History was not shaped by great men, but rather by demanding situations.
Necessity, he found, is the single most important ingredient in the formula for greatness—not a particular individual’s brilliance or a lone leader’s vision.

As a society, we tend to obsess about individuals and ignore the surrounding context that shapes them.

"the hero is a product of a situation rather than the result being a product of the hero. It is demand that brings out the exceptional qualities of man…[Heroes] form the function of meeting a situation which demands all his potential abilities…I think the ability of the average man could be doubled if it were demanded, if the situation demanded."

-- Durant

The Power of Surroundings

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

-- Jim Rohn

Most people are living small, not because they lack the inherent talent, but because their situation isn’t demanding more of them. They haven’t placed themselves in a position requiring them to become more than they currently are.

The New Science of Transformation

Your personality is shaped by your behavior. When you act a certain way, you then judge yourself based on your actions. Hence, you can quickly alter your identity simply by altering your behavior.

Purposefully acting in ways you know will influence your psychology is what psychologists call “precognition.”

If you want to feel motivated, for example, all you need to do is clap your hands intensely for a few seconds, sprint around your house, and take a cold shower. Ask someone on a date, and regardless of the outcome, you’ll see yourself as someone who takes risks. This shift in psychology will then alter future decisions.

Precognition, then, is about anticipating and creating your future psychological state by shaping environmental factors in the present.

Natural versus Domestic Evolution

Each species has been created with a tendency to vary, both under nature and under domestication.>
-- Charles Darwin

People breed animals to have certain traits, such as speed, aesthetics, strength, or size. Domesticated animals and plants cultivated for food are generally far larger than their counterparts in nature.

Most people evolve the same way plants and animals do out in nature. They evolve in a random, unplanned, and unconscious manner. They react to whatever environment finds them. They haven’t “begun with the end in mind” and worked backward.

Conclusion: Coming-of-Age Moments

Being radically honest with who you need to be is all that matters now. The opinions of others are irrelevant.

You’re willing to face your fears and inner demons head-on. You’re willing to give up your low living, your idleness, your wastefulness, your bad habits and addictions, your instant gratification, and your distractions. You’re willing to take up the responsibility required of you. You’re willing to be the person you must be. You’re willing to change your environment for the betterment of yourself and those you love. It’s time to be the person you know you can be. It’s time to put cheap and small living behind you. Your world needs you to rise up. Your situation is poised.

Chapter 2: HOW YOUR ENVIRONMENT SHAPES YOU

The Myth of Willpower

Scientists believed that if you wanted to change a person’s behavior, the key was changing their goals and mind-sets.

The reason mental techniques and strategies focused directly on goal-setting are generally unsuccessful is because nearly all of your behaviors are outsourced by your environment.

Although automaticity is essential to living and learning, it has its drawbacks. Most people have outsourced and automated their behavior to an environment that contradicts their desired goals.

However, when you outsource your behavior to a goal-enhancing environment, desired behavior becomes automatic and subconscious. Automaticity works in your favor. Once this is the case, your working memory is freed up to meditate and plan for other challenges. You no longer have to continually focus on your immediate surroundings. You’re no longer fighting simply to maintain the status quo. Rather than paying rent and living day to day or moment to moment, you can invest in much bigger and better goals because your environment automates the behaviors that maintain your success and inner peace.

What You Can Do Is Based on Environment, Not Willpower

When Roney was born, the backflip was commonplace. Raised and trained in that environment, he never thought to consider this once unbelievable act as impossible—he only had to think, “How can I learn to do one myself?”

Every Environment Has Rules

If you remain in an environment conflicting with your personal rules, you have only two choices: Conform to a bad environment or battle it through willpower.

Every Environment Has a Cap

Pygmalion effect.

In one dish, the cells became bone, in another, muscle, and in the last dish, fat.
The environment determined the fate of the cells, not the genetic pattern.
So if cells are in a healthy environment, they are healthy. If they’re in an unhealthy environment, they get sick.

Your Value Is Relative, Not Absolute

Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.

-- Jim Rohn

If you’re close with some people, you could do brilliant and world-changing work. Among other people, you may be uninspired and dull, never fulfilling your deepest dreams (and, worse yet, never realizing what is missing in your life).

In chess, nothing has any intrinsic value outside its relation to the other.
The pieces gradually lose absolute identity.
Each piece’s power is purely relational.
It has potential in the context.

A person’s value is relative to their context.
Someone could go from a pawn, to a bishop, to a king, to something completely different.

Whatever writing and research skills I had in relation to Nate, they were nonexistent in the context of my other professors. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And thus, I was unaware of the latent potential within me. Moreover, I was unaware of what true productivity could look like. My identity, abilities, and opportunities continue to be a reflection of my context.

Who you are and what you can do in one environment is very different from who you are and what you can do in another.

You Are Always Acting in a Role

Many people believe they have a fixed and unchanging “personality.”

people who believe their intelligence is fluid and malleable are far more likely to grow and change. They are clay that can be transformed through experience.
The belief that you cannot change leads to a victim mentality.

Like the chess pieces, your role is relative to what surrounds you.

If you remain stuck in the same roles and patterns, it doesn’t matter how much willpower you exert; your efforts will continue to be confined within the limiting context of your role. You’ll remain hostage to a context that you mistakenly believe to be fixed identity.

Instead of trying to prequalify to be someone, create the environment that will qualify you to become that person now.

Summary

“It is the illusion of individuality that is the origin of all suffering.”

-- David Hawkins

When you isolate things from their context, you put them in a box, which limits them from growth and transformation.

A person’s constraints are flexible and based on context.
Rather than exerting more willpower and force, if you want to change your life, you simply change your environment and the roles you are playing.

Chapter 3: TWO TYPES OF “ENRICHED” ENVIRONMENTS

High Stress and High Recovery