Opinions: Have One

In our efforts to not sound pointed, we’ve forgotten that the purpose of speaking, writing, and creating is to make a point.

Without your point of view, we wouldn’t need to hear from you. Without your point of view, it doesn’t matter what you do.

Don’t be afraid to have an opinion. It’s virtually impossible to have an impact without one.

Stop Trying To Make Everyone Comfortable

Instead of waiting for the world to stop feeling nervous about your unconventional dreams and unorthodox desires, start having the guts to create the stuff you want to create regardless of how uncomfortable people get.

Do you really want to feel alive or are you willing to settle for just being the kind of person who never makes anyone uneasy? Do you just want to go down in history as the person who never spilled a glass of water, who never bombed a joke, who never asked a stupid question, who never mispronounced a word, who never said anything that went over somebody else’s head, who never got told “no,” who never did anything until everyone else said it was a cool thing to do?

We speak very romantically about things like “stepping out of your comfort zone” or “pushing yourself to get better” or “choosing to evolve” or “daring to make a difference,” but those things require choices that make it impossible for you to promise everyone that you’re going to be okay. And that’s the problem. Most of the people in your life want you to be okay. It helps them get to sleep at night when they know you’re going to be okay. It’s easier for them to explain your decisions to others when they know you’re going to be okay. It’s easier for them to plan their day, their weekend, their summer, their lives when they know you’re going to be okay. Your “okay-ness” is very important to people. But this is a luxury that has never belonged to great innovators and remarkable influencers.

If you want to be on the leading edge of creativity and progress, you have to get comfortable with making the world uncomfortable. You have to be okay with people not knowing how your life is going to turn out. And you have to be at ease with the fact that this might make them feel a little uneasy.

If your presence never challenges the people around you, then what does it even mean to be a distinct individual?

The process of creating your own map, as beautiful and praiseworthy as it is, means you don’t get to pull out a well-designed piece of paper and say “this is where we are, this is where I’m going, and I’ll arrive in approximately this much time.” Nope. You get to sound like a crazy person for a while. You get to sound delusional for a while. You get to sound arrogant and defiant for a while. You get to sound selfish and irresponsible for a while. You get to sound like a lot of things, but you don’t get to sound like a normal person when you choose to stop conforming to society’s idea of a normal person.

Jodie Foster once said “Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from.” Are you holding yourself back because of an artificial need to be normal? Here’s today’s two cents:

Stop trying to make everyone comfortable. Stop trying to make it sound as if you don’t have an opinion when you do. Stop trying to make it look as if you could go either way, when you know that’s not true. Stop trying to appear as if you don’t have a preferred style or system when you do. Stop trying to act like nothing makes you angry or unhappy, when that’s not actually the case. Stop trying to obtain everyone’s permission before you do what you already know you want to do.

Stop making a god out of fitting in and start rising to the level of a life that’s truly irreplaceable.

By the way, here’s a fun Garth Brooks tune to go along with today’s post:

Friday’s With Isaac Morehouse & T.K. Coleman: Kill The Past & See The Future

This week Isaac Morehouse and I discuss everything from why people blindly trust authority to why it’s easier to predict the future than we think.

We dove into how weird it is that I don’t care to check tasks off my list after I’ve done them and how obsessed Isaac is with list-checking. We discussed the danger of believing you are owed anything. We touched on positive rights (terrible) and negative rights (wonderful but still sometimes a trap), the weirdness of doing things you hate because they are “cheap” or “free”, how not to build social capital, why learning to use Google beats everything else, and, most exciting to me, how to gain an edge by seeing the future as already here.

“It’s dead alright. I didn’t kill it. It was dead when I got here.” – Larry the Liquidator

Mentioned in the episode: Wayne Dyer, Danny DeVito, Other People’s Money, Breaking Smart, Taylor Pearson, TK’s nephew schooling him in basketball, The Great Divorce, Michael Huemer, the ATR 2100, and lots more I’m forgetting.

Recommendations: “Going All In” by Taylor Pearson, and The Problem of Political Authority by Michael Huemer.

Know YOUR Audience

The hardest part about creating is always the “other people” part. What will “other people” think of me trying something like this? Will “other people” deem me worthy? Will “other people” think I’m weird or crazy?

It’s rarely the technical stuff that stops us. Sure, there are hard skills that must be acquired in any craft, but this is usually an invigorating process when we eradicate all the fear, pressure, and insecurity that stems from how “other people” might be evaluating our journey.

If you want to create, you have to get clear with yourself about where you stand with the “other people” factor. Do you need to be liked by everyone? Most people? Are you okay with being someone else’s hero? Their villain? Can you stand the rain of being misunderstood? Are you cool with making some people a little nervous? If you can be honest with yourself and come to grip with these questions, the technical side of creativity will go much more smoothly.

People often say “Know your audience.” That’s useful advice, but much too vague. The audience you fear or the audience you love? The audience you already know or the audience you’ll get to know as a result of creating the things you truly want to create?

If you’re feeling a little stuck in the creative process, I suggest stepping back from the audience that’s sitting in front of you today and carefully thinking about the audience you’re working towards. Sometimes the best cure for writer’s block, creativity block, or any other block is the sheer willingness to let go of the audience you have in order to make room for the audience you want.

Getting Started Often Feels Like Failure

There’s an old saying that, “everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody’s willing to die to get there.”

Something similar may be said of success: everyone wants to be successful, but nobody wants to fail to get there.

By “fail”, I don’t mean “earth-shattering disappointment.” I mean “the experience of having to do what you love at a level of competence and quality that is less than ideal.”

Dramatic failures, the kind that’s emphasized in movies and biographies, only occur every so often.

The kinds of failures that lead to success, however, are the little ones we risk making every single day. Doing the things you have to do in order to achieve success will require you to fall short of your ideals on an almost continual basis, but it’s the only way to learn and grow.

Zig Ziglar said “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Chalmers Brothers defined learning as “…the process of doing what you don’t know how to do while you still don’t know how to do it.”

We all have goals and we all want success. But that means getting started. And getting started means getting acclimated to the fact that your starting point will often feel like a form of failure. When you encounter that feeling, know that it’s normal and keep moving forward.

This is Why

Today I don’t know what to say.

My motto for such days is this: when you’re not sure about your what, return to your why.

Why are you here? Why do you get out of bed every morning? Why do you bother with routines and practices and commitments in the first place?

Here’s my why:

I want to infect people’s minds with the idea-virus of possibility. I want to contaminate the world with good.

Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens simply because he challenged them to question the status quo.

That’s my why.

I too wish to “corrupt” the world with critical and creative thinking. I too wish to poison the world with the dangerous notion that we don’t have to accept the answers that are given to us by the status quo as final.

Just as Socrates was called the “gadfly of Athens,” I wish to be a gadfly of self-defeatism.

In a world filled with discouraging and dark influences I want to be a persistent and annoying ray of light.

So even on days like this, days when I’m not sure that I have something special to say, I exercise the determination to rear my ugly head, give negativity the middle finger, and say the following to all the things that are supposed to count as evidence of defeat: I’m still here. I’m still smiling. And even if I was frowning, I’d still be fighting for our right to reach for the unreachable.