“You have to learn to be bad at something before you can learn to be good at something.” — John Oliver
If I hear one more talk about the future of my industry, I’m gonna be sick.
The future. Goodness, what the hell do we know about the future?
We have no clue what happens next. None. We are consistently, ridiculously wrong when it comes to predicting the future. We are just bad at it.
Here’s what I’m interested in:
What are we doing now?
What tools are we working with now?
What are we trying to accomplish now?
We shouldn’t stop trying to make our world better, but we have to start now. We know what people are doing now, and how people are reacting now. That’s where we should start.
But we get lost in talking about what’s next.
We are constantly trying to sift through all that’s happening now to predict what’s coming next. That’s where we get lost — trying to follow the thread a little too far into the future. We want to write the story as it’s happening. We all want to feel like we’re a step ahead.
But forget about the future for a second. We chase it too often. We follow it to dead ends.
Lots of players are technically skilled, but Dempsey has a rare knack for making things happen. He tries shots that no one else will try, and that’s where some of his most impressive goals come from. Call it verve, call it chutzpah, call it brass balls — whatever it is, Dempsey has it. Where other players shy away, Dempsey goes for goal.
Dempsey’s only scored 35 goals in his National Team career (1), so it’s not like he’s a superhuman goal scorer. But his combination of skill, passion and courage make him an exceptional soccer player.
We should all have that passion, that drive to take big chances.
This week, take a shot you wouldn’t take. Be bold.
There is a certain point in your life when you realize that you don’t know anything.
Up until that point, you thought you knew what was up. You thought you’d experienced heartbreak. You thought you’d experienced pain.
And then comes this big breakthrough, and you realize, you don’t know jack. You’re just starting your life, and you’re starting from zero, and everyone else seems to know more than you do.
You feel like a fraud, and a phony. You feel like you don’t have anything to offer this world.
And there’s that expression you’ve heard: Fake it ’til you make it. That’s almost true.
Because there’s a second realization that comes a little later: Nobody else knows anything, either.
Everyone, turns out, is kinda faking it. Nobody is just born an astrophysicist or a banker. (And nobody is born or a social media expert.) We mold ourselves into these people. We see what others are doing, we think about what we like to do, and we make ourselves into the people we want to be.
One day, you will. You’ll wake up and wonder where all that time went.
When you’re a kid, time passes so slowly. The minutes stretch on for days. A school week feels like ages. Friday never comes.
But one day, you’ll grow up and leave the house, and time will move into another gear. You’re young and you’ve got all the time ahead of you, and then, suddenly, you won’t. You’ll hit 25, and 30 will start staring at you, and then it’ll all move even faster. 30 will come, and then 40. Spouses and kids and jobs and time. So many commitments, and never enough time.
And one day, you’ll wake up and feel old. Old! You won’t know where the feeling came from, or how it got there, but you’ll feel it. And when you say you feel old, what you’re really saying is: I think I’ve missed my shot. I think I missed my chance to do something amazing in this world. I think it’s passed me by.
What you’re really saying is: What the hell have I been doing with myself? Is this all I have to show for this life?
You can choose to take risks. You can choose to do the things you want to do, and to write the rules you want to write, and to do whatever the hell you really feel like. You can choose to listen, and to love, and to give, and to do awesome work.
You can choose a big adventure. You can choose a life that’s weird, and scary, and all your own. You can choose that. It’s not the safest path, but you can choose to go your own way.
“Lookin’ back on where I was one year ago today / Laughing at the shape I’m in now.” — Todd Snider
A year ago this week, my team at Stry.us launched our Springfield bureau. It was an amazing summer, and I can’t believe it’s been a year.
I am thankful for my team, and for our friends and partners in Springfield, and for everyone who helped us make that project go.
But I’m also incredibly thankful for all the notes I took that summer. I’ve been looking back at what I was writing about at the time — all those thoughts and fears and hopes and worries — and I’m so glad I have them. The Springfield bureau was a massive leap for me — professionally, personally and financially. I’m so glad I have a record of where I was a year ago.
I urge you: When you’re working on something new, take some time every night to write down what you’re thinking. Take notes. Document how you feel. Keep a journal.
The best way to discover how much you’e grown is to look back every once in a while from where you’ve come.
That photo of downtown Springfield was taken by me.
“Follow your passion. Stay true to yourself. Never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path. By all means, you should follow that.” — Ellen DeGeneres
I don’t remember what was said at my graduation. I can probably guess the themes, but I don’t really remember what our speaker told us that day.
But I do remember this one thing that had gotten stuck in my head earlier that day. I can’t remember who told me, but I remember it well: When you’re up on that stage, take an extra second and look back at the crowd. Don’t be in a rush to get across that stage.
It’s not easy staying in the moment during your work. But I think about that advice a lot. Stay in that moment, and don’t be in a rush to let it pass. You worked to get here; might as well enjoy it while it lasts.
“Pirate movies have been bombs for a long time… this is one of those streaks that most producers seem to respect. You have to go back to the 1950′s (and earlier) to find an era when pirate movies were successful and liked. And that, I guess, is why the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was made in the first place, because they didn’t know yet the trend was over.
“….As for a movie with really scary pirates that pulls no punches for the kiddies… don’t be lookin’ ‘ere, arrrrr…”
And the same writer in June 2002, growing a little less skeptical:
“I don’t know whom exactly I thought might be announced as starring in this movie, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t thinking it would be Johnny Depp.”
And the same writer in April 2003, when the first trailers came out:
“The amazing full trailer for this movie did indeed go up last night…. My anticipation for this movie has been building for some time, but this trailer really locks it in there.
“I think the title of “Pirates of the Caribbean” has had a lot of people scratching their heads (and expecting a dopey movie), but clearly Disney, Bruckheimer, Verbinski, Depp and everyone else involved were not setting out to make *that* sort of PotC movie. They’re apparently totally reinventing the property, separate from what you know about the ride, and from what I can see in this trailer… it looks like it might have worked. Wow.”