Taking Responsibility For Your Life, One Apple Box at a Time

Taking Responsibility For Your Life, One Apple Box at a Time

Do you have a right to be happy? A right to be satisfied at your job? A right to friendship? 

Stop and really think about it for a moment. Think about what it takes to get those things in your life. Are you entitled to them simply because you exist?

Your first instinct is probably to say yes, of course you have a right to happiness and friendship. On some level you might be right, but I’m here to make the opposite case.

You’re not entitled to happiness, friendship, or anything like that. Furthermore, if you genuinely think you are, you have the same mindset as a kid in the toy store who stamps their feet until mom buys them everything they want.

Wrestling with Responsibility

Young children aren’t responsible for anything. They don’t have to work, do dishes, or buy snow tires. If they need something, then theoretically their parents provide it. This happens with such regularity that some children throw a fit when they don’t get what they want. They expect their desires to be automatically met, almost as if they have a right to that bag of candy from the store.

As we mature, we learn that fulfilling our wants and needs isn’t as simple as waiting for someone else to take care of them. If we want something, we have to put in the effort and exchange something for it, such as time or money. Meals don’t just magically appear on our table; they have to be purchased and prepared. Growing up is the slow process of realizing we have to shoulder these burdens ourselves.

This makes perfect sense to most adults, especially when it comes to tangible things like finding a home. We don’t expect to live rent-free in the apartment of our choosing.

Strangely, though, this doesn’t translate to some other concepts, like happiness or friendship which we mentioned above. There are many things people think they are owed even though they refuse to put in the effort to obtain them.

Health is a good example of this. We all know that eating fast food and candy bars every day is a bad idea. When we gain a bunch of weight, though, we want to say it’s genetics or society or some kind of stealth calories companies hide in our meals.

We think we’re entitled to a thin and healthy body, but it’s being denied to us by forces outside of our control. The reality is we simply need to accept responsibility for our situation and eat a salad once in a while.

Teaching Obedience instead of Responsibility

The modern educational system is guilty of perpetuating this concept of entitlement. Instead of teaching young adults to take action and be responsible, they encourage us to be passive and wait for life to be delivered on a plate.

One of the biggest benefits of getting a degree, we’re told, is that it proves to the world how responsible we are. Anyone who turns in their homework on time, does every assignment from the syllabus, and aces all of their tests must be responsible, right?

Following a list of instructions doesn’t prove responsibility, though. It really just proves obedience, which you could argue is the opposite of responsibility.

Think about it this way: if you train a dog to sit on command, who is responsible for the trick? The dog is the one that actually carries out the action, but it’s you who made the choices and put in the effort to teach it. The dog wouldn’t have done all of this itself.

In the case of universities, you pay mountains of money to get a list of chores handed to you at the beginning of each semester. If you complete those chores, you prove you can follow instructions. The university trained you to do a trick and you get a degree as a reward.

When you graduate you retain that same mindset: “I got a job, now society has to bend over backwards to make me happy.” Life doesn’t owe you that, though, and you shouldn’t sit and wait for it to deliver. It’s your responsibility to actively ensure your own happiness, not everyone else’s.

After graduation, you suddenly have to write your own chores list. The university didn’t prepare you for that, and neither did being a kid. Now’s the time to get rid of that childish mindset and take control of your own life.

Taking Responsibility Changed My Life

For most of our young lives we’re shuffled from group activity to group activity. Playdates as toddlers, birthday parties with neighborhood kids, 13 or more years sitting in classrooms with our peers. That has value when we’re still figuring out how life works, but what about when we’re older and more capable? Should we still expect friendships to drop in our lap?

I certainly did. After graduation I moved out on my own, far from the town I grew up in. Months passed and I had yet to make any new friends. Something was clearly wrong, and I knew it had nothing to do with me. The people here were obviously flawed.

In the past, friendships always sort of happened. I was in a class with a few decent people, we hung out a few times, and that’s it, BFFs. But how was I supposed to connect with people when we aren’t trapped in a room together day after day?

It took some time, but I eventually figured out that the problem really was me. I thought the way to make friends was to wait for it to happen. Friendship and happiness are just supposed to be there. When friends didn’t show up, I simply waited more.

When we feel like we’re entitled to or have a right to something, what we’re actually saying is we want someone else to do the work for us. By maintaining my thinking pattern of “other people will befriend me,” I was no different from the child waiting for his parents to put dinner on the table.

