Exchange Is Everywhere
A good model through which to view the human experience is that of trade. As we’ll explore in this post, trade is everywhere. Sometimes partly conscious, sometimes completely subconscious. Sometimes alone, sometimes with others. But we humans are always trading.
Basic Human Description
One way to describe humans as having unlimited wants. We are like an infinite Pez dispenser. As soon as you take off candy off the top, another one pops right up. Except we are sort of infinite Pez dispensers in reverse. Instead of spitting out candy, we are “desire acquirers.”
Our desires are unlimited. We try and convince ourselves otherwise. All I need is some cool buds and tasty waves, I’m fine. All I need is to pay off my credit cards and I’ll be good. All I need to do is finally lose that extra five pounds and I’ll be set. All I need is a girlfriend / boyfriend and I’ll finally be happy. Except we won’t. Ever.
As soon as we get the most important desire fulfilled, they’ll be another one right beneath it. Don’t believe me? Hold your breath until you can’t hold it any more. At some point, all you’ll want, more than anything, is to exhale. Once you exhale, exhale all the way, and keep your lungs empty for as long as possible. Before long, all you’ll want is to inhale. (When just a few moments ago all you wanted was to exhale!)
Eating – Sleeping – Breathing
On a very basic level, humans are energy pumps. We move and burn energy. We consume and replenish energy. We cannot live unless we are burning or consuming energy. On the most fundamental level, before we even start talking about human thinking, we are consuming and burning energy. All of this happens on a subconscious level.
Endless Biological Trade Examples
We trade oxygen for carbon dioxide. Our lungs trade the same with the hemoglobin in our red cells. Those do the same as they circulate around our body and give energy and pick up waste from our cells. On a large scale we are always taking in energy, and putting out waste. On a purely biological level, on the microscopic and macroscopic level, we are always trading, within and without.
Moving Through Time
We are also moving through time. Try another experiment and see how long you last. Sit as perfectly still as you can, for as long as you can. Chances are you’ll last only a minute or two. Your musculature system is always balancing your body, and doing so by using energy as efficiently as possible.
The longer any one muscle holds any one position, it becomes less and less efficient. It starts to burn more energy, and build up waste. Every time you shift, it’s a constant balance of efficiency and equilibrium. Our bodies have evolved to send us signals when we are uncomfortable. We shift consciously when we can feel this discomfort.
Prime Directive – One
One way to describe our prime directive, on a very basic level, is to maximize comfort, and minimize discomfort. Every time we shift our position, we are moving into the future toward more comfort, and moving away from the discomfort of the past.
Trade Costs Energy
But every time we move, we are burning energy. However, the reason we shift our body position (we’re still talking about very basic trade here) we are doing so to increase efficiency, which means burning less energy. We shift, and burn a burst of calories in the short term, in order to create a more efficient resting position, and save calories, in the long term.
All Trade Must Be Profitable
Now we’re ready for a first rule of trade. We will be comfortable until we get to a certain point. That point is where we believe that a sudden expenditure of calories now will create a bigger savings of calories in the future. The expenditure happens now, when we shift. The savings come in the increase in comfort (decrease in discomfort) which is our interpretation of the increase in efficiency as we are balanced in whatever position we switched two.
Summary Of Human Trade Directives
So far, we have three basic ideas. One is we have infinite desires. Two is we are always trading. One state in one time, for a new state in a new time. Three is we will only make a trade if it is profitable, or we expect it to be profitable.
Imagine you’re sitting on your couch, and a commercial comes on TV. You imagine an outcome that you’d like transfer from the realm of mind to the realm of reality. You imagine having a cold beer in hand before the TV show comes back on. You quickly calculate how much it will cost, and you quickly calculate what the benefit will be. This happens mostly unconsciously.
If you believe the trade will be profitable (you’ll get more out than you put in) you’ll get up and get a beer. If you believe it won’t be profitable (you’ll get out less than you put in) you won’t get up and get a beer.
