Charlie's Blog: Charlie's Grand Unifying Theory


Charlie's Grand Unifying Theory

 Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

Physics has this thing called the Grand Unifying Theory which is a hypothesis that all the forces of the universe could be explained in a single theory that unifies those forces. So far, the GUT has eluded them. But I like the concept as a joke name for my blue collar strategies. What I noticed in these strategies of mine were certain common elements. They are so common that I started using them as signposts that I was on the correct path. Here are those common elements.

1. Simplicity.

I am fond of comparing checkers to chess. Chess is a complex game. Checkers is a simple game. I am also fond of saying that it is better to win at checkers than to lose at chess. In other words, the simpler strategy is better than the complex strategy.

There is a tenacious belief that the complex is better than the simple. This belief comes from a desire to have a feeling of confidence. People prefer being Goliath with his sword and shield than being David with his sling and stones. When you're a David, you have the quality of unintimidation. This is the ability to ignore the hype and noise and focus on the strategy. This comes from a place of humility. It means grasping on what you know as opposed to what you feel.

Strategies that adhere to my Grand Unifying Theory are simple strategies. This is their strength. They work. That's all that matters.

2. Economy.

When your strategy is simple, it is also economical. You don't waste money, time, or energy on the unnecessary. People who have lots of time, money, and energy to waste prefer those strategies that utilize those resources. Everything becomes a war of attrition as they burn through those resources.

When you have limited resources, you have to spend those resources as wisely as possible. The simple strategies of the GUT are keen on conservation of time, money, and energy. You become a sniper with those resources instead of a maniac with a machine gun.

3. Reliability.

The strategies of the Grand Unifying Theory are reliable and predictable. You are going to get the same results again and again. Others will get the same results following the same strategy. Any strategy that depends on chance and luck for the outcome are not reliable or repeatable. This is why the Grand Unifying Theory opposes luck.

4. Opposition.

The last part of the Grand Unifying Theory is hatred from others. I am not sure why this is the case, but those seeking confidence love to throw shade on Grand Unifying Theory strategies. This is so common that I have learned to look for this irrational hatred to point me in the right direction. Sometimes, people will adopt one of my strategies, and then sabotage them on purpose in order to reject them later. This is also part of that opposition.

The Importance of Execution

A strategy only works when you have execution. The Grand Unifying Theory makes execution more achievable, but it does not make execution dispensable. I am fond of saying that it works if you work. The Grand Unifying Theory fails when people abandon the strategy. This is why I have learned to distinguish between failures of strategy and failures of execution. Strategic errors force you to go back to the drawing board to think about a new strategy. Failures of execution force you back to the strategy you ignored.

 Examples of the Grand Unifying Theory in My Life

1. Hard work + simple living.

I define financial success as not living paycheck to paycheck. I know people with modest incomes who live stress free lives because they have savings. I also know people who make six figure incomes who are one missed paycheck away from financial disaster. I wonder how that is possible, but you should never underestimate the capacity of people to blow money. At the end of the day, it's not how much you make. It's how much you save.

I haven't been paycheck to paycheck since my twenties. Somewhere, I decided that I was going to work as much as I could and only buy what I needed. Without much more thought than that, I noticed money accumulating in my checking account as I earned more than I spent. Like many others, I learned that the secret to money is modesty and frugality.

This blue collar financial strategy is not popular whatsoever. It never occurs to people to spend less. They are always gunning to earn more. And they turn to financial advisors for tricks and gimmicks for help. They think being good with money is a magic power that only professionals understand.

2. Krav Maga.

I spent some time studying martial arts with a friend who was into various styles. I began to study those styles until I noticed that I would become frozen in sparring because I could not decide what to do. I had too many options, and I would spend more time thinking instead of reacting. I found this frustrating. So, I opted for the simpler and more brutally effective self defense system known as Krav Maga. I have been much happier.

People hate Krav Maga with a passion. This hatred seems to be the only thing that unites these various other schools. The one school with the most hatred for Krav Maga is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Now, BJJ is good for fighting in the MMA, but I am not an MMA fighter. I am just a regular person who needs to get out of a bad situation as effectively as possible. I don't think taking an assailant to the ground in a filthy parking lot and getting him in a rear naked choke is going to do it for me. I prefer to rake his eyeballs with my fingernails and run away. I don't need submission. I need survival.

3. Lasagna gardening.

Gardening can be intimidating because there's a lot to know and learn. I wasn't sure how to proceed and had one false start. Then, I discovered Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza. I immediately recognized in it my Grand Unifying Theory. Her system of gardening is easier than tilling and is very effective. It is now the way I garden, and I am happy with the results. I call it the "Krav Maga of Gardening."

Lasagna gardening is so easy that I don't understand why everyone isn't doing it. It takes awhile to build up the beds, but they become a permanent thing of production as you add elements each year. The number one criticism of lasagna gardening is that it is a lazy way to garden. That sounds like a selling point to me.

