No more excuses. To hell with the procrastination. No one cares how old you are, no one.
Write that book. Tell the story. Start exercising. Visit that place. Hell, get up and move if you need to. Forget the competition. Solve the problem. Build your project. Blog. Splurge. Finish the bucket list. Realize your dreams.
Now. Or later, that’s fine. But do it. If it really matters, it doesn’t matter when. Truly meaningful things are not bound to a timeline. Don’t disappoint yourself. It’s never too late until the end.
By dangerous, I do not always mean “destructive” – I prefer “disruptive.” MLK disrupted the national perspective on civil rights because he cared a lot about his brothers and sisters. Dangerous can certainly mean destructive, though. Suicide bombers must care a lot about their beliefs if they’re willing to throw their lives away. Destructive or disruptive, caring is the common denominator. No one impacts the future of mankind by accident or through apathy. Your ability to change the world is directly proportional to how much you care – about your mission, beliefs or other people in your life. The more you care, the more dangerous you are. And caring should be your priority. You do not change the world by trying to change the world; you change the world by caring about others and believing in something greater than yourself.
The industrial era taught us as employees to wait around for someone to tell us what to do. Hell, the contemporary education model taught us that. We spent the better part of our lives under the pressure of other people’s deadlines, rubrics and expectations. As we get older and “treated like adults,” people tell us what to do less and less. In life, at home and in the workplace, very few people will babysit you or outline a clear path for your success. It’s up to you to do both of those things.
If no one is setting expectations for you, outline your own and hold yourself accountable. If you’re unemployed and single, you have no choice but to do this (until of course the feds knock at your door). If you’re employed and getting no love from your supervisor, take a chance on that lack of structure to build your own world. If you’re not yet buried in a bureaucratic mess of paperwork and process, build your own. Strategize your own roadmap for success.
How do you think people build huge businesses from scratch? They unlearned to wait for other people to set expectations for them and did their own thing when and how they wanted to. They found a way to give a damn on their own terms.
Money isn’t everything. Time, knowledge, happiness, autonomy, geography and output are all currencies that can be measured and prioritized in different ways. When job hunting, you look at more than just the salary – how much time you’ll get to spend with your kids, how far away it is, how much you’ll be able to learn and grow, what autonomy you’ll have and what you’ll be able to build. Sometimes, money is the most important and necessary thing to you. Other times, you might be willing to make a salary sacrifice to learn something specific or work closer to a place you call home. What matters most to you now? How does that affect your decisions? I find it useful to rank the currencies that matter at this moment. Do you need time more than money now? Do you want social outings more than the number of books read? Do you want a job that constantly teaches you new things or do you want an easy commute? Write it all out. Prioritize your life and make important decisions accordingly.
Expertise is directly proportional to the focus you pay a certain skill or talent in your life. Practice eighty hours a week and think about nothing else in between and you’re bound to be the best. Some people focus so intently on their work or passion that even menial skills cannot compute. If you want to master a skill or trade, are you willing to give it your all? And I don’t mean some vague notion of heart and care. All of your time. All of your focus. Oftentimes at the expense of other aspects of your life. Are you prepared to make those sacrifices? If not, do not lie to yourself or pretend to be something you’re not. You’ll sleep better at night if you accept and understand your priorities.
Remember when you were a kid and did not understand physics, money or pain? You could do anything your imagination projected. What happened to that? Education and the real world taught us rules that, more than anything else, outlined what we could not do. Right before I learned how infeasible it is to produce a full length motion picture, I produced a full length motion picture. I haven’t produced another since. What happened? I got lost in the limitations of what other people outlined as challenges. I got lost in the limitations of reality. Forget reality. Dream big, believe big and do big – or go home.
The people who make a difference in this world aim to break rules. At whatever cost, they have something to prove. Sometimes true disruption means breaking hearts and losing friends. It’s a tough game to play and takes a thick skin. That said, you cannot change the world alone. It’s imperative to treat people well – be polite, caring and respectful. Never set out to hurt people. Make as many friends as you can. Earn as much respect as you can. Love everyone. Do not intend to break people. But you should intend to break systems. And people get attached to systems. So be prepared for collateral casualties.
The single worst thing you could do? Nothing. If you’re afraid to change the world because it means some people may not like you, you fail to understand what “changing the world” really means. I meet a lot of people who claim they want to make a difference. Very few of them have the balls to lose friends in the process. Do you?
It’s exciting to see the success and growth of an organization through the numbers: sales milestones, unique visitors, engagement statistics and more. It’s very practical and momentous to set metric goals that everyone can reach for and beat. But numbers cannot tell the whole story. And metrics can only inspire a team so far. It takes a portrait of the future painted zealously by leadership to truly inspire. Something greater to work towards. Something to believe in.
The best preachers don’t talk statistics or business. True vision cannot paint by numbers. There are no formulas or metrics for dreams. Speaking abstractly and passionately about a vision for the long-term future can open minds to the possibilities and help your team imagine their way out of the status quo.
Metrics and numbers keep an organization accountable to measurable improvements. Numbers have their place and should be respected. But they only serve to measure movements that already exist. Why not strive to make new movements and invent new metrics? A vision by numbers is not enough. The opportunities are boundless for your organization, but only if the vision you paint for your team allows them to be.
To antithesize yesterday’s post a bit, you must not be too quick to surrender failed projects. Give obstacles their due perspective and time before you put your hands up and walk away. If you’re stringing a project along because you’re no longer interested in it, then mark it a failure and leave it be. But if you’re stringing a project along because of obstacles you cannot overcome, take an extra minute to consider the whole thing. What will it take to overcome this problem? Can you do it alone? Do you care enough to inspire the resources of others to help you? If you do not care enough to try and inspire the world with your work, walk away. If you do care, don’t give up and figure it out.
Quitters give up because they don’t care enough. Do not be a quitter. Pick projects you believe in and believe in them until the deeds are done. The second you stop believing, you lose.
Dreams remain fantasies until you write them down. On paper, a dream transforms into a plan. With a plan, you can see it as you do your own to-do list. Others can see it as well and jump on board. Pitch your plan. Wear it on a t-shirt. Share it with everyone. After all, someone might want to help you. You may even start to believe that it’s more than just a dream.
Take your dream out of its fantasy box and put it in a place where it can become a reality. Keep calling it a dream and it will always stay that way.