Ideal Attainment: How to Reprogram Your Mind and Undo Your Faulty Conditioning


Ideal Attainment



How to Reprogram the Mind and Undo your Faulty Conditioning





Jesse Dvorak

























Getting what you want out of life is absolutely vital.

Contained in this book is a system of thought which will all but guarantee that you get what you want. This system, rather than focusing on how to accomplish any one specific goal, provides a precise but broadly applicable method of working towards the achievement of any goal.


This system utilizes two main concepts: Ideals and Gradations.


Here are the basics:


Ideals are the most perfect version of a situation. Your ideal is what you want, taken to its most extreme degree. It includes the version of yourself that you most want to be.


Gradations are the series of steps which lead towards an ideal. Also known as graded scales, gradations are spectrums of actions which are arranged in such an order that each action in succession brings about a closer approximation of the ideal than the action before it.

All ideals are approached by gradual improvement. That is, ideals are not attained all at once – there is a process which leads there. There are many lesser goals which are achieved on the way to the actualization of an ideal. The accomplishment of these lesser goals pushes one closer to his ideal. This bridge of lesser goals that connects your current situation and your ideal situation is called your gradation.

Mentally focusing on an ideal will draw the ideal to you, as it conditions your mind to perceive the world in terms of the ideal.


As your mind becomes more conditioned to think in terms of the ideal, it becomes easier to take action in ascension up your gradation and bring your ideal closer to reality.

As you take action to move up your gradation towards your ideal, your mind becomes even further programmed to accept your perfect situation as reality. So here we have a feedback loop, with graded action and ideal thought causing and supporting each other.


You are either moving towards your ideal and going up your gradation, or you’re falling away from your ideal and moving down your gradation. There is no such thing as holding your position. Without continuous advancement, you eventually fall away from the ideal.


All progress made towards the attainment of an ideal is progress made towards the attainment of an ideal, regardless of how small the gain. Any action taken in the direction of an ideal could never be considered a failure – only a greater or lesser success.


At the top of all gradation scales is CAUSE. At the bottom of all gradation scales is EFFECT. This means that all progress is defined by one’s attainment of higher degrees of causitiveness. This drive towards higher levels of creative potential is the primary governing factor of life, and every gradation and every ideal you have should push you further towards this end. That is, your goal should always be to move closer to the ultimate ideal of total causativeness.


Here’s a 3 step process illustrating how to use this system of ideals and gradations:


Ask Yourself:


1. What is your ideal for the situation?

2. What are the steps on the gradation that leads to this ideal?

3. What can I do to move myself up this gradation right now?


The key to the proper utilization of this mindset is figuring out what the actions are on your gradation so that you can progressively move upwards towards your ideal.


If you ever get stuck moving up your gradation scale, the reason is that the gradation level you think you should be on is higher than the one you should actually be on. In other words, you are simply trying to operate too far up the scale. Move yourself down your gradation scale, master those lower levels, and then proceed back upwards.



















Author’s Note: The reader need not look at the contents of this book as “fact”, but instead should ask himself if the ideas provided here would be of any use to him if they were fully understood and applied to his own life. This book is written with utility in mind – not precise truth.











































Table of Contents



Chapter 1: The Mind: A Mechanism of Repetition


Chapter 2: Mindset


Chapter 3: Ideals


Chapter 4: Gradations


Chapter 5: Solutions to Common Problems using Ideals and Gradations


Chapter 6: Unintuitive Implications


Chapter 7: Tribute Quotes


Addendum: The 20 Laws of the Graded-Ideal Mindset






That which is in locomotion must arrive at the half-way stage before it arrives at the goal.


– Aristotle, Ancient Greek Philosopher



An ideal is the most desirable version of a situation that can be imagined. Ideals are attained through incremental improvement, such that each new situation created more closely approximates the ideal than the last. This scale of increments is known as the gradation.

Gradations lead one upwards, towards ideals.

The philosophy of ideals and gradations is a particular way of looking at the world. It is a lens through which you view things. A new mindset.

I believe it is the correct way of perceiving your environment. A natural way, though perhaps counter-intuitive in the “modern” world.

Applying the combined mechanics of ideals and gradations creates a mindset of constant progress. A mindset of positivity. A mindset of creation.

Some people grew up thinking this way, but most did not. If you weren’t one of the lucky ones, don’t worry – it’s not hard to make a change.

This mindset of seeing the world in terms of your ideals and their gradations is very simple and could be explained in a few seconds. After all, it is really just based on the simple observation that life is about having a desirable vision of the future and then setting out to create it. However, the process of training your mind to automatically recognize the world only in terms of ideals and gradations may take a bit longer.

The great breakthrough that makes this philosophy possible, (and the key component of most other self-help books as well) is that the mind can be changed. Your mind is not a rigid thing. It isn’t set in stone. It changes – with or without your consent – and it changes very rapidly if you use the correct technology.

This is a book on mindset, but it is also a book on mind change.

To change your mind is to change your life. It is through the mind that all perceptions come to you, and through the mind that all your ideas become manifested in the physical universe.

The secret to mind change is simple. It can be expressed in one word: Repetition.

Through repetition we can change the mind. What the mind repeatedly does, it continues to do. And so we have “habit”. And so we have “muscle memory”. And so we have “compulsion”.

Repetition of an idea leads one to adopt that idea. Repetition of an action leads one to perform that action more readily. Repetition is the key to the programming of the mind.

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle famously put it this way:

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”


But repetition alone clearly does not solve all of our problems. Repetition is only the seed from which real success can germinate. And if repetition is the seed, ideals and gradations build the greenhouse that ensures its growth.





































































A Note on Definitions


If you do not understand the words someone is using, it is unlikely that you will understand the ideas they are trying to communicate.

And so I have provided definitions of the most essential words used in this book at the beginning of the section that they are most relevant. These definitions are not necessarily the exact dictionary definitions of the words. They are the definitions of these words as I use them.

Any other words that I do not explicitly define should be assumed to mean the normal, generally agreed upon dictionary definition.










Chapter 1


The Mind:

A Mechanism of Repetition


Brain: The physical organ which acts as the coordinating center of the nervous system.


Mind: The sum total of thoughts, opinions, memories, mindsets and dispositions held by a person.


Mindset: The semi-permanent group of thoughts and beliefs which determines how the mind responds to events. Mindsets are created by repeated thought and action. They are durable, but not unchangeable and they influence how you interpret and respond to your environment.



Mainstream society’s ideas about the mind are, perhaps not surprisingly, pretty far off from reality. It is unfortunate that most of us were given a very false idea to believe in – that most of the experiences in our life are based on how our mind “is”. We were taught that we are somehow the effect of the nature of our minds, instead of the other way around, and that because our mind is fixed in a certain way, conforming to a certain and nearly unchangeable disposition, our behaviors are basically pre-determined. Supposedly, our behaviors are just an inevitable manifestation of the thoughts, feelings, opinions, dispositions and mindsets that we naturally have, “built in” to our specific personality.

Let’s throw this idea out right now; it is absolutely false. It’s simply not the case.

Here’s the truth:


Our minds are malleable.

“Malleable” literally means “able to be changed in shape by hammering”. It comes from the Latin word “malleus”, meaning hammer. Just like the blacksmiths of old who would hammer raw iron into the form of a sword or shield, we shape our own minds with the hammer of experience. Repeated hammer hits on hot iron would bend it into the desired shape. Repeated experiences hammer our mind into the desired mindset.

Our minds can be changed, and in fact they can be changed quite readily. Different experiences shape our opinions; people we interact with persuade us. Things we read, arguments we have, the thoughts we surround ourselves with when alone in the shower all contribute to what and how we think about the world around us. The events that we experience shape our feelings and our perceptions. Our experiences change our mind, and so change our thoughts and the actions that result from them.

Once we understand that our minds are influenced by our experiences, it becomes obvious that to change our mind, we must change our experiences. And luckily, our experiences are, for the most part, under our control.

The general strategy to changing our experiences lies in shifting our attention. Our minds move towards what we have our attention on. We think in terms of football, and our mind will see things in terms of football. We put our attention on losses, and our mind will tend to think in terms of losses. Everyone has experienced this phenomenon – when we get “really into something” we tend to think of everything we experience in relation to the thing that we are “really into”.

This is even more true when we consider the effect that intentional action has on our thought processes. When you take action towards a specific idea, you train your mind to accept that idea. The more frequent and the more rigorous the action taken in the direction of the idea, the more the mind is trained to accept it. The football quarterback who drills his throws over and over is training his mind to know how to throw the ball consistently and accurately at a moving target. Not only is he training his body to physically make the throw, but he is also training his mind to track the ball, to anticipate where his fellow teammates are going to be, and how to best control his body under pressure. Drilling a technique over and over pushes the mind to accept that training pattern and so be able to repeat it more readily.

Thus we have a feedback loop here – the internal influences the external, and the external influences the internal. Our mindset affects our experiences; our experiences affect our mindset.

The mind accepts trained patterns of behavior, molds itself in their image, and then repeats them. This is why winners keep winning and losers keep losing. This is why repetitive practice works. This is why we go on “streaks” of a lot of the same thing happening in a row. It is how people fall into “habits”. It also explains things like chronic illness and chronic mental conditions.

Here is a simple analogy to help you remember this – your mind is like a lump of modeling clay.

Clay is mold-able, and retains the shape it was formed into. Its form can be changed easily and once its form is changed, it tends to stay in that form until something else changes it.

Repeatedly pressing an object into a lump of clay will create imprints of the object in the clay. Repeatedly pressing an image or idea in your mind will create an imprint of the idea in your mind. Just like clay, the mind itself will change based on what is impressed into it. The more you press an object into a piece clay, the more the clay will take on the shape of that object. The more you press an idea into your mind, the more your mind will take on the “shape” of that idea.

If you want to become a chess master, then keep on impressing the idea of “chess” and “chess master” into your mind. If you want to get good at social interactions, surround yourself with examples of what it means to be good at social interactions. If you want to make more money, understand the factors that create wealth and imprint them into your mind through repeated study. If you want to start your own business, continuously impress the idea of your product and your business plan into your mind. This doesn’t just mean sit there and think about it though; the strongest way to imprint something in your mind is to take action that agrees with the thought.

Repeated contact with ideas generally causes the mind to accept those ideas. And whatever ideas your mind accepts, your mind seeks to repeat.

The mind is, in essence, a mechanism of repetition. In other words, it spits back out what is put into it.

The mind is something which can be molded and shaped by its environment, and by you. But because the mind repeats whatever was fed into it, and you won’t always remember every experience that shaped what your mind has become, the mind may at times seem to be something which is capable of acting of its own accord. For example, you may have moments when the mind seems to make you feel something, or cause you to have thoughts, that you did not directly command. Like when you get nervous before taking a test, or if you get uncomfortable in social situations. Or maybe you want to make more money, but you just “feel” that you can’t. Or, perhaps you are afflicted by what is commonly known as “low self-esteem” or a “lack of self-confidence”. You probably didn’t consciously choose to create these feelings. It wasn’t a decision on your part; the mind seems to be acting on its own. These feelings seem to be there without your consent – fighting against your wishes and inhibiting your action. You can see that “your mind” feels a certain way, though you may disagree. You might feel that you are a victim of your mind – that some foreign entity is putting ideas in your head that you didn’t permit or ask for. During such times, be sure to remember this – what you are seeing are merely ghosts of the past. These uninvited thoughts and emotions are the dying reflections of previous events, and will only continue to plague you so long as you continue to entertain them. The truth is this – the mind only repeats the programming that is given to it. The mind will never influence your behavior, decisions or emotions in ways that are counter to the data and viewpoints that were repeatedly fed into it in the past. What you see as the mind “acting on its own” is actually just a reflection of past input into the mind. So what this means in practical terms is: in order to change how the mind influences you, change what you feed into the mind.

Though the programming contained in the mind may affect you, the root cause that shapes your mind is ultimately you. You are the ultimate decider of your thoughts, emotions and actions, regardless of external influences.

However, the fact that you have this control does not negate the fact that you are influenced. Your mind’s programming is going to affect you whether you like it or not. And if this influence is inevitable, why not change the influence so that it works for you, and not against you?

That is the main purpose of this book. To show you exactly how to change your own programming so that your mind influences you in the direction that you choose. That is the rationale behind the system of ideals and gradations – to provide a fully integrated system of thought that can be used to retrain your mind to work for you.

Through a description of the particular workings of both ideals and gradations, I lay out a simple framework of how to install in the mind whatever programming you desire. The methodology contained in this volume is a definite and positive route towards hammering into the mind the correct thought pathways that will train the mind to work in your favor.


Chapter 2




Set your mind on a definite goal and observe how quickly the world stands aside to let you pass.


– Napoleon Hill, Author of Think and Grow Rich



The way your mind is programmed is called your “mindset”. Literally, how the mind is set up.

It is the lens you look through to see the world.

It is a set of principles and ideas that you use as a measuring stick to evaluate incoming data.

Mindsets can be negative or positive – they can be useful, or hindering. Having the right mindset can mean effortless victory. Having the wrong one can mean certain defeat.

As a way of illustrating how mindset affects thoughts and behaviors, imagine this scenario – three individuals of roughly equal ability, but different mindsets, are walking along a city street when a car accident occurs. All three people are within 20 feet of the accident, and they all witness the accident to an equal degree.

Person A sees the accident and his first thought is, “A car accident! Someone could be hurt! I’ve got to go help!” and then proceeds to go over to the accident to assess the damage and offer assistance.

Person B sees the accident and thinks, “Oh no! A car accident! How awful. Those people are having a bad day.” She stops and observes the scene for a moment, and then proceeds to continue walking on past the accident.

Person C sees the accident and thinks, “Oh, an accident. Interesting. Well at least I’ll have something to talk about at work today.” He continues walking without another glance at the scene.

These three people have different mindsets, and so their interpretation of the car crash incident is different – even though the data they are receiving is about the same. That is, the current scene is the same for all three individuals, but the previous experiences of these individuals are probably very different. As the mind is a mechanism of repetition, we can infer that their reactions to this event are a reflection of previous similar actions that they witnessed in response to previous similar events. Information has been fed into their minds from previous incidents that they have experienced, and this data influences their mindset and thus their actions. Mindsets determine what you do with data and how you will react in response to data. The three people in the above example arrived at their respective courses of action in a matter of seconds after perceiving the incident. They didn’t stop and think to themselves, “hmm well this is the way I should act because of such and such facts and such and such consequences….”. They acted the way they did because the data was thrown into their mindset, and their mindset spit out a response. It was an automatic computation. Though it is true that after their decided course of action was realized, each person may have reflected on their choice and perhaps wish that they had chosen differently. But the original choice of action made by each individual had no real thought it in – it was just an instinctive reaction brought about by a mindset that was put in place through past experiences.

It is a lucky thing that the mind does actually work like this – that there are automatic computations that occur in mere seconds, or less, of receiving data – because without this, we would constantly be paralyzed by our thoughts. Imagine someone throwing a baseball at your face, and you needing to think step by step of what to do in response to that. All of the possible actions and resulting consequences would at least take you a few minutes to sort out – you could try to catch the ball, dodge the ball, swat the ball away, use something that you were holding as a shield – but by the time you had done your analysis and decided on a course of action, the ball would have long ago smashed into your face. But by having a set of instructions pre-installed in your mind, based on past events of objects flying towards your face at high speeds, you are able to react very quickly and effectively. Your thought process should go something like “fast moving object towards body = move out of the way”. No analysis. No thinking. Just recognition and action. Without those pre-installed instructions, you would not have acted successfully because you would not have chosen a course of action in time. The ball would have struck your face. So these automatic instructions are important; they fundamentally affect how we respond to events.

