She sits across from the music legend, black shirt hanging loosely around her shoulders, hair draped over her chest.
It’s been 3:22 seconds since either of them have spoken.
You have a creative career. Let's find it.
It’s been 3:22 seconds since either of them have spoken.
Almost a year ago, all of this started by accident.
I found myself muttering the same phrase every morning as I walked my dog. 2 words:
I would say those two words over and over again. A kind of chant. I probably looked a little crazy.
“Thank you, rock.”
“Thank you, tree.”
“Thank you, home.”
“Thank you, shoes.”
As the months passed, I realized I was actually becoming more grateful bydefault.
A few weeks after “the becoming,” I found this story, which somehow passed me when it was published.
A guy quit smoking by changing a password?? You’ve got to be kidding me.
Then, Tony Robbins proclamation in “I Am Not Your Guru.”
“I would say to myself every morning:
I am unstoppable.
I am unstoppable.
I am unstoppable.”
He would say this for hours on end as he ran. Is he unstoppable? I don’t know. He believes he is unstoppable, though, and that apparently matters.
I wanted more. Could there be something to this mantra thing? Does it really change you?
“Mantra” comes from a Sanskrit root meaning “a sacred message or text, charm, spell”
These are all words we don’t care for much in this day and age. They scare us because we can’t see them.
It’s funny how a lot of the best outcomes in life require faith.
I actually got a frustrated researching this phenomenon. Most of what comes up when you look for “how words affect the brain,” is anecdotal information from adrenaline-fueled-entrepreneur corners of the Internet. The rest is difficult to separate from the religious roots from which the practice began. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but I was curious how language specifically affects the body. Instead, I came away with “SPEAK YOUR DREAMS INTO REALITY(!),” and other such high-flying quotables.
(By the way, this is not the first time I’ve run into this missing facts problem. It’s becoming more plain to me people spout catchy-sounding stat bites without sources. Our blind trust of the Internet is very scary. “9 out of 10 businesses fail.” Do they really? Where is your source? What time frame are you talking about? For that matter, what does “failure” really mean? And what qualifies as a “business.”
But I digress.)
So it seems, on the matter of mantras, that I will have to ask you for a little faith. This is my experience, which is all I can ever offer you anyway.
As I looked back, I’ve had different mantras through the years — those which have been a point of constant focus and attention for an extended amount of time.
Each of them has changed my life in a profound way. Thinking these things did not change my life. I spoke them aloud as often as possible.
Like a crazy person.
Romantic or platonic, not much speaks louder than giving up something you care about for another person.
This connected culture makes us think we have to impact 4,000 people to be important — maybe 4 MILLION!
That’s too many friends. Instead, focus on four.
If four people are bawling at your funeral, you nailed it.
When I left on my 5 A.M. alarm for Saturday and Sunday, these things happened:
Most people have a deep fear: One day, they will run out of ideas.
Writer’s block specifically has reached legendary status over the years. The word has a plague-like reputation. Once you are afflicted, you will be doomed to a life with the “normies.”
Here’s the truth:
All blocks are self-inflicted.
The human brain is infinite, constantly processing new thoughts and emotions and stimuli and interactions. It is ever-searching, ever-seeking, and rarely at rest.
I heard recently that Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) doesn’t even plan comics ahead of time now. He just sits at the desk and starts. Even though he’s been making office jokes since 1989, there’s more where that came from.
If you do just 30 seconds more of what you love day after day, you will likely be much more fulfilled at the end of a year.
If you spend 30 consecutive days acting on an interest and don’t hate it, you have likely found a potential career. (If you do hate it, at least you explored the option.)
If you plan on taking 30 years to build exactly the life you want, you will have much more patience for the little bumps along the way.
What has suffered in this generation is our ability to work deeply. We settle for shallow interactions, quick dopamine hits, and endless entertainment.
Ignore things that are mildly important to obsess over that which is mostimportant.
I wasn’t able to accomplish much in 2014. A large reason for this was because it felt like my guts were about to fall out of my stomach at any moment.
Sustainable health is the foundation to sustainable anything else.
My friend told me once:
“SEO is the only way to win.”
The only way to win is doing things that energize you at least 80% of the time.Use the other 20% to set up a structure which will increase that 80% to 100%.
