We don't see things as they are
Self Help Rules, Muhammad Ali, and Declining Gun Deaths
Chris Taylor was a few years ahead of me at Oxford, read history, edited the student newspaper, held and expressed controversial opinions. He’s the author of a really good book, 'How Star Wars Conquered the Universe,' which has been translated into 11 languages. He’s worked at all the major papers in London, and served as bureau chief for Time in San Francisco, and wrote for FSB and FastCompany. Now, for some reason, he’s writing for Mashable which is one of a handful of blogs that made it mainstream but I don’t know anyone who reads it any longer.
His latest article there, though, is appealing. He takes a look at the history of Self-Help literature over the past 125 years or so and distills the common themes down into 11 simple rules for life. If he was really smart, he’d turn it into a book which would be the most meta play I’ve ever seen.
For your edification, the 11 Simple Rules of Self Help Success are:
Take one small step.
Change your mental maps.
Struggle is good. Scary is good.
Instant judgment is bad.
Remember the end of your life.
Be useful to others.
Perfectionism = procrastination.
Sleep, exercise, eat, chill out. Repeat.
Write it all down.
You can't get it all from reading.
“There are three things you can do with your life: You can waste it, you can spend it, or you can invest it. The best use of your life is to invest it in something that will last longer than your time on Earth.”
– Rick Warren
"I'm no good," the 21-year-old man shouted, leaning out over a ledge nine floors above Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. “I'm going to jump!" Far below a crowd had gathered and began to chant: “Jump! Jump! Jump!” Can you even imagine encouraging a man to end his life for the amusement of fools?
Down the street, in a local diner sat the former Heavyweight Champion of the World, and the self-proclaimed Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali. As the poor distressed soul on the ledge shouted that he knew the Viet Song were coming to kill him, Ali was sipping coffee, spinning yarns and reminiscing with friends. He overheard someone at the cash register report what was happening down the street and he was on his feet and on his way.
15 minutes later in his Rolls Royce driving down the wrong way of a one way street, Ali walked up to to the police cordon and said “Let me through, I can help this man!” The officer in charge of the scene waved him through, thinking to himself “What could it hurt?”
And then, in what must have seemed like a dream to the man on the ledge, Muhammad Ali appeared at a nearby window. "It's really you!" the man said in disbelief.
The most famous man on the planet, Ali knew a little something about venturing out on ledges. Knew what it was like to have the Vietnam War twist you up inside, even if this particular man was too young to have served. Knew what it was like to have hostile crowds screaming for your blood.
Police feared he had a gun, so Ali led off with that.
"I'm coming out," Ali shouted. "Don't shoot me!"
"I won't shoot you," the man said. "I don't even have a gun."
The man told Ali that he couldn't find a job, that no one loved him. "Why do you worry about me?" the man shouted to Ali. "I'm a nobody."
“No such thing as nobody. Even the word don’t make no sense, man. I’m your brother. I love you and I wouldn’t lie to you. I want to help you.”
They spoke for more than 20 minutes but the details of the conversation are lost to history. Ali convinced the younger e man to open the door to the fire escape, then they embraced Ali pulled him inside to safety, downstairs to the waiting Rolls Royce and across town the hospital where the man received the help he needed.
"I'm going to help him go to school and find a job, buy him some clothes," Ali told reporters afterward. "I'm going to go home with him to meet his mother and father. They called him a nobody, so I'm going home with him. I'll walk the streets with him and they'll see he's big."
"No doubt about it," a police official said at the scene that day. "Ali saved that man's life.”
My own brother once told me that people either run toward pain or away from it, and your answer to that question determined what kind of man you were. My brother was right:
Are you running toward pain or away from it?
“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”
– Margaret Mead
More Americans died of gun-related injuries in 2021 than in any other year on record, according to the latest available statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That included record numbers of both gun murders and gun suicides. Despite the increase in such fatalities, the rate of gun deaths – a statistic that accounts for the nation’s growing population – remained below the levels of earlier decades.