Think of someone you love – a family member, a friend, a significant other…
Go ahead and picture them in your head. See their face. And let this person smile at you.
They are happy to see you. Happy you are here. They want you to do well. They wish the best for you.
They want to celebrate you success and commiserate over your failures.
It’s good to picture this person.
And this is how we often picture people. We imagine the best version of the person we love. It’s very nice of us. It’s flattering even.
the trouble comes when we expect to see the idea of someone, but we actually interact with the reality. We see people on off days and distracted days and downright awful days.
So we spend all this time trying to change a person, hoping to mold them into the version we have in our head.
Maybe instead of changing the person, we need to adjust our idealised version.
Imagine your person again. And this time, put them in the room with you. Find a chair to sit in. Or place to stand.
Give them something to do – maybe checking their phone, reading a book or rearranging your stuff.
And this time imagine not just all their charming attributes but also their faults.
Your job is to love these faults too.
Affection for an idealised image is easy, caring for the actual person is real love.
And now that you’ve taken the time to shift your perspective, maybe you should give that person a call or an email or any other thing to show them you care.
London has it’s negatives, but at the heart I love my city and am happy to play host and tour guide when someone comes to town. Sometimes it goes better than others.
Julian came for a visit, not only to hang out with me, but to introduce his new fiancé. Theirs was a wild romance – only six months together before the engagement. It was clear they loved each other, but their relationship still had that new car smell.
When touring people around my city, I want to show them a good time and with a city this diverse, there are choices to cater for everyone…
Most people come to town with their own must-sees, be it the Tower of London, the National Gallery, or the Sex Pistols haunts. But a few, like Julian and Julie, seem happy to be lead around wherever – each suggestion is met with a shrug and a “sure that sounds great.”
So I carefully planned some spots that felt like winners, taking them to get a pre-dinner drink at this upbeat bar with a live band, alive with people and offering craft cocktails for cheap. At first it seems like everything is going well… but I could feel it – it wasn’t hitting the spot, and their slight smiles were just to humor me.
If I had sensed they would have liked a mellower scene, there is this charming jazz club downtown…
But we were onto our dinner reservation, a seafood place that has one of the best raw bars I’ve ever been in, and I remembered Julian having a thing for oysters… although it turned out that Julie didn’t really like fish, but neither of them mentioned that until after we ordered. They didn’t want to cause a fuss. So they didn’t speak up.
It felt like the whole purpose of the trip, the chance for us to get to know each other, was vein undermined. Being easy going has it’s place when you don’t have many options, it means you can make the best of what you’re given. But when there an array of possibilities and you are given the opportunity to develop a relationship, it’s time to speak up and reveal who you are.
This couple had good intentions, they were polite and they didn’t want to feel like they were intruding, but instead made our lives more difficult and the whole episode unmemorable.
Relationships are built on communication. If you want to develop, speak up, express your ideas, say who you are, communicate. This is what being well-mannered is about.
I had a professor, that from the first moment of the first class, I wanted to emulate. He was fiercely, even brutally intelligent. At that point in my young life he was, by far, the cleverest person I’d ever met. He was someone, clearly, who understood how the world worked.
He approached the lessons as if the material was plainly obvious. His aloofness and above-it-all attitude felt like an approximation of earned coolness.
I doubled down in my studies, to earn his respect and avoid the chiding that came to those who misunderstood.
But as the semester wore on, his act began to wear thin. What had appeared as wit, now felt gilded by meanness. I began to think that when, I become as clever as him (and I swore I would) I would show a little more charity.
There was a girl in class (three seats away from me) who received high marks in other classes, but struggled here. One stormy day she came in late, clearly caught in the weather – I remember her standing in the doorway looking like a drowned mouse, holding her books that had spilled out of her torn book bag.
Before she could take a seat, the professor chose that moment to quiz her on last nights homework. Clearly flustered and embarrassed, she couldn’t answer any of questions. Before he let he go he said something I distinctly remember: “Don’t worry about ruining them, they weren’t doing you any good reading them.”
She held back tears, before she left that class and never came back. The professor had this expression on his face, that read “Good Riddance.”
And I thought. I don’t want to be like him at all.
We’ve all been instilled with the feeling that coolness and cleverness is essential. There is certainly a value in intelligence, even in wit, but if you asked me what I believe in…
I believe in rapport, in kindness, in an emotional connection over any amount of smarts.
