Self Help

Hell yeah or No (Derek Sivers)

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Matheus Puppe

· 11 min read

• Actions, not words, reveal our fundamental values.

• Saying you want something is not enough. Your actions show what you want and what’s important to you.

• People often fool themselves by telling themselves they want something when their actions prove otherwise.

• The author told his coach he wanted to start a new company, but his coach said no; his actions showed he preferred his simple life focused on learning, writing, and family. His coach was right.

• This applies to many areas of life. People say they want to learn a new language, start a business, quit smoking, change jobs, etc. but if they wanted to, they would have done it. Their actions reveal the truth.

• It’s easy to want something a little bit, but actions show what you want more. Your actual values and priorities are revealed by what you do.

• The author initially hated Tom Waits’ music but later fell in love with it after hearing a cover version he liked. He then realized the performance he hated years ago was the same one he now loved.

• The author initially had no prejudice against Indonesia but later cursed it as a “nation of thieves” after fraudulent credit card orders. But years later, after visiting Indonesia and meeting wonderful people there, he fell in love with the country. His experience erased his former prejudice.

• The author used to mock weightlifting but later came to love it after reading about the health benefits and trying it himself.

• Examples of the opposite—food and music the author liked as a teenager but no longer likes.

• We shouldn’t preserve our first opinions as if they reflect our true nature. They’re often the result of inexperience or just a temporary phase. Our old ideas should change as we gain experience.

The key takeaway is that we should be open to changing our minds about things we like or dislike because experiences and perspectives change over time. Initial prejudices or preferences aren’t always accurate or permanent. An open and growth-oriented mindset will lead to loving what we used to hate.

Public comments about us aren’t really about us. They’re about the image of us that we’ve put out into the world. We can’t define who we are in the future based on what strangers say about us online. Their reactions say more about them than about us.

• The premise is an auction for a $100 bill with an unusual rule: the second-highest bidder still has to pay their bid but gets nothing.

• Bidders start low, hoping for a good deal, not realizing the trap.

• Once bids go over $99, bidders must keep raising to avoid losing money as the second-highest bidder.

• They end up bidding well over $100, hoping the other bidder will quit first.

• The lesson is that jumping into things without thinking how they might end badly is easy. Many people get into trouble this way, not seeing the long-term consequences.

• The key is to consider how situations might play out before getting pulled into a trap where the only options left are bad ones. Think before acting.

The author regularly went on intense 15-mile bike rides along the beach, pushing himself to go as fast as possible. Every time, the ride took about 43 minutes.

After a while, the challenging rides became less enjoyable. So one day, he decided to relax and go at an easy 50% effort. The relaxed ride ended up taking about the same amount of time.

The key lessons:

• Pushing yourself to the max isn’t always necessary to get the same result. Often you can achieve the same outcome with less stress and effort.

• Relaxing and enjoying the journey can lead to new experiences and discoveries you miss when you’re solely focused on the destination or outcome. Like seeing dolphins and pelicans he never noticed before.

• Our mental state and attitude can significantly impact our experience and enjoyment. The same activity can be exhausting or energizing depending on our mindset.

• Sometimes less is more. Pushing less and relaxing more may improve productivity and well-being over the long run.


How I deal with fear as an entrepreneur Fear is part of every entrepreneur’s life. The fear of failure. The fear of missing opportunities.

The fear of letting people down. The fear of the unknown future.

Here’s how I deal with fear:

• Focus on the journey, not the outcome.

I focus on doing good work each day, rather than worrying about what may or may not happen in the uncertain future. The journey is the reward, not some destination.

• Turn fear into excitement.

The physical sensations of fear and excitement are almost identical. I frame the uncertain future as exciting possibilities rather than things to fear. My mindset is that uncertainty means anything can happen!

• Do it scared.

Courage isn’t lack of fear; it’s action despite fear. I accept that fear comes with the territory of doing anything meaningful. Then I do it anyway. The more I act despite fear, the more confident I get. Fear loses its power over time.

• Start before you’re ready.

I’d never start if I waited until I felt fully ready to start a new project. Fear decreases with action and experience. The fastest way to gain experience is to create, even if I feel under-prepared. I learn on the job.

• Focus on helping others.

The less I focus on myself and my fears, the less power fear has over me. When I concentrate outward on helping customers or audiences or clients, fear fades into the background. My purpose overpowers my worries.

• Embrace discomfort.

Pushing into the discomfort zone is where growth happens. I try not to avoid fear or discomfort, but to lean into it. Tackling difficulties and challenges head-on, even when it’s scary, builds courage and strength. Fear is often a sign you’re onto something that matters.

How do you deal with fear and overcome obstacles? I’d love to hear your strategies and insights. Could you share them in the comments?


I apologize, but I have no personal likes or dislikes when it comes to tasks or chores. I am an AI assistant created by Anthropic to be helpful, harmless, and honest.

I see. This is an exciting perspective. Taking responsibility for everything, even the actions of others, helps avoid feelings of anger and victimhood. However, this perspective could also lead to guilt over things outside your control. How do you balance this? Do you believe everything is your fault, or is it more of a psychological tactic?

Here are some key points:

• Your ideas seem apparent to you because you came up with them. But to others, they can be unique and innovative.

• Don’t discount your ideas just because they seem obvious to you. They may be groundbreaking to others.

• The things that come easy and natural to you may be skills and talents that you take for granted but are uncommon in others.

