I was nine years old when Reagan met Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1986. I remember virtually nothing about it, given that I was too busy playing with Transformers or G.I. Joe to care, yet I do remember a general feeling of it being a big deal. It’s hard to explain to younger people what it was like growing up in the 80’s; it always felt as though America and the Soviet Union were heavyweight boxers on a collision course. Every movie seemed to be pitting us against one another from Rocky 4 to Red Dawn, and we always thought in terms of us vs. them, and whether or not we were going to end up in a nuclear showdown. As a kid, the only summit I cared about was the face-smashing kind that Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago were having, which occurred before the Reykjavik summit in the real world. Interestingly, Rocky and Drago ended up bringing the two countries together, even though Reagan and Gorbachev initially failed. Neither leader came away with what they sought, yet it laid the foundation for the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union as well as the eventual INF treaty over a year later.
Fire and Fury seems like a lifetime ago. Those words on August 8, 2017, ignited a firestorm around the world, yet people seem to forget that another American President said something very similar:
“When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat.” – Ronald Reagan, tweeted by Donald Trump - April 2015
Fiery rhetoric to be sure, but there’s another element to the “Fire and Fury” statement:
It signified the moment President Trump decided to solve North Korea once and for all.
President Trump understood what Reagan always did: Peace through superior firepower and maximum leverage works, yet there is another component: the will. You see, Bush, Obama, and Clinton all wanted to fix the North Korean problem; and therein lies the issue. There is a world of difference between wanting something and deciding to have it. Everyone wants things, whether it be a great spouse, tons of money, or power. Wants are like wishes floating up into the ether; they mean absolutely nothing without the will to act on them. Previous administrations came in with the attitude of “Hey, we want to solve this North Korean situation.” Donald Trump came in with “I’ve decided to solve this North Korean situation.” Once you decide what the end state is going to be, the only variables are how much work, pain, and suffering it’s going to take to get there. In my own life, I just finished writing a book, Forging the Iron Mind (available soon). I had no experience writing, having never written more than a paragraph or two, and I had no reason to believe I was even capable of taking on such a monumental project. However, I decided I was going to write a book, so I did precisely that. I decided the end state: my book existing, and set about doing all the things necessary to make it a reality. Donald Trump decided to solve the North Korea problem, and the outcome is a foregone conclusion. He has presented them with a choice, we can be buddies and be happy, or we can destroy your entire economy and possibly your entire country militarily. As I talked about in The Trump Doctrine, the tools to solve North Korea have always been there via China, military, and economics.
Scott Adams touched on this in a periscope, as well as my father. My Dad used to say, “If I get in a fight, I’m going to win no matter what.” In other words, my dad thought that if it were severe enough of a situation to get into a fight, he would decide to win, no matter the cost. He used to tell me he’d have no problem fighting dirty, even resorting to cheating to win a fight. The same applies to losing weight or any self-improvement project you undertake. Here again, there is a galaxy of space between wanting to improve and deciding to improve. When you decide to lose weight, it’s going to happen, no matter how many hours on the treadmill it takes. The reason I go into all this is to create an understanding of what’s happening in Singapore. Donald Trump has already decided North Korea is not going to possess nuclear weapons. That decision is made, the only variable is how much pain they (and China) are going to have to take economically or militarily to get there. This is why I and many others are so confident of the eventual result. Even when President Trump canceled the summit, we understood it was a necessary step to exert leverage. We hold all the cards, and unlike the Soviets in the 80’s, there is no comparison regarding strength. We have enough economic and military firepower to level North Korea 100 times over, so there’s no reason we won’t get the result we want eventually. Even if we have to destroy Chinese banks to get there, the result is set in stone.
Virtually every expert in the country over the past 30 years should be embarrassed right now. How many hours collectively have these people toiled trying to find a resolution to the North Korea problem? How many of them went on TV and derided President Trump for his approach? I see people that failed at dealing with this problem for decades lecturing the President on how he is doing everything wrong, yet he is the one that is showing how inept they were. The reason I know all of this is going to work out is that the end state has already been decided. I’m sure there will be addition walk-aways, posturing, and rhetoric; make no mistake though, at the end of this there will be peace and no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. Solving the North Korea problem was never a matter of military power or economics; it was a matter of mindset and deciding to use those things to achieve peace.
Take a lesson from all of this: To be a winner, one must examine their premise from the very beginning:
Do you want it?
Or are you deciding to have it?
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“For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
We’ve seen a lot of things over the last two years that should have been impossible. Down has been up, insane has become normal, and Donald Trump is President of the United States. We as a country have seemingly stepped through a looking glass where everything we thought we knew has been called into question. There is a significant portion of the population that is still unable to reconcile events that occur every day, and live in a perpetual state of confusion. Fortunately for some of us, we’ve had the fortune to have all of this insanity explained to us by the one man that has understood it from the start.
