Today we’re going to talk about why you need to find your foil. Foils are a concept in literature that we’re going to adapt to real life.
Learning life lessons from books…imagine that.
What is a foil?
A foil can be a lot of things.
A foil can be a character that contrasts with another character in one or more ways. They define each other by being what the other isn’t.
A foil can be a plot line that contrasts with another plot line. This is especially true of journey stories where there’s an ironic lesson.
See the pattern?
A foil shows you what something is…by showing you what it isn’t.
Why should you care?
For the most part, I only read non-fiction. With that said, understanding fiction can be helpful.
Great works of fiction don’t romanticize people. They do a good job of showing the flaws in humanity, as well as common trends.
Concepts in literature translate to themes in real life.
Have you ever seen two non-sorority college-age girls walking around shopping? One is almost always more attractive than the other.
This isn’t a coincidence. This is a real life example of foils.
Both girls are fully aware of the game being played here. Girls are usually more dialed in to this concept than guys.
The more attractive girl is using her counterpart for status. She is better looking and dresses better, and she knows other people (men and women) will make assumptions about her. She will look better, smarter, more successful, and of higher status than if she were with a girl more attractive than her.
The less attractive girl is using her counterpart for experience and opportunity. She hasn’t learned how to dress or do her hair and makeup, and she’s using her foil to find out. She’s also going to gain access to opportunities that she wouldn’t have had at home on the couch by herself.
Fair? Maybe, maybe not.
It doesn’t matter if it’s fair. That’s the game, and girls know how to play it.
I recommend you find your foil for a different reason, though. I’m assuming you’re not a 20-something girl.
Even if you are, there’s a better way to use the concept of a foil. Two, actually.
We’ll cover the obvious first.
The “Average Guy” Foil
If you’re interested in self-improvement material, then you want to become better.
You probably don’t just want to be better than you are now. If you’re average in something, you want to take it to the next level. If you’re below-average in something, you want to become above-average.
Any way you slice it, you’re going to be comparing and contrasting yourself with the average guy. The average guy becomes your foil.
The more you work, the more you achieve, the more contrast between you and Mr. Average. If you become better than 75% of guys at everything you do, and maintain your body as you age, you become almost a different species.
I’m 26 today. I run into guys I graduated high school with and see they’ve already given up. When I see a guy (like myself) that is better today than they were 8 years ago, I know they’re still hungry.
I’m only 26 and the gap is widening between the guys who do the minimum and the guys with the drive to strive. In five years, it’ll be huge. In fifteen, it’ll be as wide as the grand canyon.
Truth is, it isn’t that hard to not be average. There are many sites dedicated to “not being average” (a few are great, some are ok, most are shitty) that can inform you if you really don’t know what to do.
There’s value in the average guy foil, but everybody plays that game. What everybody doesn’t do is find specific people who are their own foil. That’s a real shame, because it’s far more valuable than the average guy foil.
Find Your Foil
Because I believe in giving you several options on how to consume my content, I’ve included a video below. The information in the text and the video are different, but the focus is the same.
I believe everyone should have a foil friend.
Mine lives in another state, but we had lunch yesterday. I was in town, so I stopped by. After lunch, we rode around talking and drinking pearl milk tea.
It was a pleasant break from the norm and gave me the food for thought to write this. I always like to give credit where credit is due.
He knows about Business and Bullets, which is unusual. I don’t tell people about Business and Bullets for the same reason I don’t buy ads. If my writing is for them, they’ll find it eventually through search engines or social media.
We talked about growth at Business and Bullets and YouTube. We talked about his business and mine. We didn’t talk about our differences even though they influence everything.
I’m self employed. To borrow his phrase, he “has to be a cog in a machine”. Usually several machines at once.
I create and post content on several platforms online. There isn’t a single picture of him on the internet (that we know of).
While we were hanging out, I posted pictures of mochi and pearl milk tea on Instagram. He doesn’t use social media.
Hell, he still uses a flip-phone. He calls my Samsung Galaxy a “fancy gadget”.
There are a lot of things about us that are polar opposites, but over the past 14 years he’s been my closest friend. The fact that we are both busy and live in different states hasn’t changed much.
We’ve kept in touch while more needy people have come and gone. Neither of us have time to “chill with the guys” or “drink a few beers and watch the game”.
We respect each other despite our differences. We can still have intelligent conversation despite disagreements.
That’s the only way to have a foil friend.
It’s a relationship based on mutual respect. Even when we think the other person’s belief is completely wrong, we’re respectful.
We can both learn about ourselves by seeing what we’re not. This breeds healthy competition, further strengthening our bond without compromising our own ideals.