4. CB Radio.

When I looked into prepper communications, I went immediately to CB radio. This is because we had CB radios when I was a kid. I didn't know what a ham radio was back then and GMRS didn't exist. As I studied up on it, I concluded that CB covered my needs at a low cost. There was no need for me to buy thousand dollar ham radio receivers. I just need to talk to my neighbors, truckers on the highway, and whoever I like when the skip is rolling. CB radio is the most loved and hated radio service. Yet, it endures as a simple, economical, and effective means of communication that has a long track record. I know that I will be able to talk to my people when the cellphones stop working.

5. Walking.

I came to walking for fitness late in life. I started walking in physical therapy to rehab from my accident. I did some study on walking for brain recovery, and I hit a motherlode of studies and information on its beneficial effects on the brain, the heart, the muscles, joints, mental health, and on and on. I felt like a fool for not discovering it earlier. It is cheap and effective. It is also hated. I know that is hard to believe, but I heard a well known radio host give his partner a lot of insults over walking on the treadmill at the gym. He said that only people over 65 should walk for fitness. Everyone else needs to be running. He sounded like a real douchebag. His name is Clay Travis.

These are just some examples. I have others I can cite from my own life or from other fields. All of these examples are simple, cheap, reliable, and hated. The only time they fail is when a crisis of confidence hits forcing an abandonment of the strategy. I don't abandon my strategies, but it always happens to other people that try them after my suggestion. That brings me to my greatest story about the Grand Unifying Theory--the Granny Shot.

The Granny Shot in Basketball

The granny shot is an underarm technique for making a free throw in basketball. It is the most effective way to make a free throw. Rick Barry used the technique to achieve a 90% free throw shooting percentage, a league record. Naturally, you would think everyone would shoot this way. But as Barry explained, the granny shot makes you look like a sissy. Most guys can't handle this.

Wilt Chamberlain was a terrible free throw shooter. He tried the granny shot and improved greatly. But he would abandon what worked to go back to lousy free throw shooting. He was too embarrassed to do the sissy shooting. Rick Barry didn't care because they can't make fun of you if you make it. That mindset is what you need with a strategy like that.

I love the story of the granny shot because it is the epitome of the Grand Unifying Theory in action. It works consistently. It is simple. Yet, it is hated and abandoned because of the confidence thing. I always recall this story when it comes to my blue collar strategies. I have learned that the one skill you really need to execute on these things is a willingness to ignore the herd and the detractors.

Whenever I go into something new, I try and find the Grand Unifying Theory. Sometimes, I have to create my own strategy from scratch using the GUT as a guideline. This is what I did with my financial strategy. I have also done this with my personal rule of life for spiritual practices and my time management system. But, most of the time, I adopt what is already there. I think the Fly Lady system for housecleaning might be a GUT strategy. My wife is using it and loves it.

What I don't believe in is "best" or "only." What I believe in is what is best for me. I would use the granny shot every single time. Others may choose to do the overhand shot. I don't care. I just choose the best strategies for me, and I stick with them. I am my own measuring rod for success or failure. That internal guide is what directs me in all that I do. I don't have a name for it except "unintimidation." I don't care what others are saying or doing. I just put my head down and execute on my strategy.

I also don't subscribe to old school strategies simply because they are old. Old timers bring out the tractor and the tiller when it comes to gardening. Old timers like to box for self-defense. I kind of admire them for this reluctance to change except their strategies fail at some point. When you're too arthritic to till, you hit this failure point. When someone pulls a knife on you in the street, boxing will not save you.

I also don't subscribe to new school strategies simply because they are new. Hydroponic gardening does not interest me. Cryptocurrency trading is not my thing. I don't understand these new things enough to make informed comments about them. When I don't understand it, I avoid it.

The GUT tends to fall somewhere between the old school and the new school. I know because most of my opposition comes from either crusty old know-it-alls or young punk know-it-alls. The one thing they share in common is pride and false confidence. The hardest thing to bear is when they succeed with a different strategy. It makes you wonder what you're doing wrong.

I remind myself that I am doing what works best for me. Michael Jordan didn't use the granny shot. I am not Michael Jordan. And that is why you need humility. This is why David preferred his sling to a sword and shield. He didn't know how to fight with a sword. He only knew how to sling rocks with deadly accuracy. Stick with your strategy that works for you.


This is my Grand Unifying Theory. It goes by other names. I call it the Blue Collar Theory and Charlie's Big Idea. I have honed it and adjusted it over the years. Sometimes, I thought I found a GUT strategy only to change my mind later. I am also looking for GUT strategies in new areas. I like simple strategies that work.

Finally, why do people reject my GUT strategies? I find it boils down to pride. Humility is the ultimate GUT strategy. When you sacrifice your ego, you can go on to do amazing and awesome things.