Alchemy #3 - 11/18 - Reaching Your Full Potential With Robert Green & Valuetainment

This is Alan Kurdi, a 3 year old Syrian boy.

His body washed up on the beach after the inflatable boat his family, along with 12 other people, were on capsized leaving Turkey bound for Europe.

His lifeless body made headlines as a symbol of the Syrian refugee crisis - almost 6 million people displaced outside of the country because of civil war.

I bring this up because of a rap song about the incident by one of my favourites - Lupe Fiasco.' (Spotify plugin only uploads the album, fast forward to track 9: Alan Forever)

Let me flex, get up, brush sand off myself
I was just holding my breath

Blue shorts, red shirt, how I'm dressed
I look fresh, and I feel
” - Lupe Fiasco from Alan Forever

What this has to do with reaching your full potential is the theme of the lyrics. Lupe writes songs like Alan Forever and Jonylah Forever to highlight tragedies where the main character instead survives the tragedy, being saved by a future version of themselves.

If you’re into rap music I’d highly recommend the album these songs are from, Drogas Wave. It’s not your typical music engineered for the radio, he’s telling stories about events in history that impacted his life.

One last example, the song Haile Selassie is about the Ethiopian Emperor who was regarded as the messiah of the Afrian race. He spent his time in power (1930-74) modernizing the country, bringing Ethiopia into the league of Nations and the United Nations.

The impressive part is how Lupe incorporates quotes from the King into a catchy song about a meaningful story.

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted
The indifference of those who should have known better

The silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most
This, has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
- Selassie

The thread of reaching your full potential started while reading Robert Greene’s book - Laws of Human Nature.

The book is almost 600 pages with 18 specific laws. I wanted to point out 2 laws and the stories that go with them; irrationality and shortsightedness.

Greene has a similar theory to Warren Buffet when it comes to success; limit your downside.

Not just losing money, acknowledge flawed character traits in yourself and the people you let in.


“You like to imagine yourself in control of your fate, consciously planning the course of your life as best you can. But you are largely unaware of how deeply your emotions dominate you… They make you see what you want to see, depending on your mood, and this disconnect from reality is the source of the bad decisions and negative patterns that haunt your life.” - Robert Greene

Because of Hollywood most people are familiar with the conflict between Athens and Sparta in the Roman Empire. Athens, a wealthy democracy and Sparta, a military state.

At one point Sparta tries to bully Athens into taking a peace deal on their terms.

Based on the advice of Perciles, the Athenians decide to retreat inside the walls of their city and refuse to fight on land.

Pericles was the leader responsible for the economic expansion of Athens and commissioning many of the famous temples, theaters and concert halls including the Parthenon. He was an un-heroic leader choosing to win wars instead of fight unnecessary battles.

The problem with this plan was the Athenians had to watch Spartans destroy their land outside the city limits, waiting for them to run out of money supplying their army. In year two of the war, with all of the citizens packed inside the walls of the city, a plague broke out.

The citizen’s blamed Pericles for an unsuccessful strategy AND for the plague. The citizens wanted revenge and a war party took control deciding to engage the Spartans in battle.

Years of fighting ensued fueled by ego and rage.

Victory was never enough, the Athenians wanted complete devastation. This mentality cost them almost their entire Navy when trying to invade Sicily and ultimately forced them to agree to the harsh peace terms imposed by Sparta.

“The man who had curbed their most dangerous emotions - aggression, greed, hubris, selfishness-had been gone from the scene for too long, his wisdom long forgotten. “ - Robert Greene


“It is in the animal part of your nature to be most impressed by what you can see and hear in the present — the latest news reports and trends, the opinions and actions of the people around you, whatever seems the most dramatic.” - Robert Greene

1719 marked the year the term “millionaire” was coined. In Paris a man named John Law started an enterprise called “The Mississippi Company” in an effort to exploit the riches in the Louisiana territories controlled by the French.

In what is now common practice he started selling shares in his company and as the price went up many Frenchmen of all classes were becoming extremely wealthy.

This made one Englishmen, John Blunt, particularly jealous.

He thought this scheme would be easily repeatable and came up with the idea to pitch King George on how to deal with the country’s massive debts and his lack of popularity at the same time.

The South Sea Company, which had been created almost 10 years prior as a means of managing the war debts in exchange for exclusive trade rights with Spain, would also start issuing shares.

What ensued was a fever pitch similar to that of Bitcoin’s meteoric rise.

A 100 Euro share that was initially issued to the wealthy and influential soon became 200, then 300, then 500. Ultimately peaking over 1000 euros per share.

Along the way John Blunt continued to make the investment more attractive without any improvement to the underlying asset. Offering leverage at 5:1 and even a payment plan on the leverage.

Even Isaac Newton got caught up in the excitement and invested.

At the same time the wealth started pulling their returns out and investing in land causing a decrease in the Mississippi Company stock and a strain for cash in the French economy.

There was a trickle down effect and the South Sea Company shares started to decrease as well.

Within two months the Bank of England faced the same cash crisis and almost ran out of currency. Similar to 2008 many people lost their life savings and Blunt was nearly assassinated in the streets.

"I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not he madness of people.” - Sir Isaac Newton

The book tells similar stories for each law then states an interpretation and lesson. As you can tell, a seemingly small character flaw in yourself or a trusted partner/advisor
can lead you far away from your full potential. A great way to better understand yourself and where you sit on the spectrum of these traits like narcissism, manipulation and empathy is to take the dark triad personality test.

While being aware of these laws of human nature will give you great awareness of what not to do, I think it’s important to change perspective on what you should do and constructive ways of thinking about potential.

Photo Of The Month

My brother was in town this week. He came up with the idea of doing the Itzler/Goggins challenge 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours straight. Was definitely not the easiest three days of my life but at least it didn’t rain the whole time (rare for December in Vancouver).

Quote I’m Thinking About

"It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character. Otherwise it cannot harm you—inside or out." Marcus Aurelius


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