The work you just completed is never your best possible work.
I had a wonderful evening tonight - a reader of the site visiting Saigon reached out to me, and we spent five hours having coffee and discussing philosophy, writing, history, traveling, government, business... amazing guy. Great conversation. Really enjoyed it, the time flew.
Now, I tell you - this is a guy with amazing creative ability and insights. He's spent a lot of time thinking about and researching and learning interesting things. He has a lot to share with the world.
Yet, he hasn't released most of the writing he's done. He's a writer, and I'm guessing quite a solid writer - he reads a lot, writes a fair bit, and is a clear thinker, and that combination lends itself to solid writing. I'm almost certain he can at least write well enough that the writing doesn't get in the way of the good insights, and he definitely has good insights.
But, he said to me - he's looking to create timeless, masterpiece-level work, like the literature he really admires most.
If you're a designer, or any creative professional, this might be the most important thing you read this year. My sensationalist headline aside, it's not about money or being a primadonna. It's about defining how you work, working how you define, having an environment of trust and respect and creativity, and otherwise getting the life you want.
Sadly, many creatives just trust that that'll happen… and it doesn't. They get taken advantage of. This needs to stop.
Some things in here are scary. You don't need to do what's unnatural to you, you don't need to do anything in particular in here, and you don't need to rush yourself. Any given suggestion in here might increase your income by 20% and cut your "client stress" in half.
I'll tell you my story in a moment, so you can assess my credibility and see if this is workable advice. (It is.) I'll give you recommendations on where you can learn more. In exchange, I ask just one thing - if at any point while reading this, you think, "This is one of the most important things I've read this year" - then you immediately share it with as many people as you can that you think it would help.
I think that's fair, do you?
"I'm way ahead of where other people are at..."
"Most people who graduated my year from my school are only making $xx,xxx but I'm making $xx,xxx + 20%."
"Most people have a ton of bad debt. I've only got a little bit."
"Most people don't do anything really exciting or interesting. But I've got one interesting hobby, so I'm different and better."
Cut that out, eh?
Just a quick thought. Your website has so many visitors, and I bet you could make a lot of money putting some ads on it. But I kind of admire that you don't. I understand people putting ads on their websites, because it is business and an easy way to make money can be quite nice. However, I can't help but feel that people not putting ads are more... how should I put it... I often view them as superior in an intangible sense. I'm struggling to grasp in which. Attitude, pride, standards, noble? Hmm.
With your websites and ads, I wondered why you don't put up any. You don't need the money? Or is it from some kind of internal stance, and you wouldn't put any in either way? By the way, reading your website feels, to me, nice independent of content cause no ads are there to annoy me. These days it seems you can't read many good blogs without drowning in ads.
My blog doesn't generate enough constant traffic to make me consider adding any, but... I wonder, would I? I don't know. It's like the pride matter, though not the same.
Ps. I liked your absurdity post
I'm thrilled that Tynan is coming to you with two things -- first, he's offering a breakthrough session through GiveGetWin. It's geared around doing more of the kind of excellent work you want to do, becoming more internally focused with your emotions, having a more enjoyable life, building great habits, and producing a lot of value in the process. There's five spots, so check it out now.
Second, we have this wonderful tour-de-force interview: it starts by covering how Tynan made the shift from unfocused to focused, how to derive internal enjoyment from things, useful actionable exercises you can do right now, Tynan's method and mindset for producing creative work consistently, how to set up great habits and an excellent mental and physical work environment, and how to make blogging work and similar endeavors work for you.
Total Focus; Total Enjoyment by Tynan, as told to Sebastian Marshall
When I turned 30 and I had a minor freak out… I thought, "I'll be 40 in not long, and then 50… there's things I want to do in my life, and they're not happening at this pace."
Before that, I had a general idea of things I wanted to do and have in my life, but I went about in an unstructured way. It was good in a lot of ways. It made be a broad process, but not much depth.
