Hey Penguin Week of September 21

I want you to pretend + Andrew Barry on Time and Money

Picture source: Ultraviolet by Angela Gram

Welcome to another edition of the Hey Penguin newsletter.

Consider this newsletter as evidence that there is no magic lottery ticket.

There is only process.

Creativity + Self-Improvement

First, this.

You are strong, courageous, wise, and beautiful because you are suffering. Don’t ever kick your confusion and frustration under the rug of toughness. Sit and be neutral with whatever it is that’s got you tied up in an impossible knot.

Neutral is not the same as indifferent or negligent. Neutral means you’re paying attention to what’s happening within you.

Creativity without method or template is a form of service. There’s no right or wrong way to share your gifts with the world. The only mistake is to convince yourself that you’ve got nothing to share.

You have much to share. Much humanity and grace and curiosity about you and the world.

You can’t have this

I’ve got a question for you.

It’s a simple question that will change the course of your life.

Who’s telling you that you can’t have everything you’ve ever dreamed of?

Who’s telling you that you can’t succeed in your business, relationships, or hell, that you can’t balance a domino on your nose for ten seconds?

Really, who is this person?

I’d like to meet them — sit down with them over a cup of coffee and shoot the shit. I’d like to know their motivations. I’d like to find out why they don’t want you to have the life you dream of. Why do they want you to remain unhappy? Why do they love to see you suffer over your unfulfilled potential?

Who is this person, and when can I meet them?

Is it you? Are you the one who’s convincing yourself that you can’t get what you want out of life?

Nobody is telling me that I can’t have everything I dream of having. And yet I often hold myself back over a fear of falling on my face in front of everyone I know.

Why do we do this?

Because when we define the goal, we define our failure. Once we know that we could get what we want out of life, we simultaneously define the means for how we couldn’t get it. You and I are the only one’s telling ourselves that we can’t get what we want. And the best way to not get what you want is to never adopt the right attitude, posture, and intent.

The right attitude is to treat your losses as learning experiences. Never let yourself become arrogant. Never deceive yourself out of all the learning that comes from falling on your face.

The right posture is to stand up straight. Be stalwart in the face of the unknown.

And the right intent is to bring good to people who need it. The great thing about this is that everyone in the world needs it. There are many, many people who need your gifts.

I want you to pretend.

Pretend that you once had everything you ever dreamed of. Every book you could ever read, every good meal, all the freedom and joy that comes with being financially well off. Pretend that you’re allowed to do whatever you please, whenever and wherever you want.

Now pretend all of that freedom disappeared.


All of your money, everything you’ve created, all of the relationships you’ve built in the last decade and a half.

All of it. Gone. In the blink of an eye.

What would you do to get it back?

Now pretend you’re doing that today — reclaiming what was once rightfully yours.

Would you manipulate people? Would you scam innocent old ladies out of their hard-earned cash?

Would you try to convince people that you used to be a big baller shot caller? That you were once a king who could make it rain with the flick of a wrist?

Or would you simply bring good things to people who need them?

You need a character in your life.

And you need to watch their every action.

Write down what you want your life to look like 10 years from now. Write down all the details. From the moment you wake up, to the moment you go to bed. Imagine that you could have it all without any possibility of failure. What would your day look like? What would you eat? What would you do for fun? Who would be there with you?

You’ve probably heard of these kinds of self-help exercises before. And if you’re like me, you probably think they’re a load of crap.

But they’re not a load of crap.

They work.


Because when you do an exercise like this, you’re establishing a character. A character you need to watch closely. When you start writing down all of the stuff you’re going to be doing 10 years from now, I guarantee that you’ll shift your posture as you write. You do this because you cannot help but mimic characters that you most relate to.

You need to relate most to the character of your future self.

You can’t just be watching movies all day. You’ve got work to do. So instead, watch the movie that’s playing out in your mind. Mimic the hero you’re constructing as you write out what you want your future to look like.

To me, writing (a form of creativity) is synonymous with self-improvement. We’re always talking to ourselves. Might as well talk ourselves into a better mode of being.

If this sounds to you like faking it till you make it, you’re right.

But by doing this exercise, you’ll actually make it.

From the community

Favorite reader comment

Thanks, Imah. I really appreciate it. These are the comments that make the day of any creator.

Missed the episode with Salman Ansari? Listen here.

New from Paul

Andrew Barry on Time and Money

I had the chance to sit down with the brilliant and wise Andrew Barry (@Bazzaruto). He’s the CEO of Curious Lion, a company that helps businesses improve their online learning. He’s one of the most fascinating people I’ve met. This interview could have lasted for 4 hours, so expect a round 2 sometime in the future.

Please enjoy the following preview of our conversation!

What I’m reading

The Doors of Perception + Heaven and Hell by Aldous Huxley

That humanity at large will ever be able to dispense with Artificial Paradise seems very unlikely. Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and always has been one of the principal appetites of the soul.

Huxley is one of my favorite writers. He was one of those rare individuals who had the courage to talk about subjects that most people would deem as nonsense. (He was also incredibly good looking). In The Doors of Perception, he takes to the task of recounting his experience with Mescaline. It’s a short read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in the nuances of consciousness.

Carl Jung asserted that, “Small and hidden is the door that leads inward and the entrance is barred by countless prejudices, mistaken assumptions, and fears.” The doors that lead inward are all around us. We just need to look for them. And once we find those doors, we need to drop our pretenses, assumptions, and terror at what’s beyond our reach. What we have control over is miniscule. At any moment we can decide to chase an experience that would force us to extend our capability while at the same time plunge us into the unknown.

To end this newsletter on a lighter note, here’s…


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