By the time I arrived at this conclusion, I had already made a few casual friends. (Or, more accurately, they made friends with me.)  But I realized they were completely wrong for me. They were friends of proximity and convenience, not of shared interests or compatibility. I took what was given to me and thought that was the best I could hope for.

One ordinary summer day, I did a full 180 on that passive attitude. I ditched my friends, every single one of them. I went from friendful to friendless in a matter of seconds, all by conscious choice.

And you know what? It felt great. I took control, I became responsible, I stopped waiting for other people to give me the things I needed. That act filled me with energy, confidence, and courage, and all it took was me making that single decision.

ABCs of Responsibility

We’re not entitled to have happiness, friendship, or a satisfying career, but we are entitled to pursue those things. There’s a world of difference between these mindsets, and it all comes down to responsibility.

Refusing responsibility is to embrace inertia. When you look at your life with an attitude of “I have a right to something,” you’re really saying you don’t want to put in the work to get that thing, you just want to have it, and you want someone else to get it for you.

At the other extreme we have an excess of responsibility. Just because you can influence something in your life doesn’t mean you’re required to. This would lead to a level of self-policing that makes a domineering parent seem mild by comparison.

If you overdo it with responsibility you risk shifting attention from yourself to the things you’re trying to be responsible for. After that it’s just a few quick steps to becoming a tyrant. I’ve fallen into this trap many times in my own life. It leads to anxiety, anger, and many other unsavory emotions.

There is a healthy balance somewhere between micromanaging our responsibilities and being completely apathetic. We all have to find that on our own, but it always starts with an honest examination of your life and a careful noting of the things you are actually capable of influencing.

Biting off Bits of Responsibility

My journey started with the rather large gesture of ditching unhealthy friends. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that everyone begin there, as it’s a bit of a wild leap. A better starting point would be the changes I made shortly afterwards.

I could talk about the usual stuff people do when they make a positive shift in their life. I bought less junk food, for example, which led to healthier eating patterns. But instead, I want to talk about something far less obvious: cleaning out my closet.

At the back of my home office was a small closet filled with eight identical apple boxes. Inside of those boxes were knicknacks from childhood, old clothes, miscellaneous memorabilia, you name it. I don’t know why I had been holding onto these things, but I knew I hated how full that closet was, and that I could take responsibility for that mess.

Cleaning out the closet isn’t a single action; it’s a series of tiny actions that fit into a larger whole. It starts by pulling out one box. I open that box and I pick through individual items inside. Do I need this 20-year-old toy? How about those empty Nintendo 64 game boxes or the purple shirt I literally never want to wear again?

Each item I examined was a small bite of responsibility. Those bites quickly added up to a full meal. I wasn’t a slave to that cluttered closet, just like I wasn’t a slave to other people’s desire to befriend me. Moving from passive entitlement to active responsibility is as easy as taking those steps. In fact, you can start right now.

Look at your surroundings, think about a conversation you had yesterday, examine your desk, check out the dust on top of your laptop. Is there anything you can do at this moment to improve these things? 

Of course there is. It’s easy to dust your PC or tidy your desk. It’s even easy to bring up an argument you had with your parents the other day and start a genuine conversation about it. You don’t have to drag every single apple box out of the closet right now and create another huge mess. Just take one, look at a few things inside, and make a decision. That’s progress, and it’s surprisingly energizing.

You are in charge of the things in your life; they are not in charge of you. Don’t just understand that passively: put it into action by taking that first step.

John Bardinelli writes philosophy content at Universal Owl and edits both psychology and finance articles. He has worked as a professional writer and author for nearly two decades.

His main areas of interest include philosophy, technology, science fiction, and history. When John isn’t writing, he’s either exploring quiet corners of the natural world or sitting behind a cup of coffee in a cafe.


Start your journey towards successful adulthood

Subscribe for the latest updates from our blog.

Why Young People Should Reject Moral Relativism To Lead a Better Life

Why Young People Should Reject Moral Relativism To Lead a Better Life

What makes something good or bad? How do we determine right from wrong when there are so many different opinions on the topic? Philosophers, religious leaders, and everyone in between have been trying to figure this out for thousands of years. 

One attempt at answering this question is moral relativism. The theory goes a bit like this:

“There is no such thing as universal right or wrong. People and cultures are free to form their own moral truths, and those truths are always correct, as there are no objective truths to compare them to.”

A lot of people today subscribe to moral relativism, but I believe it’s a dangerous concept that encourages individuals and entire societies to abandon the quest for betterment. Let me explain.

