After an interesting conversation with a friend this morning, about the meaning of success amongst many other things, the idea birthed in my mind to write the following post. It’s about several ideas that came up in the conversation. (Not to float one’s own boat or anything but) I think they may be useful to you, my reader—if for nothing else, than to get you thinking about where you are in life…
An important part of success, or simply growth of any type, is failing. As you move through life you will make mistakes—maybe some very costly ones—but that it good, because it means you are trying to do something. Mistakes are important, failure is important—as long as your get back on the horse. Someone very wise once said, ‘If mistakes aren’t being made, then decisions aren’t being made—and that is a big mistake’. The lesson? Get uncomfortable
#2 Show Up
Aimed at entrepreneurial go-getters specifically, but also applicable to anyone trying to do something, it is simply: you already probably know what you need to do, well, as hard as it sounds, go do it. Do what you need to do, everyday, and opportunities will present themselves—as long as you stay open to them. To get anywhere, you first have to show up.
There are different types of intelligence, and it may just be that so far in life you haven’t found the right expression for your own type. Maybe you know what it is, but you’re holding back—perhaps because you’re waiting for the right opportunity, or because you’re just unsure. The truth is, IQ, though it may be used to measure intelligence in the general sense, does not correlate well with worldly success or the ability to make a difference in the world—just as it doesn’t correlate well with happiness and meaning.
Worry more about care and passion than you do about intelligence and academia. Skills can be learned; attitude, not so much. And so what if others don’t appreciate or support the path you want to walk. If it is what you care about or are good at, it may be exactly what you need to do.
#4 Just Stay On The Path
You may have it all worked out; you may not; but whatever the case, where you further down the path will most likely not be what you envision today. You cannot know today, no; but as long as you follow what you like doing, diligently, and keep your eyes and ears peeled for opportunities—and have the balls to take the ones that your heart screams at you to take—where you eventually end up is almost guaranteed to be a good place; and in the slight chance that it isn’t, well, at least you gave it a good shot—which is what life is all about, is it not?
#5 Avoid ‘Busyness’
A wise man named Seneca once coined the term Restless Idleness, in reference to those who spend large portions of their lives attending to fruitless, empty, meaningless matters. That was over 2000 years ago; I wonder what he would think about the modern-day. Yes, our technological innovations have connected the world, enabled us to do magnificent things, made life easier; but they’ve also exacerbated the mind’s tendency to concern itself with easy, stimulating, less resource-draining tasks. Instant notifications, messages and mobile-phone addictions, however, are only a few examples; simply being (quote) busy, does not by definition mean productive. It seems that today everyone is busy all of the time, even 15-month-old Jimbo; and whilst mobiles and social media platforms are problems, they are supported by hundred-item to-do lists, 80-hour work-weeks and never-ending responsibilities. There is a general rule about how things work in the universe, that, in simple terms, says that 80% of your results are caused by 20% of your expenditure (time, energy, or money); it is called the 80/20 rule—look it up. Busyness is a problem we all have to confront in life—many times over—and we have no choice, but to confront it. There is nothing worse than a busy fool.
Food is an intrinsically important part of every persons life, of culture, of life in general. It was the subject of one of the first human inventions, the external stomach; in English, when humans harnessed the power of fire, one of the first things they did was cook—and it was a social event. So much revolves around food, that a life lacking attention to it tends to also signify not only health, but social, economic and often, mental difficulties.
Better eating habits lead to a more positive outlook on life, and, as I’m sure studies would show, higher likelihood of success, intelligence, happiness and fulfilment. Good eating habits may include eating healthy meals, regular eating times, home-cooking, or simply eating in the company of other people (something Chinese people go out of their way to do); these habits serve as anchors for the individual—meaning not necessarily that the day revolves around them, but that when they are met, the day tends to go better, that is, one’s outlook is more positive. Hence, for many people, self-discipline begins at the table; get your eating habits right, and the discipline will trickle through to other aspects of your life. The importance of food is scrupulously higher than most people think; it really is everything.
#7 Learn To Juggle
If you want to achieve big things in life—or just anything significant—you’re going to have to juggle more than you can handle. And whether you can juggle or not doesn’t matter, neither; if there is something you want to do, you have no choice but to juggle; and if that something you want to do is something big, you can be sure, it is not going to be smooth cute little balls that you’re juggling, but knives, the odd chainsaw, a couple of wild cats, water balloons, petrol bombs, porcelain, hot coals and hundred-dollar bills—in other words, you’ll be dealing with many different and testing personalities, mechanical problems, confusing finances, stress, technical problems, tiredness, sickness, semantic problems, fake news, adversaries, competition, more problems, the feeling of hopelessness, depression, more problems, frustrating negotiations, phase of no progress, many a backward step, and more problems. This is what it means, to take responsibility.
If you want to make things happen in life, you actually have to make things happen; it may be trite, but there is a reason it is hard—or rather, a reason that very few people succeed in their quests. Taking responsibility for yourself is one thing; taking the responsibility of a higher purpose, something much bigger than yourself—be it reforming schools, rallying against fast-food companies, setting up family restaurants around the world, teaching kids how to cook, or whatever else—requires sacrifice, perseverance, passion, grit, more sacrifice, leadership, energy, defiance, and herculean effort.
Still interested in changing the world? Good. But even if not—if you’re just the kind of person who has places they want to go (and since you’re listening to this, you most likely are), learning to juggle is really the difference between sinking and swimming.
One way to increase your chances of winning the fight with the mighty octopus is investing in the right people; this really is critical, because every successful person you’ve ever heard of has been helped by other people. There is no such thing as the self-made man. Get yourself around people who inspire, energize, teach and support you—who not only believe in you, but who are better than you. This is how you get ahead in life. Life is about people.
#8 Make Noises About Things You Care About
If there is something you care about—some higher cause, some major (or even minor) issue out there—that is really making you itch, then try to do something about it. Do research, seek the wisdom and support of others, make noises. The difference you can make when you passionately care about something is quite profound. Generally there are many different approaches to problems, which means that passion is really important—because most of them lead nowhere.
Having just one door closed in your face can be off-putting, but several can be soul-destroying; so as long as you care, you’ll be able to try out all of those different approaches without being discouraged, and eventually, you may find a way in. This type of roundabout approach can take you very far in life; one thing will lead to another, sometimes very quickly, and you can end up much further that you ever dreamed—which leads on to another point: dreams, training and planning—these things are great but not necessary when you refuse to give in.