Day #983:22 Reasons You Should Settle For Being Average

Let’s face the facts: doing brilliant work is just too hard. Making things, starting businesses, loving wholeheartedly and pursuing your dreams will cost you, and in the end it may not be worth it. With that in mind, I want to give you a few excuses you can use in a pinch to explain to others why you are settling for being average.

  1. It’s too hard.
  2. They won’t let me.
  3. It will cost me too much.
  4. I don’t know what to do.
  5. What if they laugh at me?I don’t want to look like a fool.
  6. No one has done it, so it must not be possible.
  7. No one has done it, so who do I think I am to try?
  8. I’m too young/old
  9. What if I fail?
  10. I have it too good to take a chance.
  11. I don’t have the resources/time/connections.
  12. I have a young family.
  13. I’m not sure it will work.
  14. I’ll do it later.I like this one. I use it all the time.
  15. I might get hurt.If I step out and fall in love, this person might make me feel miserable.
  16. It will take too long.
  17. What if something better comes along?
  18. I’d rather watch TV/play games/hang with friends.
  19. I’m afraid.
  20. I’m a fraud and I don’t want to be found out.
  21. It’s just too risky. No smart person would do that.
  22. I need to learn more about it. I need more research.

Any one of these reasons is sufficient to keep you on the sidelines, fat and content.Except you won’t be. There will always be a nagging sense that there is something more for you, and that you’re selling out – let’s just call it prostituting your better self – for the sake of a little ease and comfort.

Here’s the deal.
You will be tempted sometimes to conform to the standards of everyone else around you.
To match them for mediocrity.You have a lot of people around you nudging you towards average. They tell you things like: “That’s the way we do things around here”, “You are working yourself too hard”, “Just be realistic”.

The safest thing you can do, it seems, is to fit in. Total deniability. Hey, I’m just doing what the masses do.The masses are average. And by definition, we have a surplus of average.

Is it hard to try to do something remarkable? Yes. That’s why most people don’t do it. It’s easier to live a sedated life hooked up to the IV drip that is social media. It’s easier to watch an episode of Game of Thrones than read 20 pages in a book. I know. Believe me it happens to me a lot.

Or you can begin to act. Today. To do that thing that’s like a thorn in your side and won’t go away. You can dare to be someone who spends what you have – body, soul, energy, effort – on something you can point at with joy. That’s what I aspire to, and I hope you will join me.

Day #982:George Bernard Shaw Quotes

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

“Forget about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.”

“There are two tragedies in life: one is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it.”

“Manners are more important than laws and upon them, to a great deal, the law depends….”

“Marriage: When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.”

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

Day #981:You Don’t Need More Answers

I’ve noticed lately that there’s a whole lot of waiting going on. Waiting for permission, waiting for resources, waiting for the market to be right, waiting for a brilliant idea, waiting for…whatever. But the most prevalent kind of waiting, I’ve noticed, is waiting for answers. But here’s the thing: we don’t need them.Waiting for answers is often a kind of procrastination driven by fear of the unknown. It could be a fear of failure (What will happen if I get this wrong?) or fear of success (Am I really worth this kind of success? Can I sustain it? Am I really a fraud?). We crave answers to our questions because we somehow think that the right answers will mitigate our risk.

Day #980:Imagining lots of tedious steps? Or one fun step?

If we hate doing something, we imagine it as hard. We think of it as broken into many pain-in-the-ass steps.

If we love something, it seems easy. We imagine it as one fun step.

If you ask someone who hates running how to do it, they’ll say, “Ugh… First you have to stretch. Then you put on running clothes. Then you get the right shoes. Then you have to tie your laces. Then you have to go outside. Then you get all sweaty. Then you have to cool down. Then you have to shower. Then you have to change. Then… I don’t know, but it’s a huge ordeal! Who has the time?”

If you ask someone who loves running how to do it, they’ll say, “It’s easy! You just put on your shoes and go!”