Adding Relativism to Morality

The concept of relativism stretches back thousands of years. 

A classic example of moral relativism comes to us from the ancient historian Herodotus. He describes an encounter between the Callatians, a tribe who ate their dead, and the ancient Greeks, who practised cremation. Each group thought their own practice was “right” and the other’s was “wrong.”

A moral relativist would say that both the ancient Greeks and the Callatians were in the right. There is no universally correct way to dispose of the dead, no rules dealt out by the universe that dictate what we’re supposed to do. And besides, who are we to judge what another culture does?

This sounds like a harmonious outlook towards life, especially in our modern society with its emphasis on tolerating others. The reality is that it’s a fundamentally broken theory. 

Moral Relativism is Logically Inconsistent

Consider the core statement of moral relativism, that all truths are relative. 

The problem is this: “all truths are relative” is itself a universal claim about moral truths. You can’t simultaneously claim there’s no such thing as universal truth AND then make a universal statement like that about all truths

This is logically self-contradictory and serves as the first sign that the theory is broken.

Moral Relativism Ignores Reality

There is a real world out there and we can use that to inform many of the moral decisions we make. Consider this nice picture of the Eiffel Tower:

Let’s say that Sally believes the Eiffel Tower is made of cheese. Roger believes it’s made of soap. Should we conclude that because these two disagree there is no universally correct answer to the question? Of course not. There are ways to objectively determine what the Eiffel Tower is composed of (it’s iron, by the way). This remains true no matter what Sally or Roger believe.

Morals are less tangible than towers, but there are still cases when they can be informed by objective data. To return to the ancient Greek example from earlier, we now know there are health hazards associated with cannibalism. Practising cannibalism carries those risks, no matter what our beliefs are.

By studying the real world, we can find information about what our morals point to and make well-reasoned decisions that are good for both ourselves and for society.

Moral Relativism as an Excuse for Evil

Still think moral relativism is okay? Sure, it’s logically inconsistent, but who cares? Let me challenge you a bit further.

Here’s a sobering fact: moral relativism requires us to accept the worst parts of human nature as morally permissible

  • Thomas enjoys raping babies in his spare time. But who are we to judge whether this is good or bad?
  • David keeps a slave who he forces to work for 20 hours a day without stopping. If the slave wants a break, David beats him with a stick. Oh well, David is entitled to his own beliefs.
  • Elizabeth burns her husband with a lighter whenever she is angry. After all, it’s what her mum did to her, so it’s fine. To each their own, right?

It doesn’t take much empathy to realise that the behaviour in these examples is morally unacceptable. Regardless of the moral standards of the time, behaviour like this has been objectively wrong across all cultures for all of human history, and will continue to be so in the future. 

But here’s the problem: if you believe in moral relativism, you have no logical basis for calling out behaviour like this. Morality is relative, so everything is fine. It’s just a matter of opinion.

Frankly, this is lazy reasoning that is used to justify cowardly behaviour — like not calling examples like these evil.

Moral Relativism Leads to Individual and Cultural Stagnation

To be clear, I don’t think that most of the people who believe in moral relativism would support the sort of sociopathic behaviour described above. 

Rather, my main reason for speaking out against moral relativism is that it discourages reflection and self-improvement. If everything is relative, there is nothing to strive for. 

If a moral relativist were to live consistently with their theory, they would do nothing but sit around in bed all day watching Netflix. After all, what’s the point in taking action to live a better life if everything is relative anyway? 

Starting an exercise routine, going to therapy, or founding a business are all a waste of time, because someone who’s doing those things is neither better nor worse off than someone who is not. 

Even science itself and the pursuit of objective knowledge would become pointless. It’s just a matter of opinion, say the relativists. Who are we to judge? Why bother forging our own path if everything we believe is already correct? 

This is a cowardly way to live and a terrible way to set up a society. 

My Journey From Moral Relativism to Self-Improvement

Over the last 10 years, I have observed a number of dysfunctional behaviours in myself and the people around me. Here are just a few examples:

  • I was given to manipulating people to get approval from them, especially women. I previously wrote about this here.
  • I used to eat poorly and had energy issues as a result. Now I meal prep once a week and have a great diet. 
  • I have been to therapy multiple times and identified a lot of dysfunction in my family environment.
  • I used to feel a lot of anxiety about spending money on anything that was non-essential. I needed to learn about financial abundance and rethink my mindset.