The sum total of these sets of automatic instructions is what amounts to your mindset – and it is changed based on your predominant thoughts.

The examples of using programmed thought to quickly respond to physical events may not be as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago, when a quick body response was an essential survival tool – but they are relevant as metaphor. You don’t want the baseballs of life to smash into your face before you’ve had a chance to properly respond. This is why the mind developed the ability to form mindsets – to allow you to react to new situations and data in a timely fashion.

Mike Cernovich, a contemporary self development author and expert on mindset, gives a great analogy for what mindset is in his book Gorilla Mindset: How to Control Your Thoughts and Emotions to Live Life on Your Terms. He says, “Imagine a computer. The monitor, keyboard, and processor are the hardware. Without any software to run it, your computer would be worthless. Your body is the hardware and your mindset is the operating system. It gives you access to the power of the hardware, and determines what software you can run. It lets you get the most out of your computer, allowing you to balance your checkbook and even create 3-D designs. Your mindset determines how you perceive and interact with the world.”

Another great analogy for the mind is to compare it to a GPS system that you would use in your car to give you driving directions. If your mind is the physical GPS system itself, your mindset is the driving directions that the GPS system is giving you. These driving directions consist of two main parts – (1) your destination, and (2) the particular roads that you need to drive down to arrive at your destination.

Similarly, your mindset is composed of two parts as well – the ideal that you are trying to achieve, and the gradation steps that you need to take to get there. And just like a GPS, your mindset will guide you in the direction of the destination, no matter how far off course you seem to be going. So long as your destination is New York, your GPS will keep seeking out and directing you along routes that lead to New York. So long as your mindset is geared towards failure, your mind will keep seeking out and directing you along routes that lead to failure – even if you manually try to drive elsewhere.

Setting your GPS to New York when you really want to go to Los Angeles would be silly. The GPS only works in a helpful way if the destination you input into it is the same as the place you actually want to go. If you were to change the GPS destination to the place you really wanted to go, it would obviously be much easier to get there. And you could make your journey easier still if you actually followed the directions given to you by your GPS.

The only place this analogy breaks down is that, at least with current technology, you need to physically input a new destination in your GPS if you want your GPS to guide you in a new direction. With your mind, you need only start to move in the direction of a new ideal in order to change your mindset. Your mind will automatically calibrate to start guiding you in the direction of your ideal, once you begin working on the gradation scale that leads towards that ideal.

Just like a GPS system is based on a framework of destinations and directions, the mind is structured upon a framework of ideals and gradations. Conditioning the mind to see the world only in terms of ideals and gradations is a return to a natural and more productive state of thought. The mind is meant to guide you in the direction you wish to go.

If the GPS system in your car were to give you commands which were anything other than accurate directions to get you to your destination, you would consider it to be incorrectly programmed and you would probably try to re-enter into it the address you were trying to reach. The same is true with your mind. If your mindset, your internal GPS system, were to tell you anything other than how to get to your intended goal, it would need to be reprogrammed.

The natural state of life is a state of perpetual advancement. Thus, the natural, normal, healthy state of a human being is one in which he is constantly progressing towards an intended destination.

The mindset of ideals and gradations helps a person to enter and maintain that state. Set the ideal, and find the gradation (the pathway of successive steps) that leads upwards towards that ideal. That is all. And in becoming absorbed in your destination and the directions to get there, you will program the “GPS” of your mind to bring you to that destination that you desire.


What the Wrong Mindset Looks Like


Now knowing that the correct mindset is one of seeing the world in terms of attaining your ideal through graded steps, let’s look at an example of what the wrong mindset would be.

The reason we want to look at the incorrect way of thinking is because the only thing that could inhibit the installation of a particular mindset is the stubbornness and persistence of a mindset that came before it (hence why children are known to be “impressionable” – they have no previous mindset and so have no barriers to absorbing a new one). So to understand how to best impress upon the mind our new mindset, we will need to look at and see the fault that lies in your old mindset. After this analysis, it will be easier to see the stark differences between the two ways of thinking and so better prepare you to make the switch. The following is an outline of how most of us were taught to look at the world by our teachers, parents and elders – and why this mindset will never get anyone to where they want to go.

If you were anything like the average kid growing up, you looked at life pretty much as a string of problems. Problem after problem after problem. And the “fun time” was the time that existed between problems. Each problem that popped up was something that you had to solve so that you could claim the reward of more “fun time”. So that’s how life went – you encountered a problem, you solved it, you encountered a problem, you solved it. Problem/solution, problem/solution, problem/solution. In other words, problems were the focus of your existence, and the purpose of solving problems was so that you could to get back to a natural status quo – some sort of internal homeostasis, most likely consisting of a relaxed emotional state coupled with an extreme lack of productivity.

You solved problems to get them away from you, so that you could get “back to” something else. Your problems were not a route to something – they were obstacles in the way of your endless pursuit to do nothing.

Take a day in the life of an elementary school kid, for example:


Problem: your mom wakes you up

Solution: “I don’t wanna get up yet” – sleep 10 more minutes

Problem: get hungry

Solution: warm up some pop-tarts in the toaster

Problem: need to get to school

Solution: go wait at the bus stop

Problem: I missed the bus

Solution: go ask mommy for a ride to school

Problem: late to class

Solution: put your head down and slink into the room as quietly as possible

Problem: teacher calls on you for an answer, but you don’t know it

Solution: guess

Problem: teacher yells at you for talking to a classmate

Solution: pass notes instead of talking

Problem: pop quiz on material you don’t understand

Solution: cheat off your friend

Problem: feeling lonely and bored at lunch

Solution: talk to your classmates about how you can’t wait to get home

Problem: bored during the math lecture because you already know it

Solution: doodle in your notepad instead of taking actual notes

Problem: asked to draw a picture in art class but you don’t want to

Solution: do it anyway so you fit it with everyone else

Problem: need to run a half mile in gym class

Solution: do it, even though you don’t understand why and it’s boring

Problem: time to go home

Solution: hop on bus that takes you home

Problem: have homework to do

Solution: don’t do it because whatever is on TV is more important

Problem: get scolded by teacher the next day for not doing homework

Solution: make a mental note to remember this negative consequence and do homework for next time


This is a VERY incorrect way to think. It turns your life into a perpetual hamster wheel, allowing you to forever work while accomplishing nothing. There is no real pursuit here – no ideal to aspire to. It is work done solely to push problems away. It is a thought pattern that is completely reactive; you are forever responding to problems. You are effect, not cause. Your actions are totally dictated by the will of those around you who are more powerful than you. You are not free to pursue your own agenda – instead your agenda is given to you by your superiors and your only choice is whether to obey that agenda or disobey and suffer retribution.

This is a system that may or may not have protected you as a child, but either way, it will never work long term. It is just not a viable route to success. Instead, it is a system of slavery designed to create unthinking, unquestioning, animal-like people. If you didn’t enjoy your elementary school experience, now you know why.

Now of course, there are probably many more problems, of varying degrees of severity, that could be mentioned in the above example. And probably there are much fewer problems on some days. But the point is that when you think this way, your life degrades into simply responding to your environment – meaning no growth, no expansion, and a constant race to catch up.

Many people grow up and never grow out of this reactive mindset. They are taught that this is the way to live – it starts with elementary school, but is reinforced all the way on through high school and beyond. Even in universities, most students carry around this robotic “just obey” mindset. They have lost all sense of personal goals and ambition because they have mentally submitted to the will of their superiors. They are not being creative – they are being reactive. They do not cause things to happen – they are receiving the causes of others.

This is clearly the wrong way to live. Thinking this way, your life becomes entirely focused around your problems. And of course, the more you focus on your problems, the bigger and more numerous they get. But how do we reverse this?

We need a different way of thinking – one that allows more freedom, promotes the idea of causing your environment rather than simply being subject to it, and puts the focus on running towards achievement rather than running away from failure. We need a system that is creative rather than reactive.

Enter our system of ideals and gradations – otherwise known as the Graded-Ideal Mindset. This mindset is non-reactive. It is creative. It is causative. And it grants the individual using it the freedom to pursue whatever targets he wants, without getting stuck in an endless cycle of handling incoming problems.

The correct way of thinking is to figure out what the scene would look like if everything went your way, and then build the ladder that leads there. Keep on hammering until you start to see progress. Handle problems along the way if you must, but always remember – you are shooting for the ideal. If it’s not a part of the ideal, then that’s not where you need to be heading. The goal of life is not to respond to problems – it’s to shoot for an ideal.


Mindset Versus Coping Strategies


Ideals and Gradations form a system which is not based on “coping strategies”. Instead, it is a system which is based around a permanent shift in perspective. By “coping strategies” I mean those small tidbits of information or little exercises that apply only to very specific situations, and do not reflect on the nature of the world as a whole. Most self-help and inspirational books in widespread use today are based on these cute little tricks. These types of books may provide some temporary comfort, and may contain some limited wisdom, but they will never lead to overall lasting success. This is because they provide information that is specific, rather than general. Many people will be able to use these coping strategies in their prescribed manner, and achieve some result within the field they were designed for. But more intelligent people will be able to take those coping strategies, extrapolate them to broader circumstances, and thus find the appropriate mindset to assume to better get them to where they want to go. And it is these mindsets, these new thought perspectives, which give all self-help books – of whatever format – their value in the first place.

Mindsets work to their greatest potential when they are based on those rules of living which apply to life in the broadest sense. That is, those rules that are unchanging from circumstance to circumstance, and work every time. These rules could be referred to as “Natural Law”.

Like the laws of physics, when this Natural Law is understood and applied, amazing things can be accomplished. Positive results can be obtained with great regularity. And also like the laws of physics, when Natural Law is not understood or not used, circumstances are bound to work against you. Thus, a proper understanding of Natural Law is essential to your survival and prosperity in any area of life.

In this text I give you Natural Law – or at least the closest approximations of it – and leave it up to the reader to use that Natural Law in whatever situations he sees fit. It is only with knowledge of this Natural Law, and an understanding of how to apply it, that one can truly secure future success.

The basic justification behind the use of Natural Law is that it allows you to work from general to specific. You find a truth that is very simple, very general, and very powerful, and then adapt that basic truth to your own specific situation. Work from general to specific – that way, using only small amounts of powerful data, you can solve a wide variety of problems.

A perfect representation of that concept is the mindset of ideals and gradations. Using simple, basic truths, this mindset outlines a new way of looking at your surroundings – a complete, solution-oriented problem-resistant mindset wherein one learns how to properly view the world.

The simple truth on which the entire mindset rests is basically that the mind is a mechanism of repetition. So when your focus is on your ideal, you condition the mind into accepting and regurgitating that ideal. The more you work towards your ideal, the more your mind will bend in that direction and the more ingrained your vision will become. Progress will become easier and faster, and your ideals will become larger. As your ideals and your progress towards those ideals expands, your own ability will expand. And this increase in ability is the true value of this method, because the growth of your own ability is the ultimate key to power.

Looking at the world only in terms of your ideal situations and the gradations that you will need to climb in order to get there sets your mind up to work alongside Natural Law. The proof of this is in the application – once the mind is geared towards seeing each event in your life as a step towards a perfect situation, all of the barriers and “problems” that had previously infected your life will begin to drop away. When your entire focus is on reaching for your ideal, every other situation that doesn’t align with your ideal will be dropped in favor of one that does. The complete alignment of all of your activities with your ideals will ensure that you never waste time, you are never unproductive, and are always moving forward – thus essentially immunizing yourself from failure. And, when such a state is entered into, it will be found that even the mere concept of failure will cease to make sense to you.


Failure Cannot Exist in the Graded-Ideal Mindset


I hate to break the bad news, but I’m afraid you’ve been lied to. I don’t know why they lied, I don’t know who it benefits, all I know is that from when you were a little kid, you have been forcefully indoctrinated with a false and destructive idea. This idea is so huge that it’s widely considered to be the reason for unhappiness.

I am, of course, talking about “failure”.

The news media is filled with stories that back up the “reality” of failure. Movie and book plots are centered around it. Literally the entire world would have you believe in perhaps the most irrational concept ever invented by man. It is an idea so unnatural, I do not believe it ever would have occurred to you had it not been so thoroughly drilled into your brain. There is no thought on earth which has produced greater unhappiness and upset.

Failure, as the average modern individual understands it, is a myth. It’s not real. Let me explain.

What is failure anyway? What do people mean when they say that “I failed”? Most people probably mean that they attempted to hit a target, and they missed it. So they “failed”. That’s what they say. You wanted to get an 97 on the test, you got a 47. Fail. You had to score 4 goals in the soccer game, you scored 2. Fail. You needed to make 3000 dollars this month, you made 1500. Fail.

And this is the way life has always been, right? Just failure after failure, piling up. I mean, if a failure is defined as simply missing a target, then life is almost all failure, isn’t it? And that alone wouldn’t be so bad, except we are trained into believing that failure is TERRIBLE. To fail is the worst thing that could happen to you. The pain, the agony. Do whatever it takes not to fail. That’s the attitude.

After learning all this, after being convinced of the wrongness and danger of failure, maybe you even tried to set your goals lower to make them more “realistic”. You tried to downsize your life, to make everything more manageable. Lower goals means an easier life, right? It means more happiness because less failure equals higher success, right? After all, you don’t really need to get A’s. B’s are okay too. You don’t need that promotion, you make enough to live comfortably now. Your current partner is good enough. No need to consider anyone else.

Of course this is a ridiculous way to think. Anyone who has tried that thought process knows for sure that life doesn’t work that way. Downsizing just leads to more missing of targets – more “failures”. Lowering your targets just leads to a lack of ambition, lack of excitement, and a lack of passion. And you probably won’t even hit those lower targets either because you can’t get excited enough about them to really throw yourself into action.

But what if I told you that missing a target is not a failure, and in fact the whole concept of failure is ridiculous.

Check this out.

So you have something that you want to accomplish, right? Let’s say you want to buy a house. That’s a pretty common goal in today’s America. So you hire a realtor and explain to him what you are looking for in your dream house. The realtor says no problem, I know just the place. He picks out an address for you, and you schedule a tour of the house. You arrive for the tour, the realtor shows you around, shows you why he thinks this place matches up to your original specifications, and why you should buy it. You talk it over with your spouse, or whoever, and you decide that the house actually does not match up to what you had in mind and you will have to decline to buy it.

Now would anyone look at the refusal to buy that first house to be a “failure”? Who in their right mind would go home and say “wow I really failed today” after taking a look at a prospective home but deciding to not buy it?

No one would say that, because in a home buying situation it is inherently understood that such “failures” are just a part of the overall process. It wasn’t really a failure – you attempted to buy a house, didn’t buy one, and now you’ll look at other options. See, no real failure. You attempted, now you attempt again. And plus you knocked off one option that you now know is off the table. You made an attempt, it didn’t work out, and now you follow it up with more action.

You going to look at that first house is a part of the buying process. It is something that needed to happen. There was always going to be a “first house” that you looked at. And unless you bought that first one, there is always going to be a second house that you look at. Eventually, you will find the house you want to buy, and after that happens, you will realize that those earlier attempts, those “failures”, were a part of the process. They were a part of the success of buying a house.

