I love failure. When it occurs, I'm pretty indifferent to it, but as a concept I love it. Failure lets you know that you're doing something wrong. It shines a light on a personality trait that needs to be fixed,one that probably would go unchanged if it weren't for failure.
People who fail and get angry are missing the point. Failure is opportunity. It's like getting angry that your car tells you you're low on gas. The indicator light isn't the problem,the level of fuel is. Further, hiding the failure doesn't solve the underlying problem. Disconnecting the indicator light won't fill up your gas tank, but filling up your gas tank will turn off the light.
During my tenure as a pickup artist, I never took failure personally. It never mattered to me. Each time I failed, I felt as though the girl had revealed a secret to me. No attractive girl is chaste her whole life, no girl is a bitch to every guy. If she didn't want me to call her, that meant that there was something unattractive about me that I had to change. Compliments and success stroke my ego, but honest critical feedback leaves me thinking for months.
I have failed financially so far. It's not that I'm poor, or anywhere close to it. I'm sure my income, net worth, or lifestyle are impressive or even enviable to a lot of people. I'm so immeasurably grateful for everything I have that I feel a tinge of guilt on a daily basis for not spending the entire day thanking everyone who has made my life so great. However, despite whatever success I have, I am not where I want to be. I will be a billionaire, I will own my own submarine and airplane, and I will spend the majority of my life traveling and seeking adventure. I'm not nearly as close as I should be to these goals, and I'm not exactly on the express train there.
It was hard for me to put my finger on why. I'm smarter than a lot of people who have hundreds of million of dollars. I have more discipline than anyone I know. I embrace risk, but have a background which has given me the knowledge to evaluate every risk and make the right decision most of the time. I have good connections and a handful of people who would invest in projects I do. I'm surrounded by smart people who give me good advice and would love to work with me. I even have a blog where people take interest in my life and offer me their thoughts. I understand people. I'm good at a lot of different things from rapping to building web sites. Is there a critical element I'm missing?
On Thursday I was sitting at the office about to redesign another web page. Steve, my boss and friend, came into the office and we started chatting about the Jay-Z concert. That evolved into me talking about wanting to be a rapper. He asked if that's really what I wanted to do.
"I don't really know. It seems fun."
He thought for a moment. I have a lot in common with Steve, so it's easy to relate to him. Though not identical, we share a lot of the same entrepreneurial ideals and financial philosophies. We even both put all of our money into Berkshire Hathaway. The big difference is that he is very significantly more financially successful than I am.
"It seems like you want to do a lot of different things, but that you aren't really passionate about any of them."
It's true, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I don't know that I've ever read or heard of a success story where the protagonist wasn't passionate about what he did. I like rap, Tynan's Angels, this site, my diet book, work at Smiley Media, and whatever other projects I may be involved in at any given time, but none of them are my passion.
He told me about how he became successful and how he was similar but he forced himself to get passionate over one project just by realizing that his attention was too quickly diverted. He told me that he made it his mission to make Smiley Media successful, and that he decided that he wouldn't quit until it was.
"Did it ever look really bad? Bad enough that you wanted to give up and do something else?"
It gave me a lot to think about. We started talking about my different projects and interest, trying to find passion in one of them. It wasn't anywhere to be found. The only thing I'm really passionate about is living life to the fullest, but that's a selfish ideal that doesn't lend itself well to starting a business.
He finally concluded that I should focus on becoming the most famous pickup artist in the world. It's a good idea, but I just don't enjoy pickup enough to do that. I think I enjoy the notoriety of being a famous pickup artist a lot more than I actually enjoy the act.
He left after we talked for over an hour. I intended to keep working, but it seemed like a trivial task given then weight the conversation had on me. Instead I sat in my chair for two hours staring at the wall thinking. I skated home and continued the thought .
I talked to Evan on the phone, and she didn't take the conversation quite as seriously as I had, but she agreed. One interesting thing she pointed out was that when I really am passionate about something, it happens. It's true,how unlikely is it that I would get to live with the best pickup artists in the world and learn from them? I remember telling a friend the first day I got involved in pickup that I would "take it over". One day I looked up at a building and thought that living there would be the best thing ever,now a year later I live in the best condo in the building. Even my car was a car that I used to dream of having. All of these things happened in roundabout ways that I would have never expected, but they ended up happening.
After a lot of thought, I came to the semi-satisfying conclusion that I don't know what I want to do, but that I am ready to do it. I have spent years building myself into the kind of person who can do anything. I can adapt in a day to become anything I want (vegan, a neat person, etc.). I have the confidence to think huge and to know that I will achieve what I want. I'm starting to get rid of distractions (this blog stays, but that book I was writing is gone.) I'll have something exciting for you soon...
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