This post is a small part of my quest to share everything I know.
[Update: Prefer to listen to this post? Are you more of an audio gal? Got you. Here’s the link.]
BORED is bad.
If you’re bored, it’s because you have boring goals.
If you’re bored, it’s because your brain is waiting for someone to kick off the dance party.
If you’re bored, tired, unmotivated, frustrated, annoyed that they have “it” and you don’t, it’s because your goals aren’t ridiculous enough, ludicrous enough, and aren’t making your parents ask, “where the hell did we go wrong?”
LIVE in your world.
All my favorite artists live in their world.
Bjork lives in Bjork world.
Andy Jenkinson lives in Andy Jenkinson world.
Thom Yorke lives in Thom Yorke world.
Four Tet lives in Four Tet world.
What world do you live in?
All my favorite artists have a soundtrack, an aesthetic, a vibe — a world. They paint. They draw. They record. They design every aspect of their life down to the smallest details. My favorite artists do this, selfishly, as if Mother Nature herself isn’t pretty enough.
DON’T be a jerk.
Be nice. To everyone. Even the people you don’t like. If you don’t like them, you can choose not to interact with them. Better to not interact with the people you don’t like than to direct a scene nobody that wants to watch.
If you can’t remove yourself from people you don’t like, fight like hell to do so.
Your happiness depends on it.
YOUR idols sucked.
Listen to your favorite musician’s first record. It sucked.
Watch your favorite YouTuber’s first video. It sucked.
Listen to the first episode of your favorite podcast. It sucked.
Read your favorite blogger’s first post. It sucked.
I don’t care how ‘avant-garde’ they were at the beginning. I don’t care how ‘it was supposed to sound lo-fi, they had no budget.’ I’m sure the music sucked too.
Good equipment =/= good music.
Do I need to explain this? Appreciate everything. Your circumstances could always be worse. You could always be scrubbing shit stained toilets in the back of some 7-11 restroom in the middle of bumfuck nowhere.
If you have a working brain and a cellphone, you’re rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
Nobody enjoys being interrupted. Don’t interject. Hold your tongue while they finish speaking.
HARD MODE: Keep holding your tongue 3-5 seconds after they’ve finished speaking. This gives you time to think about what they just said.
Even if you really are an idiot, holding your tongue will give off the illusion of intelligence.
IF you don’t know how, copy.
But don’t steal.
I copy from Tim Ferriss. I title the episodes of my podcast almost exactly how he does.
I copy from Seth Godin. I write everyday because he does. Some people even tell me I write exactly like him.
I copy from everyone who inspires me. But I never steal.
Never apologize for having a high standard. Having a high standard means that you don’t know what to do about that high standard. The best way to get over not knowing how is to copy someone who does.
DON’T be a Viacom. Share.
Viacom Inc, the company behind Spongebob (and nothing else), is notorious for taking down videos on YouTube. Their reason? SpongeBob SquarePants is owned by Viacom, not PepeFrogYouTubePooper420.
Viacom owns intellectual property. You don’t. You’re not Viacom.
Sure, get a patent or a copyright so that nobody claims ownership of what you made. But don’t hoard your ideas.
Give away e v e r y t h i n g.
CONTENT sucks. Make art.
Content is boring. Bland. Banal. Anyone can make content. Everyone wants to be the next Big YouTube Content Star (and anyone can.)
Instead, ask yourself…
Can you make a podcast as good as In Rainbows? Can you make a YouTube show as good as a Wes Anderson film?
Literally, no. You can’t. But figuratively, yes. Yes you can.
Wes Anderson and Thom Yorke make art, not content.
Content is what they will make.
Art is what you will make.
This is my favorite moment in all of music. Listen from 2:45 to 2:55. Blink and you’ll miss it.
It’s tempting to start over from square one. The drawing board is as seductive as maple syrup. When faced with setbacks and deadlines and overwhelm, the most immediate solution is to throw away all our progress and press the Reset button.
If you’re in a rut, please don’t stop the music.
TAKE advantage of yourself.
Hold yourself hostage. Tie your arms and legs to a chair and force yourself to make something. I don’t care what. I don’t care how bad it turns out. You have gifts. You have talent. You have hustle and drive and ambition and Jesus Christ I am not going to let you convince yourself that you don’t. You do. Do you understand?
You need to extract every drop of energy, every microcosm of creativity from the depths of your soul.
We need you.
ADAPT to the best circumstances imaginable.