You can get your scuba licenses and go on some crazy dives for $500 total, or less.
Learn to snowboard? $500, again, give or take.
Fly an airplane? Look it up. It ain't so much.
International travel? Trivially easy and inexpensive in the days of Skype, Matrix ITA flight search + kayak.com, Wikitravel, and Google.
That list of stuff you're "going to get to someday"?
I've gone back and forth on how much an idea is worth a few times. At first, I thought ideas were worth a lot. Then, I thought it was all execution, and ideas are worthless. I've been thinking about it some more in light of some recent deals, and I've come around a little to believing in the value of ideas again -- with a caveat.
But first, let's check out the best post written on the subject. Here's Derek Sivers --
To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.
AWFUL IDEA = -1 WEAK IDEA = 1 SO-SO IDEA = 5 GOOD IDEA = 10 GREAT IDEA = 15 BRILLIANT IDEA = 20
A few years ago, I quit watching mainstream news. In fact, I go way out of my way to avoid it.
I used to enjoy it. It makes you feel like you're getting informed, and know what's going on in the world.
Today, I wound up seeing the news over a late dinner. The lead-in was a murder. Then there was someone on drugs who was trying to escape a police checkpoint and hit two people with his car. Then a story about gas prices rising, and a look at the consumer shopping season.
And that was enough for me.
You do need to stay current, but you'd do well to stay current primarily in your chief vocation or field of interest. I follow technology-related news and I'll subscribe to some newsletter or check out a forum related my core focus is at the time -- which is sales at the moment.
I'm getting tons of "let's chat" and "let's catch up" and "can I introduce you to so-and-so" who I'm asked if I could help out... the amount of these I get has gone up steadily each year. Which is really super cool and flattering, I'd have killed to have this many quality people wanting to come into my life 5 years ago.
Right now I'm on a heads-down project cycle, kind of sequestered away from anyone and anything I know in Istanbul except a few smart collaborators and colleagues. But I like everybody, and I'm so grateful since so many people have helped me so much in my life, so I do what I can. For calls that I'm going to take, I've been looking to schedule starting in mid-July or late-July when I should be stable and on a less intense pace.
That said, I got referred to a bright young kid by a buddy of mine I really respect, who asked if I can help him. I like the guy who referred him to me and I said ok, I can't get on Skype right now with my schedule, but have him email me.
He sent me an email, and yup, probably brilliant -- four languages at fluency (the three besides English are not commonly mixed together, too, thus opening opportunities), web development skills, knowledge of law and patents, good work background, background in chemistry and some design/engineering type stuff, and entrepreneurship.
And he writes that he's got all this great stuff going on, but is falling down a bit, and out of money, etc.
Jason Shen has achieved tremendous success in athletics, technology entrepreneurship, writing, and living an outstanding life. To promote his recent GiveGetWin deal on The Science of Willpower, he sat down to tell us how he started learning about willpower, the state of what's known scientifically about how willpower and the brain work, and how you can start improving your life right away by implementing a tiny habit, thinking and systems, and using some powerful thinking tools. Enjoy:
Developing Willpower by Jason Shen, as told to Sebastian Marshall
Willpower has been an undercurrent in my entire life. In gymnastics, you have to use your willpower to overcome your fear of an activity and go for the skill you want, to get over the fear, to push yourself to finish your conditioning and strength training a part of you doesn't want to…
It didn't come automatically to me. When I was a student, I wasn't automatically self-disciplined. There were actions I knew were useful, like doing my homework in one session without getting distracted, or not throwing clothing on my apartment floor. But I wouldn't always do them, and I didn't know why.
I started to learn those answers during a student initiative course at Stanford called The Psychology of Personal Change. That's when I first started reading academic papers on the topic. In academia, willpower and self-discipline is often called "self-regulation," and in 2009 I started to get really serious about it from an academic perspective -- and saw gains from it in my personal life.