To Conform or Not To Conform

One of my friends read my post Don't Be You where I talk about conformity. He messaged me later saying that he felt good about conforming to societal norms.

The bratty little boy within me rolled his eyes and said, "Of course you do." He tends to be afraid of rocking the boat.

Then my grown enlightened self, dressed in a nice sun dress—don't ask, reminded me that I'm not a rebel. And she was right. I stop at stop lights. I don't go around beating people up. I open da door for da ladies. I work so I don't have to steal food.

There are moments where I'll follow the rules because it's advantageous for me. Like stepping on the brakes when seeing a red light helps prevent other cars from colliding into me. But a lot of times I tell it like it is, even if it hurts, because I feel it's the right thing to do.

When I hired my writing coach, she told it like it was, like a cold machete shredding my pages. Did it hurt? Hell yeah. And that's perfectly fine because I learned so much. She was never discouraging, however.

Living your life, ignoring what society tells you what you should do, is something I always preach. In other words Be You.

I think the divorce rate is so high because so many people get married because they think they should at a certain age. And if you ask people at what age is marriage appropriate, you'll get wildly different answers. Or they'll get married because they've been with this person for this long so why not?

On the flip side, the divorce rates during your grandparents' generation may have been low because it was the norm to stay with your spouses till death parted them. And they could have been better off by breaking their marriages.

I think the worst thing that could happen is if you live a life society, or your parents, has dictated. You may be missing out on a big adventure. Will mistakes happen? For sure. So what? Mistakes can guide you, help you see far enough to make corrections. Imagine a baby trying to walk. They'll fall a thousand times. And they needed to in order to master the art of walking.

I remember learning how to snowboard. Gazing down the bunny slope was like looking down from the top of Mount Everest. I must have fell a hundred times my first day. Now, bunny slopes feel like the shallow end of the pool. Good place to warm up. Not the best place to find excitement. Unless you're having sex there, but that's a different thing.

I've told my boss that I see my job as a job, a means to earn money so I can eat, have a place to call my own, and the freedom to write. You'd think that was a mistake because if there are layoffs, I'd be the first one on the beheading block. Eddard Stark!

But I center my life around writing, spend a lot of my free time working on my novel. I wake up early to go to work so I can get off early. I go to the gym before it gets crowded by the 9-to-5ers. Then I eat and head over to Starbucks and write.

Being a writer is pretty unique. Yes, I'm tooting my own horn. You tend to find a lot of people that want to write or have a book inside them. Not literally, of course. That would hurt and cause indigestion. From that group you find that many have started the process. Then a smaller group may have written a first draft. Then even fewer who have done rewrites and edits. Still fewer are those who hire writing coaches and workshop their books.

And I think that's why we love celebrities. We celebrate their courage to achieve their own dreams. Because living a conventional life of conformity ain't gonna do that for you. I'm not saying you need to live an amazing life by society's definition. But live a life that amazes you.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Actions Speak Louder Than Words I love it when I spend days upon days on a couple of chapters only to finally admit to myself that I need to rewrite the whole thing. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because I realize I have to rewrite it. It’s bad because I kept on ignoring that realization. Cest la vie.

When I think about a scene and the characters involved, I think a lot about their actions. Their actions, more than what they say, tell a deeper story. If someone slams their hand on the table and says, “I’m calm,” we know that’s not true. If a character does something meaningless with no foreseeable goal, then it’s possible they’re there to just eaves drop without appearing to be, for example.

I learned from my days in acting that drawing from life and putting them in art is a great resource of inspiration.

My nephew had interviewed for a job where I work, the glorious corporate world. He’d been working through college at Home Depot. After being called back for a second interview, I had inquired what the managers had thought about my nephew. Unfortunately for him, I have no pull. Their main concern was he seemed desperate to leave Home Depot.

From what my nephew had told me, it didn’t sound like it. Now, if someone worked through college at a retail store, graduate, and then looks for a job, they’re looking to move on. Right? I mean, is it a sin to go out and use your college degree to get a better job?

Why is everyone smiling while there's a dead person on the table?

Why is everyone smiling while there's a dead person on the table?

I had just watched an episode of Bones, and the psychologist talked about self-projection. An example of this is when we hate something about another person; it’s really something we hate about ourselves. I tend to find this true more often than not, especially within me.