Always Making Calculations
We can assume we humans are always making these kind of trade calculations in mind. We imagine a bunch of potential futures. We imagine the costs associated with them. And we take the actions that will give us the most bang for our buck. We do the things that will be the most profitable, which will give us a desirable result with the least amount of effort.
Since we are humans, and not Vulcans, most of the things we use in these never-ending calculations are based on plenty of assumptions. A monkey sitting at the base of a tree has evolved a sense of “go” or “no go” when they look up and see a banana. They get a “go” feeling if the work required to get the banana is less calories than the banana has. They get a “no go” feeling if the banana contains fewer calories than the work required to get it.
Much of human calculations are filled with assumptions. Assumptions about our skills. Assumptions about the rewards. Assumptions about how hard or difficult the action will be. Generally speaking, the longer out in the future the imagined reward is, the more these assumptions will play a part in the cost-benefit analysis. The more other people are involved, the more these assumptions will play a part in the cost-benefit analysis.
Whenever we need to interact with another human in order to get something we want, we are very rarely rational. Many people have the experience of looking across the room and seeing an attractive person. We would like to get to know them. We don’t think of that rationally. Perhaps we imagine being in a conversation with them, and we imagine both of us having a good time. That is the outcome.
But then we imagine what it would take to get that outcome. We imagine the potential losses. We imagine the uncertainty involved. How we feel about ourselves and our social skills will play a huge part in our cost benefit analysis. We make the cost benefit analysis quickly and subconsciously. We have a desire, and then an immediate feeling that tells us “go” or “no go” much like the monkey and the banana.
Some people like bargain hunting. The idea is pretty compelling. Finding something that is drastically reduced, but something we will get a lot of value from. This is a case getting a very high ROI, or return on investment. A monkey who spends 100 calories to get a 200 calorie banana has a 100% ROI. That’s pretty good.
If we buy a vintage jacket we value at $100, but only spend $10, that’s a 1000% ROI. That’s really good. The name of the game for all business is to maximize ROI. If you spend a million dollars on the back end, and get a million and a half on the front end, that’s pretty good. For every million you sink into your business, you get back a million and a half. That’s a 50% ROI.
Always Maximizing ROI
All businesses, all individuals, and even all organisms are programmed by evolution to always get a positive ROI. Imagine if a monkey popped up one generation that was a genetic freak in that he was cool with living with a negative ROI. Meaning he wouldn’t mind spending 500 calories to get a 200 calorie banana.
He would eventually starve to death, and he wouldn’t pass on any of these negative ROI genes. We can imagine how all humans (and essentially all living organisms) are programmed by God or evolution to always seek a positive ROI.
Positive Social ROI
The prime directive of any business, of any organism, of any creature, is to get positive ROI. Huge international conglomerates are no different from monkeys in that regard. They want to get more out of the system than they put in.
From a very big picture view, this is precisely why there is so much stuff on Earth where before we had a bunch of dirt. People didn’t invent and make stuff because they “felt like it.” Everybody who ever invented anything did so because they wanted to get some kind of return, monetary, political, fame, fortune, whatever, more than what they put into the system.
And since everybody’s been essentially competing (and copying) with everybody, the party just keeps on rolling. Of course, this is pretty common, and pretty basic. What we want is some kind of takeaway, so we can use this trade model to our advantage.
Positive Social ROI
The first thing to understand is everybody is hard wired to seek positive ROI. Nobody is going to go out and just give away anything without expecting anything in return. Whether most folks know it or not, nobody is going to do anything unless they believe on some level, often subconscious, that they are getting something out of the deal.
Become A Social Entrepreneur
In many ways, all humans, and indeed all living organisms, are entrepreneurs. We are all looking for some angle that will allow us to get more out of any system than we put in. The trick is to think this way consciously, so we can play around with how we interact with people.
Non-Social Entrepreneur Angle
For example, we can imagine a typical guy going out hoping to get lucky with some girl. Right off that bat, we see he’s not using the trade model, since he’s (and most of us) use the term, “get lucky.” Nobody ever made a consistent profit using the idea of getting lucky.
