“I must be dreaming”

Contrary to what I wrote yesterday, it’s good to make time for empty space.

We can pause to ask ourselves:

What am I thinking about?

What am I seeing?

What am I feeling? Why?

What am I worried about? Is it healthy to worry about this?

Which goals have I been stuffing into my closet like dirty laundry? And what can I do about that?

Don’t let those ideas escape through the backdoor. Don’t let the demands of the day distract you from what you really want to create. Take time to store these ideas somewhere. Not in a place where you’ll never see them. But somewhere close at hand. And when the time is right, you can get started on that crazy, ridiculous idea.

When we schedule time for nothing, we remember The Big Someday. We remember the trip to South Africa we said we’d take…someday. We remember the podcast we said we’d start…someday. We remember the dreams of the life we want…if only we were more (fill in the blank). If only we had more (pick currency). If only we weren’t so (lazy/dumb/unattractive/uninspired).

When we create time for empty space, that’s when we see what we truly want.

Otherwise, we’re blind. Otherwise, we continue to do what other people want us to do.

Otherwise, we’re caught up in a whirlwind of attention-sapping notifications.

And worst of all, we keep chasing goals. The wrong goals. Goals that aren’t ours. Goals that somebody else set for us.

And that’s no good. What’s the point of having dreams if you’re never going to take time to fulfill them?

You carve out 8 hours a night to dream while you sleep. Why not carve out a few hours to that makes you think, “I must be dreaming.”


*The One Big Something is that big goal you have that you keep pushing to the side.
More on that in a future post.

The prototypes of your dreams

You wanted to create something, but you had no idea what or how or why.

And then something inside you lit up like a bonfire.

You started recording, writing, designing, hiring. Working.

What was once a flash of insight turned into something tangible. People noticed. And you were even congratulated for your effort.

But then you hit a wall. Today’s numbers were the same as yesterday’s. What gives? Where did your momentum go? “There must be something fundamentally wrong about my approach,” you say. Distraught, you tear it down, scrap it, and fill up your trash bin with the prototypes of your dreams.

Finally, you start over from square one. A clean white board. A blank canvas. A fresh start.

There’s a simple alternative.

As my buddy Greg points out, overnight successes take a very long time. Resist the temptation to start over from square one. Instead, lay down the next brick. And the brick after that, and the brick after that…

Making stuff is easy (part 2)

Today I was going to write to you about something else, but I forgot what I was going to say. This juicy comment from Stuart on Making stuff is easy stole my attention. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll remember that brilliant thing I was going to tell you.

Stuart writes,

Passionate doesn’t mean romantic. The passionate creator is often faced with the deafening silence of a subscriber count of 0, the barrenness of an empty comment section, and an email list of roommates who signed up just to be nice.

But even with a subscriber count of 1,000, a comment section as lively as Times Square, and an email list of every friend, colleague, and fan they’ve ever met, the passionate creator pretends those things don’t exist. Not because of delusion. Not because they’re above anyone. But because the passionate creator holds close in memory the motivation of deafeningly null subscriber counts, ghost town comment sections, and newsletters sent out to nobody.

Remember where you started.

The Penguin Latte Podcast #23 – Coach Steven Diaz: Why are We Terrified of Our Potential?

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube

Warning: this is the most inspirational podcast you’ll listen to all week (besides the one with Kanye).

Steven Diaz (@mrstevendiaz) is a coach, leader, and what I would call a “digital motivational speaker.” On that point, Steven is the motivational speaker’s motivational speaker. Those who know me well know that I’m skeptical of most motivational rah-rah. But I’ve relied on Steven for much inner-strength and confidence during times when I would otherwise break down and sob in a fetal position. I’m incredibly blessed to have Steven in my life. He has a deep heart for people, especially for people who can’t see their their own potential — a category I’ve fallen into often, hence, my constant pestering Steven for spiritual support.

This conversation orbits around Steven’s philosophy for leadership, while diverging into topics like:

  • What’s the other half of running away?
  • How to overcome the fear of your potential.
  • Why is it so difficult to believe in our skills, talents, and perspectives?
  • How to help people who don’t want help.
  • This is Water by David Foster Wallace
  • Where to find energy to do what you love, everyday, no matter how busy you are.
  • Where does Steven get his constant stream of energy from?
  • Why does coaching matter?
  • “I really think we orbit a lot.”
  • Creating things that don’t plug into an outlet.
  • Why is it so hard to start new routines?
  • Steven’s wild obsession with Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew
  • …and so much more.

Like Steven? Love Steven? Do you want to talk to Steven? (I highly recommend you do.) Reach out to him on Twitter, and do yourself a favor: check out his YouTube live channel.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube

0.0001%* Of Your Life

If you’re learning something new, ask yourself:

How much of my life have I spent not doing this?

26 years of not speaking in Japanese.

37 years of not surfing.

81 years of not writing a memoir.

Of course it’s hard. Of course you’re forgetting steps, falling off your board, and faltering up the stairs. Of course you want to quit. But do you realize that you’ve only spent a miniscule fraction of your life trying to improve at this? And that you’ve spent the other 99.99something% doing other stuff?

The time you haven’t spent improving at this will always outnumber the time you’ve spent working hard to get better.

There’s a fight going on inside of you between an archetypal David and Goliath. In one corner of the ring we have You With Experience. And in the other corner, we have You With No Experience.

You With Experience has 4 days of Japanese grammar tutorials fresh in his head. This is you. You are David. You are naïve. Undisciplined. Untrained. Nobody expects you to win. The odds are against you.

You With No Experience has 26 years of Not-Knowing-Jack-About-Japanese Grammar Experience under his belt. This is also you. You are your own Goliath. You’ve been training your entire life in the ways of not knowing jack about the が particle.

Who do you think will win?


* Guesswork with a very rough ballpark estimate, maybe, perhaps.

328: Thoughts on quitting for everyday of the year

For those who want to quit,

To quit writing is to take “packing it in” to the extreme. By quitting, you’re packing everything in. All your potential to change someone’s life, shoved back into your prefrontal cortex, never to be seen again.

I’ve almost quit writing these daily posts 328 times. Every morning when I show up to write, I have the choice: write, or don’t write.

But that choice isn’t mutually exclusive to my daily blog.

I’ve almost quit writing my weekly newsletter 10 times.

And I’ve almost quit doing my podcast 17 times.

I’ve come close to quitting so often because I tried to do everything like everyone else. I tried to market my work according to so-and-so. I tried to write about so-and-so topic because it’s popular. I thought I had to be Tim Ferriss to make a 2 hour interview as compelling as a dog chasing its tail. And I thought I had to write a newsletter to rake in oodles of cash.

What’s kept me afloat?

By knowing that if I were to join the military, I wouldn’t last a second.

The best part of starting your own projects is the freedom to do things your way. You need discipline, but you don’t need the same structure as everyone else. You need to organize, but nobody neds to know that you’re terrible at tracking your marketing assets.

Writing is rarely going to be fun, but you can make it fun. You make writing fun by making it rewarding. Jumping around in a bounce house is fun for 12 minutes (more if you’re on LSD), but is it rewarding? The most fun things I’ve ever done were the most challenging. And the most challenging things I’ve ever done were the most rewarding.

If you like writing, but you begrudge it like Thanksgiving dinner with your Uncle Craig, write about something else. This applies to everything. Podcasting, making YouTube videos, starting a business, running a non-profit..

If you like the idea, but you don’t like acting out the idea, try adding a little spice.