Some people can swim in shivering cold. Others can run in sweltering heat. Some people go for days without eating, and when they break fast, they eat nothing but rice and beans. Human beings are very good at adapting. We can even adapt to the worst circumstances imaginable.
But what about the best circumstances imaginable?
Why do we always sell ourselves short? Talk down to ourselves and our work? Why do we stall? Why do we neglect to take care of the job before us, procrastinate, and set ourselves up for failure?
It’s because our brains are overpowered. We’re too good at adapting. We’re so good at adapting that we adapt automatically. And it’s because we adapt automatically that we need to be careful of what we adapt to.
I want you to tell yourself a lie. A useful lie. A deceit. This is the way around your brain’s glitchy adaptation system.
Tell yourself: I am making the best / working for the best / working to become the best.
By repeating these useful lies to yourself, they become useful truths.
It won’t feel natural. But that’s okay. You learned to walk, right?
Buy yourself some fancy business cards. Wear a nice shirt. Call yourself the Prime Minister. But don’t use this as an excuse to be an asshole. Stay humble. You are working for the best in the world (that’s you), which means that other people deserve the same level of respect that you are giving to yourself.
If you see the best in you, you see the best in others, and others see the best in you as well.
The best is all that matters.
YOU are not a god.
Eventually, people will notice you. You will have fans. Fans will call you their hero. Fans will tell you your work changed their lives, saved them, helped them reconnect with their father.
This is good.
But some people will compare themselves to you. Some people will put you on top the Empire State building, while they perceive themselves as no more than a sewer rat.
This is not good.
As a person of influence, you need to understand that you are no better than they are. You are still human. You are not a god. Remind your audience of this. Tell them that you are not better than they are. Tell them that you don’t have magical powers. Teach them how you did it, and how they can do it too.
If you’re ambitious and people don’t notice you yet, you’re not excused from being humble.
You are not the first person to be ambitious. You are not the first to have goals, dreams, aspirations. The world does not owe you anything just because you’ve got a head full of big ideas.
Schedule the impossible.
We get that you’re rebellious. All creative people are rebellious. But that’s no excuse to neglect the utility of discipline.
Use a calendar. A Google Calendar. A calendar from Target. Any calendar.
Setting goals and having dreams is good, but you need to make time in your calendar to make your dreams come true.
To be successful, there are only two things you need in your calendar.
- Something you’re afraid of
- Something you think you can’t do
THE hardest job: saying your name.
When they ask you for your name at the coffee shop, do you answer in a tone that implies a question mark at the end? Worse, do you answer with an “uh” at the beginning? As if giving your name to the kind lady behind the counter is more complicated than saying you’d like a Venti Upside Down Iced Caramel Macchiato with Oatmilk?
May I get your name?
She should charge you extra for such a lousy answer.
The hardest job you have is the work you need to do on yourself. The work of responding to the world in a dignified, confident, yet humble manner.
Thanks, we’ll have your drink out soon.
PRETEND you’re going to die tomorrow.
The reason I make so much stuff is because I don’t want to die without having shared everything I know. I sometimes criticize myself for publishing too much, too quickly. But I don’t want to die without having changed the lives of a million people. I don’t want to go a day without positively impacting somebody’s life. I don’t understand how some writers can go years without releasing a sentence. I can barely go a day without publishing a blog post or recording a podcast. This is probably a character flaw.
Look, you know you can’t play this game forever. One day you will be 94 years old and you won’t be able to wipe your own ass, let alone record a podcast with your favorite writer.
Pretend you are going to die tomorrow.
If that doesn’t work, pretend you died yesterday. You are in Heaven now. Your actions still have circumstances in Heaven, but if you act in pursuit of your north star, your most ludicrous dreams, you will be rewarded with endless milk and honey.
Make the most of yourself.
It doesn’t matter how bad your ideas are.
What matters is how many bad ideas you allow yourself to see.
These are the garage band days. The early days.
Your limitations become your genre.
If it sucks, do it again. If it still sucks, try to make it cool.
Surround yourself with creative people.
Take a break.
Go for a walk.
QUOTES for further reading.
I’ve been using this Chrome extension called Momentum for like 3 years now. It replaces the default home screen of most visited links (distractions) with a beautiful photograph and an inspirational quote.
Here’s some of my favorites.
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it. ”Alan Kay
“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” Elon Musk
“A champion is defined not by their wins, but by how many times they recover when they fall.” Serena Williams
“To escape criticism: do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” Elbert Hubbard
“Do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa
“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” Booker T. Washington
FINAL: MASTER Higuchi says…
That’s all for now.
Make beautiful work.
Cheers, and here’s to your good health.