it.
[00:13:36]And then you need the honesty and the harshness to see with open eyes and to say what you’re seeing. Many people are not willing to many people when they’re challenged that way they go, no, it’s not. It has nothing to do with me. now willing and not ready to eat the bitter pill and go, it might not justify remains behavior, but I have to admit, yeah, I’m also not okay with my work product or with how I handle these things.
[00:14:07]So you have to be brutally honest and then this points to a life philosophy that requires extreme ownership, because what it really says is what makes us most upset about others are the things that we’re not okay with ourselves. We see most people and experienced most people just as a reflection and a projection of who we are inside.
[00:14:31]And so the things that upset us about others are probably the things that we are not at peace with ourselves, where there’s some inner conflict going on and I’ll have to swallow the bitter pill of facing that inner conflict and saying, first, I’m going to fix myself first. I’m going to deal with myself.
[00:14:56] And then I’ll see how I feel about the others. Right? It’s so inconvenient because when I get mad that you don’t work hard enough on something. And then I realize I also don’t feel like I work hard enough on something. Now, now all the burden and all the responsibilities back on me. Now I have to actually do something right.
[00:15:16] I would have to work hard and do better and feel okay with myself and then see how angry I can get at you. And that is work. It’s much easier to just be pissed at you feels much better, but it’s also a
[00:15:31]misguided distorted way of looking at the world and yourself. And when you look at the world through a really distorted lens, You cannot make good decisions. You cannot take. Good action. And so what you create and how you live will suck. That’s the, that’s the sad truth about that. Like, you can tell yourself all the lies you want about your awesome and everybody else sucks, but all you’re gonna get is a big fuck you burger from the universe.
[00:16:02]the more you think. Other people suck and you’re good. The more sucky people will shop in your life. Isn’t that isn’t that something all of a sudden, everybody in your life sucks. There’s this huge conspiracy of the world to be terrible around you. And all you’re going to do is you’re going to suffer more and more and more and more.
[00:16:20] And there’s no relenting. There’s no mercy in that way of living. There’s only hell that waits for you.
[00:16:28] Huge in relationships. Huge, huge. I mean, that’s also, there’s another, I don’t know if this is a joke or quote or what it is, but it’s this idea of, in the morning as you start your day, you’re encounter an asshole.
[00:16:45] You might’ve just met an asshole, but if in the morning you’re a condor assholes in the middle of the day, you encounter assholes. And in the evening you’re condor assholes. You are the asshole, right? That’s it. If everybody you meet is an asshole, you are the asshole you are the problem. And especially people that are the problem typically tend to believe everybody else is the problem.
[00:17:09] So when you get mad at somebody and think they’re an asshole, you might be the asshole. And this is not fun. I grant this is never fun to think or to discover. I never, even after I’ve done this thousands of times, I never like when the discovery is. Yeah, I’m not okay with, I am the problem, or I’m not okay with the way I’m handling these things.
[00:17:32] And so now I’m also irritated. There’s this other person is handling these things similar to me. It’s always a deflating moment. It’s always a moment where I go, Oh fuck. Why did I have to find this out? Now? I have all this burden of responsibility on my shoulder. Fuck. It’s never fun. But, you know, what’s fun.
[00:17:52]What fun is not the process. What’s fun is the outcome. It generates what’s fun is that think about how amazing this is, I can say that everyone I work with is awesome. I don’t have assholes in my life. There’s nobody in my life. That’s an asshole. There’s nobody in my life that I distrust. There’s nobody in my life that is making my life worse.
[00:18:14]And I work with lots of people. I’ve been co-founders with too. Very different humans than me for a decade now. And in that decade, we’ve lived such different lives in a different life stages. I B uh, you know, within two years, one of them was still a baby. When I got my first baby and became a father and married and had all kinds of other problems and issues.
[00:18:35] You know, those two guys were just kids and bachelors partying, and just, we went through such highs and lows in such different things. And here we are better friends. Brothers closer than ever before a decade later, after all kinds of crazy highs and lows in everything else in between. That is fun. I love, I love my co-founders.
[00:18:55] I love them. That is fun. When I talk to lots of other founders that have been working with somebody for co-founding a company with somebody for five, six, seven years. And you can tell they’re like, well, we. Except each other in some ways. And we, you know, we’ve learned to live and let live and we’re waiting to see how things will work out.
[00:19:18] And I’m like, that’s not fun. Just last week, it was talking to a founder of a really awesome business, actually, who was telling me how the last couple of years he’s he and his co-founder never saw eye to eye. There were always conflict, always differences in opinion of direction. And finally, the entire last year they worked on partying waists, and now they’re part of waste and he feels free and it’s dope that they figured out a way to resolve this in a way that’s amicable for both.
[00:19:42] But. I feel much more blessed. I have much more fun. I don’t want to be running the business alone. I love that I have two co-founders and that I love them. And that they’re awesome. So that’s, it’s not fun to have to go through these moments of self-reflection and owning responsibility for your own emotions and your own shortcomings and working on yourself.
[00:20:02] First, really inner work is all about doing inner work first, before you go and do outer work. Out of work in the world or with other people, right. Working on yourself before you work on others, that’s not fun. But the outcome of it is amazingly fun. My life is incredible. Having people like you, having people like my co-founders, my entire team, everybody, my friend, you know, the people in my life.