Here’s the bottom line: you took action, made an attempt, and you progressed. You couldn’t have possibly failed while making an attempt because it got you closer to the goal of buying a home! You were closer to hitting your target at the end of the attempt than you were before taking any action. The attempt itself is progress towards the goal – regardless of the outcome of that attempt. That isn’t to say that outcome isn’t important – of course it is. But a positive outcome is a greater success, and a less than positive outcome is a lesser success. The only real failure in this situation would be to not have tried to buy a house at all, despite wanting one. And even then – at least you thought about buying a house (better than not thinking of it at all).

Now in contrast to that idea, take a look at what you were taught in school. As we have already discussed, your experiences shape your thoughts and influence your behavior. The education system, being a large part of your experiences in your formative years, probably had some impact on your thought processes and thus, your mindset.

Here’s how – in school you have these things called “tests”. How it works is you are given course material to learn, you do your best to understand it, and then you need to show your understanding of the material by doing well on this test that you are given. The grade you get on your test is your measure of success. For many young people, and for many parents, tests are the only way to judge the success of a student. They are supposed to be a measure of how well you are doing academically. On the surface, it seems to make sense – learn a bunch of stuff, write it down, and then get graded on how well you can replicate it.

But there’s a problem with that set-up – the grading. Because when you don’t do well on a test, when you get a 64 or lower, you “fail” the test. You weren’t able to hit the target, and you failed. Or maybe you personally considered that you failed, because you really meant to get an A but instead you got a B – a failure based on your own standards. But that’s ridiculous. You didn’t fail at gaining the knowledge – you just didn’t hit the target on that one attempt. In the real world, you would just go back to studying and continue to learn the material until you get it and you are able to use it. But in the classroom, you now have a low grade that follows you to the end of the quarter, the end of the semester, or the end of the year. After you take your finals, even if you do well on them, your final course grade will reflect that one bad grade you got – even if you eventually learned all of the material that was taught throughout the entire year! So after all of your test grades are averaged out, even if you know the course material better than anyone in your class, you will still have a lower overall grade than someone who got A’s on all of their tests from the beginning of the grading period. How does that prepare a young person for life? Real life would never work that way – it makes no sense. Failures do not follow you in life like that. The real world only cares if you know the correct methodology and can apply it properly – in present time.

In our current education system, however, grades are given based on the timeliness of your knowledge acquisition rather than the more accurate measurement – do you know it and can you use it? If you know the material being taught, and you can prove that you can apply it, what difference does it make if it took you 10 tries or 100 tries to get it right?

Let’s take two university students of engineering and compare them side by side so we can see the absurdity of this system more clearly. Both students are placed in the same engineering class with the same professor. Student A is a quick study – he can read a textbook and apply the information inside it very quickly. Student B takes a bit longer to read the material, and a bit longer to work it out so that it makes sense to him. Student A may not have to try as hard, and may not have to attempt so many times to learn a particular engineering concept. Perhaps the math comes easier, and maybe the examples given in class are enough for him to understand the techniques enough to use them on his homework. For student B, the examples given in class are not enough. He needs to put in extra time staying after class to talk to the professor and stay up late on weekends just to fit in enough study time to keep up with the class.

Student A always gets good grades, because the data comes to him naturally. He does well on the tests consistently, with minimal study. Student B does well on tests sometimes, but on the average scores lower than student A, and takes longer to complete the same material. However, when the professor issues a final test at the end of the semester, a practical test that incorporates all of the material that was supposed to be learned throughout the semester, both students A and B get a perfect score. Both prove that they are able to fully apply the principles of the course equally. Both are qualified engineers, based on this test.

Yet, because of current grading standards, student A will almost always receive a higher grade for the semester, because his grades were consistently higher.

The real world is of course not like this. If you know how to do something, then you know how to do it. If you have an ability, then you have the ability. No one cares how many tries it took. No one cares how difficult it was. And certainly no one cares about how many “failures” you had to go through to get to where you are. In the real world, people are judged based on how competent they are – not how quickly they gained that competence, or how easy it was.

The point being that there is always the next attempt. There is always the next action to take in the pursuit of your ideals. What matters is how much you progress – not how long it takes you to arrive. Each action taken is progress, and so as long as you are pushing towards where you want to go, you are winning – not failing. Failure is impossible so long as you are still taking action. Just keep moving on up the gradation that will lead to your ideal and there will be no room for failure. In fact, you will begin to reject the very idea.

Success is the continuous progression towards an ideal. That’s all. So where does failure fit into that formula?

Another great example of how ridiculous the idea of failure really is can be seen in a common kitchen baking scenario. Imagine you are baking a cake. The necessary ingredients to make the cake include many things – sugar, eggs, butter, flour, milk, etc. All the ingredients are necessary, and without one ingredient the cake will not come out as perfectly as it should.

Let’s assume that 2 eggs are required. Once we take our two eggs, crack them open and drop the contents into a bowl, do we yet have our cake? Of course not. Eggs are an ingredient to the cake, not the cake itself. Other things are required besides eggs. However, after cracking some eggs into a bowl, are we justified in claiming that we have “failed” in making a cake? Of course not! We haven’t failed, we just haven’t made it there quite yet. We didn’t make a cake, that’s true, but we are still working on it! The cake baking process is still underway. More action needs to be taken, more ingredients need to be added to it. We will eventually have a cake, if we keep working in this direction. If we keep adding and mixing the proper ingredients in the proper way, we will eventually arrive at our goal – a baked cake.

The same principle is true with all goals. Every ingredient you put into the cake of your life will eventually add up to your ideal. The only way we could truly fail would be to stop working on the cake. Even if we completely messed up and had to start from scratch, we still didn’t really fail because the cake baking process is still underway.

If we cracked open the eggs and then left the kitchen to go watch Netflix, then we could be justified in calling our cake baking experience a failure. Giving up would be actual failure. But so long as we are still working on it, there has been no failure – and in fact there never could be failure.

Keep pushing forward towards your ideals. Keep moving on up the gradations that will lead you to where you know you need to go. So long as you keep moving, you can never fail. So long as your life is a work in progress, failure is impossible. Immunize yourself against failure by always taking action.

Chapter 3




The need of the immaterial is the most deeply rooted of all needs. One must have bread; but before bread, one must have the ideal.


– Victor Hugo, French Poet



Allow yourself to dream and fantasize about your ideal life; what it would look like, and what it would feel like. Then do something every day to make it a reality.


– Brian Tracy, Motivational Author and Speaker


Ideal: The most desirable version of something that you can imagine. Ideals may or may not be actually attainable in the physical universe, but regardless they are used as a compass to determine future actions. One always seeks to move in the direction of the ideal.

Ideals themselves can be talked about as being on a gradation scale – there are higher ideals and lower ideals. “Ideal” is not an absolute, as it changes with a person’s desires, attitudes and imagination.


Absolute Ideal: The highest possible level of attainment. Not necessarily the highest level you personally desire, but the highest level of attainment that the physical universe would allow.


Goal: An objective worth achieving. Goals are actually a type of ideal, but just further down on the scale. The difference between a goal and an ideal is only that ideals are more perfect forms of goals. I.E., becoming a teacher could be a goal. Being the best teacher in the state could be an ideal. Being the best teacher on the planet is an even higher ideal.


Ideals are the drivers of our lives. Without ideals, we wander, aimless. In a 2016 interview at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, billionaire technology entrepreneur Elon Musk made the insightful remark, “Life can’t be just about solving problems – there have to be things that are inspiring and exciting that make you glad to be alive.” He made this comment after discussing a possible route to the colonization of Mars, as a part of his broader overall goal of making humankind a multi-planetary species. This is a man who clearly likes to think big. He also understands the importance of ideals and their usage as guides.

Solving problems may be necessary in the short term. I am sure Elon would agree, being the physicist that he is. However, what really drives a person forward in life is not the problems he is solving, but the ideals that he seeks to fulfill. It is the pursuit of the extraordinary that pushes man to great heights. A reaching towards the high positives of life is a much better motivator than the effort to resolve difficulties.

Apply this to your own life. Create your own ideals, and use them to drive you forward.


There are five laws that should be used when setting an ideal. Follow these five laws, and the ideals you create will literally re-sculpt your mind in their image.


First Law of the Ideal:


The Ideal is Used as a Guide to Determine the Direction in which One Should be Heading


If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there. And even if you made it there by chance, you would never even recognize it as your destination.

The real value of forming ideals is for their use as guides. Ideals help you to make decisions. Regardless of whether or not your ideals will be attained, they are used as a marker that tells you in what direction you should go.

Your ideal is your North Star, if you will. It tells you where you are headed; it points to your destination. In doing so, it allows you to properly plan out your road map (read: your gradation).

Ideals act as your guide. By setting a definite goal, you allow your mind to focus in on how things should be. It is then much easier to recognize the correct paths that will take you to where you want to go. This concept stems from the basic setup of how the mind works – that is it a mechanism of repetition, and thus programmable. It is repetition which programs the mind and so the more you concentrate on your ideal, the more you think it over and put your attention on it, the more you will program your mind into looking for opportunities related to your ideal.

And of course there is this factor – without a proper ideal set out in your own mind, how would you ever know if you had made it to where you wanted to go? Where is the measuring stick of progress, if not a comparison of your current situation with that of your ideal?

Compare it to taking a summer vacation. Let’s say your destination is Palm Beach, Florida. You hear it’s a great place to vacation – great food, hot babes, perfect beaches, whatever. It’s your ideal scene. You envision this beautiful vacation spot with every accommodation and attraction you could ever want. You resolve to go to this place. Regardless of the specific actions you take to help bring this dream into the real world, your general direction is always going to be based on your destination. The items you buy, the hotel you book, and the roads you travel down are all determined based on the characteristics of your vacation destination. You buy beach gear because you know that you are going to a beach. You book a hotel near the attractions that you want to visit because you don’t want to have to travel far. And of course, the roads you choose to travel on to get to your hotel will be the ones that are best suited to getting you there.

It seems obvious when speaking of an actual physical destination, but this idea of having your actions based on your chosen destination it is equally applicable when talking about a situational destination. No matter what preparation is needed on your journey, you know what needs to happen because of your ideal. Without a destination, travel would be useless. Literally useless – it would have no utility at all because there would be no point to it. It is the destination which gives meaning, direction and guidance to travel – be it physical or metaphorical.

Setting up an ideal and then mapping out and acting on the gradation to get there form an unbeatable success formula. One without the other will get you nowhere you want to be. But remember – it is the ideal which gives meaning to the gradation scale. A gradation without an ideal at the top of it is no gradation at all. Just as roads are only as valuable as the destination they lead to, gradations are only as valuable as the ideals they seek to approximate.


Second Law of the Ideal:


The Ideal Is Real to You


Your ideal is the situation that you would most like to see occurring. It is your own perfect version of how things should be. For some people, their ideals will be very high. For others, their ideals will be only just above their current station. But either way, it is important that a person’s ideals be real to them. It should be their ideal – not the ideal of another, or an ideal that one is “supposed” to have based on the norms of the society.

The degree of realness of a goal in the mind is directly proportional to its probability of material manifestation. In other words, the more real it is for you, the sooner it’s going to be real for everyone else.

Isn’t it true that any situation that you can easily create, you can also easily see in your own mind? Take a look for yourself – any setup which you know you can create, is also a setup which is very “real” to you in your own mind. The reverse is also true: Any situation which is very real to you in your own mind, you can easily create. Your ability to create and your ability to “see it happening” are directly proportional.

Imagine the architect who is planning a new design for his skyscraper. Does he not see the concept in his mind before he ever touches a design software program? Or at the very least, does he have some sort of notion of what needs to be done? If he is good at his job, he does.

Strive for the highest ideal of which you can be certain is something that you yourself can own. In other words, your ideals should never stretch beyond your own reality. They should stretch beyond your ability, but not your reality.

Do this while keeping in mind that there is no ideal that is truly out of reach, so long as you work on increments to make it more real to you. The impossibility of a task, assuming the task remains in the realm of physical possibility, resides within our own minds only. That is, “impossible” tasks very often only seem impossible to us. And so the solution is we need to make our dreams more real in our own minds in order to raise their degree of actual potential realness.

Your ideal should be desirable to you, and you should be able to see yourself attaining your desire. If you can’t see it, if it’s just so ridiculous that you say to yourself, “no way is that ever happening” then fine – set your sights a bit lower. There’s no shame in it, so long as you are making progress towards a real, honest ideal. Not only is there no shame in it, but as you move forward towards a lower ideal, higher ideals will come into focus and all of a sudden seem not so far off.

Any action that you take in the direction of your ideal will help to make the ideal more real to you.

The more action you take, the more real your ideal will seem to you, and so the easier it will be to attain. Continuous action means continuous progress – both internally and externally. That is, always acting with your ideal in mind, and acting often, is sure to move you speedily and consistently to where you want to go. Every action you take, if it is meant to push you closer to your ideal situation, is progress towards that ideal. Every action is progress. Even plans which fail still help you to gain knowledge and understanding of the path you are on. And the more knowledge gained, the more the pathway is explored, the more it will seem that your far off ideal situation is in fact within your grasp.

Many of today’s guru’s advertise and promote the idea of “visualization” as a way to manifest your desires. Meditation is often thrown in with that. It is my observation that meditation and visualization, on their own, have only very limited use. They can be valuable, but only insofar as they serve to fix your attention on the ideal. However, when confronted with a choice of whether to meditate or to take actual action towards your ideal, you should always choose the latter. Of course it may be the case that meditation is a part of your ideal in some way – for example, if you want to train to be able to deeply relax your body at will, learn how to not talk and not take action for long periods of time, or develop a certain visualization ability. In this case, meditation would be important as it itself would be moving you closer to the overall scene you would like to build. However, when meditation and the skills that it promotes are not a direct part of your ideal, meditation should not be used as a via by which your goals may be achieved – as actual action in the physical universe is senior to thought alone.

Remember, the mind is a mechanism of repetition – so whatever it is that you do while in a meditative state, the mind will seek to repeat throughout the day. This warrants mentioning here, because despite the supposed benefits touted by meditation gurus, a key component of every type of meditation is “taking no physical action”. And certainly, training the mind to take no physical action is not something that most people would want.

Even if you were to find some concrete benefit, these techniques are of a very low gradation – they are better than nothing, but less than other more concrete, physical action. Nothing trumps actual physical action. Physical action taken gets you closer to your ideal in the physical world – and the mental world as well, due to the inherent feedback mechanism of the mind (Experiences create mindset, mindset creates experiences).

If you really are having trouble believing in the possibility of your own ideal, then sure, meditate on it for a few seconds. But otherwise, all “visualization” and “meditation” should be done while taking action towards your ideal. It is only action that can ever produce true results. So meditation, and all mental exercises, are only as valuable as they can influence physical action. Your hopes and dreams are not going to suddenly materialize in front of your face just because you saw it in your mind’s eye for 10 hours straight. However, spending 10 hours looking in the mirror and drilling that speech that you need to deliver, or working on your job interview skills, might actually help.

Taking action in the direction of your ideal makes it realer in both the physical universe and in the mind as well – both of which are gradations towards ideal attainment, and both of which are necessary for ideal attainment.


Third Law of the Ideal:


The Ideal Is Unrealistic


All that being said about having an ideal that is real to you, it is also generally true that the higher a person’s ideals are, the better off they will be. I know that this may seem to be contradictory but bear with me for a second.

