No Sense Friday: Status Games

What happened to the coolest kid in your high school? Last thing I know, mine’s a bus driver. He was a good guy. I liked him. Helped him in school here and there. But he was lazy. So, so lazy.

He was also a soccer player. Good-looking. Hilariously funny. Always cracking jokes, never caring about grades or teachers. He had to repeat a year. Not just once, several times. Later, he switched schools. Stopped playing soccer. But kept drinking beer. Kept chasing girls.

He would’ve been a great cop. Always wanted to be. His dad was. He got close to it once. But he never made it. Because he never sat on his ass and did the work.

He was too busy playing status games. Too busy looking cool to build the life he truly wanted.

Status games are the social games we play to decide who’s in charge. For a long time, they helped us survive. Without a clear pecking order, ancient tribes wouldn’t have made it.

Today, they still help us govern nations. Politics is a status game. Sports is a status game. Twitter is a status game. Who has more followers? More klout? Who wins the competition?

The problem with status games is that they’re zero-sum games. The only way you win in a status game is if someone else loses.

Naval Ravikant explains:

“The problem is that to win at a status game, you have to put somebody else down. That’s why you should avoid status games in your life because they make you into an angry combative person. You’re always fighting to put other people down, to put yourself and the people you like up.”

Building wealth, on the other hand, is a positive-sum game. I can have a house and you can have a house too. In fact, if you and I both have one, chances are, we’ll figure out a better way to build houses together.

The life you truly want to live depends on you playing the wealth game, not the status game.

How’s that line?

“Rich people stay rich by living like they're broke. Broke people stay broke by living like they're rich.”

If you’re too busy fighting for status, looking cool, pretending to be something you’re not, you’ll never put enough effort into building something society will reward you for.

When you’re playing wealth games, status people will attack you. That’s okay. Let them. Ignore them. They’re playing a different game. You play yours. You play the wealth game.

Because the life you really want? It won’t magically come to you for being the coolest kid in class.


About No Sense Friday: Most people live for Friday. Relaxing on the weekend is fine, but we can’t just waste it away every time. That’s why Friday is the most important day to call out things that make no sense. Because in a way, the concept of ‘Friday’ itself makes no sense.

A good life is lived every day, not just once a week.

Hey! Did you know word of mouth is the main way the work of solo artists grows? If you like Empty Your Cup, can you please share it? Your friends can sign up here.

You can also share on Facebook or tweet about it.