For me, being kind is about showing compassion. From sympathising with people, to understanding their world view and beliefs, and taking actions that are considerate to them.
When I reflect on the past, I recall situations where only a slight change in perspective would have lead me to benefit the people around me many times over.
And with that shift in our thinking, we can all, effortlessly improve the lives of others.
Start by looking at your role models – who is the kindest person in your life?
In what ways do they show their kindness? What do they do to improve the lives of the people around them? How can you emulate them to help the people you see and talk to everyday?
London can be a vast and mean city, with continually acts of mundane cruelty.
Last month, I saw a woman with two suitcases struggling up the staircase from the tube. People streamed by, not one offering to help, a few even bumping her as they hustled past.
I offered her a hand getting to the top of the stairs. Her momentary bemusement and suspicion quickly faded. She seemed so relieved and looked at me with this big, honest smile.
And I felt this smile of my own spread across my face.
After I helped her up the stairs and into a taxi, the image of that smile stayed with me. So much so, that whole day I found myself beaming to co-workers, to people on the street, to people in the elevator – they didn’t see it coming. It’s as is if, for a moment we were reminded that everyone around us is human.
Research pushes the drastic benefits of smiling to our health, that connection of a smile can break the impact of loneliness.
It’s no surprise that people who categorise themselves as lonely have a shorter life span. The shocker is that these people aren’t necessarily alone – well over half were married, indicating the benefits of investing in the nature of our interactions.
A smile is just that outward sign of happiness. And happiness has its dividends - less colds, less heart disease, less chance of a stroke, less chance of diabetes, and on and on and on…
Although too often we are so busy chasing the big deal that we forget the intricacies of life, the things that makes us feel loved, the things that makes us feel human.
What can you do? How can you shock some good into society?
“Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.”
- George Eliot
Maybe it’s a crazy uncle, maybe it’s that one friend who you manage to see between her trips, or maybe it’s that person you only met once at a party – we’ve all encountered people who tell thrilling stories of their life.
My goal in life is to leave behind good stories – rather than material success – my approach to each day is dictated by this and as they pass, I feel greater fulfilment.
If I’ve learnt anything from the people that have lived before us, they rarely regret the things they did – but the the things they didn’t.
We know that living an adventurous life equips us with the ammunition to tell great stories. But do we know how to live an adventurous life?
What if it’s the other way around?
What if telling great stories leads to treating life like an adventure?
I had been discussing this idea with my friend Tom, who is both a writer and an instructor. A few days after our conversation, Tom called me up.
“I realised that a lot of the lessons to create a good story aren’t that different from lessons on how to create a good life.”
He was more than happy to walk through his syllabus and we talked about what might be applicable. This is what we came up with:
Characters who take action are more interesting than those who are passive.
Tom talked about how beginning writers fall into the trap of modeling characters off themselves. Often the problem is that most people view their life as things that happen to them. In a very telling exercise, Tom has his students create a main character do something they would never do.
The take home is, if you want to be the center of your own story, you have to be willing to be bold – don’t wait for a good project, an interesting conversation, or a curious adventure, make it happen. It’s not the goal that matters, it’s the pursuit.
Focus on the effort, rather than the outcome
Often failures are more interesting than the successes. In stories, we like to see people striving and trying to do the right thing, whether they succeed is often just a bonus. A story about someone who is always right and easily gets their own way would be boring. And often the moment of the lowest low is followed
We all have moments where everything goes wrong. If we can concentrate on our own valiant attempt, rather than outside successes, we will always have a good story. This is no storytelling tropes, I’ve found my breakthroughs have often comes after periods of duress. The feeling of frustration is usually a sign I am close.
Act, Learn and Re-try
Characters evolve. Watching a character change from the first page to the last is often the heart of a story. In screenwriting there is a term: the First Attempt. This is when the character has started on the adventure and they take a stab at what they want.
Often this First Attempt fails, or only partly succeeds, or succeeds at something the main character doesn’t truly want. Not only is this a sign that the character should try a new tactic, but often means the character needs to dig deeper, try harder and risk more.
Learn from each attempt you make. How are you not risking enough? What new action can you take to get what you want? How have your adventures changed you? How can you create an adventure to make the change in your life that you need?
Embrace Cause and Effect, Serendipity, Coincidence and the Unwanted Surprise.