Ideals should be “unrealistic” – and by that I mean they should be unrealistic to everyone else. Real to you, unrealistic to everyone else. In other words, your ideal should seem to be a little nutty to anyone who hears of it. For you, in your own mind, the ideal should be as real as possible – and getting realer every day. But compared to the average norm of the society in which you live, if it’s anything like the contemporary society of today, your ideals should be completely and totally unrealistic. Your ideals, ideally, should be so high that you should be reluctant to tell people about them because you know it would be insulting to them to hear it. Your ideals should be of such grandiose proportion that to even suggest its possibility to another person would leave the impression that you believe yourself to be some kind of super human demigod – that you have deluded yourself into an absolute and obviously unreasonable faith in your own ability. Create ideals that are so large and unreasonable that only a being of unfathomable power would even dare to dream up such a future. If you really want to move your current reality closer to your ideals, you to start thinking on that level. I want your dreams to be that big.

It is interesting that bigger ideals are more likely to inspire greater progress. Bigger ideals, meaning those closer to the Absolute Ideal (the highest possible level of attainment) generate greater excitement and passion for their completion, and lead to bigger thinking and more action taken in general. Remember, the mind seeks to repeat what has been fed into it, and so larger goals mean larger results. Big think in relation to the future generally translates to big think in the present.

Thinking big enough means thinking along the borderlines of lunacy – at least from an outsider’s perspective. If you really want to inspire yourself, your ideals should be so big, so perfect, and so well thought out that those around you, and maybe even you yourself, should begin to question your own grip on reality.

The realness of your ideal absolutely does relate to its probability of achievability – so of course you should strive to make your ideal real to you. But this doesn’t mean that you should limit the height of your ideals to only what is traditionally considered possible. Instead you should strive to set very high ideals, as high as you can imagine them, or even higher, and then seek to increase your reality of those ideals by moving up the gradation scale you build for yourself.

There are three main reasons for setting unrealistically high ideals:


1. It’s easier to get excited about achieving higher ideals. The higher the ideal, the more excited you’re bound to get.


2. The higher your ideal, the easier each step on the gradation leading up to that ideal will seem to be.


3. Because of the mental phenomenon that deals with the human need to avoid stagnation, you are unlikely to actually achieve any ideal you set for yourself. So would you rather fail shooting for a high ideal, or a low one?


First reason your ideal should be unrealistic – It’s easier to get excited about achieving higher ideals than lower ideals. I believe this is the main reason why most people never make much progress in life – they are not excited about their goals. They set up reasonable ideals with reasonable expectations, just as they were taught by all the psychologists, counselors and teachers they grew up around. And because they know that the target they are aiming for is within their grasp, they aren’t very excited at the prospect of achieving it.

This bad habit of setting “reasonable” expectations was probably, like most of us, ingrained in you from a young age. Most of your childhood was spent being told to “calm down”, wasn’t it? Don’t get too excited, don’t be too loud, be nice, be polite, children are to be seen and not heard, make sure to raise your hand in class, don’t call out, and on and on. All ways of getting you to sit down and shut up. And that became the blueprint for your future. Sit down and shut up. And so grandiose ideals never would occur to you again, in adulthood. How could they? Your whole life you were told over and over again that “good behavior” consisted of acting like a statue. Do statues have high ideals? Do they try to make anything out of the world? I don’t think so. And most of you didn’t either. And thus, low and behold, we have the “middle class” – a bunch of unmotivated losers who are “satisfied” (read: depressed) with living a mediocre life driven by mediocre ideals.

Raise your ideals, and thereby you raise your enthusiasm for achieving those ideals. And enthusiasm is certainly a necessary requirement for any notable achievement.

Second reason your ideal should be unrealistic – The higher your ideal, the easier each step on the gradation leading up to that ideal will seem to be. This isn’t to say that a higher ideal will necessarily be more achievable, but it does mean that progress towards that higher ideal will come easier. The reason for this is as follows: the higher you raise the ideal, the longer the gradation scale that leads to that ideal will become. A higher ideal means more steps that are necessary to attain it. And the bigger the gradation scale gets, the lower down the scale your current step becomes by comparison. Thus the easier it is to move up. So, raising the ideal makes moving up the gradation easier. The higher your ideal, the easier each way-point along your journey will seem to come.

The closing of the gap between your own personal ideal and the Absolute Ideal is a large part of the self-improvement adventure, and this is one reason why. Raising the ideal you are shooting for and making it more unrealistic, while keeping it real to you, practically pulls you up the gradation as it makes your next few actions seem tiny compared to your new very high ideal.

Both of these points actually fold into the third point, and the real reason why it is absolutely necessary to have high ideals – our need to avoid stagnation. Or, phrased in the positive, our need for continuous growth and expansion. Stagnation is an extremely undesirable condition that a human being enters when he runs out of potentially profitable risks to take. It is a state of no motion and extreme idleness. It is painful.

The basic law is this: Humans will avoid stagnation at all costs. There always needs to be a risk to take. There always needs to be something to “win” – a hope of possible gain.

The worst state a human can be in is a state of total idleness – totally the effect of his environment – no game at all to play. No risk. This would mean no chance of winning at anything. Any normally functioning person does his best, consciously or otherwise, to avoid this fate. This phenomenon of avoiding stagnation explains what is commonly called the “fear of success” and it explains why goals are almost never attained, but only approximated. The reason is this – once a goal is attained, once an ideal is fully brought into reality, there ends the game. A new game then needs to be created. This is fine, except for the fact that between the old game ending and the new one beginning, there is a period of stagnation wherein there is no game to play and so no potential to win. The human mind recognizes this, if only subconsciously, and will actually postpone the ending of the game by intentionally avoiding victory. It does this to eliminate the possibility of stagnation. The mind subconsciously calculates that it is better to prolong a game that should have ended rather than risk a period of no forward motion.

This mechanism, when particularly powerful in an individual, actually favors defeat over victory and may in fact push a person to “throw the game”. The urge to avoid a situation of stagnation can be so strong that a person may make themselves lose so as to have a reason to not stop playing the game. After all, when you lose there is always a reason to play again.

This is because when you are defeated, the game isn’t really over. The round may be over, but the overall game of trying to win whatever it is what you want to win is still going on. For most people, it’s easier to brush yourself off and take another crack at a game you are familiar with rather than finding a new game to play. That urge to resist stagnation that exists in all humans tends to push a person either towards defeat, or at least towards the postponement of victory.

Defeat means the game isn’t really over – there is always the next attempt. However, one rarely wants to replay a game that is already beaten. And so victory represents a true end to the game – while defeat is only a temporary end.

You probably can remember a time when this happened to you – while playing a video game perhaps. You get to the final stage and for some reason just can’t seem to beat it. So you put the game away and you go to sleep. When you wake up the next morning, that same sequence that gave you such trouble now comes so easily. Why is that? Did you somehow gain greater coordination and strategic planning abilities during the night? Not likely.

Perhaps instead, it was that you realized that this game is not the only game there is, and there are more things to accomplish in life than beating just this one video game. So, you were able to beat it.

The solution to this whole nonsense of avoiding stagnation is pretty simple, though perhaps not immediately obvious to the average individual. The solution, basically, is this: just continuously raise the target. Don’t ever make an “end” to the games that you play. Don’t ever let your ideal be attained. This doesn’t mean to stall your own progress, it means to set your sights on an ideal so high that you never get close to running out of new ways to progress towards it. And even as you progress up towards your chosen ideal, keep on moving the goalpost up, keep on raising that ideal even higher, so that you are in a perpetual state of “getting there” while never getting anywhere near actual “arrival”. In this way, the game always continues and your inner mechanism of “I always need a game to play” does not kick in to stall your progress.

This is the real reason why your goals need to be high enough to be considered by most to be “unrealistic” – to allow enough room to progress comfortably without running into the barrier of stagnation.


Fourth Law of the Ideal

The Ideal Includes Desire Without Desperation


Remember, an ideal is the ultimate desirable state. The desirable part is important. If you ever find yourself shooting for an ideal which you yourself do not find to be desirable, then it is in fact not your ideal. For example, if you set your ideal to owning a Jaguar (the luxury car brand) but you didn’t believe that you would really want a Jaguar and it was just “the thing to have” then you should forget about that and head towards whatever you would consider to be your own personal ideal (maybe a Ferrari or a Porsche, or maybe having a luxury car has nothing to do with your ideal at all). Your ideals may change as you move closer to them – or maybe they won’t. But either way, always go for what it is that you truly believe is your ideal. Don’t try for the ideal of another person, or an ideal that you feel you should want, but don’t actually want.

Society should not determine your ideals. Your neighbors, family and friends should not determine your ideals. You and you alone determine your ideals.

Now though I talk of desire as a necessary part of the ideal creation process, I want to make it clear that I am not talking about desire as in a sense of longing, or desperation. I simply mean a high degree of intention to have. This distinction is important, as desire that is too clingy and too needy is actually destructive. When you desire something to the degree that you must have it, you actually have a very negative situation on your hands. Anything to which you assign this attitude of “must have” to, is actually something that will be very difficult for you to obtain. This is because of the anatomy of what “must have” actually means. When you have the attitude that you must have something, you automatically imply that the something that you want is both something that you don’t currently have and also is difficult to get. Things that you already have, or are easy to obtain, almost never instill the response of “I need to have that”! You simply recognize your desire for something and then proceed to obtain it. So, by desiring something with that sense of desperation and neediness, you actually instill in your mind the idea that that thing is hard to obtain – so making it actually more difficult to obtain. The greater your longing for something, the more you trick your mind into believing that it is something difficult to get. After all, if you want it that badly, why aren’t you just going to get it? It must be very difficult.

To illustrate, let’s take the example of going to get a drink of water. When you feel thirsty, you walk over to your refrigerator and go grab a bottle of water. You desire water, and so you take action to get it. You would only reach the state of truly longing for water if you were someplace where water was scarce, or if you were in some sort of situation where you were not able to stop what you were doing to go get some water. Going on a hike, for example – after drinking what water you brought with you, you might start to get a little desperate for more after you realize that you won’t be able to have any more until you get home. Or maybe you get thirsty while working on a roof repair on your home, and you don’t want to get off the roof until you are finished with the repair. It would be reasonable for a person to get desperate for water in a situation like that. They could start to feel like they must have water. In other words, desperate desire is deeply associated with lack.

The point is, desperation and a sense of longing are not what I mean when I say that you must desire your ideal. I only mean that you should genuinely want it, and intend to get it, for your own sake. Desperation and longing scream to your mind, “what you want is very hard to obtain!”. So, whenever possible, keep your desire to the level of, “this is what I want, and this is what I am going to get”. Any more desperate form of desire will help to ensure that you never reach what it is that you are looking for – as the more the mind believes the object of your desire is something scarce, the less easily you will be able to obtain it.


Fifth Law of the Ideal

The Ideal Always Moves you Towards Being More Causative


The attainment of your ideal situation should never be within your current level of ability. Your ideal should always require an increase of ability. This is because an ideal which is technically achievable now isn’t really an ideal at all – it is simply a task that you haven’t gotten around to yet.

The attainment of your ideal should always put you in a better position to do more, and thus be more. Ideals involving the gathering of more possessions are nice, but are quite a low target. Ideals which also involve an increase in action and an increase in ability are where you want to aim.

Remember – the one thing that all ideals have in common is an increase of causativeness. A true ideal will always have an increase of cause potential built into it. That is, the ideal that you are shooting for should be a situation in which you have greater control over yourself and your environment. An “ideal” which puts you at a lower position of cause is not an ideal at all. It’s a scam.

I mention this only because it is a current trend in today’s society to have as a goal “I hope to eventually get to a place of such success that I can afford to do nothing”. “Doing nothing” can never be an ideal. If you have that idea now, disabuse yourself of it thoroughly. The reason why the focus on ideals and gradations works so well is that it is a formula that guarantees continuous progress. To set as an ideal “lack of progress” is to invalidate the system of ideals and gradations itself.

The natural state of a human being is a state of constant upward mobility – not a state of rest. Whatever ideal you set for yourself should incorporate this fact.



How the Mind Functions on Ideals


You can bend your own or another’s mind by simply feeding into it whatever it is that you want it to produce. We feed our minds in two ways – creating ideals in the mind, and taking action on the gradation that connects our current position to that ideal. Both realign the mind towards the desired goal.

The first step in this process should be to recognize that putting your attention on your ideal, and intending to reach that ideal, is essential for the accomplishment of that ideal. Without attention and intention, ideals end up being little more than wishful thinking.

From that understanding, we can also conclude that progress made towards an ideal is directly proportional to the degree which you prevent distractors from that ideal interfering with your attention and intention.

Here is a little thought exercise proving this point:

You are hiking in a beautiful, thick, lush forest. You are completely surrounded by a dense assortment of trees and shrubbery but in the distance you can see a large mountain looming over the forest. Between you and this mountain lies a river, a swamp, and all manner of various physical obstacles which could bar your way to the mountain. Despite these potential problems, you decide to set yourself a target – make it to the top of that mountain.

You know that the journey will be difficult. As you mentally prepare yourself for what is to come, you acknowledge the fact that you will have to somehow figure out ways to get past all of the many apparent obstacles barring your path up the mountain. After taking a look at what stands before you, you push forward and begin your journey. You forage through the dense trees, over the hills, through the valleys, swimming across the river and dragging yourself through the swamp. These tasks may not be easy. When encountering these obstacles, your attention would surely need to be focused on overcoming and passing through them. But regardless of the difficulty, regardless of the fact that you need to temporarily focus on the barriers presented before you, your true focus would never leave your goal – getting to the top of that mountain – because the purpose of overcoming the assorted obstacles would only be to get closer to the mountaintop. The lesser goals of passing through obstacles on the way to your main goal, or ideal, may seem worthy of accomplishment in themselves but would really only serve the purpose of narrowing the gap between you and your ideal.

The point is that no matter what happens on the way to the mountaintop, you keep your attention on the mountaintop. No matter what happens on the way to your ideal, you keep your attention on your ideal.


Ideals and Identity – Close the Gap Between You and Your Ideal


So once you have your ideal in mind, one way to move up the gradation towards the ideal is to start behaving as if the ideal either is already true, or is certainly going to become true. The idea is to build certainty and conviction around your ideal. You almost want to feel that it would be silly for events to turn out any other way than how you envision it.

If a part of your ideal life is you owning a Ferrari, then you need to make sure that part of your belief system is the idea that it would be silly for you to own anything else other than a Ferrari. Further, you would need to recognize in yourself that you are the type of person that would own a Ferrari. Now that doesn’t mean that you just go out and buy your dream car without any care in the world of its impact on your finances. But it does mean that your attitude should consist of a rejection of any other outcome (other than your ideal) as sort of silly and unrealistic. Get it? The idea of not getting your way should seem unrealistic to you, not the other way around. Not getting your way is unrealistic because you know that you are the type of person who will get his way. It’s in your nature.

You watch these famous people on YouTube and look at all these fancy lifestyles that people seem to be living, and you say to yourself, “boy I wish I had those things. I wish I could experience that. But, woe is me, that’s just too unrealistic”. Yeah, because that makes sense. Take a look at all the rich and famous people who thought that being rich and famous was “unrealistic” for them. Can you name one? Just one? No. Of course not. The people who “make it” never saw it any other way. It’s not that they didn’t get knocked down at times. But deep down, successful people always knew that they would be successful – no matter how reality seemed to suggest to the contrary. They knew that greatness was inside them – it was a natural part of their identity, even if others couldn’t see it yet.

