It has proven to be true for me: Every year appears to pass faster than the previous year. I felt ambushed by January 1, 2013. Maybe you can relate.
If you’re a regular Uncommon Life reader you’ll know that each year I reflect on the previous year. The process helps me internalize lessons learned and appreciate progress that I would otherwise overlook while setting my sights on new goals in projects.
A quick glance at my 2011 review reminds of what an incredible year that was for me. Thankfully, I don’t use previous years as a yardstick for the next. As a TUL reader posted on the last post, I too find that approach more overwhelming than inspiring. Instead I set out to create an entirely new adventure for the New Year.
There are many ways to reflect and review life, but I tend to begin the process with two simple questions:
Common: Attempting to play “the game” better than the person next to us.
Uncommon: We all want to consider ourselves a “winner” — to be great at something—and to have someone recognize that greatness. But embedded in this thought process is the belief that greatness is measured on a comparative scale and that fulfillment follows closely behind such accomplishments.
I call BS on both accounts. As I’ve written earlier, success has nothing to do with being part of an “elite” group. Instead of trying to play the game better than other participants, the happiest, most innovative and “free” individuals I’ve met work to change the game itself. They operate by rules that change the rules.
A friend of mine, Charlie Hoehn, not only believes this is true, but his life is an eminent example of this theory in practice. Charlie is a true “uncommoner.” He’s travelled the world, spoken at TEDx Carnegie Mellon, written the highly popular manifesto Recession Proof Graduate, and has worked closely with many Mavericks such as Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, Ramit Sethi, and Tucker Max. You can learn more about him here.
Along his relatively short (still in his mid twenties) but admirable journey through life, Charlie has learned that if you get stuck playing the wrong game with the wrong yardstick, progress itself becomes a liability (Tweet this quote). But I’ll let him take it from here…
Common: To view one’s natural emotional tendencies as impulsive, fleeting, and simultaneous.
Uncommon: I grew up with what appeared to be several innate and undefeatable fears: Heights, claustrophobia (enclosed spaces), and public speaking among the worst of them. Perhaps you can relate to one or more.
After 12 years of willingly subjecting myself to numerous psychological theories and tests and observing the effects, the work in my mental dojo has allowed me to make what I feel is major progress towards mental liberation.
Some examples include giving hundreds of speeches in multiple countries, spelunking in dark, cold, wet caverns hundreds of feet below the earth’s surface, bungee jumping, and most recently, skydiving.
A few weeks ago I not only brought myself to jump out of a plane, I found skydiving to be one of the most serene, calming, and rejuvenating experiences of my life. Why (and how) the extreme pendulum shift? I’ll tell you.
Common: The belief that the path to great success is paved with compromises.
Uncommon: It’s my hope that this post unravels this common assumption about success because, left unaddressed, it becomes a subtle psychological gash that hemorrhages one’s hope (and chances) of producing extraordinary results.
I believe most readers of this blog want to experience an uncommon life of their own making. But such a pursuit is often met with common advice that, well, leads to a very common life. If you’ve shared your “unreasonable” ambitions with the world, then chances are you’ve likely encountered counsel that fits the following model:
In order to get ‘x’ you must be prepared to give up ‘y.’
It’s the classic case of a false dichotomy — the misleading presentation of a situation in which only two alternatives are offered. We’re taught that we can have one OR the other, but never both.
I know, my recent absence has been abominable. But I have not been MIA without taking my creativity with me.
In fact, I’ve actually been quite busy creating and sharing thoughts for an uncommon life. Those who subscribe to my other blog, Maxims4Mavericks, know exactly what I’m talking about.
Roughly three times per week I have been sharing concise advice alongside a colorful, thought-provoking image — or as I call it, “paradigm bending pop-art.”
Common: Believing that passion strikes us serendipitously and miraculously changes our life for the better.
Uncommon: Take a quick gaze into the world of non-fiction literature and there is one word that cannot be ignored: passion.
Authors, speakers, leaders, and gurus use this word with a near religious application – as though it’s the alchemist’s secret to wielding the famed Midas touch. They preach that passion is an indispensable part of personal success and happiness.
Based on this introduction, you might be surprised to read this next statement: I agree with them. Passion is one very important element (of many) that produces extraordinary results.
What frustrates me (and many people who read these statements about passion) is that the process to attaining this ‘transformational’ passion is often overlooked or described as though the Gods endow it. Either way doesn’t help.