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: 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.
Common: Listening to advice and temporary barriers that bury inner passions.
Uncommon: If you’ve read my work before you’re probably aware of my past in publishing, writing, public speaking, and if you know me really well, my real estate endeavors. But there is another part of my past that you probably don’t know about.
I love drawing and design. A lot.
I’ve designed most everything having to do with Cool Stuff Media, Inc., The Uncommon Life, and Maxims for Mavericks. What most people don’t realize is that this love for art began at a young age conquering coloring books and sketch books with an unusual fervor.
I wasn’t a natural born prodigy, but I was committed – and passionate. As a young teenager and mediocre academic student, I clung to my interest in art for creative stimulation. The pages of my schoolbooks were barraged with sketches and fictional company logos. Despite my math teacher’s disenchantment with my artistic efforts, my passion and tenacity began to pay off. In high school, to my complete surprise, I experienced national success and recognition for my efforts in art and design classes.
Common: Doing things quickly and sloppily because the outcome is unknown.
Uncommon: I live in Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles – and with this coastal environment comes a unique beach culture and social protocol. But within every human sub-community lurk aspects of a larger behavioral code. One such example is what, as of this post, I call the ‘Sandcastle Effect.’
[Bear with me, this will be fun.]
Every day I run several miles down the beach in the sand, while sporting my peculiar looking Vibram Fivefinger shoes. What’s more peculiar, perhaps, are the remnants (or lack thereof) of the beachgoers’ sandy structures. Some sandcastles boast an impressive existence spanning several days. Others do not.
Why the difference?
Common: Being weighed down on the launch pad due to too much baggage.
Uncommon: While waiting in the check-in line, I spotted an airport cliché that never fails: The luggage miser.
There she stood: One purse, a bulging computer bag, a roller carry-on bag, two over-sized suitcases, a sweater bearing lap dog clenched in her arms… and a facial expression that flashed ‘max mental capacity.’
Each little shift in the line caused her enormous hassle. She wanted to move, but she couldn’t. It required a gargantuan effort with multiple attempts.
Instead of being excited about each opportunity to move closer to her goal (the check-in desk), she felt increasingly overwhelmed.
And such is the way many people live their lives. They have a goal or destination in mind, lug a surplus of baggage along with them, and wonder why they don’t get far from the launch pad, if anywhere at all.