I ran across a quote from Ira Glass while reading Signal vs. Noise, the blog by the guys at 37signals (two of the guys from that crew wrote Rework). Of course, the quote was in posterized form – I’m guessing this guy was inspired. Enjoy.
Just in case you can’t get the above pic, I’ve written it out for ya. Enjoy. Again.
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners – I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Paul Graham is an expert in the Lisp programming language, co-founder of the tech incubator Y Combinator, and writes at paulgraham.com on entrepreneurship, hackers, and, in his last post, life: The Top of My Todo List.
It’s short and intersects with the spirit of my last three blog posts. Here is the punch line:
Don’t ignore your dreams; don’t work too much; say what you think; cultivate friendships; be happy.
I have heard that one of the big goals of life is essentially to die well: to lie on your death bed and know you’ve given your greatest gift. Paul sums this up: don’t be a cog. I like how Chris Guillebeau phrases it in ‘The $100 Startup’, which is actually from Steve Jobs: Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Read Paul’s essay here.
Ah, Dreamlining. Putting a timeline to your dreams. Defining them and their costs, and then creating a plan to realize them within 6 months, the first step of which can be taken today. In ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, he goes into detail about how to do this, providing a worksheet to fill out how you would realize ‘the four dreams that would change it all’.
Man, doesn’t that sound great? The four dreams that would change it all… How about just one dream – let’s start with that. Need a little help? (I want a motorcycle! I already have the jacket…) He provided some questions that should get that dream engine started. Ask yourself the following.
- What if there was no way I could fail?
- What if I were 10 times smarter than the rest of the world?
- What would I do day to day if $100 million were in the bank?
- What am I most excited to wake up to day to day?
- What am I good at?
- What could I be best at?
- What makes me happy?
- What excites me?
- What makes me feel accomplished & good about myself?
- Can I repeat or further develop what I’m most proud of having accomplished in my life?
- What do I enjoy sharing or experiencing with other people?
So go ahead. I’m sure your gut has an answer. What are the four dreams that would change it all?
Steve Pavlina, at his website, StevePavlina.com (Personal Development for Smart People), covers a lot of deep and practical approaches to growing as a conscious human being. To find your purpose in life, he first advises you come to terms with your actions and beliefs, not what you think you believe or think you should believe. This is your context. If you want to change your context to a more empowering one, you first have to accept what you’ve got for a world view and what you really value.
I’m going to skip a few steps and get to something really juicy. He proposes the concept of living congruently, where each aspect/category of your life (work, family, fun, spirit, etc.) is in alignment because they follow the same set of values. In this sense, you are also living with clarity because once you’ve identified values that ring true with you, all aspects of your life work together towards your life purpose, the big example being what you do for work is also something you enjoy.
To get to this point, your answers to the following four questions should ideally be the same.
- What SHOULD I do?
- What MUST I do?
- What CAN I do?
- What do I WANT to do?
Align the answers to these questions, and you have alignment in your life.
The concept of ‘Unique Ability’ by Dan Sullivan was introduced to me via watching/listening to the DVD program ‘On Being A Man’ by David DeAngelo. David mentions this as one way to find your heart-centered purpose / path / mission in life. Just by going over how it’s defined here has seriously helped me confirm mine.
- It Is A Superior Ability – other people notice it and value it
- You Love Doing It – and want to do it as much as possible
- It Energizes You – and others around you
- You Keep Getting Better At It – there are always possibilities to improve
The next two posts will cover other sets of questions that have aided in uncovering my vision for myself, strategically critical as a Product Owner.
OK, so let’s read those four bullet points again.
Now… did you feel that? That click? That slight internal shifting of realization?
You know your unique ability. You know what it is.
Can you accept it?