It’s amazing how much some of the people at work complain. How some of them feel imprisoned. How they yearn for the weekend, look forward to vacations, but can’t leave their jobs because they have to pay for their Bimmers or Luis Vuittons. Are they projecting themselves onto my nephew, desperate to leave?

How true it is

How true it is

I've been keeping an eye on how AT&T reacted once Verizon had gotten the right to sell the famed iPhone 4.  A little history. Verizon had been on a successful ad campaign against AT&T. So when AT&T started selling the iPhone 4, they got rid of their unlimited data plan, something that pissed off a lot of customers. Instead of improving their network to handle all of their customers thanks to Apple's iPhone exclusivity, they limited new customers' usage:  We have the fastest network.  Just don't use it that much. Here's what AT&T did once Verizon iPhone 4 went on sale:

First AT&T said they weren't worried.

Then they touted their one advantage over Verizon.

Next, CEO of AT&T hates on Apple's app store.

Oh, hey. Since we at AT&T love our customers so much we decided to give you 1,000 minutes for free...if you have an iPhone.

Last but not least, AT&T quietly matched Verizon’s unlimited data plan, since Verizon offered it to new iPhone 4 customers.

What does all this say about AT&T? They're worried.

Actions do speak much louder than words.

Can You Make Money?

It's funny how art mimics life, or how life mimics art.  The hero of my book has compulsions that seem to border on anger.  And it's no surprise my compulsions border on anger.  Artists have issues.  One of the best ways to work them out is to put it into art. 1832099-US_Mint-Denver Do you work at the US Mint?

I was waiting for a free table at my favorite place to write, Borders. And I overheard a high school student asking a grad student about working in the financial sector.  The grad student had financial looking books on the long table.  He said that if you worked for this certain company doing this certain kind of trade, you’d make a lot of money.

Something inside me wanted to jump up, slap the grad student across the face, and take the high school student, shake him, and tell him to follow his passions.

If that’d happened, then I’d be writing this post in jail.

The more important question was why did I react this way. And why do I react this way when I hear people say, “Do this and you’ll make lots of money.” Or the more infamous, “I’ve created a system that will create fast, easy money, bring you girls from all over the world. See this car I’m driving? Would you like to drive this car?” Then in faint, white fine print ‘Results may vary. Results not typical.'  The kind of fine print that not even Sherlock Holmes could find.

As I was waiting for a table, I checked through my unread emails and came across a newsletter from Michael Neill. Check him out. He’s awesome. He wrote about the difference between earning money and making money.

Aren’t those two the same?

The only people in America that make money are the people who work in the US Mint. The rest of us earn money.

The earning part is where most people don’t understand.

I was talking to a friend yesterday and he’s helping his close friend produce some videos. My friend said he knew how to get free actors. We laughed because actors would work for free just to get their faces and names out there. But these actors are on to something. They’re putting the work in, serving others, with the hope that it’ll pay them back.

To start a fire in a fireplace, you must give it wood. This wood is the service you give before you can get heat, the payback.  Life is full of dualities.  Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin, the yin and yang, complete opposites that work with each other.

Will I make money from my books? No. Unless I use the pages to print money. But that would be a big no no.

My job as a writer is to write the best book that I can write, to write the story given to me, and have fun doing it.  I've put my soul into it.  As the fame photographer Rodney Lough has said, art is the language of the soul.  Everything else follows.

Throw Your Goals Out Again!

I got a lot of comments from different sources regarding my post Throw Out Your Goals.  There were a few misconceptions that I want to cover.  First let me list some of them:

  • Goals are important to accomplish what we want
  • Brad Pitt has good genes and is lucky
  • Success is defined differently for different people
  • Just because you love something doesn't mean you'll be good at it
  • Not every one can do what they love and get paid for it


There were plenty more.

Let's start with defining success.  My first post never defined success.  It defined certain people's level of success but never went as far as gave it a definition.  In this post, I will remain ambiguous on the definition of success.  Because who ever commented and said success is different for different people is correct.  I know a man who thinks he's successful because he's raised healthy, intelligent children.  I know fighters who've beaten great opponents who believe their own performances were below par.  Hell...Donald Trump hates being a multi-millionaire, and only considers himself a success when he has multi-billions.