If I had no objective moral standard to compare my own behaviour against, none of this growth would have been possible. Yes, seeing my own flaws has been painful, but that pain has been so worthwhile. 

My intention for Universal Owl is to help young people embark on their own journey of self-betterment. It is my belief that this is how we improve society: by encouraging each individual to accept responsibility for their own inadequacies from a young age and work through their own issues. 

There are objectively healthy behaviours in the realms of relationships, communication, diet, sleep, finances and more. It is the mission of Universal Owl to uncover these behaviours and teach them to as many young people as possible.

Becoming a Better Person

The path to self-betterment begins with comparing ourselves against an objective moral standard and realising that we can improve ourselves. 

There are ways to objectively measure what is good, especially in the areas of life that come into direct contact with the real world. It’s a gradual process of analysing your inner world, comparing it to the external world, searching for an action you can take that would bring about change for good, then finding the best way to implement that change.

Sometimes this change is as simple as removing harmful habits or starting up new ones, like creating an exercise routine. That might sound like an insignificant move, but it’s objectively better than not exercising, and can lead to improvements across your entire life.

Other times, change for the better means learning a new skill, something that’s useful no matter where you live or what you do. Writing and speaking skills can help you better articulate your ideas to the world. That holds true no matter what you do for a living, making it an incredibly useful meta-skill to work on, one that is universally good.

But self-betterment can’t happen if we ignore objective facts. Not every idea, opinion, or moral outlook is correct, let alone good for individuals or good for the world. And that is why we must dispense with moral relativism. 

By looking at objective reality as often as possible, and by considering our actions in terms of their broader implication, we can take huge strides in the direction of living healthier, more functional, and more conscious lives.

Geoff Walters is a six-time entrepreneur and founder of Universal Owl. He has been fascinated by the subject of personal development for ten years, and enjoys passing lessons from his own life experience to younger people.

Areas of interest include wealth creation, nutrition, chess, classical music, psychology, communication and languages.


Start your journey towards successful adulthood

Subscribe for the latest updates from our blog.

Living Like a Hero in a World of Conformity

Living Like a Hero in a World of Conformity

Mythological stories from every culture are brimming with larger-than-life heroes: The hydra-slaying Hercules, the heroic Beowulf, the mighty Monkey King Sun Wukong, even the flawed Karna from ancient Hindu tales.

We look to fictional and real-world heroes as ideals to emulate in our own lives. They conquer their personal demons, stand tall in the face of adversity, and adhere to their personal ethics no matter what the world throws at them. We admire these traits, and as a society we think everyone should strive for them.

Today, few people see even a sliver of heroism in themselves. We look to heroes modern and ancient, fictional and real, and we wish we could have that life. When it becomes apparent that we aren’t as clever as Odysseus or as strong as Hercules, our first instinct might be to give up and stay in bed.

We want to feel heroic, but the only way to experience that might be to grab a video game and slay a virtual hydra.

The education system blocks people’s heroic impulses

It can be difficult to walk the path of heroism when there are institutions that actively discourage self-reflection. Sitting in a classroom every day for a dozen years before hiding in an office for a few dozen more is about the furthest thing from the heroic ideal I can imagine.

The modern educational system herds people into classrooms and systematically teaches them conformity and agreeableness. Follow the rules or be punished. Do not pursue your own interests and do not attempt to acquire self-knowledge. Just memorize names and dates so you can get an A on your homework.

Can you imagine Hercules in a classroom raising his hand for permission to use the restroom? Or Beowulf getting upset over a bad grade? The absurdity isn’t that Hercules would look ridiculous in a school uniform, it’s the idea that our educational system is even remotely capable of producing heroes at all.

How the education system blocks people's heroic impulses

How heroes can inspire us

Most ancient Greeks understood their stories of heroes and gods as symbolic tales. There were truths at the center of Theseus’s victory over the Minotaur, but those truths were about human nature, not about real events which literally happened.

The value of heroic tales is in the lessons they convey. We aren’t meant to look at heroes as figures whose greatness we can never approach. Rather, when we see their cleverness and perseverance, we should look within ourselves for similar qualities. This allows us to meet challenges in our lives with knowledge and purpose.

Internalization is key. This is where the real value of heroism lies: using them as inspiration for self-reflection, goal setting, and internal change.

