Plug All of Your Leaks Or You Will Die

I was playing poker in Las Vegas and the two professional players next to me were discussing their “leaks”.

“Women are my leaks”, one of them said. Meaning he’d make some money and then spend it on prostitutes. “My wife is back in Japan and I can’t help myself.”

[See: The year I did nothing but play poker]

“I probably drink too much,” the other said. “If I didn’t do that I’d probably make a million a year here.”

My worst leak was in 2002: spending an entire year panicking about money. Every day assuming I was going to go to zero and then what happens beyond zero.

My grandfather used to say to me when I was six years old: if the universe has an end to it, then what’s on the other side? Trying to explain to a child the concept of infinity. He’d repeat it over and over, as if he couldn’t grasp it either, “What’s on the other side?”

(infinity)

 

In 2002 I was heading to bankruptcy, loss of home, zero, the void. If there were a zero in my bank account then what would be on the other side? Only nothingness would be on the other side. I was afraid the zero symbol would go around my neck and strangle me to death.

So let’s add up the numbers again, shall we? And let’s pace some more at three in the morning. And let’s look at our little daughter and think that she’ll never really know her father.  Let’s google ways to kill oneself (is it true that leaving three cigarettes in a cup of water overnight and then drinking the water in the morning will do the trick?). In the morning then, too tired to think, too tired to play with my three year old who loved me, too tired to learn new skills, to enjoy a walk, to read a book. All I did was add. I was a human equation trying to divide my life by zero and never sleeping until there was an answer.

 

.

Leaks change. For the past 15 years, I’ve eaten only what I’ve killed and nothing else. Every year there’s a different set of leaks that tries to keep me from hunting. The body and mind are a tight machine. Energy flows through in a very precise manner. Any leaks and the energy seeps out of you, preventing you from the success a well-honed body, mind, soul will provide. A day doesn’t go by where the world doesn’t try to leech onto you and suck on your leaks and stab you in the heart to create new wounds to bleed.

I’m sorry if that sounds depressing. But it’s true. And it doesn’t have to be depressing. You can use it to your advantage. Everyone else is leaking. But you don’t have to.

Some leaks I’ve had:

–          Money. You need it. But you can’t think about it. I don’t care about the economy at all. Zero. Even in a recession there are just too many opportunities for the people who eat what they kill. But worry about the economy, about a dwindling bank account, about the fears that grip you when you see ZERO at the end of your tunnel – these fears will scratch out your eyes and you won’t be able to hunt. You will keep seeing the ZERO until there it is staring back at you in the mirror.

Your daily practice will be made out of fear and then the fear will turn into reality. You must be constantly flexible, creative, and jump from idea to idea to escape the fear that is chasing you down the maze.

–          Fear of failure. When I started Stockpickr.com I started 10 different websites simultaneously. Nine of them failed. And with Stockpickr I suddenly realized I had competition (socialpicks) that had started ahead of me. My outsourced developers in India had to cheer me up at three in the morning. It was probably the only really A+ thing they did for me. I’ll never outsource to India again but for that one night I’m grateful. I had to plug a thousand leaks during the reign of that business else I would not have survived and my family would’ve sunk with me.

–          Greed. One time I had $10 million in the bank. But I wanted $100 million. The worst leak you could have. There’s a kind of machine that you put a stroke victim in that then rotates the body in every direction. The idea is that it stimulates the brain neurons that die in a stroke. If I had that $10 million when I needed it maybe I could’ve helped my dad after his stroke. I regret this leak.

–          Sex. The right woman/man builds you, strengthens you, teaches you. If you pursue short-term gain, you might’ve missed the night you could’ve found your long-term strength. If you are consumed by the dating world, the dating world will consume you. Jealousy, games, paranoia, wondering, waiting, wishing. There’s no time and energy for anything else. Dating is a full-time job and its fine to approach it that way but don’t let it leak energy out of you.

–          Insomnia. In the “eat what you kill” world you’re in the jungle and Warren Buffett, Sergey Brin, Mark Cuban, and all of their buddies want to slit your throat. They want to eat your still pumping heart and they will laugh while doing it with blood all over their faces. If you aren’t focused and fully awake, you could die a horrible death. Sleep eight hours a night unless you’re the 1% of the population that can get by on less. If you can’t sleep, then medicate to force sleep.

–          The Internet. Twitter, facebook, email, gmail, youtube, gossip. Surfing for gossip. Instant messaging. Where’s the picture of Anthony Weiner’s twitpic? What did Arnold’s maid look like? Did Snooki have sex with The Situation? Mafia wars. Smartphones. Smarter phones. Leaks. The news diet, internet diet, twitter diet, facebook diet, cellphone diet, is critical. You don’t have to stop them. Just diet.

–          For me: responding to negative comments. I’ve had the worst, hateful comments written about me on message boards all over the place. Sometimes I foolishly ignore the nice comments just so I have time to respond to comments written by people I wouldn’t even waste time spitting on their dead bodies and yet here I am responding to their comments for hours. This is a horrible leak. Staying up to two in the morning trying to convince anonymous ignorants that I’m not comparable to whatever monster they are comparing me to. What a horrible leak this is, drains my brain and body, gets me angry, makes me fantasize about their deaths, horrible horrible leak. Don’t let it happen.

–          Metrics. Whatever metric you use to judge yourself is a leak. Did I make enough money today. Did my blog have enough traffic. Did I get enough comments? Did I win enough chess games? Did I get asked to go on TV enough? Did people say nice things about me on Twitter. Do I have enough followers on Twitter. Did I write a good post? Did I get enough signups to whatever website I am/was building? Did I get enough people to laugh at the talk? Do enough people love me to make up for whatever love I’ve missed or scorned until this moment?

–          News. Reading lies about Japan, or Iraq, or the IMF, or the economy will only hurt you. Everyone leaks. And in a recession or a bad economy more people are spewing their energy all over the place than ever. Their fear is draining them until they are empty containers of cardboard. So that means there is more opportunity for you than ever. Turn off the TV, shut down the newspaper, turn off the web, shut down the email lists that are trying to tell you how bad things are. They are bad, very bad, for those who are writing them – but they aren’t bad for you unless you get sucked into their vortex. DON’T WASTE TIME.

–          People. Everybody has problems. They weren’t loved enough as children. They aren’t loved enough now. They are scared of their own financial issues. It’s been a tough, tough decade for everyone. You either take that toughness and turn it into compassion, or you let that toughness take over you. You become the leak. The people around you every day, for the most part, have had the energy severely drained out of them. They are your worst leaks. You must keep contact at a minimum. You can be the source of strength, but only if you are on guard against the leeches that will sneak through your clothes and latch onto your body.

How do you plug the leaks?

A)     Identify them. List them. Today. Write down everything that scares you, slows you down, occupies your mind with stuff that gets in the way of success. Do you pace in the middle of the night? That’s a leak? Is your girlfriend or boyfriend making you confused? That’s a leak. Are you worried about a promotion? That’s a leak. Quit your job. Are you worried about Japan? Turn off the TV. Are you worried about the employee who is talking about you behind your back? Fire him. But first, list the leaks.

(our various worries are a leak)

B)      Build a practice. I’ve written plenty of times about the practice that works for me. Build a practice or follow the one that I’ve suggested. A practice needs four legs: Physical, Emotional, Mental, Spiritual. Ultimately the path to your own personal realization is inside of you. Everyone’s path is different. The religions of the world can be a guide or a map if you want them to be. But you have to build your own practice. And its called “practice” for a reason. The remaining 23 hours a day is when you put the practice to work. You put it to work via…

Read More: How To Be The Luckiest Guy On the Planet in 4 Easy Steps. 

C)      Surrender. Build your practice, then surrender to it. Know that if you follow the practice then the leaks will get plugged. Only good things will happen. There’s a kind of meditation where you bow down 200 times in a row. Bow down in your mind to your own practice. If a leak pops up, if a worry pokes and prods, then pull yourself back into your practice and bow down again. Surrender completely in every way. Don’t waiver and you’ll find yourself flying from crest to crest. When you surrender, you give up everything, and you become a superhero.

Wow, is this a lecture? I only write it because I battle with my leaks every day. Despite all my talk of practice, I stayed up until 2 in the morning the other night responding to a horde of negative comments about me on some random message board. Why did I do it? It did nothing for me. It fed the six-legged furry animals that they don’t let out of the zoo. Tucker Max, author of “Assholes Finish First”,  once told me,

“I hate to sound like a weirdo Buddhist, but the only things that
really matter in this world are the relationships you have with the
people you love, and the meaningful things that you do. Haters don’t
fit anywhere into that. Don’t devote any mental space to them.”