Success is much like a goal.  Once you reach it, your work, the process to attain it, doesn't stop.  If a fighter won her first fight, she doesn't stop training.  She continues to train for the next fight.  If she's won the world belt in her weight class, then she still has to continue to sharpen her skills for her first title defense.  What happens when she defends it successfully?  Celebrates?  For sure!  Beware.  There are others who are hungry for her belt.  Back to the process.  What if she loses?  Back to the process.

I love this one.  Brad Pitt has good genes and is lucky.  I'm not denying his good genes and looks.  What I do deny is his luck.  To say he was lucky is to deny the hard work he'd committed, wearing a chicken suit, working odd jobs, before he got his first major role.  Look at Steve Carrell.  He was an unknown comic for twenty years until luck struck him.  Luck?  No.  Hard work and perseverance?  Most definitely.  

And good looks was never a prerequisite for success in Hollywood.  With over a million good looking people in Los Angeles, it doesn't explain Jack Black.  Now, some find him hot.  But he's doesn't fit the traditional leading man look.

This next one is good.  You can't make a living doing what you love is a lot of people's excuse to settle for mundane jobs.  I'm not saying quit your day job, lose your house, die of starvation.  Keep your day job, but work on what you love during your free time.  John Grisham is a great example.  He was a lawyer for ten years before he wrote his first novel.  He got to the office two hours before he started his real job, wrote, then started on his case list.  The awesome thing is he published his first book.

If you don't think you can make a living doing what you love, then you won't.  Simple as that.

Think you'd suck being a parent?   You will.

Believe you can run a marathon?  Follow up with action, and you will.

Whether you think you can or can't, you're right.  Henry Ford said that.  He wanted to create a V-8 engine.  He surrounded himself with brilliant engineers. You know what they said?  Can't be done.  Ford pushed them forward, told them it was possible.  Through several failures, it was done.  Look it up.  True story.

The last one I want to tackle is:  just because you love it doesn't mean you can be good at it.  Crap.  In Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers:  The Story of Success, he talks about mastery of skill.  He'd found one commonality among all world class musicians, artists, athletes, etc.  What is it?  Ten thousand hours of practice.  You want to be a world class anything?  Here it is, ten thousand hours of work.  That's why you gotta love the process, not the goal.  Love the process, the goal will come many times over.

Throw Out Your Goals

Brad Pitt. A friend on mine told me a story about him. We were talking about how we’re surrounded by people who’ve not only chased their dreams, but have achieved them. What most people don’t see is their perseverance. Pitt had dropped out of college, moved to the city of angels, did a lot of odd jobs like wearing a chicken suit to promote El Pollo Loco for years, before he landed his first major roll in Thelma & Louise. Now he’s one of the biggest movie stars in the world.

There was a study done on a high school class. The study followed late into their adult lives. It found those who stuck to one career path had earned and attained more than their combined classmates who didn’t. This story has floated around the self-help industry for many years, and is rumored to be just a folk tale. But its prevalence tells us a truth.

I was talking to a friend, and she’d reconnected with one of her long time classmates who works for Coke. This person is about ten years younger than I, but has climbed much higher on the corporate ladder. I’d always moved from job to job. She’s worked for Coke since high school, about eight years now, and illustrates an important point about consistency.

A few years ago, I went to a Renaissance Faire. I love them. My girlfriend at the time and I were watching a turtle race. Each person would place bets on a turtle of their choice. The race started. Contestants yelled and screamed, urging their turtle to crawl faster. One turtle, slow and steady, made great headway and was literally one step away from crossing the finish line. Then it stopped with one foot stuck in the air. All it had to do was place the foot down, and, bam, it won. It just froze. Another turtle from behind took the win.

So what’s the point? Once you find your passion in life, follow through with it. Whether success is truly overnight—it does happen—or takes time, love the process. If you love to act, go into every audition and act! If you love to work on projects for your company, or love reaching sales goals, go in every day and love working.

For the process is really what we love. The goals matter little. Why? Well what happens once an actor becomes a huge movie star like Pitt? What happens to the sales executive who reaches their ultimate sales goal? They continue to act, continue to sell, continue their work. All of them display a high level of dedication (knowing what they want), focus (loving what they do), and take each step toward their dreams (doing what they love).

Love your work. The goal will come.