My baby steps towards heroism

Heroism is built in pieces, not captured in dramatic moments. We tend to focus on the most impressive part of any hero’s journey, like when Hercules felled the hydra. But the more valuable part of that story was when Hercules rolled out of bed that morning and decided to start on his journey instead of watching the Olympics.

A few years ago I suffered a severe injury to my leg. It was enough to leave me bedridden for weeks, confined to crutches for months, and hobbling on unbalanced and atrophied muscles for years. I was an active hiker and weight lifter before the injury, yet now I could barely carry myself to the front door. 

Steps towards heroism

My injury presented both a long-term goal and a clear obstacle: I wanted to walk up those snowy mountains I could see outside of my window. I couldn’t just wait a year then scamper up the slopes, though. I had to get up and walk across the room first. Then walk to the grocery store. Then train my legs to carry me up stairs again.

Even as a bedridden invalid I was able to make an impact on my life. It was slow, filled with small setbacks, and not nearly as dramatic as a Greek myth, but the change was very real, very tangible, and it opened the way to far greater accomplishments later on.

Taking action

The first step any hero must take is to battle the demons within. They may not be as obvious as a busted leg or as dramatic as defeating a dragon, but that doesn’t mean the struggle is any less meaningful or real.

Starting the hero’s journey requires only the ability to self-reflect. That’s something you can do right this second. Examine your life to see what you want, to see what is holding you back. What negative patterns do you see in your life that prevent you from getting what you want? Maybe you tend towards destructive or self-defeating thoughts, the kind that keep you from taking chances on new ventures. Maybe it’s an issue with unhealthy eating, poor exercise habits, or inadequate sleep.

These demons may seem insignificant, but they have a tremendous impact on your life. You’ll see just how powerful they were as soon as you start slaying them.

Once you have conquered the inner demons you will then be able to bring your heroism to the outside world. It’s more difficult to affect positive change on your friends, family, and beyond, but now that you know how to deal with internal problems and have bettered yourself as a result, you can have a real impact on others. Just the inspiration of seeing someone strong in themselves is often enough to inspire change.

Heroism is built from within, not bestowed from without. Work on finding and conquering those inner demons and you’ll see just how powerful you can be.

John Bardinelli writes philosophy content at Universal Owl and edits both psychology and finance articles. He has worked as a professional writer and author for nearly two decades.

His main areas of interest include philosophy, technology, science fiction, and history. When John isn’t writing, he’s either exploring quiet corners of the natural world or sitting behind a cup of coffee in a cafe.


Start your journey towards successful adulthood

Subscribe for the latest updates from our blog.

The Pointlessness of Prestige: Why Attending Cambridge Was a Poor Decision

The Pointlessness of Prestige: Why Attending Cambridge Was a Poor Decision

When I tell people I went to Cambridge, the reaction normally goes something like this:

“Wow, you must be like a super genius or something!”

Comments like these, while a boost to the ego, always make me wince inwardly. I don’t think very highly of Cambridge, nor of any decision that is predicated on prestige. I would much rather people compliment me on my courage and resilience than on a fading piece of yellowish paper from a fading institution.

Living the middle-class dream

I enrolled in Cambridge because that’s what I was supposed to do. “Go to the most prestigious university possible,” my parents said. “Associate with the right crowd, impress the right people, then surf through life on a wave of success.”

What I didn’t realise at the time was how this encouraged me to look for validation outside of myself. It didn’t matter what I learned or how I improved as a person, only that I followed the tried and tested path from educational achievement to career prosperity. I needed the right degree certificate and the right connections. That, apparently, would lead to happiness and fulfilment.

I was actually a total misfit during my first year at Cambridge. Most of my peers engaged in a mix of studying and socialising (read: drinking). I ignored the latter and focused on doing everything my professors asked of me. I joined clubs and filled my out-of-class hours with extra-curricular activities. It was a brutal schedule, and the strain of keeping it led to more than a few sleepless nights. But because my attendance and grades earned praise, I continued thinking I was doing the right thing for my future.

My Cambridge college
My Cambridge college

The wake-up call

It wasn’t until my second year that I started to see the trap I had fallen into. Cambridge puts students on a treadmill of achievement which leads precisely nowhere. I wasn’t supposed to gain knowledge or improve myself, not really. My job was to please professors and pass exams – no matter the cost to my well-being.

I soon discovered that there were easier ways to achieve those ends without suffering the drawbacks that come with sitting in the library for 10 hours a day. It was a simple matter to read articles about assigned materials instead of crawling through dense source texts. The outcome was basically the same — good enough marks to get by and to gain the approval I craved. The only difference was that I gained very little in terms of knowledge. Nobody cared about that fact, however. Not my teachers, not my family, and certainly not Cambridge.