Stories are often highly efficient. To paraphrase the playwright Anton Chekov – If you introduce a gun in Act 1, it should go off in Act 2. One event triggers the next like a series of dominos. And by the end all the different elements come crashing into each other.
Whatever you feel about fate, embrace those moments where things seem to magically come together.
The people who live their life like a story probably don’t even do any of this stuff consciously, because they’ve been doing it for so long. But we can learn a lot from them, by purposely putting these story tactics in our life.
Can you touch your toes?
Wasn’t that always one of the markers of health we were taught as kids?
Do they still teach kids to touch their toes? I hope so, but more than for the obvious reasons.
Recently, I’ve had to work at flexibility.
I was struggling in yoga class. Only being able to tough my right toe with my right hand but not my left.
Nobody else had this issue and I started to wonder if it just wasn’t possible.
Maybe I wasn’t built to be a person who had flexibility.
Isn’t that the way it goes? We let these barriers build up in our mind and convince ourselves there are just some things we can’t do.
Well, eventually I started to wonder: What exactly was my barrier? How far could I reach? I measured it specifically.
If step one is deciding on a goal, step two is finding a way to measure your limits.
How high can you jump? How far can you run? How long you can go without checking your email? Put it into time, put it into distance, put in a scale of 1 to 10 difficulty.
Once I find my measurable limit, the next time, instead of worrying about the end goal. I just tried to push past my own boundary – break my own record.
When I hear someone talking about something they aren’t able to do. This has become the analogy I use. Because at this point, not only can I touch my toe, I can wrap my hand around my foot.
When I keep pushing my boundaries, focus on beating my last record, I often surprise myself with what I can do.
Watching the Winter Olympics I’ve been awed at athletes competing in sports with a ice skate-thin margin for error.
Just two or three shots at the gold and if they are a millimetre off they are face down in the ice, dreams dashed.
Failure. It happens…
Success comes from how we respond.
It’s easy to respond ignorantly and hard to look at failure with an unbiased eye.
We succumb to ignoring problems or, even worse, blaming other people, the weather, the alignment of the stars, anything but ourselves.
No matter how things turned out, or how much of an influence we think we’ve had, we can always recognise the actions we took, no matter how minuscule.
I cannot empathise this enough: Take the time to self-reflect.
Why do these athletes get better and better?
They are continually using every tool at their disposal to track their performance: from slow motion video technology to aerodynamic contouring.
These aren’t wild guesses, they reflect and react to well honed data from years of practice.
So next time things go wrong or right for that matter, take a moment to figure out how else you could have shaped the situation.
Seriously, write a list. Write two.
1. What went wrong? (And how did it go wrong?)
Be brutally honest with yourself – what did you do to cause it?
By brutal I don’t mean be hard or unfair, I’m saying respect yourself enough to tell yourself the real deal.
Not a story or an excuse but the honest scenario.
What did you do or not do?
2. What could you have tried differently?
Brainstorm anything, from a simple shift in attitude to a complete change in approach with a different set of actions.
You’ll find these ideas easily translate into strategies for the future.
If we just act, we become vulnerable to repeating the same mistakes and reaping the same results.
Take the time to reflect and then react and you’ll find yourself weaving a new path – one that’s more likely to end in success.
I was gleefully doing what they tell you not to do.
Last weekend, I began work on a side project. With friends. They wanted to keep everything on the up and up, like we all do.
One of the first things they mentioned, was trading legal documents, meaning, of course, CONTRACTS -
-meaning REALLY LONG AND COMPLEX CONTRACTS WITH LOTS OF MEETINGS TALKING ABOUT CONTRACTS. All in effort to be “really secure about it.”
I had a natural aversion. And I told them so.
When you start obsessing over something as complex as a contract, it takes time. It takes effort. It’s a drain of your energy.
A drain of the energy that could be going towards the actual project. And the almighty Contract becomes the focus.
Tossing contracts back and forth, trying to protect yourself from any possible scenario, creates distrust and can kill the relationship before it starts.
If you’re going climbing, you make sure your rope is secure and you trust the person holding it for your safety. But ultimately you accept there’s a chance of finishing with a knock or scuff here and there.
Even with the most binding contract – there is always a risk.
We have a choice: we can spend all our time trying to eliminate any possibility of getting hurt or we can climb the bloody mountain.