Everybody thinks they’re right. When someone tells you you’re wrong, you have two options:
- Cry like a baby.
- Say, “Okay. Prove it.”
With your foil friend, there’s a lot of silent evidence. Their mere existence proves some of your “universal truths” invalid.
For everything else, there’s debate.
Facts. Thoughts. Logic. Emotion.
Hell, you can sell anything if your conviction is strong enough and you make a good argument.
Just look at what’s being sold as “news” on television. 99.9% bullshit in an edible, believable package.
The value of having a foil friend is the value in debate. Real debate, not the moderated bunk taught in university.
Debating your foil is like sparring with someone outside of your weight range.
The Sparring Partner Principle
They’re bigger and stronger, you’re smaller and lighter. At least, you are on this topic.
I’m not talking about your bodies, I’m talking about your sentences.
Bigger arguments are loaded with rationalized emotion and abstraction. Smaller ones are short and quick, one-liner bullet points of facts and statistics.
Quick flurries of facts can overwhelm a stronger emotional argument, but you aren’t a walking encyclopedia. You eventually run out of information and run out of steam.
Powerful emotions can end a debate quickly because they hit like a ton of bricks. They’re easy to see coming, though. Before you even finish your sentence, your opponent has already chosen their next three moves.
Fighting someone bigger and stronger than you’re used to, or faster and more technical than you, isn’t exactly fair.
Well, life isn’t fair. Unlike a real fight, the only thing you’re going to hurt is your pride.
Mental sparring matches with your foil is hard, because you’re not used to dealing with people who think differently.
We all try to use the rhetoric that sways us to sway others. That only works when we’re dealing with someone who thinks the way we do.
Parroting and agreeing all the time makes you soft and weak. Seeing things from another perspective makes us stand back and ask ourselves, “Why do I think the way I do?”
The goal is never to convince the other person that they’re wrong. At the same time, the goal is never to convince yourself you’re right. At the same time, the goal is both.
Don’t make simple things hard, but don’t half-ass something hard and tell yourself it’s simple.
What’s the point?
We rarely ever come up with something completely on our own. Every decision I’ve made, even about things I really wanted in life, I chose because of external stimulation.
Everything from the place I’m sleeping tonight to the shirt on my back. Every decision, big or small, has been influenced by someone or something other than me.
I get the final say-so, which is important to realize. Understanding all of this makes it possible to choose what programming to keep and what to reject.
Chances are, if you grew up in the church or the ghetto (I didn’t grow up in either) then that has something to do with how you see the world. Whether you rejected the teachings or accepted them, you’ve been influenced.
Today’s world is a wonderful place, but we’re being programmed now more than ever. Finding, debating, and respecting your foil while still disagreeing with them helps undo that programming.
Reality is subjective, and there are many more worlds than the one you live in. You have to be open to that idea if you want to truly understand anything.
That is, of course, assuming it’s even possible to truly understand something.
There is one condition to finding your foil.
They have to be emotionally healthy enough. That’s actually harder to find than you think.
I’m not suggesting you find someone that’s happy all the time for no apparent reason, even though that person would probably make good company.
I’m saying they must be emotionally healthy enough to not need your approval. They can’t NEED for you to agree with them.
A lot of people are like this now. They NEED your validation. They can’t respect you if you even slightly disagree with them.
They’re mistaking respect for an invitation to their intellectual circle-jerk. They don’t actually respect you for pandering to them.
The funny thing about this? People respect you for sticking to your guns, even if they hate you for it.
Sometimes, they hate you for disagreeing with them and making them feel wrong. Other times, they hate you because they realize you’re not a thought-slave like they are.
This is the one exception to finding your foil. Even though their slavery to approval is in contrast to you, don’t entertain their toxic delusions.
Just ignore them and find someone respectable. You can thank me later.
I’ve been covering a lot of concepts this month. This information can either be completely useless or a total game changer.
The difference is whether or not you actually use it.
I can inform you about concepts I carry around my neck and how they’ve helped me, but it’s ultimately useless if you don’t apply them. This requires work on your part.
You can’t eat a deer if you don’t kill one, and you can’t kill a deer if you don’t get up and go into the woods.
I want everything I write to help guys Live Free, Make Money, and Pack Iron.
I don’t want to help guys daydream about living free, fantasize about making money, or buy more iron than they pack.
I’ll be the first to tell you that being your own boss means spending the rest of your life working three times as much.
I’ll be the first to tell you that making money is essential, but money isn’t going to fix ALL your problems.
I’ll be the first gun nut to tell you to stop buying guns.
Find your foil and push your boundaries.
Have you already found your foil? Post a comment and tell us about it.
Get After It.