[This is part five of the changing the world in 5 easy steps series]
Effort and perseverance always wins. Not right away, not today, and not tomorrow, but eventually it always does.
Doug Zell wrote that specifically talking about Mike Phillips when he placed first in the United States Barista Championship back in March. This weekend he placed 3rd in the World Barista Championship in Atlanta which is pretty awe inspiring when you take into account that 3 years ago he took his first job in the coffee world ever basically working in a warehouse at Intelligentsia in Chicago. Kyle Glanville once told me he’s regularly surprised by the lucrative careers people have given up to work in the field of coffee simply because it’s something they are passionate about.
Those folks are talking about their field but the same things apply to us in the rest of the world. There are only so many hours in a day, and only so many days in your life, and filling those with something you love I think is of the utmost importance. There was a time when prevailing wisdom was you should get a steady 9-5 job, work hard every day and save money for that one day down the line when you could finally retire and enjoy life. How the fuck was that ever considered wisdom? It’s the phrasing that tricks you, if someone had advised people to spend their entire lives doing something they didn’t like in preparation for a day that might never come I think people would have second guessed it a lot longer ago. Luckily we’re all starting to come around. The truth is that old way of thinking doesn’t ensure anything except that you, and likely those around you will be miserable for most of your life. Everything else is a crap shoot.
We’ve all had friends who had jobs they hated and were both depressed and nightmarish to be around because of it. We’ve had friends get laid off from those same jobs and get even more depressed because the only reason they were going to those crappy jobs was because they were supposed to be reliable. We’ve all had grandparents who tried to tell us “if I knew then what I know now” stories. How you spend the very short time you have in this life shouldn’t be decided because you have a gas bill due next week, it should be decided based on what makes you smile and appreciate that you have another day to do something with.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advising quitting your job and doing nothing all day. I’m also extremely aware that paying bills is stressful in and of itself and there’s a logical thought process which advocates doing one stressful thing (having a shitty job) to alleviate another but I simply think there’s another way. I also tend to think being happy is more important than a lot of other things. I’ll put up with a lot of hardships if I get to do what I want, and I know not everyone is willing to make that compromise. We also know that a world where 100% of the people are doing that one thing they love rather than what needs to be done won’t work either. That was proven in this scene from the philosophical masterpiece, Office Space:
Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you would do if we had a million dollars and didn’t have to work. And invariably, whatever we would say, that was supposed to be our careers. If you wanted to build cars, then you’re supposed to be an auto mechanic.
So what did you say?
I never had an answer. I guess that’s why I’m working at Initech.
No, you’re working at Initech because that question is bullshit to begin with. If that quiz worked, there would be no janitors, because no one would clean shit up if they had a million dollars.
Luckily embracing the thing you love and running with that after throwing all caution to the wind takes equal parts vision and ambition. Two things not a lot of people have. Now before I get my head bitten off for that, I’m not saying if you have a job you don’t like you have no vision or ambition. I’m saying those two things are often used in a complimentary fashion when describing people because they aren’t universal. If every single person on the planet was a visionary it wouldn’t be special. When was the last time you heard someone talking up someone they admired by saying “that guy is one of my heroes, when he sleeps, he closes both of his eyes. It’s amazing.” So my point is if you are reading this still you are probably more ambitious than most and should take this to heart. What are you doing on a day to day basis? If it’s not something you absolutely love and can’t wait to do again tomorrow the most important thing you should be doing is figuring out how to quit and do something else with you life. Today. As Chuck Palaniuk wrote in Fight Club “This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.” What are you waiting for?
So why is that good for the world, how does it change it? Well, think about two things you’ve done sometime in your life. One of them you loved and probably did on your own because you were interested in it. The other you hated, most likely something you had to do because a boss told you to. Which thing did you spend more time on making sure it was done right? Which thing did you take pride in the results. Which did you brag to your friends about? Which did you just do the quickest easiest way you could so that you could cross it off a to do list. I already know the answer, and so do you. The things you do will be done much better if you love what you are doing. Everyone else benefits from that attention and care.
Plus, chances are if you are doing something day to day that drives you nuts you end up being an intolerable prick from time to time and your friends/neighbors/waiters/spouses/family all have to put up with the results of that. If you were happy more often they would be to. Even if only few people reading this make a change in their lives and it will have massive spill over effects for the rest of us. I know that some folks reading this have already made those changes and comments about those experiences and its effects on you and those around you would be greatly welcomed here.
The overall point is this: You only live once, don’t fuck it up. There’re no do overs.
Previously: Part 4: Visit a different country