Jennifer Lawrence, the popular actress and star of the Hunger Games Trilogy, was the world’s highest paid woman for both 2015 and 2016, according to Forbes Magazine. In a 2014 interview with Vogue Magazine, she said, “But I always knew that I was going to be famous. I honest to God don’t know how else to describe it. I used to lie in bed and wonder, am I going to be a local TV person? Am I going to be a motivational speaker? It wasn’t a vision. But as it’s kind of happening, you have this buried understanding: Of course.”

This is also why children of wealthy parents tend to also be wealthy, even without yet claiming any monetary inheritance. The politicians will have you believe it’s because wealthy parents use their money and influence to get their children into profitable situations that they never would have gotten into otherwise. To a degree, this is true. But more so than that, children who are raised around wealth see wealth as a normal thing – to them, it would be unrealistic for it to be otherwise. All they have ever known is wealth, and so that is what they expect from the world. To suggest to a wealthy child that one day he will lose all of his money and live in poverty would seem a ridiculous thought to him. It just couldn’t be that way. His wealth is not just something he has, it’s something he is. It’s part of his identity.

And that’s the way you need to think of your ideal. Like the rich kid who accepts his wealth as a given. He is rich now, and he will be rich all throughout his life. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to work. It doesn’t mean that it will be given to him for free – he knows that. But it means that to suggest that fortune has anything other than wealth in store for him is a crazy concept.

Apply this to your own thought process. You are going to attain your ideal. Know it. Accept it. Not in a forceful way – not “I am going to get what I want, or else!” as if you had to force your way through. But simply – “Of course I am going to get what I want. I work hard, I’m smart, I can learn. What could possibly stop me?”

And then, as you work on solidifying that attitude, move up the gradation levels bit by bit until you get there. The more you work on moving up the gradation scale, the more real your ideal will seem, and the more naturally this attitude will set in. Ideals and gradations work together, remember – the more you ascend the gradation scale, the more real your ideal becomes. The more real your ideal becomes, the easier it will be to go up the gradation. It’s all about closing the gap.

And, in the interest of closing the gap between you and your ideal, the issue of self identity would need to be factored in. You need to see yourself as the type of person that would be in your ideal situation.

Ability is Security


An increase in external prosperity would be meaningless without also having an increase in internal ability. As wealth increases, ability must also increase along with it, to ensure the wealth is constantly being maintained and recreated. In other words, an ideal concerning your outward environment should always be coupled with an ideal concerning your personal ability. A lack of this connection will lead to only temporary gains, as it is ability that gives security to your circumstances.

Chapter 4




Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.


– Earl Nightingale, Author of The Strangest Secret



Gradation: (1) A scale composed of a series of gradually increasing levels of attainment. As one ascends these levels, he approximates an ideal. Each successive level is closer to the ideal and further from the starting point. (2) One particular level on such a scale.



The word gradation comes from the Latin word gradus, meaning grade, degree, or step. The suffix -ation means “state of”. So, a gradation is literally a state of stepping. It is a scale; a set of successive degrees.

A basic understanding of what a gradation is can be easily visualized by the following scenario.

Imagine we are painting. We have our brushes, the various colors of paint, and a canvas in front of us. Let’s say that we dip our brush into a glob of white paint and plop it down on the canvas. Then, we grab some black paint and start to mix it into the white paint. Obviously, mixing black paint with white paint is going to give us grey paint. We know we are going to get some form of grey – but grey to what degree?

Meaning, depending on the ratio of white paint to black paint, we can make all sorts of different shades of grey. If the mixture is mostly white with a little black, we will see a lighter grey. If the mixture is mostly black with a little white, we will see a darker grey. And there are endless shades of grey in between that can be created by simply adding a little more black or a little more white. As we add black paint just a bit at a time into the white and black paint mixture, we start to see a gradual change. The shade of grey that is created gets darker – it moves closer to the color black. A darker shade of grey is darker because it is more black. It has a higher ratio of black to white paint. If we were to add more white, the shade of grey that would be created is lighter – it moves closer to the color white. The white to black ratio would be higher. This shifting of paint color from white paint to black paint or vice versa is an example of what is known as a gradation – a set of steps that lead from one point to another, with each step more similar to the ending point than the step before it.

The important factor of the analogy is this – as you add more and more black to the white, you get closer and closer to making the whole thing black. The color transitions from white, through different shades of grey, to black. If you kept adding more and more black paint, eventually all you would see is black because the white paint that we started with would be so insignificant by comparison that it wouldn’t even be visible.

This “paints” the picture behind the use of gradations in our mindset. If you want black, but all you have is white, you have to keep adding black, and keep adding black, until you pass through all the shades of grey and you finally reach the color black. Similarly, in life, if you want to attain your ideal you need to make your life into the ideal, bit by bit. Keep on adding bits and pieces of the ideal into your life until you go through all the “shades of grey” that will lead upwards towards where you want to be. Continuously approximate the ideal until it’s all that you see.


Ideal Approximation


So, how do we use this analogy to better our lives and bring us closer to where we want to go?

We use the concept of Ideal Approximation. Ideal Approximation is the process of seeking to bring ourselves and our environment closer to our ideal state of being in any way we can – taking large steps when possible, but at the very least making sure to always make some sort of progress.

Writers go through this process all the time. The writer who has the objective of publishing a 1000 page novel should take note of everything that would be involved in the completed publication of such a novel, and pursue that. Pages would need to be written, chapters would need to be divided up, a table of contents would be in place, a cover would need to be designed, a publisher would have to be secured, perhaps words would need to be looked up and defined, maybe some sort of research would need to be done, a quiet, distraction free place to write would have to be set up, and on and on.

In the utilization of Ideal Approximation, the writer would take the above actions, one by one, or at least take smaller actions which would lead to these actions. He would probably start with the simplest actions and steadily move upwards in difficulty as each new ingredient was put in place.

The writer first makes the decision to write his book. He then envisions what a true success would look like in this area – what his book would look like, what story the novel would express, what emotions the reader will feel, how much the book will be sold for, how much money he will make from it, how potential publishers will view the book, etc. The writer looks at this potential future and sets it as his target. This vision that he has is his ideal. He may not reach it, but he will use it to make decisions. He uses it to approximate. For instance, he knows that any professional and accomplished writer must have at some point saw in their mind’s eye what they wanted their future career to look like – and so that is what he does. He envisions his future career, with all the specifics and perks that he cares to add.

The writer then picks out a space in his home to write. He clears a space on his writing desk in his bedroom, and plans to sit here and write on his laptop from 6pm to 9pm every weeknight. He makes sure his laptop is operational and connected to the internet. After all, someone who has written and published a novel must have had somewhere quiet to write, and surely they set up a specific time to get their writing done. Another piece of the puzzle in place.

The writer then gets to typing, outlining his story and the major plot points he wishes to explore. A basic timeline of events that will take place in the novel is laid out, and characters are created. A great writer would know to outline and plan a bit before diving into writing. So that’s what this writer does.

After outlining and planning the novel, actual writing begins. The writer begins connecting the various characters and events that were dreamed up in the planning stage. The writer writes while keeping in mind his ideal book, and bit by bit, places each piece of his work in its proper place. His ideal book, in his vision, has a heartwarming and relatable Everyman character, so he works on creating that. His ideal book has 21 chapters, so he divides his novel into 21 chapters. The writer keeps on “adding black paint”, that is, approximating the ideal – until he begins to form in reality what he had originally envisioned in his mind.

Now let’s say that while writing his masterpiece, the writer got a case of writer’s block and no inspiration would come to him. What should he do?

Well, what does our Ideal Approximation strategy say? It says to keep on approximating the ideal, in any way you can. Just get closer, somehow. So if you can’t write, then start looking for a publisher. Write a few emails or make a few calls to people who can help get your novel off the ground. Maybe do some more outlining. Maybe act out a scene from your book to really get a feel for where your novel is headed. After all, a person with a successful published novel would surely be totally submerged in the fictional world that they created.

Maybe the writer should go do some research on the topic he is writing about. If it’s a book on historical fiction, do some reading about that time in history. If it’s fantasy, he could read some books from great authors he aspires to be like. If it’s science fiction, read up on the cutting edge research that is being done in that field. The writer should do anything just so long as it moves the current situation closer to the target situation.

After he does this successfully for some time, and the novel project comes to a close, the goalpost should have already been moved further along and a new ideal should have put in place. For reasons mentioned previously, the ideal is something that you are always working towards, but never really achieve, as new ideals are formed as you progress forward with increased ability.

Ideal Approximation is a process of mimicry, gradually bringing pieces of the ideal scene into reality. Graded mimicry of the visualized end result is the surest route to ideal realization and the essential meaning of “movement up the gradation”.


Why Gradations Work so Well


Gradations, as a model of thought, work incredibly well. This is mostly because the philosophy assumes that progress along the path towards an ideal does not need to be broken down into measurable, discrete steps. The steps up a gradation can be as small as you like, or as large as you like. Steps can even be repeated, or not – there is no absolute set structure here. The important thing is only that you move up towards the ideal in some way, continuously.

The implication of this is that because there is no minimum distance that needs to be traveled to move up a “step” along a gradation, steps can be extremely small. Infinitesimally small, in fact. And an infinitesimally small step up the scale would also have an infinitesimally small difficulty level. The smaller the step away from your current position, the easier that step will be to take. Less change means less difficulty. It stands to reason, then, that no matter what is going on, there is always something that can be done, on some level, to move forward and approximate the ideal. There is always some action, however tiny and seemingly insignificant, that will push you in a forward direction.

These tiny actions will build momentum, keep you motivated and keep you focused on your objective until a larger opportunity comes into view.

Progress is always possible, and even tiny actions, repeated often enough, will lead to big results. If you need to repeat a very low gradation over and over again to really get it drilled in your mind, then that’s what you need to do. Just because you should always be moving closer to the ideal doesn’t mean that you can’t stay at a particular level for a long time. The key thing is to keep taking action, as action itself is always progress.


Gradations as opposed to “Black and White” Thinking


Have you ever heard the phrase “it’s black and white”? It means it is either one way or the other; there is no in-between state. It’s clear cut. It’s definite. There are certain boundaries.

The fact of the matter is, nothing in the real world is like that. Everything, no matter how absolute it seems, has a gradation step above and below it. Nothing – no task, no goal – exists in a state of “black and white”. There are always shades of grey in between. There are always steps to take in between the unattainable absolutes of total accomplishment and total failure.

Another great example which illustrates what exactly a gradation is and how we can use the idea to our benefit is shown in the classic “frog in boiling water” thought experiment. Basically it goes like this – you place the frog in a pot of room temperature water, sitting on a stove top. You then slowly, on a nice and easy gradation, raise the heat. The water gets warmer, degree by degree, but the frog doesn’t move. He doesn’t move because the slight change in temperature is easy for him to tolerate. He can take it. So he sits there and lets the water increase in temperature until the water eventually boils and the frog is killed by cooking to death.

Now I’m not saying that we want to be this frog. Surely his situation is nothing to aspire to. But I am saying that we can learn something from the fact that a gradual increase in temperature is tolerable while a sudden increase would not be. If the frog’s goal was to be boiled alive without him once leaving the pot (surely a difficult feat), he certainly succeeded. Likewise, if we approach our goals in the same way – on a gradation, on a scale of degrees if you will – we can reach almost impossible goals relatively pain free. By turning up the heat degree by degree, we can achieve incredible temperatures in our lives without us caving in under the stress – because it was done one step at a time.

Another way of saying it – we are preventing overwhelm from occurring by only doing those actions that we can actually do, thus improving our ability, and then using that ability to take further action along our gradation path. Just as the frog is able to withstand higher and higher temperatures because he got “used to” the warmer water before moving on to the next degree up the gradation, we also get “used to” higher levels of stress and higher ability demands and so adjust ourselves to meet future challenges. Just as turning up the temperature all at once would be very painful for the frog and cause him to try to get out of the pot, taking action that is too far beyond our ability very often results in our quitting the whole deal – “jumping out of the pot”, as it were. Therefore, action increased in difficulty or intensity on a graded scale – bit by bit – allows one to go further with less pain than they would otherwise be able to.


Gradations are Everywhere


Our environment is constantly in a state of flux. Things are always changing around us, and we ourselves are always changing. We change jobs, we change mindsets, we change friends, we change faiths, we change moods. Everything is in motion, both physically and metaphorically.

But…does it all change at once? Well of course not. Anything and everything you can imagine that changes, changes through gradations. It changes bit by bit – step by step. Even when things happen very rapidly, and we say that something has “happened overnight”, gradations were still in effect. The rapidness of a change doesn’t affect the fact that there were steps involved in the change.

For example, let’s take a look at the weather. Say we go to sleep one night, the sky is clear, no precipitation, 40 degrees. We wake up the next morning, it’s 33 degrees and we find ourselves in the middle of a snowstorm. The weather changed over the course of a few hours. Based on our point of view, because we were sleeping, the change was very rapid – almost immediate. But of course we know that the change wasn’t immediate. There was a smooth gradation which allowed the snowstorm to manifest. Snow didn’t just pop out of nowhere; there was a process. And without getting into the meteorology of the thing, I think it is agreeable to say that there were some gradation steps that occurred before snow was actually seen in the backyard.

For one, there is a process which allows water to freeze and turn into snow. That happens on a gradation – not instantaneously. We know that snowfall generally starts off coming down mildly and then picks up over time as the more central parts of the storm pass over our area. Another gradation. And I am sure that there are a million other scales that can be seen at the microscopic and molecular levels of a snowstorm.

All of life mirrors this gradation process. Though we cannot always see the gradation, though we cannot always understand the gradation, no change is without a gradation. Nothing travels from point A to point B without going the distance between.

From this, we can infer then that all goal attainment is accomplished on a graded scale. This means that one is never an “overnight success”. Success doesn’t just randomly happen, it is a process of ascending ever increasing levels on a graded scale towards a particular vision. Unlike many movies in current pop culture, one doesn’t just suddenly wake up one day and start winning. You don’t just decide to be great, and then magically become great. The decision is necessary, but it’s not the only ingredient. The decision to become great is just one step along the scale that leads upwards towards where you want to go. There are also many actual physical world actions that occurred in between the thought of greatness and the attainment of greatness.

To reiterate: In order to move from point A to point B you must travel the distance in between.

Looking at the world in terms of gradations doesn’t mean that you can’t move fast. It just means that if you get stuck at any point on the way to your ideal, understand that there is an easier level to fall back on. Master that easier level, then move forward again. Keep hammering on every level of the gradation scale until you see progress, and then keep on pushing upwards towards your ideal.


Cause and Effect – the Master Gradation Scale


Cause: The source-point, or origin. The place where something starts from. The originator. That thing which makes other things happen.


Causitiveness: The degree to which you can affect the world in a manner of your choosing.


Effect: The receipt point, or result. The consequence of a cause.


There exists a scale which is senior to all others – the Cause/Effect Gradation. On this scale we have pure cause at the very top, and total effect down at the very bottom. For all practical purposes, this gradation scale could be considered the “master” scale. This is because all other gradation scales will be seen to fit within this one. Every gradation scale, when taken to a far enough extreme, will be found to have “cause” as its uppermost point. Going in the downwards direction, “effect” will be seen at its bottom most point. Every gradation scale should be oriented in this manner.

