“I finally have the body that I want. The trick is… you have to want a really shitty body.”
– Lous C K, comedian
If you have not yet watched the show “Louie” by Louis C K, you should definitely watch it (I watched it on Netflix). As Louis C K eloquently put it in his famous quote above, he found a simple way of achieving his goals — he just lowered the bar.
Now, let us talk about YOUR unconventional goals. I am talking about your dreams of becoming a writer, a photographer, an entrepreneur, or whatever form of unconventional it is that you want to be.
Most people spend their entire life with a wish of becoming that something. But they discount themselves by thinking something like the following,
“Well, I like writing, and I would like to be a writer. But I guess I will never be able to be famous, or earn money through my writing. And because I cannot do those, I guess I am not good enough to be a writer.”
That example was for writing, but the same kind of “give-up-before-trying” attitude can prevail for a person pursuing any other hatke ambition.
As pointed out in the previous chapter, many unconventional career aspirants might already be doing a job in a more conventional field (like engineering, medicine, law etc.). Have you ever thought how good you actually were in that conventional field? Are you the top person in your field? Are you the most famous lawyer/engineer/banker in the world?
If you try to rank yourself within the global population of engineers / lawyers / bankers, you may find that you are just about mediocre in your field. You may try to disagree with me here because you may be the top person in your company. But think about this — there may be tens or hundreds of companies just like yours all over the world. And then you could start comparing yourself with others who have done a similar job before you. Compared with all the people in all the companies in all the countries of the world in all times, you may find yourself in a position of (globally and historically relative) mediocrity.
But there is nothing bad about mediocrity. You do your job well. You get a paycheck every month that helps pay the bills. And on top of that, you may be receiving encouragement, support, and praise from your colleagues and managers (you truly rock!). All in all, you are happy with your job.
Now, my question is this:
If we can be happy being ‘mediocre’ in our conventional career, why do we aspire for exceptional greatness and international rock-star status in our unconventional ambitions?
Clearly we should be taking a more pragmatic approach to our unconventional ambitions.
Shitty first. Greatness later.
As pointed out earlier, the first step to following your unconventional ambition is to start on that journey. Many keep contemplating the journey but never take their first steps forward. Success belongs to those who actually venture out into the unknown.
Yet, those initially starting out might be plagued with self-doubt (creative types frequently have this characteristic) and questioning. They might begin to think that they are really shitty at what they want to do.
Here’s what I say to those suffering from those feelings:
Being shitty is vastly better than being a zero (and not starting). It is mathematically proven.
All his life, Vincent van Gogh was made to realize that he was a shitty painter. He achieved success after his death. So unless you believe in life after death, van Gogh completed his life thinking he was an utter failure. And yet, through nine tumultuous years of his life till his tragic death, van Gogh painted and painted and painted. What if he had given up? The world would never have seen such beautiful paintings like “The starry night” or “Sunflowers”
I am not saying that you are or have to be a Vincent van Gogh. What I am saying is simple:
Do not think how good you are; JUST START.
You might suck at first. But Louis C K will surely see you through.