Once you realize this difference, it’s funny to hear how people describe things.

Even if someone says they want to do something, if you hear them describing it in many tedious steps, they don’t really want to do it. (Why would you? It sounds awful. You’ll find reasons not to.)

Day #979:”….They seem to be alive all over.”

“We all know people…who are at loggerheads with existence; unhappy people who never get what they want; are baffled, complaining, who stand at an uncomfortable angle when they see everything askew.

There are others again who, though they appear perfectly content, seem to have lost all touch with reality. They lavish all their affections upon little dogs and old china. They take interest in nothing but the vicissitudes of their own health and the ups and downs of social snobbery.

There are, however, others who strike us, why precisely it would be difficult to say, as being by nature or circumstances in a position where they can use their faculties to the full upon things that are of importance. They are not necessarily happy or successful, but there is a zest in their presence, an interest in their doings. They seem to be alive all over.”

-Virginia Woolf, “The Narrow Bridge of Art”

Day #978:Greatness Comes By Doing The Work!!!

The breakthrough moment that you are waiting for won’t come due to luck or good fortune.

It will come due to the hard work that you put in behind the scenes when no-one is watching.

You’re not a piece of clay that comes out of the ground in perfect condition.

You need to spend some time on the pottery wheel, so that you can be shaped into something beautiful and useful.

Some people think that success comes if you are fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time.

That’s only half true.

Success comes to people who do the work and take the risks necessary to place themselves in the right place at the right time.

It was film producer Samuel Goldwyn who once said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

It’s a reminder that you won’t get the promotion that you’re after because the stars finally aligned for you.

You’ll get it because you’ve been brilliant at your current job and have built a great reputation.

You won’t get the level of fitness that you want due to the genes that you were born with.

You’ll get it because you’ve been disciplined with your food intake and have done the work in the gym.

It doesn’t matter how much talent you were born with, you won’t make great art the first time you paint, sing, sculpt, innovate or attempt to solve a complex problem.

But you might on the tenth, hundredth or thousandth attempt.

You were born for great things.

But just because you were born for it doesn’t mean that it will just come to you.

You still have to earn it.

You still have to sweat.

You still have to grow into the person you are meant to be.

Because greatness isn’t fated, it’s fashioned.

Day #977:The Remarkable Life of Vincent van Gogh

“I can’t change the fact that my paintings don’t sell.But the time will come when people will recognize that they are worth more than the value of the paints used in the picture”.

It was July of 1890. Vincent van Gogh, a Dutch artist living in the French village of Auvers, had created nearly eighty paintings in less than three months.

In recent weeks, he’d been attracted by the fields and plains not far from the Auberge Ravoux Inn where he lived that summer. At the height of his genius, the prolific artist was despondent.

He was thirty-seven years old, financially supported by an ailing brother and had produced more than eight hundred paintings which no one wanted to buy. (It is believed during his entire career he sold only one – The Red Vineyard – which he painted in 1888 and Anna Boch, also an artist, purchased in 1890.)

At dusk on Sunday, the 27th of July, Vincent walked to one of the fields in Auvers-sur-Oise. What happened there abruptly cut short the life of an artist whose paintings today are among the most sought-after – and valuable – in the world.

Van Gogh’s story although tragic, provides simple lessons in doing great work: it stands the test of time.More importantly, a great work is a great work no matter how long it takes the world to recognize it. Great artists (individuals) never go for the easy stuffs. They never yield to temptation to create shitty work for quick fame or money.

In today’s world, Vincent’s art is so desirable it is rarely available for purchase. When a painting does come on the market, it commands “top dollar” prices:

Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers –
sold March 30, 1987
$39.5 million
Irises –
sold November, 1987
$53.9 million
Portrait of Doctor Gachet –
sold May 15, 1990
$82.5 million
Self-Portrait (Without Beard) –
sold Nov 19, 1998
$71.5 million
TOTAL – FOUR PAINTINGS $247.4 million