So this guy (who’s hoping to get lucky) sees a girl across the room. Since he’s a guy, she’s already passed his tests. Meaning she’s hot, he likes her, if she gave him her number, he would consider it a success. So right from the get go, he’s walking over hoping to get a positive result.
What he’s not thinking about is anything that represents the trade model. The trade model requires they have something, you have something, and you see if you want to make a trade. Most guys have the opposite of the trade model. Something that could be called the, “please give me something” model.
Before even making a move, he’s not going to be very attractive. No girl is going to be attracted to a guy who walks the earth with the, “please give me something” model. Nobody is going to hire a guy who walks into the interviewers office radiating the “please give me something” model. Nobody is going to want to be friend with a guy who is radiating the “please give me something” model.
The Wrong Model Destroys Value
Simply by walking the earth with the “please give me something” model, we are purposely lowering our value. And since we can’t “not” trade, since we are all hard wired on a deep level to always be looking for positive ROI, most of us will immediately and instinctively dismiss anybody with a “please give me something” model.
Right Model Creates Value
Simply by walking the earth with a, “let’s see if we both have something to trade,” model, we will boost our value considerably. A guy who walks across the room to speak to a pretty girl with the attitude of “let’s see if we have enough overlapping interests to make a deal” is going to be much more interesting.
Somebody who walks into a job interview with a “let’s see if my skills and your company are a mutually beneficial match” is going to be a much more interesting candidate. Somebody who radiates “let’s see if we have enough overlapping interests to hang out” is going to be a much more interesting friend. This person will be the opposite of needy.
How To Purposely Create Positive ROI
When spending money, ROI is pretty hard to fake. When climbing trees for bananas, ROI is hard to fake. But when engaging in social situations, positive ROI is very easy to fake. ROI, remember, is return on investment.
When you walk over and talk to somebody, what is the investment? If you build her up in your mind that her acceptance will save your life, then the investment to get that will necessarily need to be huge. But if you casually stroll over there just to find out what kind of personality she has, the investment is minimal.
The return is equally flexible. If you hope she’s the one who will make you whole, and save your life, then her smile may mean the world to you, you won’t be satisfied with anything less. On the other hand, if you purposely go over there with only the goal of getting her name, then you are almost guaranteed a positive return.
Slowly Build Up Your Positive ROI Muscle
No matter where you are, you can practice getting positive social ROI. This only requires you set the terms before the event. Meaning you see an opportunity, and you consciously choose the investment, and the potential return. The investment could be you saying, “Hi.” The return could simply be the other person saying “Hi,” back. How would you calculate the actual ROI?
How hard is it to say “Hi”? That’s the investment. How does it feel when somebody says “Hi” back to you? It usually feels pretty good. You might say that somebody else saying “hi” is worth twice of the energy it takes for you to say “hi,” so you could reasonably define a “hi-hi” exchange with an ROI of 100%.
Pre Frame ROI Whenever Possible
If you don’t consciously choose to use the trade model before entering into a situation, you’ll tend to default to the “please give me something” model, which means you’ll either fail, or you’ll get lucky. Getting lucky is not a sustainable strategy!
ROI Is Almost Always Flexible
Unless you are spending cash money for something, the ROI is almost always flexible. This is essentially the same as saying that everything is negotiable, which it is, so long as both parties have a certain amount of control over what is being traded.
Be A Collector Of Small ROI’s
One way to build self confidence is to purposely collect as many positive ROI’s as you possibly can. After all, the whole prime directive of all life forms if to consistently get positive ROI. We can think of evolution as a long filtration process that keeps the ROI winners, and makes extinct the ROI losers, like silly monkeys who spend 1000 calories of energy to get a 200 calorie banana.
The more you consciously and consistently build up positive ROI’s, the more you’ll prove to yourself on a deep level that you are a valuable life form that has plenty to offer to plenty of other life forms. The bigger you build your ROI confidence, the more you’ll enjoy the game.
Mind Persuasion has plenty of books and courses designed to boost your skills in all areas of life, allowing you to maximize your ROI.
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