Just five days ago, that leak tried to sink my boat. Now I’m going to go upstairs, do some yoga, write down some ideas, be with people I love, and surrender to every god that’s ever been kind to me.

—–

Two things:

Follow me on Twitter.

List some of your leaks below in the comments.

 

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  • Anonymous

    But James – what if your blog is one of my leaks? And I will plug Facebook  (gladly), but you’ll have to pry that little Twitter bird of paradise from my cold dead hands… (and I wouldn’t be reading this if I had plugged it already). (And btw, love the title of your friends book – great retort to the condescending “nice guys finish last” comment)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      There’s that book “if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him”. Not making a comparison here. but if my blog is a leak, then cut it down at least. The only way I could finish this post today, for instance was by shutting down my facebook / twitter/ etc windows.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/tarhini_smb Tarhini_smb

    @jaltucher this is the same introspective view I have on my trading. I love this, very straight forward, to the point, helpful action. love that you give us your list before giving advice, means you are using this for yourself. awesome. hope this comment posts :) 

  • Anonymous

    Oops – checked out Tucker’s books on Amazon – didn’t realize HE was the asshole that he is referring to – and even worse, a lawyer. Ick… Maybe re-do the post and leave him out.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      No, he’s a good guy. Never judge.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1272980067 Priscilla Benfield

    There is a reason why I put off reading this until now. Now is when I really needed to read it. Those “leaks” you speak of are the fears of the unknown for me. They can consume me until I question my very sanity. The practice for me is meditative in nature. I breathe deep, allow these “leaks” to swirl around in my mind but I don’t give them any encouragement to breed. Soon they disappear and I move on. I am not perfect; I have my days where they can consume me. The practice helps to make them appear less so I can enjoy the life that I have and enjoy the good that is in it. Thanks for reminding me of how “silly” it is to allow the leaks to consume me.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Priscilla, i know what you mean about the sanity part. For me, thats why I need all 4 limbs of a practice: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, to be in sync. Else the leaks can overwhelm. particularly the new ones that sneak in.

  • CMS

    Pretty similar to the 7 Deadly Sins.

  • hey duke

    Leaks, smeaks… I don’t have any leaks… do I? Probably so but since I can’t identify them (well maybe stupidity at times) I guess I will just go with the flow…

  • hey duke

    deleted duplicate reply..

  • http://www.empressr.com Anonymous

    Leaks: 
    1. my ADD; I get easily distracted, trying to work on this, I did meditation and biofeedback for a few years but for some reason stopped. It helped so I’m going to try getting back in that habit.
    2. Insomnia; delt with it all my adult life
    3. Drinking to much; it does help with number 2
    4. Haters; partially taken care of but needs to be fully eradicated
    5. Email; 
    6. Facebook; 
    7. Twitter;
    8. Photography; while I love taking the pictures and that doesn’t seem to be a leak, processing, uploading and tagging seems to consume a lot of time.
    9. Fear; Mostly of letting people down, but it also paralyzes and in turn people get let down…

    Im sure there are more… nice post as usual!

  • http://twitter.com/snydr Sam Snyder

    As I learned recently, people need to plug any leak that gets severe enough to impact gut health. Research continues to show that the health of the gastrointestinal system is really important to mental well-being. The state of the microbiome (gut flora) can affect behavior. I learned from personal experience that people need to do anything possible to fix the gut to fix the leaks in their life. Luckily there’s plenty of medication, meditation, special diets, supplements, and lifeforms (probiotics) to do the job.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Met someone recently who told me that all illnesses can be traced to the stomach and diet. Don’t know if it’s true but it certainly seems related to that and lack of sleep.

      • Anonymous

        “all”? no, unless you’re talking about some nearly incidental correlations. “some”? yes. one can give mice metabolic syndrome (precursor to diabetes) and crohn’s disease by giving them the microflora of mice with those diseases.

  • http://twitter.com/mikecane Mike Cane

    Hmph, given the few things I’ve read by and the many things I’ve heard about Tucker Max, I’m surprised he ever said that.  He’s right too.

    • http://twitter.com/demianfarnworth Demian Farnworth

      I agree, Mike. Tucker Max is a leak for me. 

    • http://twitter.com/demianfarnworth Demian Farnworth

      I agree, Mike. Tucker Max is a leak for me. 

  • michael

    good stuff james.

  • St

    James, this post is really good. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/kamalravikant Kamal Ravikant

    Been thinking about fear lately, and wondering about the root cause of fear.  My current conclusion: there is only one fear the ego has and that is its non-existence, its death.  Everything else arises from that.  Wonder if coming to terms with ones mortality, *really* coming to terms with it in a visceral way is the way to overcome all the other fears.  Just a thought….

  • http://twitter.com/haydnsunday Haydn Pi Sunday

    jamesaltucher.com occupies my mind with stuff that gets in the way of success. jamesaltucher.com makes me confused. jamesaltucher.com makes me worried about a promotion. jamesaltucher.com is a leak!

    Just kidding. Great post as always. :)

  • Mercman185

    My leaks are the time spent reading the news and driving knowledge into my head but every now and then I run into something like the following al-Ghazali said “There can be no desire to return to servile conformism once it has been abandoned, since a prerequisite for being a servile conformist is that one dose not know [oneself] to be such” and then the latter seams well spent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Craig/1476193822 Chris Craig

    Hey Buddy,
    I have two kids, 8 & 4, a wife of 12 years and an awesome, struggling legal services business in Orange County, Ca. (Down 30% last year and freaking out! Up 40% this year and freaking out even more!)
    (The walking around at 3 a.m. and focusing on the uncontrollables is definitely the definition of wasted time.)
    Please know that you are truly helping a lot of people starting with myself.
    The tips, hints and suggestions are imbibed to whatever degree people are willing to open to them.
    Keep them coming for both of our sakes.
    By the way, I have a huge meeting with a potential suitor this week and your business suggestions are invaluable in helping me position myself.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart… Chris

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Craig/1476193822 Chris Craig

    Shoot. I put a little too much info in the last comment.

    I hope nobody reads this thing!

    • Sooz

      It’s absolutely beautiful to be able to thank someone ‘From the Bottom of your Heart’!!

      I’d like to thank, J.A., ‘From the Bottom of my Heart’ too…:))
      great article here, champ!

    • Sooz

      It’s absolutely beautiful to be able to thank someone ‘From the Bottom of your Heart’!!

      I’d like to thank, J.A., ‘From the Bottom of my Heart’ too…:))
      great article here, champ!

    • Sooz

      It’s absolutely beautiful to be able to thank someone ‘From the Bottom of your Heart’!!

      I’d like to thank, J.A., ‘From the Bottom of my Heart’ too…:))
      great article here, champ!

  • Kbast

    Thanks for the post James.
    my biggest leak is “indecisiveness”.  constantly working and reworking options in my my mind. When ever I want to get un-stuck, I make a list of all the things I am “not deciding” on, and I see if i can decide and take action on at least one.  Anything to get moving again.

  • http://economicdisconnect.blogspot.com/ GYSC

    “In the game of life, Women are the rake!” -Rounders

    Excellent post as usual James.  Lets see on the leaks, drink too much, check.  Smoke, check.  No money issues, ok.  Sex, I am married so I would love to have more, HA!.  All in all I think I am ok.  I also stained my deck this weekend for 16 hours.

  • ZenPen

    “Burn flutes and lutes, and plug Blind Kuang’s ears, and then they’ll really be able to hear.”
                                                                                                                            – Chuang Tzu

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    “A day doesn’t go by where the world doesn’t try to leech onto you and
    suck on your leaks and stab you in the heart to create new wounds to
    bleed.”

    This line jumped right out at me…I love it.

    Great post again –  thanks.

  • Guest

    Wait, were you being literal in this line: “For the past 15 years, I’ve eaten only what I’ve killed and nothing else.”?

  • Caromusa

    “My weaknesses are stronger than me”… LOL
    (Ask your wife who is Felipe from Mafalda, she will know).

    We have to be very vigilant of such weaknesses, or they will kill us somehow. Carlos Castaneda developed the idea very well on his books about Don Juan.

  • http://twitter.com/weezrichardet Wes Richardet

    My leak is my 9-5 job. Working on the plug. 

    • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

      just pulled the plug on mine, Wes.  I recomend it!

  • Doug Armey

    James:  I just discovered your blog.  Great insights told from the heart with warmth and humor.  Keep it up.  It is so refreshing.

    A major leak is TV period.  Negative news, disgusting sitcoms, mindless talk shows.  I learned long ago I have time to either live life myself or watch others living life.  But I don’t have time to do both.  I choose to live life and not let TV suck it out of me.

    Thanks.

  • Alex

    James, your blog inspires and helps many, many people.   

    Reply to positive grateful comments, and ignore all the negative stuff – it’s not written by your readers, and it’s not written for you.

    It’s okay not to be loved by some people.  It doesn’t really matter as long as you are not secretly agreeing with them.  In the end it’s only about your own connection with yourself.  

  • http://wavetribe.com Derek Dodds

    Thank you, you are NOT a leak in my life.

  • Anonymous

    Holy crud! Is this my leak?!!!

    Makes me want to start humming that old Styx tune, “Too much time on my hands…”

    There’s a lot of truth to it, I guess, but I just can’t relate. -Sorry.

    It’s kind of like guys who spend too much time in front of the mirror and don’t know the difference between a gasket and a transistor…

    Did I mention that I’m handy, too? Heh-heh!

  • http://twitter.com/karthickk Karthick Kalidoss

    What you say is so true. Identifying the leaks is easy but plugging them is tough. Many times I have typed “twitter.com” knowing that i will kill 1 hour while i have tons of work to do. Tough man, very tough.

  • Mark Kenski

    Everquest wasn’t just a leak, it was a torrential drain. Giving that up allowed the reservoir to fill a bit.

    Giving up a chronic news addiction helped. Hacker News has persisted though and to some degree taken over for a former news addiction. It’s still a major leak. First thing I do in the morning, last thing at night, and 10 times a day in between. It’s how I found this site, but it is 90-95 percent a waste of time, and I find a lot of the links make me feel discouraged or just bad. Oh and science news. Same 1:20 ratio between stimulating and wasteful.

    Your post is illuminating. I realized I have been sort of unconsciously trying to change over to reading a handful of blogs, including this one, daily to replace my hacker news addiction. I think I’ll try and do that a bit more consciously – choose what to read by picking the things that stimulate me and encourage me. Thanks James.

  • http://twitter.com/rkraushuber Richard Kraushuber

    I like when you sound like a weirdo buddhist :-)

  • Todd_Andelin

    I saw a psychologist a couple months ago.
    She got me talking and I started a 45 minute monologue rant about everything bad in my life.  I felt terrible afterwards.  I made a work of art of the negative.  So one of my leaks was talking about leaks too much while not doing a damn thing about them. 
    I am feeling better  now.  Back into positive creation mode-making some websites.  This blog is like a daily dose of really good psychology for me. 

    • Kevin M

      That’s one of my leaks too. Talk, but no action.

    • Kevin M

      That’s one of my leaks too. Talk, but no action.

  • JTrade

    James you really hit home with this one. I constantly worry what others think, I stew for hours on end about my past failures and missed opportunities while spending far more time looking behind me than ahead.   No More.   I am only going to focus my energies on areas where I can make a difference.  

  • http://www.dinosaurtrader.com dinosaurtrader

    Long post, but reads like a paragraph.

    Thanks for taking the time, it’s a classic.

    -DT

  • http://www.dinosaurtrader.com dinosaurtrader

    Long post, but reads like a paragraph.

    Thanks for taking the time, it’s a classic.

    -DT

  • Ricardo

    I like everything but the “surrender to your practice” idea. 

    Having just spent six months in India, a nation chock full of those who blissfully surrender, I say, “Surrender to Nothing!”  

    James, your practice sounds great.  I have no doubt it makes you a better person.  I am sure of it because I too do most of the things you suggest.  

    But to surrender completely to my practice and to have faith that my leaks will get plugged is not healthy and not good.  Leaks get permanently plugged by taking action or exercising self-control.  Period. 

    While leaks may be plugged temporarily by surrendering to a practice, they are sneaky devils and will find a way around. 

    And eventually adherence to a practice will become the greatest leak.  India is full of leaking Western practitioners.  

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      “Surrendering to your pracice” can be worded in a lot of ways. It can also mean “Trust that your preparation” is all you need. If you prepare for the race then you don’t have to worry if you will be fast enough. You know will you be. Because your preparation was good. That’s surrender.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      “Surrendering to your pracice” can be worded in a lot of ways. It can also mean “Trust that your preparation” is all you need. If you prepare for the race then you don’t have to worry if you will be fast enough. You know will you be. Because your preparation was good. That’s surrender.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      “Surrendering to your pracice” can be worded in a lot of ways. It can also mean “Trust that your preparation” is all you need. If you prepare for the race then you don’t have to worry if you will be fast enough. You know will you be. Because your preparation was good. That’s surrender.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        I want to add to the above. Its not just “trust your preparation”. “Surrender” has a certain humility to it as well. Surrender to whatever is in the Universe that is unknown to you. Doesn’t have to have a spiritual meaning but could be if you want. Just the “unknown”. Its this “unknown” that you give yourself to, so you can save lives. that and the preparation mentioned above. Surrender is the 4th leg of what I describe as the Daily Practice. its what ties it together so you can be a superhero.

        • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

          tSurrender is one of those loaded words in our American culture.  It rings of cowardness and retreat.
           
          Used in the context here it is another thing altogether. 
           
          It took me a long time to figure this out.  Now I have surrendered to Surrender.

        • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

          tSurrender is one of those loaded words in our American culture.  It rings of cowardness and retreat.
           
          Used in the context here it is another thing altogether. 
           
          It took me a long time to figure this out.  Now I have surrendered to Surrender.

        • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

          tSurrender is one of those loaded words in our American culture.  It rings of cowardness and retreat.
           
          Used in the context here it is another thing altogether. 
           
          It took me a long time to figure this out.  Now I have surrendered to Surrender.

        • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

          tSurrender is one of those loaded words in our American culture.  It rings of cowardness and retreat.
           
          Used in the context here it is another thing altogether. 
           
          It took me a long time to figure this out.  Now I have surrendered to Surrender.

        • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

          tSurrender is one of those loaded words in our American culture.  It rings of cowardness and retreat.
           
          Used in the context here it is another thing altogether. 
           
          It took me a long time to figure this out.  Now I have surrendered to Surrender.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        I want to add to the above. Its not just “trust your preparation”. “Surrender” has a certain humility to it as well. Surrender to whatever is in the Universe that is unknown to you. Doesn’t have to have a spiritual meaning but could be if you want. Just the “unknown”. Its this “unknown” that you give yourself to, so you can save lives. that and the preparation mentioned above. Surrender is the 4th leg of what I describe as the Daily Practice. its what ties it together so you can be a superhero.

      • Chris S.

        As an amateur endurance athlete, I will echo the “surrender as trust” explanation.  My training has seen me through several marathons, an Ironman, and will soon have me running my first century (100 miles).

        It is impossible to achieve large, new things directly.  But one can achieve large, new things by creating a plan and trusting that following the plan will allow you to achieve these large things by executing the small and manageable.  Sort of the ant eating elephant one bite at a time.

      • Chris S.

        As an amateur endurance athlete, I will echo the “surrender as trust” explanation.  My training has seen me through several marathons, an Ironman, and will soon have me running my first century (100 miles).

        It is impossible to achieve large, new things directly.  But one can achieve large, new things by creating a plan and trusting that following the plan will allow you to achieve these large things by executing the small and manageable.  Sort of the ant eating elephant one bite at a time.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      “Surrendering to your pracice” can be worded in a lot of ways. It can also mean “Trust that your preparation” is all you need. If you prepare for the race then you don’t have to worry if you will be fast enough. You know will you be. Because your preparation was good. That’s surrender.

  • http://twitter.com/Joemccfly Joe McCauley

    Guilt. It’s a killer leak. Any suggestions?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Guilt is an excuse. Do your practice and it will be like water on the rock of your guilt. The guilt will wear down until it’s nothing.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Guilt is an excuse. Do your practice and it will be like water on the rock of your guilt. The guilt will wear down until it’s nothing.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Guilt is an excuse. Do your practice and it will be like water on the rock of your guilt. The guilt will wear down until it’s nothing.

