“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” __Steve Jobs
What’s your thing? Not your dad’s thing, not your neighbors thing, not your kids thing, not your grandma’s thing, not your manager’s thing but your thing, what is it? My sense is you can’t put a finger on it, so are about 7.5 billion others on this planet, you are not alone. I will take a wild guess and say that if you are asking this question, you are definitely in the 99.99 percentile of the world’s population (one of the 0.75 million people) who are likely asking themselves this question.
It’s easy to say “just be yourself”, “do your thing” but not easy to do it, otherwise the whole world would’ve already done it. The problem is not really in doing but really in developing that conviction about your thing. For example, I love writing, art, design, coding and running, a few things I really enjoy and wouldn’t mind spending a big chunk of my time in a day doing one or all of them. The challenge is two-fold, one believing that any of these things is going to pay my bills and take care of the family and even if I believe, how do I figure out which of these things is my thing? May be it’s a new thing that combines two or more of my interests?
Is the thing already within me and not something external that is magically going to appear one fine day? I think it’s latent and my job is to surface it, support it, like protecting a small fire and kindling it until it grows to become a huge fire. It’s a marathon. It’s a process, day in and day out.
Once I figure out what the thing is, then the next step is to develop conviction/faith in it. How does one develop conviction in something, isn’t it through experimentation? Can faith develop overnight? Is it a flip of a switch? I don’t think it is, faith develops over time, as we see small progress being made each day. For that kind of experimentation to happen, one must be ready to experiment, fail, learn and try something new the next day. How do you know if you are failing or succeeding? It can’t be done inside your own mind, your thing has to come in contact with the people you are trying to serve. They have to provide that feedback and that feedback becomes the life blood in refining your thing. All of this takes time, practice, discipline, daily hustle, daily communication with your users.
Someone put it like this, “How much suffering are you willing to take”, may be that’s it. How much sacrifice and suffering are you willing to go through to accomplish your thing? Embarrassment, cold-calling people, falling flat on your face, feeling uncertain, feeling fear and yet moving on, what a way to keep it real, that’s why I love entrepreneur’s journeys. It’s the ups and downs and facing harsh realities, facing one’s self, facing the dark abyss, the feeling of eating glass every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I digress, so how do you surface “your thing” to the forefront of your day, how do you make it your thing everyday and live it, breathe it and do it? Are there rituals, practices and tools to help you work on your thing daily? As Stephen Covey put it, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” and to make your thing the main thing is the main thing.