[00:20:27]You know, what kind of amazing humans I have around me and what amazing relationships I have with him. That’s fucking fun. But they didn’t fall from the tree. Yeah. It’s a lot of short term unpleasantness and pain. Yeah. Think about our relationship. We’ve had some highs and some lows, people don’t know this, like many years before I ever started close.
[00:20:52]I made you move from Berlin to Sitka. We live together an apartment. You live with me and my mom, when we got broke, we traveled together. We argued, we fought, we got upset at each other. We, we started working together. Like you see me within all angles, we’ve gone through some shit together. Right.
[00:21:13]And it’s not always been smooth, but anytime it counted, anytime it was really important. There was a showing up for each other. There wasn’t a direct and honest, good faith communication. It was also a lot of owning the mistakes, taking responsibility, being honest and transparent about what is truly happening and that over long periods of time builds trust.
[00:21:37]That trust has now created one of the dopest friendships in the universe. Right. And we benefit both from it tremendously and would want to live without it. But we paid our dues. That was a lot of work involved. A lot of times work I had to do
[00:21:54]the truth hurts. But it is, it is the truth, but you know, but look at you like Rameen I remember people don’t know you, but I remember you when you were a black box within a black box that was locked in a black box. Like there was no way to get any information out of you about anything. And today you’re not the same person anymore.
[00:22:15] Like you have worked tremendously on yourself. Incredible. You’ve grown so much. And so that principle of, I can’t be mad at you and at the same time, be happy with myself. There’s something so powerful about this. And so universally true.
[00:22:35] Now that doesn’t mean that you cannot criticize somebody. But if you can tell the difference, it comes from a very different place. I’ve seen Paul Graham PG criticize many, many founders, but you could tell it came from such a positive, peaceful place.
[00:22:53] Yeah, the message arrives. Yeah. Why? Because it does not come with judgment. It does not come with baggage. You can tell this person is totally happy with their life. When they look at you, they totally love you. And they see you doing something very wrong. So they say you’re doing something very wrong, but it comes from such a loving place.
[00:23:12] And it’s, it comes in a very light vehicle because it’s just the information. All they have is this information for you. And it’s it’s almost like a child when a child tells you a harsh truth because you know, they just observe you do something terribly wrong or something, or you’re hypocritical in some way they deliver that message.
[00:23:28] It might hurt, but they delivered with a lightness of a child. Cause they don’t have any baggage. There’s not about them. They just observed, you’re telling them do not smoke cigarettes. And then they see you smoke a cigarette and they go, well, that doesn’t make sense. You know, it’s just, they just point out what they see.
[00:23:43] They’re not angry with you. You know, they’re not, they’re not projecting their self anger onto you. There’s magic. When, when yeah. Every time when a, you talk about this characteristic or this trait of Fiji, I’m like. Magic. I wish I wish I’d experienced that sometime. Yeah. It’s one of the, my, one of the biggest impressions he made on me was seeing his beautiful innocence in many ways, how lighthearted he was, how clean he was also with himself.
[00:24:15]he knew who he was and who he wasn’t. And he was happy with himself. And when he was engaging with founders, he had no bravado, no ego, no insecurity, no needs to insert himself to be right. To be heard. He was just offering. Ideas thoughts, experiences. And he was completely at peace with what you would do with it, take it or leave it.
[00:24:42]And he was such a genius that he knew at all times that he really doesn’t fucking know either. And I hadn’t counted that all the people that I’d met before I’d met some really smart, really successful people before. But all the people that I had met before that were really, really successful also really, really believed that they knew they believed that they knew better than you.
[00:25:01]And so when they talk to you, they expected you to do exactly what they told you. And when you didn’t, they were really angry with you. There was a certain arrogance about it. And then I met PG who was more successful. Might be the most successful person. I know in terms of his impact on the world, the influence he had, I’m not just talking about the return that YC made, which is the biggest return has ever been made in venture funding.
[00:25:23]But the way he changed the culture of entrepreneurship on a global scale, there’s not a single human that has had a bigger impact. And if you think about the impact entrepreneurs have had on our world today, I don’t know anybody that has influenced the world in a greater way that has changed it in a greater way than PG.
[00:25:42] And he was probably one of the most humble people. I know. Like one of the most, I don’t even know if this is a good idea, but this is what I think. What do you guys think? And when you would ask PG which startup is going to be awesome and be the biggest, if I want to invest in the most successful startup in the current batch, PG, which one is it?
[00:26:00] He would tell you, I don’t fucking know I’ve been wrong so many times. I don’t. No.
[00:26:05]Yeah, I’m a very grateful and blessed that I, that I was able to observe PG in action at his prime at the peak of his game at the time. so you, you go, you want to do some in a work maybe the next week, just the next seven days, write this on a piece of paper, write this on your laptop at this, on your smartphone, wherever you’re going to look at it.
[00:26:26]And. Ask yourself whenever you get upset or irritated about anybody’s actions or behavior, do the exercise and ask yourself, am I at peace with myself in this area in life? Am I doing well in this? Am I okay and happy with myself right now? And if not, write down what you have to do, would you have to change and would you have to work on and then get to fucking work?
[00:26:49] Nobody said it’s going to be pleasant. It’s not going to be fun, but I guarantee you do that long enough, often enough consistently enough. And your life is going to be fun. Your outcomes, the people in your life, your success, the type of work you do, it’s going to be much, much better than where you started off.