If experience has taught me anything, it’s this: Contracts have loopholes. The more time we spend looking and sweating over contracts, the more loopholes become apparent.
So here’s how I deal with Contracts:
The Quick Contract
Can a contract be a document to aid communication, rather than a binding piece of personal legislation?
I’ve found a way to make contracts in a helpful way in the beginning of creative process.
I’ve started using this online tool.
It asks for a minimal amount of information and can help you knock out a contract in ten minutes.
This is my ultimate point. I’ll say it with cap locks for emphasis:
DON’T LET A CONTRACT STOP YOU FROM STARTING.
A contract can do a few things remarkably well. It clarifies communication. It pushes a collaboration forward.
Since it’s impossible to make a contract insurance against everything bad that could possibly happen I’ve ended up with a motto:
Less Contracts, More Collaboration
If you are not a hacker, befriend one.
Hacking comes from the computer subculture in 70s, 80s and became associated with criminals.
Roughly speaking, a hacker was someone that could beat the system.
Now, everything has changed.
The term hack has been repurposed to every field people can manage. Lifehack, mindhack, bodyhack, travelhack, you name it, you can hack it.
…If you life hack, it means you find inventive ways to deal with commonplace problems.
…If you travel hack, it means you circumvent the conventional ways of traveling. You travel your way, your route, your style and to work for your budget.
…If you mind hack, it means you’re in charge. You’re in control of your mind, your understanding of it and exploiting it for a specific purpose.
But what on earth do we actually mean? What is hacking?
Well it helps to know the mindset of the hacker isn’t new… Flip the calendar back more than a century.
Henry Ford was stuck. He wanted his automobile business to grow but the conventional way of building cars - by hand, one at a time – was inefficient. Production levels were low and the price of the car remained high.
Ford needed a better way. He knew if he could mass manufacture and systematically lower production costs, he could sell more, and for a greater profit.
He needed to hack the system.
Henry took the cars and decided to build them on benches and move from one team of workers to the next, but this still wasn’t fast enough.
So he turned to automation, his team of engineers started building machines that would do the labour for them and eventually invented a whole host of manufacturing techniques that could build almost every part.
With the new manufacturing process he took his companies production levels from just a few cars a day to a record of one car every ten seconds.
He was able to pay his staff more whilst cutting prices and making even more profit. He grew his business, made the automobile affordable to the masses, and found a better way to create something we all use everyday.
Brilliant, right? Ford understood business-as-usual, but instead of just grinding it out, he made profound changes that disrupted everything.
That’s what a hacker is – someone who knows the game, the rules, and the end point. But, instead of playing along, they can change the game to create their own unique successes.
So, how do you adapt the hacking prerogative?
Here’s what hackers know:
There are always problems to solve. Hackers have that heady mixture of curiosity and action. The world is amazing, go find the thing that fascinates you and try to make it better.
Sharing makes friends. Don’t make other people figure out what you just spent months on. We’re moving the whole field forward together. Let other people build on your solutions and you can build on theirs.
When in doubt, automate. Don’t get stuck in repetitive tasks. Your job is to innovate.
Be your own Boss. I mean this figuratively. You need to be in a position to make your own schedule and pursue what you feel is important.
Don’t get “boxed in.” Stay open to solutions that might seem crazy at first.
Work Backwards. Take things apart and learn how they work.
Take it to the Lab. Experimentation and Trial-and-Error are your best friends.
Give it Everything. Everyone has a knowledge base that’s as unique as a fingerprint. Your parents, your friends, your teachers, your hobbies, everything could help you get an idea to solve the problem.
Being a hacker isn’t about rebel posturing… It’s about beating the system though solving problems, sharpening skills, and intelligently thinking outside the box.
Just because there’s a system already in place, doesn’t mean you can’t find a better way.
A long while back I had this flatmate who would stay up all hours, working. He had a perpetual unkept look.
Sometimes, he worked so hard he would forget to eat meals and then wander into the kitchen, hungry. (Often, I would witness him polish off a family-sized pizza in a matter of minutes.)
But after periods of intense effort, he’d crash – for weeks at time – and barely have energy to do much of anything.
Every time I saw him engage in this unhealthy routine I’d wonder: Why was he doing this?
To really understand my flatmate, you need to know his hero: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
He wanted to model himself on this “icon of doing good.”
