How to Get Ahead of 99% of People: Understand Yourself

Arlo Sanchez
5 min readDec 6, 2023

Most people don’t understand themselves.

They make decisions based on what 99% of others do because they don’t trust in their own self-judgement.

They hold beliefs that were instilled by authorities or mass media.

They are not independent thinkers who challenge the norm.

They accept it as if it cannot be changed.

If you stay this way, you’re going to struggle with building a life that you truly want.

Or even worse…

You won’t even know the life you want.

Your Identity Was Stolen

“If you don’t create a purpose, you will be assigned one” — Dan Koe

Now, it isn’t just our purpose that we need to take control of.

But our identity.

Our identity is who we are.

It shapes our thought patterns, beliefs and decisions.

Without knowing who you are, you risk being someone you’re not — and when done too excessively, you’ll feel sick of yourself.

You’ll live an inauthentic life that doesn’t align with your principles.

A shell of a man who doesn’t try to be the best version of himself.

Instead, he just sits there.

Passively.

This is the life of most people nowadays.

Unaware of who they are, who they want to be, yet perfectly tolerant of having someone else decide how they live their life.

But I get it.

It’s difficult.

Ever since you were born and brought into the traditional education system…

You have been:

• Labeled.
​• Assigned an identity.
​• Given expectations you had to fulfil, without knowing the reasons behind them.

School dehumanized your identity to prepare you for the workforce. Your reputation was based on your grades, but not your gifts. Your competence based on a standard scale, but not a subjective one. Your talents based on what’s useful others, but not your curiosities.

A world with specific rules were created, and you were forced to play the game.

Understand Yourself

The first step is understanding who you are.

Doing so will bring clarity to your natural strengths and interests. Even if you know your vision, there are 1,000,000 ways to reach it.

But what comes next?

After you understand who you are, what you stand for and what kind of person you want to become, you bring that future.

You might disappoint people.

You will confused others.

And yes, you will be confused yourself.

But the more you put off this journey to self-understanding to please others, the harder it will be to please them anyway.

(Of course, this comes within certain parameters, don’t harm others just to be ‘authentic’. Know your boundaries and be a genuinely good human being, but do not sacrifice your relationship with yourself to impress others).

1) Solitude

Most people drown themselves with the news, TV and TikTok.

That’s why they struggle to move towards the life they desire.

They don’t understand themselves because they don’t carve out the time to listen to their own thoughts.

That is mental self-harm.

If you want to

  1. Remove distractions and stare at the wall
  2. Do trial-and-error in the real world.

The reason for staring at your wall is to get your mind thinking. Today, we lose many opportunities for keen insights because we’re distracted by Social Media and video games.

Once you’ve subconsciously developed an idea about who you are, what you really want, and what you could do… write it down on your notebook.

After 2–3 hours of mind wandering, you now have a rough plan of things you could try. Do them without hesitation.

Reflect.

Measure.

Did you enjoy it? What happened? How can you improve next time?

2) Personality Types

Of course, you can also use personality tests like the MBTI and Enneagrams. I, myself, has gone down that rabbit hole, to the point where the majority of my thoughts were about MBTI. However, I am against this.

MBTI is a good way of beginning your self-awareness journey, but you must stop. The system is inaccurate, as it focuses on generalization. It makes you hone a fixed and closed mindset of who you are.

Instead, I suggest learning the cognitive functions, as they don’t limit your beliefs.

They just indicate which functions you prefer to use, based on how well you use them. They are not the building blocks of your personality. They are the weapons which you must sharpen. You have stronger weapons and weaker weapons.

Understanding which ones you rely on will make you more deliberate in improving your weaknesses. Think of it as a growth mindset, instead of a fixed one.

Use cognitive functions to discover your hidden strengths and deepest truths.

Most people don’t want to pursue their vision because they think they’re not good at anything. I‘ve always thought of myself as a jack of all trades: an all-around student with above average grades but nothing exceptional in particular.

The school system made it difficult for me to discover my sharpest weapon. It took deliberate practice of trial-and-error to figure out my strengths in ‘speaking’, ‘writing’, ‘dealing with people’, and ‘organizing tasks’.

I needed time to explore myself, and hone my skills until I realized they were strengths. But it was the vision of being exceptionally better at something that kept me gong.

Your talents won’t come to your lap, you have to deliberately seek them out. Once you do, practice until you reach your vision.

3) Practice High Agency

“A contrarian isn’t one who always objects — that’s a confirmist of a different sort. A contrarian reasons independently, from the ground up, and resists pressure to conform.”

High Agency is the ability to navigate unknowns and challenging circumstances.

To carve your own path to success without waiting for the conditions to be perfect.

It’s being in control over your own behaviors and actions, rather than blaming external circumstances.

Now that you’ve understood yourself more deeply, you’ll fall into either 1 of 2 categories:

  1. Put yourself in a box and blame your ‘personality’ for not
  2. Learn to grow as a person, taking full responsibility of your personal growth.

I’ve found myself in category 1 in the past few years. Ever since I’ve discovered MBTI, I became hooked. Every thought I had was about MBTI. Every action I made, decision I considered and person I met: MBTI. There came a point where I made excuses:

“Ah I’m an ISFJ, I’m not good at handling conflict anyway, let’s forget about this”.

This led to a victim mindset.

I practiced low agency.

Instead of taking rseponsibility over what I could control, I instead blamed my ‘personality’.

This isn’t how you should approach self-understanding.

Treat every information you have on yourself as data.

Data that will help you make the next move.

Focus all your attention on improving, while using data has feedback.

This is how you become the best version of yourself, without and get ahead of 99% of people.

Have a great Sunday.

- Arlo

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