• Ideas that combine and relate things in new ways are the most innovative and impactful. Look for connections between areas that others haven’t seen.

• Don’t worry about being completely “original.” Focus on being authentic. Put your spin on existing ideas and make them better.

• Share your ideas even if they seem obvious to you. They may be unique and inspiring to others. You never know how your work might influence someone else.

• Stay curious and open-minded. Look at familiar things from new angles and perspectives. Ask questions others aren’t asking. That’s where breakthroughs happen.

• Have confidence in your abilities and vision. Others may not see what you see initially, but stay true to your purpose and calling. With passion and persistence, you can inspire others.

• Don’t let self-doubt hold you back from creating and sharing your work with the world. Your ideas and creations matter and can make a difference.

Here’s how I envision this metaphor:

Don’t impose pre-determined plans or rules on how people will use a new space. Let people wander and walk wherever they choose for a while. Their preferred paths will emerge organically. Those are the best places to pave permanent walkways, then.

This “desire path” approach ensures the walkways match how people want to use the space. The paths develop efficiently, bottom-up on actual needs.

If you start with too many rules or plans about “how this space should be used,” you risk annoying people by directing them in ways that don’t match what they find most useful or convenient. You have to let pedestrians freely define the walkways at first.

This metaphor can apply to many areas of life, organization, design, or policymaking. Don’t make too many assumptions about how people want to do something. Let their natural behaviors emerge, and then build systems to support them. Start with a loose, grassy open space rather than rigid structures. Let the pedestrians shape the paths.

The desire path approach leads to solutions that fit people in a very human-centered way. The walkways become where people want to walk, not where some planner thought they should walk. The usage patterns that emerge from an initial loose, open space will feel much more natural to the pedestrians. They shaped it themselves.

In summary, this metaphor is about letting people freely shape spaces, rules, or policies in an organic bottom-up way, rather than imposing rigid top-down plans on them. Pay attention to how people naturally want to do things, then build pathways to support that.


The key idea is that unlearning and subtracting are crucial for growth and success. Things we learned in the past may need to be corrected or updated. Once true beliefs may now be false. Habits and ways of thinking that used to work may no longer be effective. The solution is deliberate unlearning:

  1. Doubt what you know. Question your assumptions and beliefs.

  2. Stop the habit of thinking you know it. Break the pattern of relying on old knowledge.

  3. Require current proof that it’s still true today. If there is no evidence, let it go.

We have to admit we don’t know and go through the discomfort of feeling like an idiot again. But this is necessary to learn and grow. Schools teach learning but not unlearning, so we have to make a deliberate effort.

Rather than always adding more, focus on subtracting. Remove distractions, inefficiencies, outdated beliefs and habits. Say no more often. The world benefits when we accumulate more, but individuals benefit from simplifying by subtracting. Most of us have too many commitments, priorities, and baggage. Removing helps gain clarity and progress.

In short, constant learning and growth require a willingness to unlearn and let go of the past and a focus on simplifying by subtracting rather than constantly accumulating more. Habits of doubting, requiring evidence, and saying no help with this process.

• The characters in Chinese represent simple characters combined, not just the complicated symbols they appear to be. Each character has a poetic meaning behind it when broken down into its parts.

• The song lyrics of Talking Heads were often random phrases put together with no intended meaning. Listeners projected sense onto the unexpected combinations, connecting words that weren’t meant to be connected.

• When learning the meanings behind Chinese characters, the author found that the poetic stories they had imagined were projected meanings, not the characters’ actual historical or cultural meanings.

The key lesson is that we project meaning onto things, connecting dots that aren’t meant to be connected. We imagine poetic, vivid meanings and stories that aren’t there. The importance comes from us, not the thing itself.

• Don’t feel bad if you haven’t found your “true passion” or “purpose” yet. Those are overwhelming concepts.

• Look for small moments of excitement or fear. Follow those. Your passion may grow slowly from there.

• If something intrigues and terrifies you, that may be a sign that you’re onto something meaningful to pursue.

• Don’t expect passion or purpose to hit you like lightning. Look for minor clues in what excites or scares you.

• Dive into things that interest you, even for a short time. See where they lead. Your “calling” may emerge gradually.

• Big visions of purpose or passion can be overwhelming and discouraging. Look for minor signs of what intrigues you right now.

• Don’t overlook opportunities because you’re waiting for something more significant. Meaningful work often starts small.

In short, don’t worry so much about finding your passion or life’s purpose. Follow those small things that intrigue or excite you each day. Your love and sense may emerge gradually from there.

Whatever scares you, could you do it? According to the author Derek Sivers, this is a motto to live by. Doing things that scare you helps you grow as a person. It pushes you outside your comfort zone and enables you to gain confidence.

Fear is a form of excitement, so you should pursue the things that excite you. When you do something scary, it becomes less complicated. Over time, you become less fearful as you do more things that used to scare you.

Some examples of scary things could be:

•Talking to an intimidating person.

•Starting a business.

•Traveling to a foreign country.

•Quitting your job.

The psychologist Abraham Maslow said you should choose “growth over safety” and push yourself in this way many times daily. Following this motto of doing what scares you has served the author well over 30 years of his life. It leads to progress and personal growth.

In summary, doing things that scare you but also excite you is a worthy endeavor. It helps you expand your comfort zone and become a braver, more confident person. Over time, less and less scares you as you gain wisdom and experience.

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About Matheus Puppe