  • Marc Hansen

    RE: responding to negative comments
    You can’t argue with crazy people. You can’t argue with stupid people. Let’s face it, some people are smart, some people are dumb. The dumb people shouldn’t even be acknowledged – it’s a waste of time. It’s like barking at a dog that pissed on your sofa. The negative comments from smart people, although irksome, may still yield information not otherwise found (on rare occasions, they may be right). It’s better to play these trouble-makers and glean as much information as possible – sometimes they say too much in their zeal to be right. 

  • Tim Leon

    Another well written piece that I find very helpful. I’m not trying to kiss your ass but I really like your writing. You really are quite good. Thanks.

  • Tim Leon

    Another well written piece that I find very helpful. I’m not trying to kiss your ass but I really like your writing. You really are quite good. Thanks.

  • Tim Leon

    Another well written piece that I find very helpful. I’m not trying to kiss your ass but I really like your writing. You really are quite good. Thanks.

  • spleeness

    This post just made me buy your book. You are awesome! Thank you for this. Perfect timing for a Monday read.

  • spleeness

    This post just made me buy your book. You are awesome! Thank you for this. Perfect timing for a Monday read.

  • spleeness

    This post just made me buy your book. You are awesome! Thank you for this. Perfect timing for a Monday read.

  • spleeness

    This post just made me buy your book. You are awesome! Thank you for this. Perfect timing for a Monday read.

  • http://twitter.com/pcastela Pedro Castela

    Have been plugging leaks lately, without ever knowing them as “leaks”.

    You defined exactly how to do it, thank you :)

  • http://twitter.com/pcastela Pedro Castela

    Have been plugging leaks lately, without ever knowing them as “leaks”.

    You defined exactly how to do it, thank you :)

  • http://twitter.com/pcastela Pedro Castela

    Have been plugging leaks lately, without ever knowing them as “leaks”.

    You defined exactly how to do it, thank you :)

  • Anonymous

    “I have a demon inside me”

  • Anonymous

    “I have a demon inside me”

  • Anonymous

    “I have a demon inside me”

  • Anonymous

    “I have a demon inside me”

  • RW

    Thanks for the post, it led to an interesting list. Some leaks for me, aside from the usual money, economy, politics: worrying about whether to have kids or not, and all that’s bound up in that. Worrying about the bad ending with a former employer, when it happened over 2 years ago, it’s just hard to truly let go of. 

  • RW

    Thanks for the post, it led to an interesting list. Some leaks for me, aside from the usual money, economy, politics: worrying about whether to have kids or not, and all that’s bound up in that. Worrying about the bad ending with a former employer, when it happened over 2 years ago, it’s just hard to truly let go of. 

  • RW

    Thanks for the post, it led to an interesting list. Some leaks for me, aside from the usual money, economy, politics: worrying about whether to have kids or not, and all that’s bound up in that. Worrying about the bad ending with a former employer, when it happened over 2 years ago, it’s just hard to truly let go of. 

  • RW

    Thanks for the post, it led to an interesting list. Some leaks for me, aside from the usual money, economy, politics: worrying about whether to have kids or not, and all that’s bound up in that. Worrying about the bad ending with a former employer, when it happened over 2 years ago, it’s just hard to truly let go of. 

  • MikeNYC

    The cool thing about plugging whatever is the biggest leak is that you then have lots of cycles available to plug the next biggest one. At least that’s the way it’s looking to me right now.

  • Eric

    recently divorced, dating looks like a giant waste of time, money, energy.  especially after you have kids.

    TV sucks the life out of me, but I keep it by justifying that its a package deal with my internet access.

    Anger was the biggest leak for me,  its plugged from being humbled for the first time at 35.

    Constantly ruminating about other people is another, but seems to lesson with age.

    • Jason P

      Eric: are we twins??  Me: 35, recently divorced, with kids.  Just moved in to my own house (yes, I bought a house…sorry James!!) a month and a half ago and still do not have a television, TV service, or internet access.  Reading and being as introspective as possible.  It’s been truly transforming.  I’m about 90% sure I’ll never get TV again!

    • Jason P

      Eric: are we twins??  Me: 35, recently divorced, with kids.  Just moved in to my own house (yes, I bought a house…sorry James!!) a month and a half ago and still do not have a television, TV service, or internet access.  Reading and being as introspective as possible.  It’s been truly transforming.  I’m about 90% sure I’ll never get TV again!

      • Eric

        apparently so.  this sucks!  James has been a great source.  I work at home so I needed internet, and TW will not let you get broadband for less than $70, so its tough to turn down 700 channels for $30 more…  I have read about 30 books this year though, maybe read 10 last year.  I am 8 months post separation, still working out the details.  Lately I have been missing my family life immensely.  everyone tells me to date and I dont want to.  I just want to work, work out, read and play with my kids when I have them.  Eventually I will date, and I do cruise match.com, but for now its a leak.

    • Kevin M

      Anger is a big one for me too, curious as to how you dealt with it.

      • Eric

        seeing how horrible the consequences actually are, once I finally had to pay them.  Not being cryptic, just my plain truth

    • Kevin M

      Anger is a big one for me too, curious as to how you dealt with it.

  • FtN

    James, you write a lot about the importance of sleep.  Have you ever looked into or tried a polyphasic sleep schedule?  If you haven’t, Steve Pavlina dedicated a nice set of posts to his experience with it in his blog and it serves as a good launching point to other resources.  Curious to get your thoughts on this potential way to add hours to every day while maintaining or increasing your energy once your body has adapted to the schedule.

  • SpecosaurusRex

    James, you’re writing is “strong with the Force”.  

    Why did you take this powerful line out?  I loved it in the first version.

    “Only nothingness would be on the other side. The world would vomit up its insides and turn itself inside out. My losses and sense of shame an emotional Mobius strip I would never escape.”

  • SpecosaurusRex

    James, you’re writing is “strong with the Force”.  

    Why did you take this powerful line out?  I loved it in the first version.

    “Only nothingness would be on the other side. The world would vomit up its insides and turn itself inside out. My losses and sense of shame an emotional Mobius strip I would never escape.”

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      You’re right. I should’ve kept that line. I like it now.

  • Anonymous

    That “diet on the internet leaks” advice is killer.
    I think you just added 2 hours to my working day.
    I didn’t want to cut off completely so I just ignored the problem, rather than seek a middle-ground.
    Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    That “diet on the internet leaks” advice is killer.
    I think you just added 2 hours to my working day.
    I didn’t want to cut off completely so I just ignored the problem, rather than seek a middle-ground.
    Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/Joemccfly Joe McCauley

    Thanks, James.  In response to your post, I’ve begun to plug some leaks.

    I’m starting with the energy loss, primarily through guilt, that I experience from not keeping up with all my friends and family.  I quickly become drained when I feel that I should call so and so, and don’t. The rate at which my energy is depleted accelerates as time passes because that typically means an even longer phone call with more friends being added to the call list.

    So, I went trough my contacts list.  What I discovered was that there is a small list of people that I have a sincere interest in keeping up with.  It’s not that I don’t care about the others in my address book.  There will be times, in fact, when I would enjoy hitting someone up on my “B list”.  It sounds terrible, but I value my time and health more with each day that passes.  Again, it’s not that I never want to talk to those that didn’t make the cut ever again.  I’m just not going to stress out about it.

    Working, more accurately, not working on my house is another source of stress for me(I know, I shouldn’t have bought one, James ;) ).  I like my house.  It could use a few paintings and adornments, but I like it.  My energy leak is always feeling the need to improve it somehow.  They are self induced pressures derived from other people’s desire to always “improve”.  It’s the American way of life – never be happy with what you have – that seems to be the source of everyone’s, well, unhappiness.  I like my house.  Leave me alone.

    Joe

  • http://twitter.com/Joemccfly Joe McCauley

    Thanks, James.  In response to your post, I’ve begun to plug some leaks.

    I’m starting with the energy loss, primarily through guilt, that I experience from not keeping up with all my friends and family.  I quickly become drained when I feel that I should call so and so, and don’t. The rate at which my energy is depleted accelerates as time passes because that typically means an even longer phone call with more friends being added to the call list.

    So, I went trough my contacts list.  What I discovered was that there is a small list of people that I have a sincere interest in keeping up with.  It’s not that I don’t care about the others in my address book.  There will be times, in fact, when I would enjoy hitting someone up on my “B list”.  It sounds terrible, but I value my time and health more with each day that passes.  Again, it’s not that I never want to talk to those that didn’t make the cut ever again.  I’m just not going to stress out about it.

