One life-changing moment was when I realized I would never have another good idea.
It was Seth Godin’s fault.
He was telling some overly enthusiastic podcaster that most of his writing was below average, and he had no idea which of his ideas were any good — even after they were published.
“I can just tell which ones are most popular,” he said, that mischievous little smile tweaking the corners of his lips. “They could still be terrible ideas.”
Many creatives, particularly writers, get caught up thinking they must have something to say.
It’s an ego thing. Just ask Dostoyevsky.
There are plenty of terrible, meaningless, and badly-made ideas that are considered extremely valuable and worthwhile by many people.
The secret to being a successful creative or entrepreneur isn’t having one big idea or one breakthrough piece or one work of critical acclaim that blows everybody’s socks off.
The secret is getting used to getting a ‘D’ and still keep on plugging away at it, churning out bad ideas.
You never know which one might stick.
It doesn’t take a historian to tell you that we’re living through history.
But let me tell you anyway: they are not joking when they say these are “unprecedented times.”
And it’s not even just history. I’ve read over 100 science fiction books to prep for the future and not one of them mentioned this. Not one.
Life will never be the same. A whole generation of babies will view the world differently. And we’re probably all going to have PTSD or mysophobia. Or both.
And yet here you are at the end of another week. Another day closer to the end of this madness. Still here. Still smiling. Still living through it all and not doing badly either.
Just making history, as you do.
Talents are pretty much useless.
As Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.”
There’s an ancient story about talents that goes like this:
Once upon a mountain, an old lord went travelling, leaving his favourite servants with some silver coins (called Talents).
When he returns, the servants have all done something different with their Talents:
- The first servant — who got five Talents — blew it all on drugs and women and fast donkeys.
- The second servant — who got two Talents — was terrified he’d lose them, and so he buried them deep in the ground, where nobody could find them.
- The last servant — who only got one Talent — put it to work every day, investing in other businesses and earning interest on loans. By the time his master returns, he has ten Talents.
If we don’t show anyone our talents, they’re just going to stay buried and useless.
There are thousands of talented ‘geniuses’ who put in minimal effort and end up with nothing. And there are thousands of idiots who’ve made millions because they knew they weren’t talented and decided to outwork everyone instead.
We don’t need talents to be successful. We just need to show up and do the work every damn day.
That’s how you become ‘talented’ at anything.
Failure is frustrating, so it’s important to remember that we all start out crap.
Whenever we try something new, our first attempt is always terrible. And we usually stay pretty terrible for many more attempts after that.
It’s normal to be shit at stuff.
As James Clear reminds us:
“Your favourite athlete’s first workout was just as bad as yours.
Your favourite chef’s first meal was just as bad as yours.
Your favourite artist’s first work was just as bad as yours.”
Your heroes and idols embraced this fact of life and kept going until they made something awesome.
Keep going, and you will too.