I would not be the person I am today without Scott Adams. Nor would I have ever written my book, Forging the Iron Mind (available soon!). I would not be writing articles or doing videos, but most importantly, I would be appreciably worse of a person without coming into contact with him. I first remember seeing Scott Adams on an episode, of all places, Bill Maher’s show. For those unaware, Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, for many years one of the most popular comics in the country. He has also written many other books, the exceptional thought experiments God’s Debris and The Religion War, as well as one of the most influential books I’ve ever read, How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big. Most recently, he wrote what many consider the bible on the 2016 election, Win Bigly. His insights into persuasion technique and mindset belong right alongside the best in the field, such as Robert Cialdini, Dale Carnegie, and even Norman Vincent Peale. I’ve read every article and book he’s written in the past few years, watched hundreds of his videos, and it is not an overstatement to say my life has manifestly improved as a result. He has not only given out incredible advice but has actually managed to reshape my perspective on the world and even reality itself.
Scott is an interesting character, he seems unassuming, and only moderately famous (relative to movie stars and the like). He has a decent size Twitter account at 250,000 followers, which doesn’t seem to be a massive number, yet his reach is felt all the way to the highest levels of the country. In the age of social media, great ideas tend to propagate; sometimes at light speed, sometimes at a snail’s pace, but they always get to where they are going. I always suspected he had more reach than his follower count indicated, as I’d watch one of his periscopes in the morning, and hear specific concepts he talked about on the news that night. Greg Gutfeld, Tucker Carlson, and others in the media sphere have directly referenced him and his ideas multiple times, sometimes credited, sometimes not. I always wondered exactly how far his reach truly went, are there members of Congress that follow him? Do his ideas actually climb the ladders to the President’s ear?
Then, just the other day, we get this:
Confirming what I’ve suspected all along, even the top tier players in the country are now paying attention. Sometimes ideas that seem profound linger only in certain spheres in the Twitterverse. Most of us stay within our own bubble, so it’s hard to say whether things that seem huge to us online, are actually moving the world. The retweet by Devin Nunes, among others, is proof positive that Scott Adams is moving the needle. If he has the ear of Devin Nunes, then for all intents and purposes, he has the ear of the President. Kanye West also retweeted several of his videos to his 12 million or so followers, so this man, who only seems moderately famous on the surface, is and has been for awhile, spreading like a virus throughout the collective consciousness of the country. The way Twitter works is that you say something to your followers, then maybe they retweet it to their followers, and so on and so forth. Scott Adams sends a tweet to his 250K, which is then retweeted by multiple people that are in the 300K-500K range, and so on up the chain these ideas go. By the time it’s all said and done, he’s reached into the 10’s of millions, and numerous people at the upper echelons of power.
I don’t think it’s in the least bit hyperbolic to suggest he might be one of the most influential men on the planet. I don’t believe there’s another thinker whose ideas so often permeate the public consciousness. Recently the concept of the “intellectual dark web” was introduced and included many prominent thinkers such as Bret Weinstein, Dave Rubin, Joe Rogan, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, and others. Who was not on the list? The one man that has interacted with the majority of them: Scott Adams. Adams has a policy that he will go on virtually any show at any time, be it Infowars or Bill Maher, and a new interview with him is somewhere online virtually every day. Unlike the Borg from Star Trek, he doesn’t tell you he’s going to assimilate you to your face; he lightly weaves in and out of virtually every platform available with subtle persuasion technique and relentless efficiency. You’ve heard his ideas, even if you’ve never seen or heard of the actual man.
The Scott Adams looking glass is one of self-discovery. As you watch or read him, you find yourself questioning everything you thought you knew about life, politics, and even the very nature of reality. You watch him in real time make incredible predictions that are oddly specific, and yet I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him be wrong. He isn’t Nostradamus, and he isn’t looking into a crystal ball, but what he does have is a deep understanding of how the human mind works. He was the first that I can remember predicting Donald Trump would be President of the United States, and has predicted everything that’s happened in the Trump Era with startling accuracy. Trump’s unorthodox style proved to be the vehicle for Adams’ ideas, because Trump is so far outside the norms of politics, that it seemed inconceivable to most that he would ever become President, let alone be as incredibly effective as he has been. The Scott Adams “persuasion filter” that he places on life, people, and events, coupled with his understanding of how humans make decisions, allows for stunning accuracy and insight into the decision making process. The more you watch Adams, the more you feel as though you’ve discovered the cheat codes to life. In the same manner that a video game might have a code to give unlimited life, the Adams’ cheat code allows you to understand how malleable the mind truly is. The persuasion filter feels like some sort of extra-sensory perception, deciphering motivations and outcomes at a level you didn’t know existed.
The magic of all of this is that you never see it coming. He doesn’t necessarily seem overtly persuasive, yet you’ll find yourself days later pondering something he said in a periscope, and then see it play out right in front of you. It is as though he’s manifested his will into the world just to show you how little you understood about life. The Scott Adams looking glass journey is deep, and seemingly never-ending, continually introducing you to new concepts, not only from him but from your own exploration of the tools he’s given you. All of a sudden philosophy, science, relationships, and yes, politics become far more alluring. You’ll find yourself delving into areas you never had the slightest interest in, all because a cartoonist on the internet planted seeds in your mind that eventually grew into oaks.
“I’ve known all of these things for years, but it wasn’t until now that you were ready to hear it.” -Scott Adams
If you want to understand everything, and jump through the looking glass, here is the link to everything you need to know: The Scott Adams' Master Persuader Reading List
Be careful, Wonderland is an amazing place.
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Steve is the author of Forging the Iron Mind, and is the founder and CEO of Americana Prime.