This being the case, we can see that it is always better to be cause than effect, as being at a higher cause level will always correlate with being closer to our ideal.


Example – Let’s take a look at the gradation scale which leads to the ideal of living in your dream house, starting from living in an undesirable situation:



-Living in your dream house (your ideal)

-Moving into your dream house

-Dream house successfully purchased

-Dream house in the final stages of closing the deal

-Negotiations made with realtor/current owner of your dream house for possible purchase

-Dream house found in the physical world

-Looking for your dream house in the physical world

-Deciding on the physical location of your dream house

-Total conception of your dream house

-Making mental improvements to your future house to see what you like most

-Designing in your mind what you would want your house to look like

-Deciding that you want to buy a house

-Wishing you had a house

-Imagining how nice it would be for you to own a house

-Looking at other families living in houses

-Realizing that it’s time to move out of your current living situation

-Recognizing problems with your current living situation (starting point)


We can see that as we head towards the top of the scale, we see you becoming more and more causative. As we head towards the bottom of the scale, we see more and more effect. “Dream house successfully purchased”, for example, implies some significant degree of causativeness. After all, houses don’t just purchase themselves. There were many steps involved, and many things that had to be done by both the buyer and the seller in order to make that happen. Money had to be earned, people had to be persuaded, documents had to be read and understood, markets had to be interpreted, price had to be negotiated. A person who can buy a house is a person who has some control over his environment. A person who is actually buying a house is at a higher level of cause as compared to someone who is lower on this gradation scale – say at the level of “Imagining how nice it would be for you to own a house”. Imagining yourself in a more comfortable situation is at least more causative than just recognizing that your current situation is less than ideal. Yet, it is not yet at the level of causitiveness that it would take to actually purchase a house. The higher you move up this gradation scale, the more causative you need to be to execute those gradation levels. Therefore, all efforts to move up any gradation scale towards an ideal coincides with an effort to be more causative.


Here’s another example – becoming a medical doctor, starting from being in high school:


-Working as a medical doctor in your own practice (your ideal)

-Working as a medical doctor for someone else

-Becoming licensed as a medical doctor

-Attending medical school

-Admission to medical school

-Fulfilling undergraduate requirements to get into medical school

-Admission to an undergraduate program that would get you prepared for medical school

-Admission to a university

-Applying to universities

-Choosing what universities to apply to

-Doing extracurricular activities and anything that will boost your application

-Getting good enough high school grades to reasonably expect to get into a good university

-Realizing that you want to become a medical doctor as your profession

-Start thinking about what you want to do for work

-See others choose their profession


In this scale we see as well a progression from effect at the bottom of the scale, to cause at the top. Looking at others choosing their professions is very non-causative – very effect. Working as a doctor in your own practice is very causative. As we move closer to the ideal of being a practicing doctor, we see that the amount of causitiveness required to attain each level goes up. Down at the bottom, we see that we are mostly looking at being the effect of someone else.

All gradations should be constructed this way – the objectives that required the most causativeness at the top, the objectives that most make you the effect of others at the bottom. Every gradation is a reduced mirror image of the only one that really matters – the cause/effect gradation.


Confront and Realness


The concept of confront is central to the usage of the gradation theory. “Confront” is the ability to face something. When you confront a situation, you can look at it and all its aspects comfortably. The more comfortable you are when you view a situation, the more you can confront it – the more you can face it. This is an actual ability that can be trained, and a very useful one at that. The more confront you have for a situation, the easier it is to deal with, and the better you will be able to handle yourself in that environment.

The concept of “realness” goes hand in hand with the idea of confront. Basically, the more you confront something, the more you face it, the more real it will be to you. Also, the more real something is to you, the easier it is to face, and thus the easier it is to handle.

The way you increase your ability to confront something is, like anything else, to do it through a gradation. You confront a small part of it, get comfortable with that part, and then move up to a slightly bigger part. You look at it, deal with it, and handle it, until it becomes more and more real to you. And as it becomes more real, you will be able to control it easier. Through repeated contact with an idea or a situation, we build up a feeling of familiarity. Familiarity allows us to interact more effectively with the idea or situation. Confront builds familiarity.

This can be easily seen in school studies. The more one surrounds himself with the component parts of a subject he is trying to learn, the more he will be able to comfortably interact with that subject. Take chemistry, for example – the more beakers and Bunsen burners a student handles, the more likely he will be to crack open his textbook and read about the proper usage of these things. The reverse is also true – the more he studies about chemistry in a book, the more likely he is to understand how to use the equipment in real life. The more familiar he is with the equipment used, the better results he can get from the usage of such equipment. Repeated contact equals familiarity, and higher familiarity usually means higher competence.

This also feeds into the idea of momentum. As you take action in pursuit of your ideal, you will begin to condition your mind towards taking more action of a similar nature. This is called “momentum”. Each action you take will build upon all the other actions you’ve taken as your mind begins to align with your end goal. Thus, the more action you take, the more action you are inspired to take in the future. Your current actions are literally building your future. Not just because actions have consequences, but because your current actions are training your mind to repeat similar actions in the future.

Chapter 5


Solutions to Common Problems using Ideals and Gradations


It is only shallow people who require years to get rid of an emotion. A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.


– Oscar Wilde, Author of The Picture of Dorian Gray



Though it is always better to move towards the realization of an ideal rather than to merely solve a problem, sometimes problems become so severe and emotionally crushing that they need to be addressed before the individual can even come up to such a level that they would be able to create an ideal of their own.

What follows is a guide on how to use ideals and gradations to solve common, specific problems.


How to Build Discipline


The formal definition of discipline is something along the lines of “intentional, repetitive training”. That’s what it means to “build discipline” – to train a person into acting in a particular, predictable way. This sort of training can be very useful as it allows one to build huge amounts of ability in a very short period of time.

The main problem with training of this sort, however, is the barrier of emotion. Emotion gets in the way of discipline. You can think of emotion and discipline as opposing forces, waging war in your mind. The more your emotions disrupt your intentions, the less discipline you have. The more disciplined you are, the less sway your emotions hold over you. You can even put them on a graded scale, with the various levels of emotion on the bottom, fading into discipline on top.

Emotions, both positive and negative, influence action by providing a person with incentives, or rewards, to act or not act. Correct action yields positive emotion, and incorrect action yields negative emotion. Discipline, however, is action without emotion, and thus action without reward.

In English, there is another word for action without reward. It’s called “duty”. Duty is doing what you need to do, without hope or expectation of reward; you just do it because you know you need to. There is no thought or consideration preceding duty, because there are no rewards to calculate. Once you know an action is your duty, you execute. You do. The goal becomes the action itself, rather than outcome of that action.

So here we have a crossroads between discipline and duty. Discipline refers to training that is done so that one can act uninhibited by emotion – in other words, act from a place of duty.

If our goal is to act with discipline, we must act with duty.

Using ideals and gradations, how to we do this?

We act independent of emotion, in any way we can. We don’t fight emotion; we just act independent of it. Fighting emotion, or pushing it away, would mean an acknowledgment of the emotion’s effect on you. After all, to fight the emotion, or even consider fighting it, you would have to acknowledge that the emotion is both there and unwanted; that is, you would have to give in to its reality. Because we know that the ideal would be for emotion to have no effect at all on you, we can conclude that acknowledgment of an emotion’s effect on you is the wrong way to go. Suppressing emotion does not bring you closer to the ideal. Moving towards the ideal brings you closer to the ideal.

The ideal disciplined person would be a being who could operate based entirely on his own will only, with no influence derived from any outside source (including emotions). Anything we can do to approximate that ideal will move us closer to that state of perfect discipline.

Remember: Move towards discipline – not away from a lack of discipline. Don’t resist emotion, just move towards operating independent of it.

Example – pick an area that you would like to be more disciplined in. Let’s pick a common one – weight loss. To lose weight, you know that you need to eat healthier and exercise more. These things are quite physically easy to do, but emotionally, they can pose a challenge. Hunger and fatigue lead to uncomfortableness and irritability, and as a result, negative emotions. The penalty of negative emotion is enough to make many people quit their weight loss goals altogether, or at least cause them to fail to make significant progress.

So we can see that the work-around to the negative emotional spiral would be to take emotion out of the equation – simply do the activity without regard to emotional effects. That is, act out of a sense of duty. In practical terms, this means: (1) Develop an understanding of what it would be like to control your diet without emotion getting in the way, and (2) install that attitude by taking action that aligns with it.

Ask yourself – what can you do to operate independent of emotion?

Can you eat an apple for lunch today, with no concept of regret or discomfort behind it? Can you eat a brownie while deriving no pleasure from it? How about planning out a diet regimen for a day, simply because you understand it is your duty to, and not because it makes you feel good?

Start with basic things like this and keep working on them, ignoring the losses and strengthening the gains, until you can tackle larger and longer periods of operating from duty.


How to End Procrastination


Procrastination means putting off until tomorrow what you could, and should, do today. Although seemingly simple to fix, it is the bane of many high school and college students, and can have serious and disastrous consequences. Being that the mind is a mechanism of repetition, the main problem is that once someone procrastinates, they tend to keep doing it. Doing it a few times, or even once, programs the mind to continue that behavior. Compounding the problem is the fact that many people have not built up discipline (action from a sense of duty) and so are still tied into the body’s natural system of emotional rewards and penalties. This means that the more they procrastinate, the more procrastination will become imprinted in their mind, and thus the more pleasure they will associate with procrastination. This pleasure will drive them to continue to procrastinate, with each new procrastination cycle further conditioning the mind to procrastinate more.

We solve this infuriating cycle of degradation by first developing an understanding of what the ideal would be in this situation, and then working our way towards approximating that ideal in any way we can.

Our ideal here would be a person who did what he needed to do, when he needed to do it. Someone who operated based on his own will and wasn’t influenced by outside sources. In other words, a person with discipline. A person who does his duty.

So here we see that discipline, duty, and putting an end to procrastination are all requisite ingredients to the same goal. That is, ending the influence that your internal emotional reward system has over you.

The gradation leading to this state would be the same as it would be for building discipline – working your way towards the goal of taking action while remaining independent of emotional rewards, both negative and positive.

If you have something that you need to do, try to do it, even while acknowledging that your emotional reward system is fighting you. If you absolutely can’t take the action that you know you should take, then take the opposite action. At least then you will be asserting control, and it is always better to have some control than no control.

A common instance of when procrastination is most likely to occur is before writing a paper for school. Here is a sample gradation that could be worked out if you have a school paper to write, but yet you feel the emotional pull that tells you not to write it:


h3<. Write the paper, independent of the emotional repercussions (best solution)

h3<. Write the paper while ignoring the emotional repercussions

h3<. Write the paper while fighting the emotional repercussions

h3<. Intentionally don’t write the paper, independent of emotional repercussions of any sort (worst solution, but still a solution)


So, the best course of action would be the one at the top – just write the paper with no thought or regard for emotional backlash. That’s the ideal. There is no need for a gradation at all if you could simply accomplish the ideal right now; you would just do it.

If you were not able to just do it, you would go down the gradation until you hit something that you could do, and you would take that action instead. You would keep on pounding away at that action until, at some point, you would be able to move on up the gradation.

The worst course of action listed here would be to intentionally not write the paper, but do it in a way that is independent of emotional repercussions. Though it is the worst item listed here, it is far from the worst thing you could do. This is because that by doing this, you are still training your mind to accept the idea of operating independent of outside influence, and bringing yourself closer to the ideal. However, being that it does not actually achieve the goal of getting the paper written, it should only be used as a last resort when no other higher option is available to you. All of the higher options include getting the task accomplished, which is of course far senior to not getting the task accomplished.


How to Handle Acute Anxiety


By “acute anxiety”, I mean intense anxiety of a short duration. This would include getting nervous before public speaking, talking to attractive members of the opposite sex, general social anxiety, test taking anxiety, getting nervous before a physical altercation, fear of heights, or any other form of anxiety that is brought on by a particular real-world, present time trigger.

The good news is that we can alleviate acute anxiety by applying ideals and gradations in a short term, fairly rapid manner.

Here’s the breakdown:


Step 1: Set the Ideal

The ideal would be the accomplishment of the target at hand, in the best possible way with the highest degree of achievement. So if you wanted to climb a mountain, the ideal would be to have climbed that mountain in the best possible way with the highest degree of achievement, however you would choose to define that.


Step 2: Set the Gradation

To help plan out the gradation, answer the following:


1. What are the characteristics of someone performing perfectly under anxiety inducing conditions?


2. What would the aftermath of a perfect execution of the task at hand look like, assuming the anxiety was not a detracting factor?


Step 3: Move up the Gradation

Figure out how to incorporate the increments of the gradation into what you are doing. Take on characteristics that will allow for you to hit your target, despite your anxiety. Create an environment that will facilitate success in your task. Envision the ideal, and bring as much of that scene as possible into the real world.

Here is an important implication of this strategy that might not be super obvious: your goal for any anxiety ridden situation should never be solely to get rid of anxiety. Your goal should be the accomplishment of the task that you believe your anxiety will negatively impact. The whole philosophy of ideals and gradations is based on the idea that handling problems is not the solution; moving towards what you want is the solution. So avoid entangling yourself in problems wherever possible – including your own anxiety. After all, if anxiety never impacted you negatively, and never affected your behavior, it wouldn’t really be a problem, would it? Anxiety by itself is not the problem – it only becomes a problem insofar as it prevents you from hitting your target.

Let’s analyze something more specific now – let’s imagine you got yourself into a hairy situation. Perhaps you said a bit more than you should have to the wrong person at your local bar; a world class fight is about to break out, starring you. Unluckily, you don’t know how to fight, and have never been in a physical fight in your life. So what do you do?

Let’s take a look at how ideals and gradations could help you out here. First, set up the ideal by envisioning what your idea of a good fighter would be. Maybe pick a character from a movie that you think would be able to handle himself in this situation, or just create a suitable image in your imagination. What would this guy look like? What kind of attitude does he have? What are his facial expressions, his posture, his general demeanor?

He would probably be confident in himself, or at least look that way – right? His voice would be certain and calm. He would speak with authority. He would probably hold himself upright with his chest out, making himself look as large as possible. He would move his arms about widely, to demonstrate his control. He would maintain eye contact with his adversary – not in a vicious or threatening way, but in a such a way that says “I’ve been here plenty of times. I’ve done all this before. Nothing to worry about – it’s all under my control.”

Imagine it, then imitate it. Act out as much of it as you can.

Do it right, and you’ll never even have to throw a punch. And even if you do, you’ll be ready.

Another way to go, of course, is to set your ideal as “getting out of the situation unscathed, with no fighting”. To go this route, you would proceed to do the exact same thing as before, but this time assume the identity of someone who would never get into a fight – the Dalai Lama, or Gandhi or something. Someone who would almost always be excluded from fighting. Set that type of personality as your ideal and work on a gradation up towards that. Approximate that vision.


How to Quit Smoking


Once smoking cigarettes becomes a true habit, it can be difficult to quit. There are many products on the market today which claim to aid smoking cessation, but whatever aid you choose, there are really only 2 main methods of quitting: “cold turkey”, a.k.a. just stopping outright, or through some sort of gradation program, involving quitting gradually by cutting back in increments. Both are successful, and actually both use ideals and gradations.