Frequently I was regaled with Gandhi’s exploits, which most of us are at least vaguely aware…
Ghandi went on hunger strikes and walked insane distances, he was tortured, beaten and imprisoned time and time again. But since some of us have been away from history class for too long (or the 1982 movie), maybe it’s worth a reminder.
On several occasions imprisoned Ghandi protested British Rule by refusing to eat. His captors had no desire to let a man of Ghandi’s stature die, but equally had no willingness to give into his demands.
The result: A high stakes game of chicken.
In February of 1943, he went without food for 21 days.
My flatmate professed; “If I could apply a fraction of that discipline to my own life, imagine what I could achieve.:
…But would you really called Ghandi disciplined?
When I think about those hunger strikes I’m blown away. Can you imagine that? 21 days.
Most people I know get grumpy after one missed meal.
In 3 days, the body burns through the supply of glucose. After that it starts proceeding body fat and by 21 days the body’s eating into muscles and vital organs for fuel.
To do something like this requires something special. And a lot of it.
I’d argue that Ghandi was fuelled by something more than discipline, something meaningful, something from deep within.
A purpose, an understanding and a desire to make a change.
Sure, he was disciplined, but what helped him do the impossible was a solid understanding of WHY he was doing what he was doing.
For as much as my flatmate idolized Ghandi, he missed this essential idea.
My flatmate relied on discipline. He was hardworking and made an effort to push himself, but he lacked clarity on why he was doing what he was doing.
So when things became tough and he needed that extra kick to break down the obstacles in his way, discipline fell flat on it’s face and he burnt out.
Discipline isn’t sustainable. It’s the icing, not the cake. It might help you get up early or pull an all-nighter but when bigger obstacles arise – discipline get’s trumped.
My flatmate needed clarity, a vision and a sense of purpose.
We all do.
Through deepening our understanding of why we’re doing what we’re doing, we increase our potential for making an impact.
If you are in Chicago with $40 bucks, you can take a tour of the city by boat, sliding down the river, and get a revelatory tour of the buildings of the Windy City.
The Architecture tour is one of those revelatory experiences, like the ghost tours in New Orleans, that shift your understanding of metropolis by showing you everything hiding in plain sight.
For an equally shocking experience have a couple designers and an architect over for dinner and have them tell you about your stuff.
To design something is to make a series of decisions that shape an experience for the user. Bright colours or muted tones? Angular or Round? Simple or multifaceted?
The answers to these design question depend on the experience being created. These choices are not only aesthetic, they are operational.
Design doesn’t just make things pretty, it makes them work.
All those clicks and whirrs on your iPod were put there by a designer to mimic the feeling of operating an analog device. All in effort to make the ipod bridge the gap from analog to digital whilst feeling intuitive.
Good design is transparent. It’s a gateway to the message. We feel it. But often, we don’t see or appreciate it.
And that’s the whole point. We’re not supposed to notice it. We’re supposed to use it.
We are all designers by nature. We are creating experiences everyday and we have the power to change the people around us.
What do you do that is invisible?
In what subtle (and obvious) ways, can you shape your interactions to provide a specific experience?
How do you want people to feel?
What do you want them to think?
Where do you want them to go next?
“Ninety-nine percent of who you are is invisible and untouchable.” —R. Buckminster Fuller
When it started raining, it turned into one of those experiences so awful you can only laugh.
It all started when Sheila and I first bonded over a shared love of David Byrne. When I admitted I’d never seen him live, she was appalled. So when he came through on a tour, she told me she was buying us tickets. I offered to pay, but she insisted.
Regular tickets were £20, but for £28 you could get a VIP ticket that let you skip the queue, get better seats, and order drinks. But Sheila thought it wasn’t worth it. I even offered to pay for the upgrade. No dice. So we rock with the normal tickets.
To get to the venue on time we forgo getting dinner and we show up an hour before. The line to get in was still curled around the block.
80 minutes later we’re closer, but still a few dozen people from the door. We can hear the muffle through the brickwork. And then, as you know, it starts raining. And the work rain does not do it justice.
Torrental downpour comes closer. We’re both sopping wet, her outfit is practically ruined, and I’m on the verge of catching pneumonia.
In another ten minutes we watch the queue shuffle forward as a couple more people go inside.
And so we cut our losses. We decide to skip the gig and grab something to eat. Sheila apologised over and over.
I told her not to worry about it - these things happen.
I kept her distracted as we toured through my favourite spots in London and with that, we were able to turn the night around.
