Are You A Laser or Lantern?

By Aubrey Marcus October 18, 2022

Your attention is like a light source. Whatever your light is focused on, you will learn about. If you focus your light on mathematics for example, you will illuminate more and more complicated equations. If you continue over the course of your lifetime to focus your light on mathematics, your light will penetrate deeper and deeper into the abyss of the unknown. You might become one of the few thought leaders pushing the frontier of theoretical math. This type of cultivation of attention is like a laser. It can reach great lengths and if necessary, cut through any obstacles along the way. Many of the great scientists, mathematicians, and athletes have been lasers.

If you find yourself continually curious about disparate subjects, your light will be spread in many directions. This is like a lantern. Because you will not be able to compete with the gross time under illumination per subject of your laser contemporaries, you will likely not reach the highest echelon of mastery in any of the well trodden interests that you have cultivated. But the more different landscapes you illumine, the more you will find ways that one subject can inform another, potentially giving birth to an entirely different field altogether. This is what Robert Greene calls The Da Vinci Effect. What made Leonardo so profound was his study of math, science, art, and philosophy–the totality of which informed each individual gift he offered the world. Following in this tradition, many of the great artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs are lanterns. 

I am a lantern. I didn’t really accomplish anything worth mentioning until I was 30. This caused no small amount of distress! The problem when I was young being that I was just pretty good at a lot of stuff. But the key; I was continuing to get better. Over the last ten years however, there has been a sharp acceleration. The increased proficiency in every different subject has opened up a virtually endless cascade of opportunities for innovation. 

When I was in my twenties, I used to wish that I had just focused on a single sport or field of study. I was jealous of the early success of my laserlike peers. But now I wouldn’t change a thing. This is simply my story though. One way is certainly not better than the other, and we need both laser and lantern medicine as we collectively chart our path forward. 

The important thing to be mindful of are those places that are sucking our light. The most costly of which being the artificial screens–Those dazzling light sources that require no light of our own to illuminate. Televisions, phones and game consoles. Additionally there are also those substances that switch us off. Alcohol in excess being the leader in this category.

But fuck it, sometimes we need a break from being switched on, and I’m no stranger to a Boochcraft and a movie. I cracked a can of Spiced Pear and watched Tenet last night actually. Both were great. It’s just about balance. 

Speaking of someone who has become a laser of critical thinking, today’s podcast release is with none other than Jordan B. Peterson. Largely recovered from his health crisis and fresh off of his new book Beyond Order: 12 More Rules For Life we had an absolutely dazzling conversation on alchemy, personal responsibility, identity, gratitude, and the way that stories impact our life. THIS IS A CAN’T MISS EPISODE

I love you all very much,

Sign up for my weekly newsletter

Share Post