    Working, more accurately, not working on my house is another source of stress for me(I know, I shouldn’t have bought one, James ;) ).  I like my house.  It could use a few paintings and adornments, but I like it.  My energy leak is always feeling the need to improve it somehow.  They are self induced pressures derived from other people’s desire to always “improve”.  It’s the American way of life – never be happy with what you have – that seems to be the source of everyone’s, well, unhappiness.  I like my house.  Leave me alone.

    Joe

  • http://twitter.com/Joemccfly Joe McCauley

    Thanks, James.  In response to your post, I’ve begun to plug some leaks.

    I’m starting with the energy loss, primarily through guilt, that I experience from not keeping up with all my friends and family.  I quickly become drained when I feel that I should call so and so, and don’t. The rate at which my energy is depleted accelerates as time passes because that typically means an even longer phone call with more friends being added to the call list.

    So, I went trough my contacts list.  What I discovered was that there is a small list of people that I have a sincere interest in keeping up with.  It’s not that I don’t care about the others in my address book.  There will be times, in fact, when I would enjoy hitting someone up on my “B list”.  It sounds terrible, but I value my time and health more with each day that passes.  Again, it’s not that I never want to talk to those that didn’t make the cut ever again.  I’m just not going to stress out about it.

    Working, more accurately, not working on my house is another source of stress for me(I know, I shouldn’t have bought one, James ;) ).  I like my house.  It could use a few paintings and adornments, but I like it.  My energy leak is always feeling the need to improve it somehow.  They are self induced pressures derived from other people’s desire to always “improve”.  It’s the American way of life – never be happy with what you have – that seems to be the source of everyone’s, well, unhappiness.  I like my house.  Leave me alone.

    Joe

  • http://twitter.com/Joemccfly Joe McCauley

    Thanks, James.  In response to your post, I’ve begun to plug some leaks.

    I’m starting with the energy loss, primarily through guilt, that I experience from not keeping up with all my friends and family.  I quickly become drained when I feel that I should call so and so, and don’t. The rate at which my energy is depleted accelerates as time passes because that typically means an even longer phone call with more friends being added to the call list.

    So, I went trough my contacts list.  What I discovered was that there is a small list of people that I have a sincere interest in keeping up with.  It’s not that I don’t care about the others in my address book.  There will be times, in fact, when I would enjoy hitting someone up on my “B list”.  It sounds terrible, but I value my time and health more with each day that passes.  Again, it’s not that I never want to talk to those that didn’t make the cut ever again.  I’m just not going to stress out about it.

    Working, more accurately, not working on my house is another source of stress for me(I know, I shouldn’t have bought one, James ;) ).  I like my house.  It could use a few paintings and adornments, but I like it.  My energy leak is always feeling the need to improve it somehow.  They are self induced pressures derived from other people’s desire to always “improve”.  It’s the American way of life – never be happy with what you have – that seems to be the source of everyone’s, well, unhappiness.  I like my house.  Leave me alone.

    Joe

  • http://twitter.com/Joemccfly Joe McCauley

    Thanks, James.  In response to your post, I’ve begun to plug some leaks.

    I’m starting with the energy loss, primarily through guilt, that I experience from not keeping up with all my friends and family.  I quickly become drained when I feel that I should call so and so, and don’t. The rate at which my energy is depleted accelerates as time passes because that typically means an even longer phone call with more friends being added to the call list.

    So, I went trough my contacts list.  What I discovered was that there is a small list of people that I have a sincere interest in keeping up with.  It’s not that I don’t care about the others in my address book.  There will be times, in fact, when I would enjoy hitting someone up on my “B list”.  It sounds terrible, but I value my time and health more with each day that passes.  Again, it’s not that I never want to talk to those that didn’t make the cut ever again.  I’m just not going to stress out about it.

    Working, more accurately, not working on my house is another source of stress for me(I know, I shouldn’t have bought one, James ;) ).  I like my house.  It could use a few paintings and adornments, but I like it.  My energy leak is always feeling the need to improve it somehow.  They are self induced pressures derived from other people’s desire to always “improve”.  It’s the American way of life – never be happy with what you have – that seems to be the source of everyone’s, well, unhappiness.  I like my house.  Leave me alone.

    Joe

  • Chris S.

    My internal monologue continually assaults me with worry over things beyond my control.

    It often keeps me up at night.Breathing exercises help.  Other times, I close my eyes and envision the monologue as a scrolling ticker (like at the bottom of the CNN screen).  I watch the ticker scroll for a while, then I then cut the ticker with a pair of scissors and watch it fall to the ground.

    And my head becomes quiet again.

    (BTW, James, I’ve only recently found your blog – via Freakonomics – and while I don’t fully embrace everything you suggest, you offer a degree of sincerity and clarity that is both refreshing and moving.  Thank you.)

  • Chris S.

    My internal monologue continually assaults me with worry over things beyond my control.

    It often keeps me up at night.Breathing exercises help.  Other times, I close my eyes and envision the monologue as a scrolling ticker (like at the bottom of the CNN screen).  I watch the ticker scroll for a while, then I then cut the ticker with a pair of scissors and watch it fall to the ground.

    And my head becomes quiet again.

    (BTW, James, I’ve only recently found your blog – via Freakonomics – and while I don’t fully embrace everything you suggest, you offer a degree of sincerity and clarity that is both refreshing and moving.  Thank you.)

  • Chris S.

    My internal monologue continually assaults me with worry over things beyond my control.

    It often keeps me up at night.Breathing exercises help.  Other times, I close my eyes and envision the monologue as a scrolling ticker (like at the bottom of the CNN screen).  I watch the ticker scroll for a while, then I then cut the ticker with a pair of scissors and watch it fall to the ground.

    And my head becomes quiet again.

    (BTW, James, I’ve only recently found your blog – via Freakonomics – and while I don’t fully embrace everything you suggest, you offer a degree of sincerity and clarity that is both refreshing and moving.  Thank you.)

    • MikeNYC

      Chris,
      I’m currently reading Dale Carnegie’s “How To Stop Worrying and Start Living”  Once you get past the slightly dated prose, it’s very good. It can be had in good shape on Amazon for 3 bucks, including shipping.

      Chapter 2 examines ol’ Willis H. Carrier’s magic formula:

      1. Ask yourself “What is the worst that can possibly happen”
      2. Prepare to accept it if you have to.
      3. Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.

      Good luck.

    • MikeNYC

      Chris,
      I’m currently reading Dale Carnegie’s “How To Stop Worrying and Start Living”  Once you get past the slightly dated prose, it’s very good. It can be had in good shape on Amazon for 3 bucks, including shipping.

      Chapter 2 examines ol’ Willis H. Carrier’s magic formula:

      1. Ask yourself “What is the worst that can possibly happen”
      2. Prepare to accept it if you have to.
      3. Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.

      Good luck.

    • MikeNYC

      Chris,
      I’m currently reading Dale Carnegie’s “How To Stop Worrying and Start Living”  Once you get past the slightly dated prose, it’s very good. It can be had in good shape on Amazon for 3 bucks, including shipping.

      Chapter 2 examines ol’ Willis H. Carrier’s magic formula:

      1. Ask yourself “What is the worst that can possibly happen”
      2. Prepare to accept it if you have to.
      3. Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.

      Good luck.

    • MikeNYC

      Chris,
      I’m currently reading Dale Carnegie’s “How To Stop Worrying and Start Living”  Once you get past the slightly dated prose, it’s very good. It can be had in good shape on Amazon for 3 bucks, including shipping.

      Chapter 2 examines ol’ Willis H. Carrier’s magic formula:

      1. Ask yourself “What is the worst that can possibly happen”
      2. Prepare to accept it if you have to.
      3. Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.

      Good luck.

    • MikeNYC

      Chris,
      I’m currently reading Dale Carnegie’s “How To Stop Worrying and Start Living”  Once you get past the slightly dated prose, it’s very good. It can be had in good shape on Amazon for 3 bucks, including shipping.

      Chapter 2 examines ol’ Willis H. Carrier’s magic formula:

      1. Ask yourself “What is the worst that can possibly happen”
      2. Prepare to accept it if you have to.
      3. Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.

      Good luck.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        Yes, I like that book. Got it back in 2002 and it was very good despite, as you say, the very dated prose.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Chris: try this breathing exercise: breathe out as much as you can, then hold it. Then breathe out more, then hold it. Then breathe in. Then repeat. Its hard to have that ongoing dialogue at the same time that you are putting your body into temporary jeopardy.