Although, I couldn’t help but wonder why these things happen.
Even if we had waited it out, how much money would we have actually saved?
£8 – for 90-100 mins of our time? At a risk of ruining the show?
A city girl working for a top law firm. Now, I’m sure she earns a lot more…
But we’re human. We are bargain hunters. We don’t want to pay for unnecessary extras and we love a good deal.
And too often we sell our time for the sake of few pennies. We fuss over each and every last dime and yet we give away hours.
I follow the £10 rule - If it’s £10 and it will make you happier and your life easier – buy it.
So the next time you are sweating a small purchase (like trying to decide if you should take a taxi or jog-walk a mile to get to the movie on time), do yourself a favour and worry a little less about spending cash and more about spending minutes.
The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
This is one of my favourite quotes by the Bard. While he was writing about Mercy, I think it applies to that equally graceful act; gratitude.
A “Thank You” benefits not only the person who hears it, but the person who says it.
People who are thankful are happier and healthier. Gratitude improves psychological, emotional and physical well-being.
Studies show, it gives you more energy, more optimism, and more social connections and more happiness than those who do not. (And less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics.)
Additionally, you can earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.
Don’t believe me? Try it yourself.
Take five minutes to write down things you are thankful for. And see how you feel afterwards.
Even more adventurous? Keep a gratitude journal for the next 30 days and watch how it changes your perspective.
Lets start now.
What are you thankful for?
(Bonus points for following up with “And how can I show it?”)
She hangs her head for a moment, stretching out her back, then wipes her hands on her paint covered jeans. She squints at the canvas, unsure how to feel with today’s progress.
Then she looks at the poster on her wall… and smiles.
Rosie tells me that even when she’s tired or not feeling it, she pushes herself to give her work the energy it deserves. She says it’s one of the best investments she’s made.
Passion, energy, love, whatever you want to call it, is what really makes the difference between good and great, between mediocre and remarkable.
Too often we forget about giving something our very all and instead we become suckered into saving time, shaving off a few minutes here and there, trying to get the job done faster and with less effort.
But even if we want to squeeze more out of every day, the secret to productivity, isn’t time, it’s energy. The hours in each day will never change, but our energy… that’s as open as we can make it.
What about your work, your relationships, your life. How can you show some fucking passion?
Remind yourself of your goals.
Every morning, I read over my yearly, monthly, and daily goals. It helps me keep track over what’s important to me.
Keep good triggers around you
Show Some Fucking Passion is my computer and iPhone wallpaper. When I’m drifting away it’s a gentle reminder to wake up and give it my all.
Surround yourself with people that stretch you
If the people around you won’t let you get away with mediocre, you won’t deliver mediocre. You’ll stretch yourself to give more.
Whatever it is, wherever you do it. Bring your a-game and show some fucking passion.
In 2011, a news reporter, armed with video camera, drove up to a homeless man. He asked him to say something in radio voice. And from this rough looking guy pours a perfect movie narrator voice.
The video went viral. Ted Williams, the homeless man in question, appeared on the Today Show. He was given new clothes and a job – a chance at a whole new life – all thanks to his magical voice.
While it’s a lovely story, it’s also a lie.
This depiction glosses over the fact that Ted Williams went to school for voice acting and that he worked for years, perfecting his craft. It omits the hard work.
The idea that talent conquers all is dangerous. We see it too often, and it leads to laziness, dissatisfaction and people failing to commit to things they don’t believe they have a gift for.
The Myth of Talent is the belief of a natural ability that will make you instantly good. And if we want to succeed, we must have it.
The Myth Of Talent is projected by those who want others to believe that their skills are so out of reach that they must be God given.
The Myth Of Talent is a feeble excuse for not starting or giving up. It’s an attempt at a justification for doing nothing with what you have.
The Myth Of Talent is almost always dispelled by those who are dedicated to consistency and perseverance.
That guy who looks like everything comes naturally has actually put in the time and energy to make his ‘talent’ appear effortless.
Never succumb to the Myth Of Talent. What seems like a gift is often years of hard work.
There are two types of people in this world, those who ask for what they want, and those who say, “We-e-e-l-l, maybe it’s not the right time to ask, today. I’ll try tomorrow.”
Askers have balls! They see the opportunity and they grab it.
The others pussyfoot around and expect someone to magically hand it to them.