One of the great ironies of life is this: the praise which follows success can stonewall your progress.
Affirmation is a fickle, hollow drug. Do not allow it to own your self esteem.
Instead, create new work. Improve your process. Continue to grow.
These things you control.
Have you ever worried you might become worthless?
I know I did. Once I wrote my first viral hit, I would terrified I could never write another.
First I was paralyzed. Then I was liberated. Now, millions of people have read my work all over the world.
I’ve wrapped up the epiphany between paralyzed and liberated in my book: The Ultimate Guide to Infinite Ideas, which I’m giving away for free.
Ready for some honesty you don’t see much on the Internet? Here we go:
I am 26 years old, have started exactly zero companies to date, and currently have a net worth of approximately not very much.
I have 3 very close friends and a pretty close family. I have a job in which I’m paid market value (barely), and I have 1,400 or so email list subscribers to my personal site.
I am 5’9, weigh 142 lbs (my fighting weight!), have only slept with one woman in my life, and spent most of my school days feeling left out because my friends were club-hopping party animals and I didn’t want to spend time doing that.
I am completely average from head to toe.
And I only tell you those things to tell you this:
I am still probably the happiest person in the universe.
Here are a few things that got me there:
I hate giving this advice because it’s SO been beaten to death, but it made a huge difference in my life:
When you wake up and immediately start getting ready for the god-awful 9 to 5 rat race you’re about to hurl yourself into, it’s easy to feel defeated. Life feels outside of your control when you “have to” do all these different things.
But nobody can stop you from getting up early. That’s all you. Perceived control leads to real control.
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, after eating and finding a place to not die, you need 50 imaginary “Feel Good Points” to be secure in yourself.
I know what the triangle says, but “Feel Good Points” are much more tangible.
The thing is, those points come differently for different people.
Susie the Cheerleader is well liked, sought after by men, and goes out all the time. She’s drowning in Feel Good Points by default — everyone likes her.
You might not be able to get your points by quantity, so get them by quality. I said I don’t have many friends, and that’s true. But the friends I do have, I would die for.
My wife gives me a security I can’t explain. I’m not saying “go get married” is practical advice, but it’s the route I chose to go. If I died today, she could get her Feel Good Points elsewhere. If she died, you might never hear from me again. It’s scary, but that’s how I roll.
When you feel like you don’t belong with most people, go all in with the people you like.
And then do more of that and less of what I don’t like — every day.
The change does not have to happen immediately.
In fact, sometimes it’s better if it doesn’t. Often people who win the lottery don’t know what do do with the cash so they blow it. A better job, a girlfriend, a six pack, will all mean nothing if you don’t earn them.
Life change is only impossible if you’re impatient. If you’re looking for a shortcut, there isn’t one.
I did exactly this in my first corporate job. I found what I liked about the role and did that as much as possible as well as I possibly could.
Then I started doing that work for other managers
Then I started doing that work for everyone.
Then I got a new job, a new boss, and made double what I started with — all in 6 months, and I didn’t hate what I was doing along the way.
Money is attracted to passion. It’s not the other way around.
Tony Robbins says:
Fulfillment is not a science, it’s an art.
I hate that.
I hate that because art is messy and unpredictable. I hate that because you can’t find a “happiness formula.” Even if you start doing the things I’ve done, it’s nothing more than a starting spot.
I know I will be bored of my job in a few months.
I know I will be sick of a new business effort before too long.
I know I will get tired of most of the things which bring me joy.
Which means I will have to try.
Every day I will get up and look for things to be grateful for. Every day I will come up with new ideas. Every day I will look for things to improve. There are no free passes.
You may not be able to make your life radically better today.
But you can make today radically better today.
Stay focused. Stay balanced. Learn, and most importantly:
It was May in 1930. A man with a fabulous mustache sat upright in his favorite chair, seconds away from dozing off.
Just as his head dipped into dream world, the ball bearings plummeted from his hand and onto a metal plate, where the clatter shook the man back into reality.
He then stood up, walked across the room, and began to paint.
The man’s name was Salvador Dali.
He painted “The Persistence of Memory.” You have probably seen it before I put it at the top of this post. It’s typically called something like “The One with the Weird Melting Clocks.”