  • Chris S.

    My internal monologue continually assaults me with worry over things beyond my control.

    It often keeps me up at night.Breathing exercises help.  Other times, I close my eyes and envision the monologue as a scrolling ticker (like at the bottom of the CNN screen).  I watch the ticker scroll for a while, then I then cut the ticker with a pair of scissors and watch it fall to the ground.

    And my head becomes quiet again.

    (BTW, James, I’ve only recently found your blog – via Freakonomics – and while I don’t fully embrace everything you suggest, you offer a degree of sincerity and clarity that is both refreshing and moving.  Thank you.)

  • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

    me too.

    blog take on life when readers participate.  James does a fine job of cleaning out the crap around here.

  • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

    me too.

    blog take on life when readers participate.  James does a fine job of cleaning out the crap around here.

  • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

    me too.

    blog take on life when readers participate.  James does a fine job of cleaning out the crap around here.

  • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

    me too.

    blog take on life when readers participate.  James does a fine job of cleaning out the crap around here.

  • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

    me too.

    blog take on life when readers participate.  James does a fine job of cleaning out the crap around here.

  • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

    me too.

    blog take on life when readers participate.  James does a fine job of cleaning out the crap around here.

  • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

    me too.

    blog take on life when readers participate.  James does a fine job of cleaning out the crap around here.

  • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

    me too.

    blog take on life when readers participate.  James does a fine job of cleaning out the crap around here.

  • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    I so, so, so needed this post today. Excellent motivation. Tucker Max was 100% correct. Not only should you not care what they are saying, you should actually be flattered they are saying anything at all. Remember, you are the one with the clout here. 

  • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    I so, so, so needed this post today. Excellent motivation. Tucker Max was 100% correct. Not only should you not care what they are saying, you should actually be flattered they are saying anything at all. Remember, you are the one with the clout here. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yeah, I have to remember that.

  • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    I so, so, so needed this post today. Excellent motivation. Tucker Max was 100% correct. Not only should you not care what they are saying, you should actually be flattered they are saying anything at all. Remember, you are the one with the clout here. 

  • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    I so, so, so needed this post today. Excellent motivation. Tucker Max was 100% correct. Not only should you not care what they are saying, you should actually be flattered they are saying anything at all. Remember, you are the one with the clout here. 

  • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    I so, so, so needed this post today. Excellent motivation. Tucker Max was 100% correct. Not only should you not care what they are saying, you should actually be flattered they are saying anything at all. Remember, you are the one with the clout here. 

  • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    I so, so, so needed this post today. Excellent motivation. Tucker Max was 100% correct. Not only should you not care what they are saying, you should actually be flattered they are saying anything at all. Remember, you are the one with the clout here. 

  • Patrick Moynihan

    Best post yet! It takes effort and will to move away from negative energy. Fear of change…
    Others mention guilt. For me, the leak is living up to an “idealized version” of myself…total BS! But it takes a conscious effort to release (surrender) it and believe that here is no right or wrong. Simply do what you love (including the 4 legged practice) help others and do no harm -that’s it!
    This post is very AA…right up my alley! And what other people think of me is none of my business…
    Thanks James

  • Patrick Moynihan

    Best post yet! It takes effort and will to move away from negative energy. Fear of change…
    Others mention guilt. For me, the leak is living up to an “idealized version” of myself…total BS! But it takes a conscious effort to release (surrender) it and believe that here is no right or wrong. Simply do what you love (including the 4 legged practice) help others and do no harm -that’s it!
    This post is very AA…right up my alley! And what other people think of me is none of my business…
    Thanks James

  • Patrick Moynihan

    Best post yet! It takes effort and will to move away from negative energy. Fear of change…
    Others mention guilt. For me, the leak is living up to an “idealized version” of myself…total BS! But it takes a conscious effort to release (surrender) it and believe that here is no right or wrong. Simply do what you love (including the 4 legged practice) help others and do no harm -that’s it!
    This post is very AA…right up my alley! And what other people think of me is none of my business…
    Thanks James

  • Patrick Moynihan

    Best post yet! It takes effort and will to move away from negative energy. Fear of change…
    Others mention guilt. For me, the leak is living up to an “idealized version” of myself…total BS! But it takes a conscious effort to release (surrender) it and believe that here is no right or wrong. Simply do what you love (including the 4 legged practice) help others and do no harm -that’s it!
    This post is very AA…right up my alley! And what other people think of me is none of my business…
    Thanks James

  • Timid Hunter

    James, I love your heaping helpings of fresh and different advice no one else offers. Please explain this concept of “eat what you kill” in some practical ways or steps one can take to do this. I have this sense that all I ever kill are cockroaches. No way am I eating those!

  • Timid Hunter

    James, I love your heaping helpings of fresh and different advice no one else offers. Please explain this concept of “eat what you kill” in some practical ways or steps one can take to do this. I have this sense that all I ever kill are cockroaches. No way am I eating those!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I haven’t sucked the milk out of the breasts of corporate America in about 14 years. So, for better or worse (sometimes much better, sometimes much worse) I’ve had to kill things meaty enough to feed my family. I’ve had to hustle in so many ways I’ve felt like the worst prostitute walking the meat packing district here. But now keeping it more calm.

  • Timid Hunter

    James, I love your heaping helpings of fresh and different advice no one else offers. Please explain this concept of “eat what you kill” in some practical ways or steps one can take to do this. I have this sense that all I ever kill are cockroaches. No way am I eating those!

  • Timid Hunter

    James, I love your heaping helpings of fresh and different advice no one else offers. Please explain this concept of “eat what you kill” in some practical ways or steps one can take to do this. I have this sense that all I ever kill are cockroaches. No way am I eating those!

  • Timid Hunter

    James, I love your heaping helpings of fresh and different advice no one else offers. Please explain this concept of “eat what you kill” in some practical ways or steps one can take to do this. I have this sense that all I ever kill are cockroaches. No way am I eating those!

  • Timid Hunter

    James, I love your heaping helpings of fresh and different advice no one else offers. Please explain this concept of “eat what you kill” in some practical ways or steps one can take to do this. I have this sense that all I ever kill are cockroaches. No way am I eating those!

  • Timid Hunter

    James, I love your heaping helpings of fresh and different advice no one else offers. Please explain this concept of “eat what you kill” in some practical ways or steps one can take to do this. I have this sense that all I ever kill are cockroaches. No way am I eating those!

  • http://twitter.com/Periboob Peri Boob

    To some unlucky working drones, I suppose the leaks are a significant negative factor. To me, however, some of the leaks, particularly the Internet, TV, news, and books (did you forget books?), are fountains of knowledge and amusement. I need access to lots of facts, because I am forgetting things at an increasing rate. And I need lots of amusement because, well, I am getting old, and focusing on that would be very depressing. I do encourage all you young, energetic, ambitious folks to minimize the leaks keep making money and paying into Social Security, but dont plug all your leaks so well that you forget how to enjoy them, because if you do make it to retirement, every day is a Saturday, and every night is a Friday night. And you will enjoy it a lot more if you have a way to fill the boat. I nearly forgot “people”. Fill your boat with people, because fishing alone is pretty blah.

    • Dosjeffe

      I for one would like to help with your retirement some more but it is getting to the point that the Gov. would pay me nicely to leave the country .. some   day I will take the offer—bon Voyage…   social security is a good thing – welfare and disability  could be a good thing if used correctly for people that really need it—but i see so much abuse of it, it really rips my ass– so much to the point im lazy so i dont pay as much in —–for me being here is a  leak now—I have  some business ideas I would like to or would probably try if not for the possibility of law suits that in some other countries would be no problem (nothing dastardly just the usual stupid stuff you have to protect yourself from here in the states). Maybe the grass isn’t greener on the other side but i need to find out.

  • John H.

    Another perfectly timed, awesome post James. I’ve
    just eliminated several leaks. I don’t drink much, don’t smoke, don’t do
    facebook; but I realized how much time I waste on the internet looking for
    proof that the economy will tank tomorrow.

    Cheers, John

  • Lane

    Getting stoned and drunk.

