I was listening to a speech by entrepreneur Chris Brady and he was talking about entropy. Brady listed several scientific definitions for entropy, but my favorite definition is this:
Entropy = Neglected Things Fall Apart, over time.
When I was in my twenties I bought a home in Baltimore that was constructed in 1918. Over time I realized that it needed a major rehab that I did not have the funds nor the skill to carry out. When I sold the house a few years later it was with a sense of relief. The house was not as bad as the wreck pictured above, but there was plenty of original plumbing and electrical wiring that had not been replaced or updated since World War 1.
Then there’s automobiles… entropy and daily use will slowly turn a shiny new car into a big lump of faded metal that makes weird sounds and leaks oil on your driveway. I’ve been driving 15 to 20,000 miles per year for the last decade, it seems like I buy a car with 20,000 miles on it and in the blink of an eye it’s a sagging heap with 180,000 miles on the odometer!
Entropy will fade it, dry it out, rot it, or just disintegrate anything in it’s path over time.
Physical entropy in your house or your car is easy to see, but there is also a form of intangible entropy that is just as real. Intangible entropy will slowly go after everything from your relationships to your finances.
This is why I take my wife out on a date at least once per week. Every day I talk with her and try to do something small to show her I love her. There are countless tales of couples who “grow apart” and then divorce. Many husbands lose themselves in their work, thinking they are doing the right thing for their family, but they are really neglecting the emotional needs of their wives. Entropy can kill a marriage, one week at a time. If you are married and you haven’t been out on a date with your wife in over a month? Call her now!
As the father of two daughters ages 17 and 19 I try to spend some time with my daughters every single day. Busy parents can grow apart from their children, I want to know what my kids are thinking about and listening to. There are some media messages out there that are teaching the wrong things to the next generation. If the chaotic media has a stronger influence on my kids than I do my kids are heading in the wrong direction!
Your Body —
Entropy can destroy your health. In our modern society crappy food is everywhere and plentiful, along with entertainment like cable TV and Netflix that makes it easy to sit on your couch and watch endless entertainment for hours at a time. You need a system to fight entropy in your health. I do push-ups and swim in cold water several times each week. Some people write down everything they eat, others run marathons or do yoga. Maintaining your health is a constant battle against entropy. You need a daily habit just to maintain any semblance of good health.
Your Money —
Your financial life can easily descend into entropy and chaos simply by using credit cards and not tracking your debt number on a monthly basis. By the time I was 40 years old my business and personal debt had gone off the rails! Even with a degree in Economics I had let financial entropy creep into my life, one loan at a time, one debt at a time. I had spent money based on EGO rather than logic. EGO and filling your mind with endless marketing is a sure way to plunge yourself into debt and the chaos of financial entropy.
Your Mind —
Entropy is the enemy of the intellect. The best way to fight mental entropy is to develop a daily reading habit. Even 10 minutes of reading each day will hone your mind and keep you sharper than someone who never reads. Another way to fend off mental stagnation is to read about something new that sits outside your current expertise; microbiology, urban economics, Fibonacci numbers, quantum physics, the Crimean War, etc.
Tonight I’m attending a talk given by bestselling author and entrepreneur Orrin Woodward. I’ll be right there in the front row, taking notes and deepening my perspective on business and success. I don’t know what my competition is doing tonight, maybe sitting at home watching TV? I’m fighting my own intellectual entropy by reading, listening and writing on a daily basis.
Your Business / Career —
I started Balloon Distractions in 2003, and a couple years later I started to coast. I delegated all my day to day work and just enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle for a few years. I wasn’t growing as a person, I was not improving my business, and entropy started to creep into everything.
Having a mentor who challenges you to grow and reach the next level is a great way to guard against career entropy. I like hanging out with folks in the Life Leadership (LIFE) community because there are people in that group who are earning 100 times as much as me. My mentor earns well over 100K per MONTH, and when I see how he interacts with people and how much he is constantly learning and growing it encourages me to follow the same path.
Truett Cathy, founder of Chic-Fil-A, was famous for always reading and learning up to the end of his life. Even as a billionaire he was learning about leadership and how to run a better business.
The first step in fighting entropy is to be aware of it. Look for entropy in your life, and take action to correct it. An old house does not have to fall to ruin if you take action to maintain and even improve it.
If your relationships have stagnated a bit pick up the phone and take someone to lunch.
If your money is a mess get out a calculator and a notepad and start to figure it out.
If your brain is sluggish pick up a book.
Action over time is the enemy of entropy.
-Benjamin T. Alexander
February 10 . 2017