I lot of people have been telling me that my Hawaii trip looks awesome [which by the way, it is]. It’s usually accompanied with one of the following two questions:
- How do you do what you do?
- How can you get to do something so awesome?
I usually just answer “Just like everyone else…I hop on a plane and fly there.” Unfortunately, most people don’t find that to be a satisfactory answer, and leave frustrated, so here’s a more in depth answer.
The first thing is that I have the opportunity to make my own decisions and change my life. That’s so important. As Tyler likes to say, we’ve won the lottery. You have the choice to get up everyday and decide what you want to do with your life. Don’t take it for granted.
Besides winning the lottery, there’s two things I try to do as often as possible, that allow me me to do what I do. They’re pretty simple steps in writing, but they’re much harder to actually implement.
Part #1 – Do Stuff That Scares You.
I do a lot of stuff that scares me. Constantly. Whether that’s running a race I’m not sure I can finish, jumping out a plane with 30+ other people, or failing publicly in front of people. Why? Simple.
Everyone is a Wuss
Everyone is a wuss. Seriously. Everyone is running scared. The only difference between the people that do something awesome and the people who don’t is the simple fact that people who don’t, hold back because they’re scared and let the fear dictate what they do and do not do.
If you’re scared of something, there’s even more of a reason you should do it because if you’re scared of doing something, chances are, somebody else is too. Heck, there are probably a lot of people who are scared to do what you want to do. Go ahead and do it anyways.
The good thing about everyone else being a wuss is that it makes things easier for you. If there’s a lot of people scared to do something, it’s a lot easier for you to actually go do that because there’s less competition. It’s easier to make a dent and get noticed. When you’re doing the same thing that everyone else is doing, you have to compete with a lot more people, it’s harder to get noticed and you don’t end up doing very many exciting things.
Most people wouldn’t be cool with flying to random cities on less than 24 hours notice because of an email they got. I’ve done that a few times and it’s amazing the things that have happened because of it. I’ve ended up in Maui and Paris because of that and they’ve been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Often it’s the scary stuff that ends up being the most memorable.
Part #2 – Say Yes A Lot
I say yes so much I actually made it a policy around here. A lot of people will tell you that’s a terrible idea. They’ll say you need to manage your time better and only help people when there’s a positive return for yourself.
I think that’s the worst advice I’ve ever heard.
No, you can’t do everything and you need to be judicial about how you spend your 24 hours a day, but saying yes, is fundamentally about helping people. The most successful people I’ve met are often the most generous and don’t hold back on helping others. The exceptions to this rule usually ends up being people who you’d rather not hang around with for the day [much less turn into].
It’s amazing how many doors you’ll see open when you start saying yes to people. When you start volunteering to help out without any sort of expected return other than seeing them succeed, people take notice. Often, they even succeed and remember what you did for them and come back to say thanks.
*Important note: Don’t confuse this with karma. I think that doing stuff for others is a great thing, but doing something for others because you think you’ll get some crazy benefit down the road is a terrible way to approach life. You still have an agenda and it’s still selfish in some way and if the other person doesn’t do whatever it is you expected them to do for you, you feel ripped off. It’s okay to be strategic in the things you say yes to, but helping others and holding them to an invisible contract that they never agreed to is a bad idea.
There’s a lot of people that need help. You probably have something to offer them. Why not give them a hand?
Saying yes, also means taking on a lot of responsibility. Saying yes to new projects, new clients and new tasks that you might not have taken on if you wanted to “play it safe.” By saying yes to those things and taking on responsibility and then over-delivering on it, you can create a lot of trust with your clients, boss and co-workers and give you a lot of flexibility in how you do things. You start to mold yourself into a linchpin. If you can pull through with this added responsibility, it tends to pay itself off with more flexibility.
You don’t have to be special to do the things you want or do something awesome. I’m a normal guy with just a couple of steps. Do stuff that scares you and say yes to a lot of people and help them out. You’ll be surprised where it takes you.