  • http://www.getting-unstuck.com/ RILEY hARRISON

    Well James I have some really good news for you. As you get older you want have to worry about leaks. Why just last nite I got up and went the bathroom 3 times.
    Riley

  • http://twitter.com/soonersoze CTR

    James, great post as usual. I have a question that is a little off topic. You mentioned that you would never outsource to India again. So what would you recommend for someone who does not have the tech skills to create a website, but also does not have the budget to hire a more established company here in the U.S.?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      No, still use elance or scriptlance and go through their bidding process but simply hire here in the US (if you are from the US). If are from India, hire from India. 

      • http://twitter.com/soonersoze CTR

        Thanks for your reply. I am from the U.S. and will check out elance and scriptlance.

      • Patrick Wayodi

        Why the strict nationalism?

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Its not “nationalist” but practical. Starting a company is about one thing: making money for yourself (and partners, investors) and delivering value for your customers. So you need to be able to hire programmers you can go over and beat with a hammer if you need to. When I hired in India it was hard to communicate, frustrating to understand their problems (and there are always problems), and sometimes impossible to get ahold of them (different time zones, religious holidays, etc). Better to hrie someone next door and have your hammer ready.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Its not “nationalist” but practical. Starting a company is about one thing: making money for yourself (and partners, investors) and delivering value for your customers. So you need to be able to hire programmers you can go over and beat with a hammer if you need to. When I hired in India it was hard to communicate, frustrating to understand their problems (and there are always problems), and sometimes impossible to get ahold of them (different time zones, religious holidays, etc). Better to hrie someone next door and have your hammer ready.

  • Todd_Andelin

    There was an article in the Nytimes last year:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/magazine/28depression-t.html?emc=eta1
    “The Upside of Depression”
    There were some good points there.

    I think sometimes “leaks” are other problems being manifest, so it might be a good idea to be in control and ask yourself questions as to why you have some of the problems you do…in other words get to the root of the problem or at least try. 
    Maybe depression, fear, obsession, too much love etc.. and anxiety are phases that we need to go through sometimes in order to really figure things out.
    Its like when you are downloading something that is really “heavy” , lots of gigs…it takes a long time…everything slows down.  But when it is downloaded things move fast again. 
    Really, this post is making me think about  a lot of things…..furthermore, im using it as my own sort of journaling platform as well…..confessing stuff to make sense of it.  how fun!
    In any case, things are going well today.

  • Traderez

    JAMES #1 leaK TO FIX  for me and forgotten by many to fix is::

    Run and stay away from those that say they have zero leaks . There are many people like this!!!

  • Steve Lawrence

    I am re-reading Steven Pressfields The War of Art. There are 2 sentences I wrote down to try to remember. They fit here.

    The first is. “The critic hates most that which he would have done if he had had the guts.”

    The second is, “It’s better to be in the arena getting stomped by the bull than to be sitting in the stands.”

    Amen

    • http://www.ekimnamwen.com ekim namwen

      that is a great, great book.  it’s one of the first ones i read when i started my creative journey and it’s one that i go back to from time to time to read again.

  • Lisa

    James, this is my first visit to your blog – found it referenced by Penelope Trunk – and I’m just blown away by what you’ve written here.

    Fear, by far is my biggest leak. Sometimes the fear that wakes me up at 3 in the morning and tosses around in my head until 4:30. It’s irrational most of the time, but sometimes that fear just grips me so tightly and doesn’t want to let go.

    I know meditation will help. I’m working on that one.

    Thanks for writing this most wonderful post!

  • Enrique

    You are a really nice guy, very honest, very intelligent, full of ideas and very capable of integrating them and articulating them to make a lot of sense

  • http://www.kaisdavis.com Kai Davis

    James,

    Thanks for writing this. My leak is that I’m afraid of the the dip of being a beginner that Ira Glass describes:

    “For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.”

    That period of working on interesting projects to see where they bring me is scary. It’s really scary. That fear – working on something that won’t ship, won’t matter, won’t be relevant – and it convince me to not ship and not care is my leak.

    • Other people are better, why should I start this?
    • I don’t know what I’m trying to achieve, why should I try to do this?
    • This doesn’t make me money, why am I playing at this?
    • No one cares. Why bother creating this?

    The thing I’ve learned is that if I don’t take the time to start something, I’m never going to get better. If I want to become a better writer, a better marketer, or a better lover, the only way is to write, market, and love. There’s no such thing as an overnight success. It takes years to become an overnight success.

    It’s exciting to say “Yes, I suck at this, but if I don’t commit to actually pushing something stinky out there, I’m not going to find the thing that smells nice. Or is nice. Or is great.” I think it’s great that I’m thinking through these things at 25. I’m a young fucking kid. I’m happy that I’m learning what I can now. I’m happy that I’m learning that the most inspiring part of work is _the work_. Focusing on the glory and the metrics – likes, friends, fans, visitors, dollars – is a leak and distracts me from the process of working. 

    I started biking last month. Last week I biked 43 miles. I loved it. It’s a rush to bike. It’s wonderful to bike up a hill and down a hill and get into the flow. I’ve enjoyed biking so much because I’ve given myself permission to be a beginner, get better, and not focus entirely on the metrics. I’m proud that I’ve biked 43 miles, but I’m more proud that I’m taking the time to learn a new skill and explore. I’m enjoying biking because I enjoy the work of biking. It’s important for me to find that relaxation and flow. If I can’t, then it’s time to say “This isn’t something I really care about. I need to focus on something else.”

    • Malini

      Thank you for posting this comment. I feel the same way too about trying something new, and the 4 thoughts you listed above are exactly the same thoughts that run through my mind.

  • Acorn

    I think you are a buddha.  :)

  • http://www.highballblog.com/ Constantin Gabor

    Hey James!

    Thank you for a solid piece of inspiration. Your Mixergy interview was amazing!

    Cheers!

  • Becca G.

    I love your stuff James, gives me the little boost I have needed for so long to make changes! Keep writing!!

  • http://gordonwhite.co.uk gordonwhite

    It genuinely upsets me that someone as awesome as you would bother with haters. Stay where there is love, James!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Its a very tricky thing. I tell myself I’m not going to pay attention and over the past 9 years I’ve largely done that. But randomly, there will always be someone out there who knows how ot press the right combination of buttons, just when I thought I had hid all the passwords to my heart.

  • http://gordonwhite.co.uk gordonwhite

    It genuinely upsets me that someone as awesome as you would bother with haters. Stay where there is love, James!

  • stinkystank

    People say negative shit about others on the internet for FUN. Go visit 4-chan, somethingawful, or tribalwar to see what I mean. Learn to laugh at the asshats and do NOT give them the attention they seek by bashing you. Seriously, LAUGH at them and at most, give them no more than 3-5 words as a response.

    Don’t feed the trolls…

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=troll

    • ekim namwen

      exactly, that’s why you can’t take any comments seriously.

  • stinkystank

    P.S. Nothing says “noob” like letting someone troll you.

    You’re not a noob, are you?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I’m always a noob.

  • Jeff Shewmake

    Good stuff James, my leak is me.  The key is to use depression as evolution has intended, to reorganize how we see things or to find a way out of dark times.  I just got to the article today, perfect timing especially after Mereadarth Vader Whitney was on squawk box this morning talking about muni DOOM coming in June, or someother time in the next 1 day – 5 years.

    • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com jlcollinsnh

      great point on depression, Jeff.  it can be a message as to what we need at the moment and a tool to get there.

  • Jeff Shewmake

    Good stuff James, my leak is me.  The key is to use depression as evolution has intended, to reorganize how we see things or to find a way out of dark times.  I just got to the article today, perfect timing especially after Mereadarth Vader Whitney was on squawk box this morning talking about muni DOOM coming in June, or someother time in the next 1 day – 5 years.

  • Tscannell

    How do you eat only what you kill?

  • Dosjeffe

    If a lady were to trim the personal with a knife —what kind of a knife would she use ?    a  Beaver Cleaver!!

  • ekim namwen

    great focking post!

  • http://www.ekimnamwen.com ekim namwen

    people are haters on the internet because it’s easy to say bad things when you’re anonymous.  i’ve found that the internet is the devil’s playground in which it allows people to show their dark sides with really no consequences.  as thomas moore says in his book dark nights of the soul, we all need to find a balance between the light and dark and the world we live in doesn’t give people good ways to express the dark side.  i bet that most people that post negative comments probably aren’t bad
    mean people, but they need an outlet for that dark side of themselves
    that they never express in real life. anyway, i’ve learned to laugh at the negative comments b/c really that’s all you can do or else it will eat your soul.

