12 October 2011. I’m off (really off). Another morning. Yes, another morning – factually correct all the way. It’s a little sprinkly this morning. That’s fine – I’m a little sprinkly myself. I’m right behind a drugstore semi, and on the back it has a web site for the drug store. It’s weird to put a website on the back of a truck that delivers drugs to a brick-and-mortar store. It’s like “see this truck? Well you don’t have to use it. You can visit us online and order it from us and you don’t even have to leave your house.”
Speaking of not leaving your house, sort of, Steve Jobs died recently. I got forwarded this commencement speech he gave in 2005 at Stanford. One of my brothers said ‘Every time I read anything like this, the message seems so clear. Quit your job.’ My other brother said ‘Clearly you have too much time on your hands at work.. I don’t however, so will have to send this home.’ I thought that was an interesting juxtaposition, that one of them was so swamped at work that he couldn’t read it there, and the other one mentioned quitting your job. In a way, it’s the same message from both of them. I responded with ‘It was forwarded to me, and I just read it on my break. The break I take when I don’t feel like working. Wait til I forward you all the commencement addresses from all the other college dropouts!’
A little harsh. But in the address itself, and I’m paraphrasing, para-paraphrasing, and double super secret paraphrasing, but I think that one of the possible things that Steve Jobs could have meant was that you are not going to be successful in anything you do unless you’re doing what you really love. He actually praised dropping out of college and being fired from Apple when the board of directors ousted him. One of those things led to something ubiquitous: fonts. He said he took calligraphy after he dropped out, and that interest led to putting multiple fonts on the Mac, and since Windows copied Mac, it’s likely that no computer would have had multiple fonts had he not taken that class. He connected the dots backwards. The other thing led to him forming NeXT and Pixar, NeXT being bought by Apple and forming its new backbone (and putting Jobs back in charge), and Pixar being the most successful animation house in the world. (This is right out of the speech, not geek knowledge from Jobs Fanboi Hotspur.)
You can also go on Scott Adams’ blog, or in his blog book, and he’ll tell you that when he tried to do things that he was sure he should be successful at, or that people expected him to be successful at, he was mediocre or a failure. But when it was something that people said he would absolutely suck at, he was successful at it. He gives many examples – restaurant ownership, public speaking, the Dilbert comics themselves, etc.
I guess what everyone is trying to say is that you should try to succeed and make your way in something that everyone expects you to fail at (though not in an irresponsible way). This might sound like bizarre or ridiculous advice, but it’s not, and I’ll tell you why: when you go out and try to succeed in an area that people expect you to fail in, or that you think you will fail in, if you fail, people will be kind of happy. In some strange way, it will make numerous people feel good about themselves because they ‘told you so’, which in turn makes them feel indebted to you because you made them feel good about themselves, and they subconsciously treat you a little better, which in turn makes your life a little easier. (whew!)
On the other hand, if you actually succeed, they’re still happy because they’re pleasantly surprised. And there’s no down side to their expectations. Either they’re going to be right, or you’re going to be successful. If you fail, you’re expected to fail. No down side, but plenty of up side. This is true in adventures, or employment, or finance, or business, not relationships. There could totally be a down side to that. But it’s not like you’re going to start base jumping or anything.
The problem is that the way things are now in this economy (*gasp* I’m talking about the economy! Disgusting!) it’s dangerous to just quit your job and go do something else. That’s why it has to be a second job or hobby, or something you do as an emotional or creative outlet. There isn’t anyone who doesn’t love getting things off their chest. So that way, it helps you, but it’s hard to measure success like that. Sometimes things take a long time to be successful. You could measure it in terms of how it makes you feel. It takes practice. It’s like riding a bicycle, or finding a g spot.
Some things are like a bungie cord – sure, it’s scary to jump off something really high, but there is an excellent chance you’ll survive, have fun, and at least not fail. Whatever your personal or career or relationship version of that is, do it today. Don’t measure yourself against Steve Jobs or Scott Adams. You’re probably not going to be giving commencement addresses before huge crowds of people. But you are going to be talking in front of people who matter to you. On a small scale, that’s what I’m doing now. I’m talking to a few people who matter to me. I’ve been doing this hardcore for not even 2 months, going from nothing to whatever it is now. I’ve talked about how my weight loss was easy for the first 12 pounds, but the second 12 took 3-4 months. I think this blog thing will work in the opposite way – the beginning will be hard, but it will get easier. I’ve just got to be patient.
I love writing and apparently I can generate quite a lot of it. And sure, some of it is better than the rest, but it doesn’t suck. If there’s any way I can make a career out of writing, it would be like a dream. All of you would be able to say ‘I knew him when he was a nobody.’ Well, I guess you can all say that now, but instead of being a statement of fact, it will be a statement of comparison! I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m just going to set everything up as best I can for it to work, and make sure that it does.
…or just take over the world, which is starting to sound easier…