“I know I was born, and I know I will die. The in-between is mine.” – Eddie Vedder
Never before in recent history has vulgar, daring behavior been good advice for life/business/etc. Some may see it as a problem. I don’t. In a world run by dropouts (Bill Gates), potheads (Mr. President), social vagrants (Reality TV), it’s becoming clear that traditional paths to success have become little more than antiquated expectations.
Case in point: Richard Branson dropped out of school at 16, but if he decided to take the top seat at any company in the world, I will bet you that someone will be clearing their desk. Why? Because, love him or hate him, Branson gets it, and got it long before the rest of us were able to catch up. From what I’ve seen, there are a lot of common ideas at work here, and this is how it breaks down:
- Ignore tradition. There’s really only one rule in business anymore, and that is to make your own rules. New ideas rule the new landscape, and those that can execute new ideas are the ones that you read about. March to your own drummer.
- Don’t be afraid to be loud. No one is going to hear you any other way. Shyness will keep you exactly where you are; and if you’re cool with that, don’t let me mess up your groove. However, if you feel like you’re still far from maximizing your potential, be bold. Life is far more exciting when you get loud.
- Grab a calculator. Assuming you will live to be about 80, figure up the number of minutes you have left in this world. Personally, I have about 2.3 million, with much fewer by the time you read this. What are you doing with your minutes? The saying “live today as if you’ll die tomorrow” isn’t advice for someone else, someone older. This time next week, do the math again. You’re not getting that time back.
- Determine your top five. Figure out the top five things that matter to you, and live for them. If money is one of them, you’re doing this life thing all wrong. Money is the fuel you add to your tank so that you can make it down the road to somewhere exciting; so don’t live for the experience of filling your tank. Pick the top five things that matter most (family, friends, realizing a dream, etc.), because they’ll be the things you’re known for when your minutes are up.
- Be unapologetic. If you’re working to make a better life for yourself and those you care about, then most of the criticism you receive will be from those that want to hold you back. To hell with them; in fact, the more successful you are, the more criticism you should expect. You’ll get used to it.
- Be unafraid. The one main thing that keeps people from being successful is not a bad economy, or the lack of opportunity, or even the lack of money. It’s fear. I think Steve Jobs put it best when he said that you realize how little you have to lose when you understand how little you take with you when you go. The easiest way to get over fear is to stop making excuses for your situation, and accepting nothing less than the standard you deserve. And only you can determine that. And while we’re at it, let’s cover fear of failure. Quite simply, you’re going to fail at times in your life. It might as well be on your way to the top.
- Find your passion, no matter how ridiculous. In fact, the more ridiculous, the better. Today’s world doesn’t listen to anything that doesn’t shake it up. In a world of Jersey Shore, flash mobs and Fox News, it’s clear that absurdity has its place. Be fueled by doing what you love, and people will follow.
Now living a life like this can be perilous, and can create some unexpected circumstances, but is there any better way to live?