The 4 pillars of freedom
Introducing the Plan B Practice
[Note: this post was first published in late 2019, and revised in 2021]
Plan B Practice is the culmination of decades of work with industry leaders, gifted coaches, esoteric practitioners, and free spirits I crossed paths with in my lifelong travels–together with thousands of hours of study, journaling, and introspection.
It's a discipline for freedom, independence, and self-ownership. The basic premise of the Plan B practice is that:
Every aspect of life rests on the power dynamics of negotiation.
The number 1 success factor to any negotiation is what professionals refer to as the “fallback position” (also known as "plan B"). In other words, what will you do if the negotiation falls apart?
Those with a strong plan B enjoy superior negotiating power.
This translates in a higher degree of optionality and better outcomes in all parts of life.
Take relationships, for example.
Knowing that you can leave the relationship if things don't work out, gives you the strength to set healthy personal limits with the people closest to you–colleagues, clients, partners, and even family members.
Having a solid plan B, makes you confident enough to teach others how to treat you. This leads to healthier and more productive relationships.
What does a strong Plan B look like?
Plan B manifests as confidence. This confidence doesn't have anything to do with individual character merits, extroversion, or social skills.
Instead, it's based on optionality. For example:
If you had fuck-you-money would you need to ass-lick bosses, colleagues, and clients? Would you need to sacrifice your time for work you’re not inspired by? If your skills made you irreplaceable, would you fear losing your clients?
Skills mean you will always be able to find work. Fuck-you-money means you don’t even need to work. Wealth and Skills (wealth tends to follow skills) confer negotiating power. They boost your self-confidence even if you’re an introvert.
Wealth and Skills are 2 of the 4 pillars of your plan B. Before we look at the other pillars, it's important to note that:
The stronger your plan B, the less you need to use it. The more secure you feel, the less you have to struggle.
The more you focus on your plan B, the more leverage you will enjoy in your business and personal life.
A stronger plan B leads to more attractive options. You will feel less cornered. Your interactions with people will become less … desperate. You will be less needy.
Now, wait a minute... All this sounds good in theory, but is it even possible in the real world?
Glad you asked. The best way to answer this is by looking at our ancestors.
Our nomadic forefathers who roamed the earth (thousands of years before the Agricultural Age) enjoyed the strongest plan B in the entire human history. They were the strongest, most skillful, agile, and stress-free people ever to walk on this planet.
As Yuval Noah Harari writes in his book Sapiens, “foragers seem to have enjoyed a more comfortable and rewarding lifestyle than most of the peasants, shepherds, laborers and office clerks who followed in their footsteps.”
Those people were completely self-reliant. They used their own two hands—their own sweat and grey matter—to hunt, forage, and build makeshift shelters. They relied on their individual skills for survival.
Now, fast-forward to the average 21st century milenial with their pizza delivery, Uber-lifts, Netflix entertainment and swipe dating. We barely have to get off our sofa these days. Everything is taken care of for us. In just a few years from now, a Universal Basic Income (UBI) may be the only way to keep us alive.
We have moved from a state of skillful self-ownership, to a helpless state of submission. From a masterful place to a place of zero skills; a place of zero negotiating power. Zero Plan B.
Now, I’m not suggesting we quit our jobs, donate everything and go live on the mountains. What I’m proposing is that we use the resources available to us, to buck the trend and take our lives and freedom into our own hands.
Below is a brief summary of the 4 Pillars of your Plan B, and how you can improve on them.
Pillar 1: Wealth
Opt out of the fiat money economy, a system explicitly designed to impoverish the middle class.
Switch your mindset from consumption to investment in all parts of life. The wealthy accumulate assets, the poor do the same with liabilities.
Embrace minimalism. Sell, donate, and let go of things (liabilities) you're not actively using.
Pillar 2: Skills
Learn how to meet your own needs. The closer you get to value-creation, the more independent and sovereign you become. Get your hands dirty.
Respond rather than react to changes in your environment. Reactions are predictable and therefore easy to control and manipulate. The ability to respond is what restores the power balance back to you.
Upgrade your decision making muscle. Use journaling to clear out the noise, generate ideas, and transcend your challenges.
Increase the signal-to-noise ratio in all parts of your life. Don't forget about digital hygiene.
Pillar 3: Mobility
Don't lose energy resisting situations that are outside of your control. Learn the power of voting with your feet.
Tap into labor arbitrage opportunities. Use location to your advantage.
Let go of whatever is not adding value to your life (or to the world at large). This applies to things and relationships. Again, minimalism.
Pillar 4: Health
Identify and avoid foods that deplete your energy. Anything that travelled hundreds of miles to your plate (and pretty much anything with a barcode) is a prime candidate for elimination. You can't go wrong with real and local food.
Discover movement routines you can do everywhere you find yourself. Prime every single day for better mood and creativity.
Preserve your vital essence (sexual energy) for mental power and longevity. This topic is not "politically correct" for a reason. In fact, most empowering things in life are not deemed to be PC. I wonder why.
The Plan B Practice works in tandem with 3 overarching principles:
1. Don't rely on others to figure things out for you (aka rubber duck debugging).
John is a programmer. John gets stuck while coding his program. John finds his nearest colleague, Alice, and asks for her help. To assist him, Alice has to drop what she is doing and switch her attention to John. As John starts to unpack his problem, he suddenly stops, falls quiet for a second, and then proclaims he’s figured it all out. Ring a bell?
To deal for this natural tendency, programmer teams around the world use what’s known as rubber duck debugging.
John carries around an actual rubber duck. When he has a problem, all he has to do is explain it to the duck, hence figuring out the solution on his own without bothering Alice.
Most "expert" help these days consists of surface-level treatments that only serve to empower the person doling them out (that pretty much sums up modern medicine, btw).
I seek for practices that empower people to figure things out for themselves and meet their own needs. Give a man a fish and you will feed them for a day ...
2. It’s not about being smart. It’s about not being stupid.
Legendary investor Charlie Munger (Warren Buffet’s partner) is known to have said: “The best way to be smart is to not be stupid.”
The trick, it seems, is not about discovering a get-rich formula. The real trick is to avoid making the mistakes every other investor makes. Staying clear of known pitfalls is the best survival strategy in the world of investment.
Same principle applies to all other parts in life.
3. Strong opinions, loosely held.
There are no binary, black-or-white solutions in the real world. Everything in nature participates in an ever-shifting balance. As such, no idea should be embraced wholesale. Have conviction, take action, but stay flexible and keep moving. That’s a survival skill right there.
The freedom, sovereignty, and fulfilment that comes with building a strong Plan B inspires me to no end. I hope you feel equally inspired to improve your Plan B as soon as possible.
Start working on the principles above. Do it today. Thank me later.