As I was questioning the purpose and value of my education, a wake-up call came in the most cliché way possible: I met a girl. She was captivating and pretty. There was no question I wanted to pursue her. Rejection seemed likely, as I wasn’t very experienced with relationships, but I went for it all the same. To my surprise, my efforts were successful.

Personal growth from an unlikely source

The relationship itself, such that it was, wasn’t my wake-up call. It was a single conversation we had about the manner in which I pursued her. She described me as… suave. My immediate internal reaction was complete disbelief. Suave? I wasn’t suave, I was new to all of this. How could I, the studious bookworm with excellent grades and no social life, be suave?

Like anyone my age, I turned to the internet for answers. Obviously I had done something right. I wanted to know exactly what that was, whether it was part of my personality, and what I could do to nurture it. I stumbled upon pick-up artistry (PUA) and read all about seduction systems I could use to intentionally become more successful with women.

Me as a PUA

Of course, looking back on this now, I consider it a dysfunctional way of thinking. But at the time, it gave me a framework for how I could behave in order to manipulate women into liking me. Through learning this consciously, I was later able to see in therapy how I had been unconsciously using similar techniques for years to win the approval of my professors, parents, and other authority figures. I realised that I had been searching for validation from others for all this time. In reality, trying to control what someone else thinks of you is inevitably a losing game.

It wasn’t the pick up artistry itself that inspired change. It was the act of striking out on my own and being willing to think for myself, even at the risk of failing. This was in sharp contrast to Cambridge telling me to ignore self-knowledge and work to gain the approval of others. Good grades please professors. It didn’t matter what I learned in the process, if anything at all. My strange pursuit of pick-up artistry offered insight into myself as well as tangible value to my life.

The worthlessness of prestige in real life

I continued this shift away from achievement-hunting as I finished my studies at Cambridge. I turned my attention inward, sought intrinsic validation for my pursuits and ideas and became more confident as a result.

I also faced the cold reality of the limitations of my education. Having a prestigious university’s name stamped on my degree didn’t mean I was more capable than other people. I still faced challenges and failures just like my peers, and I couldn’t overcome them by simply name-dropping my alma mater. I’ll be blunt: this was one of the hardest things I have ever had to realise. That statement alone shows you how entitled I felt at the time to a good job.

In the cases where mentioning Cambridge did open doors for me, I quickly learned that those doors were not worth stepping through. Someone who values a name over ability is not someone with an intelligent values system, nor are they someone you want to work with.

My takeaway from Cambridge is simple: prestige is a worthless currency. It’s little more than an illusion. Enabled by the youthful naivety of its students and the economic ignorance of their school teachers, the university is guilty of milking this illusion for its own financial benefit. It banks on former successes to create this bizarre name-worship situation, sacrificing the personal growth of its students in the process.

Yes, Newton developed his three laws of motion while at Trinity College, Cambridge. Watson and Crick also defined the double-helix structure of DNA at Cambridge. Such achievements cannot be imparted onto other Cambridge students, however. Those people worked and fought and failed before earning their place in history, and we must do the same.

The value of acquiring real-life knowledge

If you take nothing else away from this article, let it be the value of self-directed learning. There is real and lasting value in learning for practical purposes, and in ditching the impulse to earn praise from people around you. Instead, look for ideas that are right for your unique character. Expand your horizons until you find your interests, then hone in and specialise. Get to know your own temperament through self-analysis and you will discover the true value of learning.

I don’t regret my time at Cambridge. If I had known then what I know now, I would have probably started a business at age 18 instead of going to university; there’s no faster way to learn and grow. However, my time in mainstream education is what gave me the inspiration to start this business and the confidence to speak frankly about the constraints of a life built around prestige and the approval of others. Prestige may be desirable, but you don’t need to rely on institutions for validation. As Y-Combinator’s Paul Graham said: “Prestige is just fossilized inspiration. If you do anything well enough, you’ll make it prestigious.”

Geoff Walters is a six-time entrepreneur and founder of Universal Owl. He has been fascinated by the subject of personal development for ten years, and enjoys passing lessons from his own life experience to younger people.

Areas of interest include wealth creation, nutrition, chess, classical music, psychology, communication and languages.


Start your journey towards successful adulthood

Subscribe for the latest updates from our blog.