    • Secretsnitch

      trying to be anon…. we just sucesfully tested a stealth warship in chinease and russian waters… you wont hear it on the news….. things big as hell. and they cant see it…… was unarmed at the time but think of the possibilities….
      looks kinda like a manta ray with planes on it….. only about 30 ft. above the sea and holds 1200 crew’..
       didn’t hear from me but true if you look into it… tell others to look…. the truth is out there

  • http://twitter.com/stephenguise Stephen Guise

    James, you are a part of a revolution.  I hope.  If not, the world is going to continue to be a stupid mishmash of perception management experts. The frankness and honesty in your writing is like a glass of water for a dehydrated body.  Your vulnerability because you care about reality sets you apart.  

    Starting tomorrow I’m going to begin a daily practice that I devise tonight.  I’ve been wanting to do this, but this was the post I needed to read to push me over into action.  Thanks!

  • Molly

    wow..Im so liking this site.TY all

  • http://twitter.com/Jwmaden John Maden

    I’m wondering how you balance reading with the daily practice.  I know when looking for ideas to explore my best resource is the news to see what problems are out there to be solved.  Further, since I read your blog a lot can that be considered a leak?  Does my enjoyment and happiness from these activities offset the productive elements they inhibit?  

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      It depends. FOr me, the news is a leak because I get upset at the ways the media tries to manipulate its readers/viewers/whatever. Not in every case but 95%. So I’m happier avoiding it. You don’t really need news for any other aspect of life but entertainment, for instance. To improve my life (e.g. starting a business) I have never needed the news to find an idea.

  • startrader

    Very close to home.  I have been eating what I kill for years and quoting it, now I read it in several bloggers.  Talk about the 100 Monkey Syndrome.

    I am like the Honey Badger!  Join the club!

  • http://www.mattbrooks.com SelfAutomated

    I never post. Not one of my leaks, just something I feel I never needed to do. James, today I wrote down my weaknesses. They are printing now and being posted on my wall.

    Leaks = self created weaknesses that prevent you from your own success. Plug the leaks and your glass will overflow. Don’t plug the leaks and you will be happy if your glass is half full.

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    I have applied this concept “plugging all your leaks” to my everyday life – it is now part of my daily practice – it has helped me so very much.

    Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    I can identify leaks but don’t know how to “plug” them.

    For example, I recently got a PhD and am a top lab doing cutting-edge scientific research. I’ve found that I’m still getting bored with it. The structures of the problems are too similar. I’m not excited about the people involved. I’m not excited about the prospect of a tenure-track position. I’m on a fellowship and have limited ability to explore other labs and am basically required by the fellowship to do science for a bit longer. 

    My “leak” is boredom, but does this mean I should jump ship entirely and move to a new field with a steeper learning curve (e.g., entrepreneurial work, more programming)? Should I accept that all jobs are like this? Is the fact that I’m bored with a position that many would love to fill a sign that I’m really just depressed? I have more autonomy (but less pay) than the vast majority of corporate workers, but it’s still not enough right now. I can think of so many unhealthy, avoidant ways to “plug” leaks.

    • Anonymous

      My initial post wasn’t very concise. I guess what I’m saying is that there seems to be a VERY large gap between doing “the practice” and resolving leaks such as the one I mentioned. For example, I would never look at a leg problem as a symbol of anything because I care too much about statistics. I got through a PhD even though sometimes I wanted to flee. A lot of the time, sticking it out has been worth it. (Getting in shape after a long period of no exercise is a case in point.)

      I suppose this says something about one’s approach to decision-making–I’m both extremely rational and extremely emotional, and it’s tough to get the two working in tandem. I’m trying to wrap my head around what it would mean to follow your advice here about plugging leaks.

  • Izmatics

    loved this

  • Lee

    James, I appreciate your writings and as you say, totally ignore angry people and write for the people who are working their practice.

  • http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/ Tom Foremski

    I already practice many of these points but it’s always great to see that others have come to the same place but by different means. That shows that there is some kind of a truth at work…

  • http://www.kevindubrosky.com Kevin Dubrosky

    James, I’ve never heard of you until yesterday, but I’ve already learned from you in some pretty deep ways. Thanks for caring enough to share what you have shared so far.

    Your honesty is disarming and magnetic. I’m going to apply that lesson today.

  • SpiritofAloha

    Great reminder about the Leaks in our lives!  Enjoyed your writing style and hope you find the answer to “What’s on the other side of zero” ~ what if it’s God?  Not trying to start that dreaded “don’t go there” conversation, but “I once was blind, and now I see” is true for me.  I’m just sayin’… 

    Meanwhile, it is refreshing to have a market genius like you share your thoughts with strangers like me.  Keep up the good work!

  • Anonymous

    James, really enjoying reading your blog and articles. Great common sense and also Very encouraging that you don’t claim any perfection or easy route to ‘success’ or happiness just solid guidelines to keep trying to improve. Trying to employ the same attitude in my life, although I know it’ll take time

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yeah, there’s no easy way unfortunately. Thats why I’m down on all the self-help books out there that try to make it easy. All written by people with no real life experience. But there are ways on the path to calmness. I just hope I can stick with them also.

  • Anonymous

    James, really enjoying reading your blog and articles. Great common sense and also Very encouraging that you don’t claim any perfection or easy route to ‘success’ or happiness just solid guidelines to keep trying to improve. Trying to employ the same attitude in my life, although I know it’ll take time

  • http://twitter.com/tanikabell Tanika Bell

    I would say my compassion is a leak. Always putting energies into those  that won’t or can’t seem to do better for themselves. It is a drain. I am learning that I can’t save the world or everyone around me.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Compassion is a leak. Its more important to think: “do no harm” than to think “I will do good for everyone”. You can’t do good for everyone. Don’t harm anyone, even yourself. Just building yourself up is the way to be compassionate to everyone around you. 

  • AnonymousPstr

    Love your blog.  I have two practices I do that have helped me to surrender more, maybe they will be of some use.  Here’s one:

    -It probably sounds wacky but sometimes surrendering to being a “nobody” helps. We all want to be somebody, to matter, because somewhere along the way we learned that being ordinary and average and no one in particular makes you a loser and worthless. All you have to do is become aware of when you are trying to prove yourself and tell yourself to “stop trying”.  Eventually you relax into nobodiness and accept who you are.  Warning:  this does not mean do nothing to help yourself, become a couch potato, or overthink it and starting trying to “be a nobody”.  If you are a masochist don’t use this exercise-you will likely use it the wrong way.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yeah, this is totally true. People are always on this fight to “succeed”. But what is success other than freedom? What more do you want. $100mm? Does that buy freedom? A pulitzer price? does that buy freedom? You’re free this second if you give up on all of the ambitions the world has programmed you to have. 

  • RobertS

    James, thank you for sharing your wisdom. I appreciate it and the world needs it.
     

  • Zardoz123

    Hi James. I value your blog and opinions. Some have helped me a lot. James, how would you stop this “leak.” Let’s say someone has a serious medical condition that is in abeyance. Sometime at an unknown future date that person will require a really major surgery. That person does not know if its 5 months away or 5 years away. Its comming but that person knows not when. So that person sometimes feels like his head is in a guillotine waiting for the blade to fall at an uncertain date in the future. So this person thinks about this often which is one of his ” leaks.” Any suggestions?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes. I think the key is not to get lost in the future. We all have issues that are going to come up either 5 months or 5 years or 20 years from now. Every single one of us has some issue. 

      The key is to stay focused on right now. How do you do that. Practice. But start with just listening. Right now what do you hear? Can you appreciate the things you hear? What do you feel? Oh! You feel scared about something that might happen five years from now. That’s fine also. Thats a feeling you have RIGHT NOW. But its just a feeling. Its not the event itself. Say hello to the feeling, Make a joke to it. Get it to laugh. 

      But today is today. Enjoy what you can of it. Be grateful for what you have today. Appreciate it. Accept it and the entire universe it brings to you when you don’t get lost traveling through time. 

      • Zardoz123

        Thank you for making the time to read my question and give me your opinion James. I am flattered and thank you (again). James, I usually read and then re-read and think about your comments…only then do I get the full benefit of your input. I will do so with your suggestions here. Thanks again. Jorge PS…Please keep on writing James…you are helping me and I am sure many others too.

  • http://twitter.com/soyroberto roberto シ

    facebook and now crapping twitter, money in the bank, sales for customers, being able to make the payroll, customers happy, look good,