(What?! Did I just use ‘balls’ to denote power; and ‘pussy’ to symbolise weakness? Isn’t that’s sexist?!)
Well, we all know there are some very daring, fearless and tough women out there.
Just as we all know men who fantasise of magically stumbling into their dream job or eventually falling in love with their soul-mate – the one who’s been searching for them all this time!
It’s romantic. But it’s not true.
I like to think of it like this: life is full of gifts. They’re all bundled up in boxes and wrapped up everywhere. It’s your job to find the one you want and open it up. Inside might not be the answer you’re hoping for, but if you never look, you’ll never know.
The problem is that most people are scared, or quite frankly, they lack the cojones. They start believing there is some sort of formula to getting what they want, and they become suckers for the ‘secret.’
The real ‘secret’ my friend, is that your bazoombas aren’t big enough.
Growing a set of brass ornaments is no different to building muscle, every time a bodybuilder goes to the gym and trains his muscles, he’s not building them up, but tearing them down, so they can recover, bigger and stronger.
It’s the same for your testicular fortitude, the more they can take a good kicking, the more you can get past the pain of rejection.
And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? – Rejection!
Rejection doesn’t mean you’re unworthy or of lower value, it means someone doesn’t want what you’re offering.
Think about it! You reject people every day. You reject the person on the street asking you for a few moments of your time; a friend asking you for dinner; a job offer. But when we taste a little of our own medicine, we freak out.
You didn’t get it. That’s it, get over it! In many cases, that’s exactly what you need, a good kicking to your tiny little nut sac so your roasted chestnuts can grow back bigger and stronger.
On any journey of personal-growth we have to overcome the habits that are holding us back.
Today, we’re going to develop The Ball Growing Mindset.
Get Immune To Rejection
You know why heart surgeons don’t get nervous when they see another human’s inner workings? – Because they are used to it.
Paratroopers don’t get freaked out of when they jump out of plane from 15000ft – Because they are used to it.
You are no longer going to fear rejection – Because you’re going to become immune to it!
Most people always ask how he can do that. Or, how did they get that? Or why is she with him?
And they’re right; that person might not have as much talent, skill or even be as pretty or handsome as you but you know what?
They have balls.
The moral of the story?
Stop bitchin’ and start doin’!
Forget What Other People Think
You’ll never grow cast iron nuggets if you think you’re so important that one blunder, one moment of rejection is going to be recorded in the annals of history and remembered forever.
When you read someone’s bio, do you think they talk about all their failures, all their mishaps and all the times they got rejected?
Will It Matter In Five Years?
Will it matter next year, next week, or even tomorrow? – Probably not.
The temporary pain from being rejected is just that, temporary. But the reward from getting what you go after will last forever.
One Day We Won’t Be Here
As much as we love to think we’ll live forever. Our time is limited and one day we’ll be gone.
The world is full of woulda’, shoulda’, coulda’; Nobody remembers that crap!
People only remember the ones that did something.
Who do you decide to be?
Growing Big Balls Is Addictive
It feels great to set and overcome challenges and watch your Rocky Mountain Oysters grow from tiny, embarrassing species into something powerful and inspiring.
Set yourself a challenge and gauge just how big your marbles are.
Ask your boss for the pay raise you’ve been expecting. Present and pitch your idea to that investor. Woo that special someone into joining you for dinner – really, it’s that simple.
What are you going to do to start growing your balls today?
I’m starting to believe that this is the best time to be alive in the history of artists.
We’re spoilt. And we can have it all: Purpose, Mastery, Autonomy, Financial Stability and Free Time.
It’s staring us in the face.
The only thing left is take that very thing that keeps you up at night and perfect it until it shines so bright, we can’t miss it.
What you do right NOW is making you, you.
What are you putting off? What are you trying to avoid? What have you forgotten about?
Like every human, we’re programmed to avoid discomfort.
Our ape brains push us down the path of least resistance and pull us away from our potential.
We can choose ignorance or defeat. Or we can fight back and make a stand.
This moment is defining who you are. Are you going to attack life? Or let life attack you?
Stop reading this. Go do what you are avoiding.
It was one drink more than I needed. I’d moved from pleasantly buzzed to something… well, less pleasant.
This was one of the diviest hotel bars I’d ever been to – low lighting, surly bartender, and that smell of stale beer and ashtray.