Here’s how:

The ideal in this situation is obviously to stop smoking, and without any relapses. Quitting cold turkey would be the most effective route, because it’s closest to the ideal. But unfortunately, while some people can do it, most people can’t. For those who haven’t built up the discipline to just stop a habit on a dime, they have to work on a gradation. These people who need to quit gradually should start by limiting their cigarette intake to a few a day, and lower it incrementally as time goes on. This is a much less painful way to do it, as once a smoker starts to cut down on cigarettes, the new lower amount per day becomes his new normal. This gradual reduction slowly reconditions the mind into seeing fewer and fewer cigarettes as its “normal” level until the smoker can comfortably put down his last one.

Moving from a pack of cigarettes a day to, let’s say, 7 cigarettes a day is tough – but after a month of smoking 7 cigarettes a day, 7 becomes your new normal. And then it moves down to 6 per day, then 5, and so on. So long as you don’t lower your current number of cigarettes daily until you are comfortable doing so, you shouldn’t have much of a problem with the transition.

Many would-be quitters give up on smoking cessation because they tried to quit a few times, and kept failing at it. “Failing” at it. But a part of the ideal-gradation system is that failure is always progress. The simple act of attempting to quit is progress towards quitting, regardless of outcome – the would-be quitter just needs to follow it up with more action. A work in progress can never be a failure.


How to Prevent Regret


“Regret” is a phenomena which occurs as a result of having your attention too focused on the past. Regret can only exist in reference to something that has already happened. It is a negative feeling indicating that the person experiencing it wishes that things had gone differently; that some superior course of action should have been taken.

In the Graded-Ideal Mindset, your attention should always be on the future and how to get there. Everything that you do should be oriented in this way.

When you look back on an action that you took, or a choice that you made, and you realize that the route you chose was not the best one, understand that what you are looking at has literally zero bearing on anything. It is meaningless. The mistakes of the past are dead, precisely because they are in the past. The past cannot be changed – it has already happened. And so it does not matter; it has no meaning. The Graded-Ideal mindset tells us that there are only 2 components to productive thought – ideals, and the gradations that lead to them. This leaves no room for thoughts of the past. Ideals can only exist in the future, and so the path to them can also only exist in the future. All that you need to do is make the necessary calculations and gain the requisite knowledge to figure out how to get from here to there. Information can be gained from past failures, but the failures themselves literally have no value to you, as data only has value insofar as it can be used to move closer to an ideal.

To avoid regret, realize that regret will never be a part of your gradation – as no worthwhile ideal would ever contain that emotion.

No bad circumstances of the past have any real connection at all with current circumstances. After a negative experience, you have the same choice that you have always had: take action that approximates your ideal, or don’t.

And as you take such action, though the feeling of regret may not instantly disappear – over time, through repetition, regret will vanish as you realize that the past simply has no bearing on your present actions and your future success. As Earl Nightingale says, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal”. No part of that statement refers at all to past events. Progressive creation of an ideal is the success itself – your distance to that ideal is almost irrelevant.























Chapter 6


Unintuitive Implications


In this section I am going to cover some implications of the Graded-Ideal Mindset that may not be immediately obvious. The philosophy of Ideals and Gradations, and the accompanying mindset, can be deceptively simple – seemingly too plain and obvious to be more than common sense – but as this section will show, the conclusions drawn from the Graded-Ideal Mindset can be quite profound.



Don’t work “Via” Anything


To operate “via” something means to achieve some end through the use of another path. In the pursuit of your life’s work, it is best to avoid the use of vias as much as possible. By that I mean, whatever it is that you seek to accomplish should be sought after in the most direct way. Care should be taken to avoid getting to the desired destination through some other route. This is the general rule.

Now this isn’t to say that one should absolutely never use an indirect route – but only to point out that the indirect route is sub-optimal. That is, having a desire and fulfilling that desire directly is the natural course of things; having to go on a separate and indirect route should only be done when the direct route is closed to you.

If you want to have a glass of soda, you go to the fridge, grab a bottle, open it up, and pour it. Simple. No extra, unnecessary actions. If the soda was on the table in front of you, you wouldn’t even have to go to the fridge; you would just grab the bottle and pour it.

You don’t try to do other unrelated things to get soda. You don’t sit down to watch TV so that you can have soda. You don’t go outside and fly a kite so that you can have a soda. You don’t go out to eat at a restaurant to get soda if you have some at home. You just get the soda.

Now it’s an entirely different matter if you wanted soda but didn’t have any in the house – you would have to go and get some from the store. You would have to use that via – there would be no other way. But in a sense, because there is no other way, it isn’t a via at all. It’s just the route that’s necessary.

This concept seems stupidly simple when talking about something as basic as getting something to drink, but the same idea applies when talking about the bigger goals of life as well.

If you want to start a business, start a business. Go. Do it. However, if it’s not that simple, if it can’t be done immediately, then figure out what can be done on that line and go ahead and do that. You just want to make sure that you aren’t taking unnecessary action, as this would violate the principles of the Graded-Ideal Mindset. Setting an ideal and following its gradation means that every action you take should be somehow in line with your envisioned end result. Cut out unnecessary action, and use vias only if you must.

What this means in strictly practical terms is to knock off the emotional whining about how you need to “relax” before taking on additional work, about how you are “too hungry to think” or even that you need to “make time to work out”. All of these things are examples of acting on vias. They are an insistence that a particular route needs to be taken before the direct route to your target can be traveled. Vias are intentional distractions under the guise of practicality and comfort. Supposedly a method of aid, but more likely a method of postponement and avoidance.

The student who says that he needs to exercise at the gym before he can study is operating on a via. The religious man who postpones his dreams and desires because “Sunday is the Lord’s day” is operating on a via.

Sometimes, the via is the only way. And when that is the case, it can no longer rightly be called a via – it is simply “the way”. But I am confident that if you look into your own life hard enough, you will be able to root out behaviors that on the surface seem to be necessary, but with proper training, can be safely and perhaps surprisingly eliminated – and to your benefit.



Extroversion is Therapeutic


The basic element of all therapy is extroversion. Extroversion means keeping your attention out in the environment – off of yourself, and outside your own mind. It is the opposite of introversion. A person’s degree of extroversion is often a good indicator of his total potential ability.

In contrast, the common denominator of all mental disturbance is introversion. When your attention is stuck inside yourself, you feel bad and won’t perform at your best. When your attention is totally off of yourself, you feel good and perform better. Depression, anxiety, anger, regret, jealousy, and all the rest of the negative emotions stem from the one factor of introversion.

The gradation leading to extroversion runs parallel to the gradation leading to causativeness. People who are very good at making things happen are those people who most have their attention off of themselves. After all, you aren’t creating anything when you are stuck in your own head. To create changes in your environment, you need to take action; that requires not only interacting with, but fully integrating with the outside world; Integration with the outside world would require a high degree of extroversion.

One becomes more extroverted in general the more that he chooses to be extroverted in specific situations. Extroversion, like any ability, is a habit born out of repetition. Putting your interest and your focus as much as possible on the task at hand, even when doing only small things like making dinner or talking to your spouse, will reorder your mind towards making external focus a more natural phenomenon.

In today’s society, people are generally considered to be “introverts” or “extroverts” by their nature rather than by their habit. While it is true that many people are predisposed towards certain behaviors based on their genetics, this does not mean that one needs to stay this way over time. Someone born as an introvert can, and should, seek to extrovert themselves into their environment. Extroversion is a necessary component to success as no amount of mindset change alone, without action, can give anyone access to their ideals. Action in the physical world requires extroversion, at least to some extent. Looking at the situation in the extreme, a person who is fully introverted would not even be able to interact with the environment at all – they wouldn’t be able to communicate in any way, being so fully withdrawn into their own mind. A fully introverted person might not even be able to perceive his environment at all.

In order to rise up a gradation towards an ideal, one needs to control his environment. To do this, communication and interaction with the environment is obviously needed. The higher the degree of extroversion, the higher the degree of communication and interaction with the environment, and thus the higher the degree of potential environmental control.

As with all the other examples in this book, make sure that you aren’t moving away from what you don’t want. Move towards extroversion, not away from introversion.

A final note on the introversion/extroversion problem – there is a trend in pop psychology today that suggests that there is no superior between introversion and extroversion – that they are both roughly equal in value. In response, I would state a reminder: there are many introverts who would love to be extroverts. Have you ever met an extrovert who would genuinely rather be an introvert?



Maximize Progress, Minimize Risk – The Upwards Spiral


Seeing life through the lens of ideals and their gradations allows you to maximize your progress while minimizing your risk, and thereby create an upwards spiral composed of ever-increasing positive momentum.

When I say “upwards spiral” I mean to refer to the idea that progress generally leads to more progress. It is the opposite of the downwards spiral – the idea that failure leads to more failure.

Success and failure are self-propagating. That is, they tend to recreate themselves just by virtue of their occurring. As discussed earlier, this is of course not due to the nature of failure and success themselves, but due to the mind’s role as a mechanism of repetition. The mind repeats whatever it is given.

The concept of momentum is just another way of expressing the self-propagating success of the upwards spiral. Momentum means that as you accomplish more and more, you are able to accomplish more in the future. This is because life successes lead to all kinds of prosperity, such as increased confidence, increased ability, more connections with people, more money, a better job, and on and on. In other words, success leads towards higher access to the resources which allow for further success. Success allows for the accumulation of resources, which in turn can be used to increase future success. That’s momentum.

The opposite of this is true of failure. There is a sort of inverse momentum that occurs, with each failure building on the one before it, draining resources from you – both mentally and physically. The good news is, as mentioned in a previous section, that failure is largely a misunderstanding of what is actually occurring – a residual left over from your grade school indoctrination. So long as failures are looked at for what they are – mini-successes – you will not enter the dwindling spiral and will not build up inverse momentum.

So the idea is to set up your life so that you are always on an upward spiral rather than a downward one. When accomplishing something on a gradation, you are taking small enough steps that you are unlikely to bite off more than you can chew (and even if you do, you can always figure out a way to move back down the gradation). Because of this, you are always taking action and thus always winning, on some level. The constant feeling of winning is what will put you in the upward spiral and allow you to increase access to the resources, both internal and external, that you need in order to feed your success.



Your Current Needs are Mostly Determined by Your Previous Desires


The things that you think you “need” today were once merely only desires. The food you like, the amount of sleep you enjoy, the number of hours of television you watch daily, the websites you frequent – all of the things that you believe you could not live without were only desires, once.

But upon consuming them once or just a few times, they became instilled in your mind as habit. The mind accepted the programming of these habits and began to crave them.

I mention this only because I suspect that there are many things in your life which you believe that you need, but, losing that need, would not voluntarily choose to have said things. One example in particular could be your spending habits. Most people overspend far in excess of what they can afford. Breaking your budget once or twice would not be a problem on its own, but building up the habit of ignoring your financial limits could be. After just a few times spending over budget (and probably feeling fairly good for having done so), a new habit begins to form wherein you now feel that the money that you spent is the “correct” amount. You become used to your new spending habit, in other words, and so seek to repeat it. What was once a desire is now interpreted by you to be a “need”.

It is up to you to weed out any such false “needs” by seeking out your true ideal and working towards that. Action towards your ideal breeds more action towards your ideal – and this will override any previous negative habits you have acquired.

Your needs should revolve around the ideal that you are heading for.



The Ideal You is the Real You


There is a rather large debate that is ongoing in the self-help community: whether to be positive, or to be realistic. Some betterment gurus swear by the “positive” attitude – the mindset that says that one should view the world in an entirely positive manner, no matter what; assume the best of everything. This argument is backed up by the basic truth that you get what you put your attention on, and that you tend to become what you most think about. It is a good attitude.

The other side of the debate pushes the idea that it is much better to be real and honest with yourself and others. This has truth to it also, as honesty to yourself (otherwise known as integrity) is highly therapeutic and avoiding lying to others comes with all sorts of mentally-stabilizing benefits. Being real and truthful is also a good attitude.

But the problem is we can’t possibly reconcile these two ways of thinking – we can’t profess to be both totally positive and also real. If we were both totally positive and also totally real, then there would be nothing to attain. If our actual, genuine reality matched our most positive and optimistic view of the situation, we would already be operating at our ideal – and we of course know that this isn’t always the case.

Let’s take a look at this situation using ideals and gradations and see if this apparent contradiction can be sorted out. We would need to find a way forward which incorporated both the principles of reality and positivity – something which allowed for one to be as certainly optimistic as possible while also not endorsing direct lies.

The answer, as could be expected, is a sort of compromise – throw out both of these ideas and just understand that you need to move in the direction of your ideal. Moving towards your ideal is actually a combination, and thus a reconciliation, of both the idea of being real and the idea of being positive.

Moving towards your ideal, both in deed and in thought, is obviously positive – but in truth it is also very real. After all, you are the creator of your reality, and so your ideal is simply your true and accurate vision of your own future. Your ideal is real because it is real to you. This fact should communicate when you are speaking of it to others. In this way you can keep up your degree of realness so that you may better talk with others but at the same time not lose your integrity to yourself and thereby keep in line with your ideals.

The most effective compromise is to be as real as possible, acknowledging the current realities of the external world, while also moving towards your ideal. However, do not let the “reality” of the real world interfere with your own personal reality of your ideal. Bottom line, this means you shouldn’t compromise your integrity with yourself in order to conform to what everyone else’s idea of “reality” is. Your own reality is more important to you than everyone else’s.


Life Purpose


Philosophers are always talking about this idea of purpose. What is purpose? Is there some generic life purpose that every human experiences, or do we each have our own unique purpose? Are purposes a product of environment, are they a choice, or where do they come from?

Purpose can be defined, broadly, as the overarching goal of your existence. It is why you are here – what you were put on this planet to accomplish – your reason for pushing forward through all the difficulties in life. Many people do not ever find their true life purpose – they wander aimlessly through their days, “getting things done”, but never really moving towards any definitely defined purpose. Humans have many goals throughout life – but true purposes tend to be far fewer.

Each person, when he looks hard enough at what he really wants in life, could boil down all his ideals, goals, objectives and intentions down to one single, simple purpose. One reason for being on this planet.

Although each person may word his purpose differently, there is one way to talk about purpose that applies equally to every individual – one definition that we can use that, being unspecific, sums up the general purpose that every human being on this planet has. All other purposes come from this one general purpose: To envision ideals and progress towards their attainment.

The purpose of every living being is to set up what their idea of perfection is, and then make it happen. That is all any living creature does. Life, and humans especially, are by their nature, goal-oriented. Hence, this book’s focus on the creation of the ideal.

This is the one purpose to which all other purposes align. Every person strives to set and attain targets – it is the driving force of life.

This general purpose not only serves as a template for every other purpose, but as a measuring stick by which we can evaluate the success of any individual.

All success can be measured by looking at an individual and asking – is this person setting his own targets and attaining them? If not, he is not following his basic purpose and so is not living to his full potential.



Problem Solving

Stop solving problems!

Problems can never be solved – not fully.

That is, though they technically can be solved as individual instances, they cannot be solved as a class of things in general.

If problems can’t be solved, then what’s the point of this technology, or any other technology for that matter?

The point is, we aren’t here to solve problems. Solving problems is what you have been trained to believe that you want. But the unfortunate truth is, the more you touch a problem, the worse it gets. The more you try to “handle” or “solve” it, the worse it gets. It may change form, it may look like it’s getting better, but over time it will be found to still exist.

