Crouching in the Bathroom

I woke up the next morning, the dean’s voice still ringing in my
ears. By late afternoon I still couldn’t shake my gloom, so I dragged
myself to the storage closet and scanned the shelves, looking for
inspiration.
An orange-colored book was sticking out: The 4-Hour Workweek
by Tim Ferriss. It was the book Brandon had given me. I grabbed it
and stretched out on the floor. As I turned to the first page, it felt like
Tim Ferriss was talking just to me. His words sucked me in so deeply
that I didn’t lift my head for the next hour except to reach for a pen
to mark my favorite parts.

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The Spielberg Game

With my list in hand, I charged straight to the storage closet,
sat behind my desk, and flipped open my laptop. But as I stared at
the screen, a cold, empty feeling ran through me. My only thought
was…Now what?
This was the first time I didn’t have a teacher telling me when to
show up for class. No one was telling me what to study or what the
homework was. I’d hated checking boxes, but now that they were
gone, I realized how much I’d relied on them.

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The Storage Closet

I sold my sailboat to a boat dealer for sixteen thousand dollars,
which for a college student feels like a million bucks. I felt so rich I
kept buying Chipotle for all my friends—free guacamole for
everyone! But after the holidays, when I returned to school for
spring semester, the party was over. It was hard for my eyes not to
gloss over in my premed classes as I imagined what it would be like
to instead learn from Bill Gates. I counted down the days until
summer, when I could finally focus all my time on the mission.
Just before school let out, I had a routine meeting with my premed
adviser. She clicked away at her computer and scrolled through my
transcript, studying my “unchecked boxes.”
“Uh-oh, Mr. Alex, we have a little problem.”
“What is it?”

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The Price Is Right

Anyone who’s watched The Price Is Right for even thirty
seconds and has heard the announcer say “COME ON DOWN!”
knows the contestants are colorfully dressed and have wild
personalities that fill the television screen. The show makes it seem
like the contestants are randomly selected from the audience—but at
around 4:00 a.m., as I’d Googled “how to get on The Price Is Right,”
I discovered it was far from random. A producer interviews each
audience member and picks the wildest ones. If the producer likes
you, he puts your name on a list that’s given to an undercover
producer who observes you from afar. If the undercover producer
puts a checkmark by your name, you’re called on stage. It wasn’t
luck: there was a system.

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Staring at the Ceiling

Life, business, success…it’s just like a nightclub.
There are always three ways in.
There’s the First Door: the main entrance, where the line curves
around the block; where 99 percent of people wait around, hoping to
get in.
There’s the Second Door: the VIP entrance, where the billionaires,
celebrities, and the people born into it slip through.
But what no one tells you is that there is always, always…the Third
Door. It’s the entrance where you have to jump out of line, run down
the alley, bang on the door a hundred times, crack open the window,
sneak through the kitchen—there’s always a way.
Whether it’s how Bill Gates sold his first piece of software or how
Steven Spielberg became the youngest studio director in Hollywood
history, they all took…the Third Door.

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Success Is The Result Of Overcoming Obstacles

Wise men are able to make a fitting use even of their enmities.
—PLUTARCH

Gandhi didn’t fight for independence for India. The British Empire did all of the fighting—and,
as it happens, all of the losing.
That was deliberate, of course. Gandhi’s extensive satyagraha campaign and civil disobedience
show that action has many definitions. It’s not always moving forward or even obliquely. It can also
be a matter of positions. It can be a matter of taking a stand.

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The Shortcut Or The Long Way?

The cucumber is bitter? Then throw it out.
There are brambles in the path? Then go around.
That’s all you need to know.
—MARCUS AURELIUS

In 1915, deep in the jungles of South America, the rising conflict between two rival American fruit
companies came to a head. Each desperately wanted to acquire the same five thousand acres of
valuable land.

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Trust The Process

Under the comb, the tangle and the straight path are the same.
—HERACLITUS

Coach Nick Saban doesn’t actually refer to it very often, but every one of his assistants and
players lives by it. They say it for him, tattooing it at the front of their minds and on every
action they take, because just two words are responsible for their unprecedented success: The
Process.

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Persistence Is The Key

For nearly a year, General Ulysses S. Grant tried to crack the defenses of Vicksburg, a city
perched high on the cliffs of the Mississippi, critical to the Confederacy’s stranglehold on the
most important river in the country. He tried attacking head-on. He tried to go around. He spent
months digging a new canal that would change the course of the river. He blew the levees upstream

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Action Wins Every Time!

There was little evidence that Demosthenes was destined to become the greatest orator of

Athens, let alone all of history. He was born sickly and frail with a nearly debilitating speech

impediment. At seven years old, he lost his father. And then things got worse.

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