It was packed on a cold Saturday night. I found myself with a group that were the loudest people in there. My throat hurt from trying to make myself heard. Maybe that’s why I kept drinking.
I was in town for a tech conference and had run into a friend. Let’s call him David, because something about him reminded me of a young David Tennant. I hadn’t seen him in a few years, and he looked like he hadn’t changed. He was always one of those people who felt like he was on the verge of greatness. I remember the last thing he said to me - “this industry is getting tiring – i’m venturing into new land.”
He said it right after canceling our last meeting, to start a project with these new guys. Knowing David it was going to be something special.
Which is why, after the last speaker, I promised David we would catch up. I thought we might hang out with the speakers and some of the people I’d been following online.
But David had something else planned, and I found myself at this ashtray bar with a bunch of lively strangers – David’s new gang.
This group was a mix of ages but uniform in gender: male. To a man, they thought David was hot shit. They laughed at his jokes and agreed with his views, making him the alpha in a world of betas.
After we’d spent a bit of time comparing British and American Sports, I tried to ask about their work…
Conversations can feel like rollercoasters, moving up and down and on to something else. I’m not sure how that prompted the conversation about personal accomplishment, but maybe the prowess of athletes make us think about our personal highlight reel.
One shouts “I’ll tell you the hardest thing I ever did was run a marathon. I trained for-“
And then someone else interrupts “A marathon?! That’s nothing. Try hiking. It’s not the distance. It’s the elevation that gets you. This one time-“
And then another interruption “You think hiking is hard. Me and my buddies kyak.”
And it went on like this. And it was odd to hear David chime in.
“That’s nothing, you should try boxing. That’s a sport for real men.” (I’d hear this sort of stuff before. (Link to Real Man))
Ultimately it’s benign one-upmanship. But it felt incredibly uncharitable. It also felt like they dodged every time I prompted David to talk about his work or anything he might be passionate about.
Only then did I noticed David looked faint – he told me it was the jet lag but he’d only caught a two hour flight. Something felt off…
Then our rollercoaster car, took another sharp swerve.
“To hear women tell it, the hardest thing you could ever do is be pregnant.”
Everyone but me laughed.
I didn’t like where this was going. But I stayed silent through the dumbly misogynistic ramble that followed. Maybe I should have said something, but I didn’t know these guys… And I certainly didn’t feel like I knew David anymore.
I tell you more, but honestly, I stopped listening.
When there was a lull I excused myself to my hotel room.
In the elevator I found myself wondering what my life would have been like if those people had been my friends. Would I have been laughing along with them?
This isn’t just a matter of an old friend getting drunk and acting like a bit of a cock. David had transformed on a fundamental level. When he changed his crowd, he changed himself. By hanging around shit he started smelling like it.
Not only did he devolve into dumb jokes and petty machismo, he left so much else behind. I never heard him once talk about what his dreams and his hopes – and this was a guy who used to wear those on his sleeve. He was always proud of the work he was doing and pushing himself to accomplish more.
After we would hang out, I used to feel inspired. But this time, I just felt a little sick.
He had chosen to surround himself with people who looked up to him and he had fallen to their level.
If you want to take your game to the next level, show up where the best hang out. Spend time with people who challenge you, people who inspire you, people you hope to be like.
Your world view will change and their skills and talents will rub off. After all, it’s human nature to adapt to our surroundings.
I believe in hard work.
I certainly believe hard work is more important than talent.
I believe that hard work will get you most of the way to success. (The rest is luck… and often hard work is what will keep you going until luck finds it’s way to you.)
I believe hard work is satisfying.
I believe that most of us want to put in a hard day of work…
The question is: a hard day of work doing what?
Half of what I write about are ways that we get steered by other people’s priorities and how we forget to listen to ourself.
What makes me most upset is to see so much discipline go to waste.
Some people discipline themselves to go to the gym so they can get back in respectable shape, but they hate the gym. They tell themselves, if it’s not working, it’s their fault.
Do you know what the answer is? Don’t go to the f******* gym! Don’t go unless you can like it or better still; fall in love with it.
Do something else – go surfing, start dance classes, learn capoeira, climb mountains . . .
Find the things you love that move you towards the end goal and go for that – it might not be the most “effective” way if we were all programmed robots, but we’re not!
When you choose love over discipline, you can transform those 12 hour work days to feel like a vacation. You can make even the hardest tasks seem effortless.