Life is a Game of Leverage and Here is How to Win It

The 4 levers you can pull to win the game of life

The conventional path to a successful life goes like this: study hard, get a good job, wait for raises, save for retirement, wait until 65 years old to enjoy your life. It works for some people — but not all.

For those who don’t like — or better put, hate — the conventional path, they often come up with alternative ways that include risky plans like dropping out of college, starting a business, or just quitting their job to travel around the world. The truth is, like the conventional path, this daring and adventurous path doesn’t work for everyone too.

I’m not against the conventional path nor the adventurous path. In fact, it’s necessary for us to find a balance between both of them. You want to have a strong foundation and stability in certain areas of your life so you could take bigger risks in other areas. The real problem lies in the way we approach the process.

Life isn’t fair and it’s fine

We love to think we’re living in a fair environment and everyone gets ahead at the same pace but the truth is that we don’t. Some people are aware of that, and that’s why they abandon what has been told and decide to take their destiny in their own hand.

But then they quickly fall into the same mental patterns that in what they do — whether it’s starting a side hustle, growing an online audience, or pursuing their arts — everyone starts from the same starting point and play with the same rules.

Even in many hundred thousand years ago when humans are living in a linear environment, some people get ahead faster and better than others. People who are successful in any area are people who have and use leverage well.

Life is a game of leverage

In fact, the most successful people are good at spotting these leverages even when no one sees it, or even better, have the ability to create their own leverage. Here are the four biggest leverages you can have and should develop to win the game of life.

Leverage of courage

The first leverage that most people don’t realize is the power of courage. You can make a huge impact even when you only practice a tiny dose of courage every day. It takes courage to get started and get things done, especially when it’s about doing the right and hard work.

  • Steve Jobs took the courage to eliminate 70% of Apple’s products to focus on the quality and innovation of the Macintosh when he got back to Apple in 1997.
  • After selling PayPal and receiving $165 million in profit, Elon Musk took the courage to invest all of the PayPal proceeds into Tesla and SpaceX.
  • Robert Downey Jr. took the courage to accept the role of Iron Man even when Marvel wasn’t convinced about him at the start due to his past. Because of that, he was getting paid for only $500,000 in the first Iron Man movie — which eventually transformed his entire career. As a matter of comparison, he got paid for $10 million in Iron Man 2.

Doing the right thing — and often hard — requires courage. Unfortunately, many people don’t have it, and that’s why it makes a huge difference for you to practice even the tiniest dose of courage.

The leverage of courage is not only useful for people who want to change the world. Think about the small goals you have; it could be:

  • Charging your clients more based on what you worth.
  • Proposing to your girlfriend who you’ve been dating for seven years.
  • Starting a side hustle with a full-time job.

You will need the courage to take the first leap and turn them into the realities. In fact, the key is to start by taking small risks and make more vanity mistakes (something that even when you fail, you’re okay). This way, you get to improve your confidence slowly and get used to leveraging courage to accomplish what you want in life.

Leverage of knowledge and wisdom

I bet you’re aware of the leverage of knowledge and wisdom. In fact, most people value knowledge way before courage. Indeed, what you know make a huge difference. Depending on what you do and the stage of life you’re in, you need to learn different types of skills and knowledge to stay relevant and valuable to other people.

With the abundance of information and the ease of accessing them today, there is really no reason and excuse to not actively learning something new, especially when you need the particular skills or knowledge for your career.

In Tony Robbins’s words: “Happiness comes from progress.” And learning is what creates the sense of progress and fulfillment in our lives. On the other hand, it’s also important for you to take actions based on what you know.

Knowing is knowledge. Acting on what you know is wisdom.

To win the game of life, keep an open mind and adopt continual improvement. Always strive to extend and expand your knowledge, and at the same time, practice what you know to turn them into wisdom.

Leverage of relationships

I used to be the person who doesn’t value good relationships at all. Part of the reason was that I was raised in a very transactional environment; another part of it was that I had no idea what a good relationship is.

The more I learn, from both successes and failures, the more I realize how relationships play a huge role in our lives. Developing strong relationships with successful and kind people around you has proven to be a crucial leverage both at work and in life.

  • Professionally, good relationships open up rare opportunities and get you ahead of the game. In many cases, your network is truly your net worth.
  • Intellectually, having a group of top performers around to push you forward. You’re the average of the five people you associate with. The dynamics of immersing yourself in successful people will grow your wisdom and transform your mental frameworks.
  • Personally, good relationships make your life meaningful. In fact, it’s my ultimate goal to do the work that I love with the people who I love working with.

The secret of building strong relationships with other people is by focusing on contributing instead of getting. Think about how you can be valuable to another person 98% of the time. While doing so, always be honest and stay transparent to build trusts.

Leverage of time

The last and final leverage is time. Now, you may be wondering: “Everyone has the exact same amount of time. How is it a leverage?”

Time is a leverage because everyone uses time differently. On the surface, people who use time wisely are likely to get ahead faster and better in life.

  • Master the Eisenhower Matrix to spend more time on important tasks instead of urgent tasks.
  • Learn how to get more done in less time by overcoming procrastination and distractions.
  • Avoid wasting valuable time by making good use of to-do list and timetable.

However, the true power of time leverage lies within how you see and measure time. When you approach time far away — seeing 10 years as a short time — your perspectives shift.

Imagine what it would be like in 5 years later if you took the courage to start a side business today. Think about how much you could gain 10 years later when you read a good book and implement the lessons today. And visualize what strong relationships with others means to you a few decades later when you start developing them today.

The secret to making time your biggest leverage is by starting early. And often, early means now, and now means to start before you’re ready.

Final thoughts

Life is a game of leverage. Even if you’re not competing with anyone, it’s important for you to get ahead. Because if you’re not growing, you’re eventually being left behind.

The path you take is likely to change based on your circumstances. So before thinking about what to do, make it a mission to gain as many leverages as possible.


More recommended reads

Get my email delivered to your inbox once in a while

Three to five things I learned—that will help you work less, earn more, and live a better life. (Also get notified of new posts and masterclasses)

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

👆 Join 3,100+ leaders, creatives, and knowledge workers today.

Dean is a strong voice in the self-mastery space. His newsletter consistently delivers insightful ideas on how to become a better version of yourself and is the only newsletter that I always read.

Sebastian Kade

Head of product and engineering