As an alternative, we need to simply move up in the direction of our ideals. Find your ideal, and move up the gradation towards that ideal. You see? There is no problem solving. Only moving upwards. As we move closer to our ideal, the problems encountered along the way will simply fade and disappear.

The main idea behind this method is to always be looking for the next gradation step. Take the largest steps you can, as fast as you can, and always make progress. Don’t handle problems – make progress.



Be Yourself?


“Be yourself”. A phrase I heard time and time again as I was growing up and seeking answers to life’s important questions. I clearly remember being a young teen, confused and feeling alone, asking everyone I could – how do I be more social? How do I talk to girls? How do I get people to like me?

And the answer, as sadistic as it was, was always the same: “Just be yourself”. How sick. Be myself? As in, do nothing different? Just keep on failing? Just keep on watching as every opportunity and hopeful situation deteriorated into a “loss”? (I didn’t have my Graded-Ideal Mindset at this time of course, and so still believed in the ideas of failure and loss).

What my well meaning parents, teachers and counselors (and just about every coming of age movie in existence) should have been telling me was: Be your IDEAL self. Not your current self. Your current self is only a shadow of your real self – your true self – your ideal self. You see, at the heart of it, the whole “just be yourself” gimmick is actually correct – so long as you understand what “you” actually are. You are actually, already, in the present moment, your ideal self. Whatever you view to be the ideal version of you, that is the real you. Following me? There may be skills you need to sharpen in order to show everyone else that ideal version of you. But the only reason that you can even envision an ideal version of yourself is because that already is you. You already are the ideal version of yourself, deep down. That’s the real you. Know that. Understand that. Whatever your present circumstances, whatever your perception of how others view you, regardless of the external world, you are already existing as your ideal self. Now we just need to use gradations to bring you up to such a level that you can show everyone else.


Gradations as applied to Skill building


The main utility of gradations lies in skill building. By skill building, I mean intentional repetition of certain techniques and ways of doing things in such a way that you get better at doing them.

It is unfortunate that skill building, in today’s society, is made out to be some sort of separate field. As in – you live life, go about your business, and also once in awhile practice some stuff and improve your skills. As if building skills were something optional – some sort of healthy practice to fill up your free time.

No. Skill building is the entirety of it. It’s the whole game. Everything you ever want to be, do or have in this life will come from one thing: your skills. Maybe they are social skills, maybe computer skills, carpentry skills, negotiating skills, governing skills, whatever skills. But the proficiency, the mastery, with which you handle the situations in your life will determine the power you attain, and thus your success. It is, in fact, the only thing which will.



Fixed Ideas


There is a plague that is constantly infecting mainstream human society which I referred to as “fixed ideas”. Fixed ideas are those things which a society just “knows”. They are those things that are just accepted as fact, without any real analysis or judgment. Morals generally fall into this category. Religion falls into this category. Many laws are “fixed ideas” as their validity has not been questioned in decades or centuries. The fixed ideas in a society can be spotted easily by asking yourself “what is it that cannot be questioned?”. Or simply, “what isn’t being questioned?”.

Fixed ideas can have their value – they can serve to brainwash those who do not have the ability to think for themselves into doing things which do not harm others. This is a positive use of them. But when they become restrictive to the society as a whole, when they hold back a society from progress into the future, they must be examined and done away with.

The main way in which fixed ideas can hold back a society is their tendency to restrict the range of allowable ideals. When an individual’s personal ideals run contrary to the society’s fixed ideas, a problem is created. Unless the individual’s will is very strong, the group’s fixed ideas will tend to override the ideals of the individual, thus leading to false targets being set up by that individual in an effort to both appease the group and also fulfill his own innate desire towards ideal attainment.

It is absolutely paramount that people have the freedom to choose their own ideals, and work towards their attainment. Ideals must be real to the individual, and they must be owned by the individual. When the fixed ideas in society get in the way of that, it is time to remove them. This rarely happens quickly, however, as the brainwashed masses will actually fight to keep the fixed ideas of society in place for as long as possible. This is because with enough repetition, the individual members of a populace will begin to accept the society’s fixed ideas as their own ideas, as if they had arrived at those conclusions themselves.

Because of these fixed ideas, coupled with the general unwillingness of the average person to look at the world for themselves, mindsets rarely change in any meaningful way from generation to generation. Parents pass on these fixed ideas to their children and they then pass it on to their children.

It is the rare individual who can look at the world around him, analyze it, compare it to his preexisting beliefs and then change those beliefs based on what he sees. Yet, it is these rare individuals who most shape the culture, and thus shape future fixed ideas.


Motivational Speakers Actually Give Pretty Terrible Motivation


Motivation is what you do to get someone to do something. Literally, the thing that makes someone move. Everyone needs motivation, but motivation is best gained from setting ideals and taking action towards them, rather than from outside sources. There is a rather large group today of what are known as “motivational speakers” and “motivational authors”. There is nothing really inherently wrong with this field, and I applaud the effort put in to help others, but motivation given in this way tends to not be of very much use in the long term.

The main issue with motivation given in this way is that it fools people into thinking that they are doing something when you are actually doing almost nothing. I say “almost” nothing, because getting some motivation is at least a step up from being a do-nothing dreamer who just sits around all day. But the reason that motivation that is given to you by others generally does not have a huge effect on your life is that, because of the natural reprogramming feedback mechanism of the mind, you will continue to desire more and more motivation from more and more people. When you sit down and absorb motivation, it makes you feel like something is going to happen. It creates the illusion that you are moving closer to your ideal. Motivation from others feels good, and as you get used to feeling good from external motivation, you will want to repeat it. Whatever action you take, your mind tends to repeat. But, alas, motivation by itself does nothing. If you don’t quickly take that burst of energy and apply it to the progress of your own life, you will install a mental inclination in your mind towards feeling good from motivation but never acting on it.

A much better route would be to simply take some small action that will help to move your ideal into reality. Unless you want to be a motivational speaker yourself, watching motivational speakers on YouTube probably isn’t how you want to be spending too much of your time. It is fine to learn how to do things – skills and proper technology are essential to personal success. But motivation for the sake of motivation is far less effective than taking even the tiniest action towards where you want to be.



The Anatomy of a Problem


A problem occurs when you try to accomplish an objective, and something stops you. That is the basic definition.

If we lived in a world where you could do anything you wanted to do, we would have no problems. By contrast, if we lived in a world where we could do nothing that we wanted to do, it would be one big problem. Real life lies somewhere in between. We all, as living beings, can think of things that we would like to do, see things that we would like to own, and imagine things that we would like to be. But though we want things, we cannot always immediately attain them. There are barriers. Obstacles. So, we have problems.

But without a living being there to have a desire, could we ever have a problem? Can a problem exist independent of a living creature’s goal? I don’t think so. Because a problem is not a physical manifestation. We may recognize problems as existing in the physical universe, but actually it is within our own minds only that the problem actually exists. Without a mind to perceive the problem, there is no problem. Without life there to witness a barrier stopping the completion of an objective, there is no problem.

A problem implies both an objective and a force that is counter to that objective. Take away one or the other, and we have no problem. Take away the objective, and we have nothing there to be stopped. Take away the force that is counter to the objective, and there is nothing to stop it. The obstacle which prevented the accomplishment of the original objective might still be in existence – but without the original goal, it can no longer rightfully be classified as a “problem”. Because who would it be a problem for?

So what this means for us is that every problem is a mental problem. Problems exist in the mind only. Problems are a viewpoint.

This is because the mind is both the source and resolution of all problems. Seeing something as a “problem” is simply a point of view. So changing your point of view will change the problem.

If the mind causes the problem, the mind is the solution to the problem.

The implication of this is that every human problem can be solved by solving the problem of the mind. To change the mind is to change the problem. And what, in fact, is the problem of the mind? Lack of control. Lack of causitiveness. Lack of creation.

This is not to imply that solving problems is a purely mental exercise with no action taken in the physical world. In fact I mean to say quite the opposite – a change in the physical world is the entire goal.

But it is necessary to recognize that it is the mind which affects the physical universe. The mind is cause – the physical environment is effect.

Life is cause. To restore life to its proper condition, we need only restore it to a position of cause.


The Ultimate Ideal of Life


The Ultimate Ideal of life is to become Cause.


To cause events, rather than be the effect of them.

To create, rather than be subject to the creation of another.

To be the origin point, rather than the receipt point.


Corollary: There is only one problem, and that problem is lack of causitiveness.


This means that any action which pushes a person in the direction of operating at a higher degree of causativeness can be considered to be “good” for that individual. Any action which pushes an individual in the direction of operating at a lower degree of causativeness can be considered to be “bad” for that individual.








Scale of Problem Solving


Accomplish the goal

Move towards the goal

Attack the problem that’s in the way of the goal

Confront the problem that’s in the way of the goal

Worry about the problem that’s in the way of the goal







Chapter 7


Tribute Quotes


If you made it this far through the book, congratulations. You now have access to a success mindset that you can use to reprogram your mind and take back control of your life. As a way of closing out the book, I wanted to dedicate this last chapter to quoting a few authors whose wisdom inspired and encouraged me. The quotes given here all relate to the Graded-Ideal Mindset in some way, even if the authors themselves didn’t originally have that philosophy in mind at the time they wrote what they did. The mindset of ideals and gradations is so basic and so intuitive that once a person becomes successful, it will be found that he naturally operates in this manner and based on these principles. These quotes serve to illustrate that fact.


“All stress begins with one negative thought. One thought that went unchecked, and then more thoughts came and more, until stress manifested. The effect is stress, but the cause was negative thinking, and it all began with one little negative thought. No matter what you might have manifested, you can change it…with one small positive thought and then another.”

h3<>. Rhonda Byrne


“So long as the man with ambition is a failure, the world will tell him to let go of his ideal; but when his ambition is realized, the world will praise him for the persistence and the determination that he manifested during his dark hours, and everybody will point to his life as an example for coming generations. This is invariably the rule. Therefore pay no attention to what the world says when you are down. Be determined to get up, to reach the highest goal you have in view, and you will.”

p<{color:#000;}. Christian D. Larson


“If you write a hundred short stories and they are bad, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You fail only if you stop writing.”

h3<. Ray Bradbury


We become what we think about most of the time, and that’s the strangest secret.”

h3<>. Earl Nightingale


“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

h3<>. Kurt Vonnegut


“Wars are not won by defensive tactics.”

h3<>. General George S. Patton


“Real power only comes from repeating actions.”

h3<>. Grant Cardone


“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

h3<. Confucius


“Our errors, mistakes, failures, and sometimes even our humiliations, were necessary steps in the learning process. However, they were meant to be means to an end – and not an end in themselves. When they have served their purpose, they should be forgotten. If we consciously dwell on the error, or consciously feel guilty about the error and keep berating ourselves because of it, then – unwittingly – the error or failure itself becomes the “goal” that is consciously held in imagination and memory.”

h3<. Maxwell Maltz


“A plan is a bridge to your dreams. Your job is to make the plan or bridge real, so that your dreams will become real. If all you do is stand on the side of the bank and dream of the other side, your dreams will forever be just dreams.”

h3<. Robert Kiyosaki


“When you permit an outside agency to control your feelings and emotions at frequent intervals for a prolonged period, your system will soon get into the habit of submitting to the control of this outside agency, and will not respond any longer to any effort that the will may make to regain its original power of control.”

h3<>. Christian D. Larson


“The basic goal-reaching principle is to understand that you go as far as you can see, and when you get there you will always be able to see farther.”

h3<>. Zig Ziglar


“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”

h3<>. Robert Kiyosaki





























The 20 Laws of the Graded-Ideal Mindset


p<{color:#000;}. The usefulness of the Graded-Ideal Mindset lies in its ability to bring ideals into physical being through the use of graded actions.


p<{color:#000;}. The mind is structured upon a framework of ideals and gradations. Conditioning the mind to see the world only in terms of ideals and their gradations is a return to a natural and more productive state of thought.


p<{color:#000;}. Ideals without gradations remain in the mind only. Gradations without ideals lead nowhere.


p<{color:#000;}. There are no absolutes in the physical world. There are no true minimums or maximums. Gradations are both infinitely large and composed of infinitesimally small steps.


p<{color:#000;}. Ideals are never truly reached; once an old ideal has been accomplished, a new one has already taken its place. In this way, progress is perpetual.


p<{color:#000;}. Action is senior to outcome. Every action taken towards an ideal is progress, no matter the result of that action.


p<{color:#000;}. Failure cannot exist while action is being taken towards an ideal. The only real failure is idleness.

p<{color:#000;}. You can never truly run away from, or even fight, a negative condition. You can only move towards a positive condition. Ideals are attained by moving towards them, never by moving away from their opposite.


p<{color:#000;}. The rightness of any action is determined by the degree of its alignment with your ideals.


p<{color:#000;}. Living in accordance with your ideals is living an honest life. Your ideals comprise the real you. Don’t just “be yourself” – be your ideal self.


p<{color:#000;}. Rate of progress is senior to level of progress. Your past accomplishments mean a lot less than how much you are accomplishing right now.


p<{color:#000;}. The natural state of life is a state of perpetual upward movement. Unhappiness is a direct result of a deviation from this state. In other words – you grow, or you die.


p<{color:#000;}. When in doubt, raise your ideals and lower your gradations. The reason for “no progress” in any area is always “operating at too high of a gradation level”.


p<{color:#000;}. Never think in terms of “solved problems” – think only in terms of ideal approximation.


p<{color:#000;}. Ideals are limited only by imagination, not by possibility. An ideal does not have to be realistic for you to use it as a guide.


p<{color:#000;}. Ideals can never exist in the past. Ideals exist only in the future.


p<{color:#000;}. The emotion you experience should never be dependent upon circumstances in the physical universe. We create experiences, we are not subject to them.


p<{color:#000;}. Always operate at the highest gradation you are able, but don’t be unwilling to go back down a gradation if need be.


p<{color:#000;}. Any datum, no matter how “true”, is only as valuable as it can be used to push towards an ideal.


p<{color:#000;}. Total Cause lies at the top of every gradation. Total Effect is found at the bottom of every gradation.






Ideal Attainment: How to Reprogram Your Mind and Undo Your Faulty Conditioning

It's the vision you aspire to; the dream you seek to bring to reality. YOUR IDEAL is your own personal idea of perfection. It's the way you see your circumstances - and the way you see yourself - when you imagine a world free from your own failures and negativity. Ideals are the drivers of our lives. Our ideals give us direction. With an ideal in clear view, we have purpose. There are only two ingredients necessary to get everything you ever wanted. The first being an ideal of your own creation; the second, progress towards that ideal. Simple. Life, when truly lived, is about ideal attainment - nothing more. Though this is a very natural way of thinking, it is not yet very common. Unfortunately, in today's society, the mindset that is commonly taught and reinforced looks at the world mostly in terms of mere problem solving rather than ideal attainment. We have been conditioned to believe that we should just do the bare minimum it takes to get by, thereby throwing our idyllic dreams to the wind in favor of comfort and stability. This conditioning that you have been programmed with will not lead you to success. A new mindset needs to be installed – one that will give you the freedom to pursue your own vision and allow you to attain your own ideals.

  • Author: Jesse Dvorak
  • Published: 2017-08-05 19:05:16
  • Words: 29829
Ideal Attainment: How to Reprogram Your Mind and Undo Your Faulty Conditioning Ideal Attainment: How to Reprogram Your Mind and Undo Your Faulty Conditioning