Dali believed the stuff of our dreams was literally located on the cusp of sleeping and waking. He would often nap for only a few seconds because he wanted to capture that sensation.
You know this feeling, don’t you?
It’s late at night. You are drifting away, and for a moment you see your life as it could be. You see the success. You see the recognition you deserve. You see fulfillment. This is the “could be.”
It’s gone in a moment. Lost in Dreamland.
The next morning you wake up and have no time for the dream. There are important things to do. Adult things! URGENT things! Productive things!
The reason you don’t feel as motivated in the morning to chase you dreams is this:
Life interrupts the “could be” with the “is” on a daily basis. You could be a great musician, but class is starting in five minutes.
You could be a better person, but your temper is often unchecked.
Here is one thing we know:
The “is” will always become the “was.”
Luckily, you get to decide whether or not the “could be” becomes the “could have been.”
(For more on mitigating The Life Effect, see also — How to Ignore Absolutely Everything)
No, it’s not the cell phone specifically.
The most overrated pleasure is the notification (in all forms).
You see how it happened, don’t you?
The early notification said:
“You are significant. I love you.”
The new notification says:
“You are significant. Now pay attention to me.”
The modern notification says:
“You are significant, but only in this reality. Come backto me.”
The notification phenomena is so common we don’t even consider it a pleasure, just a part of life. We trade away flow in our work and conversations for a string of tiny dopamine hits.
I don’t talk about notifications because I am above them. I talk about notifications because I was a slave once. The little red circles demanded my attention and I submitted. I substituted real emotion for a cheap high. I surrendered self-love for a few pixels forming a number.
When they made a big one, I was happy.
When I didn’t, I was sad.
You are probably stronger than me. You can probably handle it.
At least, I hope you can.
My cursor pulsed on the blank page.
I wrote sentence and then deleted every word. I stood up 6 times for coffee in 2 hours. Surprisingly, my page would still be blank when I returned.
I wanted to start a blog. I wanted to start a business. I wanted to change the world.
But all those things invite ridicule. I had a fear of being ridiculed.
So I sat safely in the corner, dumping ideas into my hard drive where they collected dust.
One day, a friend of mine told me something which changed my perspective forever. He said this:
“Nobody cares what you are doing.”
Far from being depressing, this was the most liberating thing I ever discovered.
Obscurity is not a problem. It’s an opportunity. It allows you to lay the firstbrick in your idea without a judging panel. Then, you might find the confidence to lay another. And then another. Safe in your shroud of being a nobody, you have full reign to take whatever type of material you like and build whatever type of legacy you want.
Eventually you will fail in front of somebody. It might hurt a little. It might hurt a lot. When the raw emotions fade, though, you’ll look around and realize something:
You are still alive.
Yesterday, I got a letter from a publisher which began “Dear Author.” It hurt. A lot.
But I am still alive.
Oh, and as a reminder:
Thought does not conquer fear. Plans do not conquer fear. Ideas do not conquer fear. Encouragement does not conquer fear. Friends do not conquer fear.
Action conquers fear.
As a matter of fact, it may be the only thing that does.
My first week of corporate work, I was assigned 18 company policies to read.
My second week of work, I was given 40 hours to complete a draft of ONE document.
My third week of work, I was in a meeting about a project I might join one day.
My forth week of work, I considered jumping out the 3rd story window (but they’re all sealed… funny how that works).
My fifth week of work, I started reading The Blue Book of Grammar. You know, for fun.
My sixth week of work, I was given nothing to do.
My sixth and a half week of work, I walked down the hall, introduced myself to 5 new people and asked what they did. One of those people had a need that was in my skill set.
My twentieth week of work I called a meeting with that person, my boss, and a few co-workers to show them what I’d made that I thought would address their need. My boss didn’t show up.
My twenty-forth week of work, I had a new job, a new boss, and was making almost double what I started.
The lesson there could be “meet everyone” or “do work you weren’t asked to” or “don’t jump out high windows,” but frankly all of those things fall under this one:
Set your own standards.
People will ask little of you – set your own standards.
People will expect you stay in line and do what you’re told – set your own standards.
People will assume you are average, but “average” in corporate America means “dead” – set your own standards.