Lately, I’ve been able to do a lot of thinking in the subway. The frigid Montreal air keeps me awake on my morning commute and it has resulted in a lot of people watching and observation. The subways are packed at rush hour. Literally. I have to awkwardly squeeze my way through the doors and apologize to people in broken French about getting slush on their snow boots.
Upon the exit, people pour out of the trains and onto the platforms. In the huge crowd of people, everyone starts to move like lemmings. Heads down, following the person in front of them. Not really aware of their surroundings. They’re just on their way to work and not too man. Well, almost everyone.
Then there are those who walk quickly. They bob and weave and pierce through the crowd. They are constantly looking for a way to get ahead of the people in front of them.
Those who walk quickly:
- Keep their heads up and their eyes forward
- Are assertive
- Have a goal/destination
- Don’t get drawn into the slow pace of the crowd or their surroundings
When the world around you slows down, it takes a motivated person to keep on moving forward. To keep on looking for better ways of doing things. To push yourself to march to a different beat, when everyone is following an invisible conductor of mediocrity.
Kudos to the fast walkers. Even if you don’t know where you’re going, at least you’ll realize it before everyone else.
here’s the thing that makes life so interesting.
the theory of evolution claims only the strong shall survive.
maybe so. maybe so.
the theory of competition says that just because THEY’RE the strong,
doesn’t mean they can’t get their asses kicked.
see, what every long shot come-from-behind underdog will tell you is this:
the other guy may in fact be the favourite.
the odds may be stacked against you, fair enough.
but what the odds don’t know is that this isn’t a math test.
this is a completely different kind of test.
one where passion has a funny way of trumping logic.
So before you step up to the starting line
Before the whistle blows and the clock starts ticking,
Just remember out here the results don’t always add up.
No matter what the stats may say,
and the experts may think
and the commentators may have predicted
When the race is on, all bets are off.
don’t be surprised if someone decides to flip the script
and take a pass on yelling “uncle”
and then suddenly as the old saying goes,
we got ourselves a game.
This was originally an ad for the Versus Channel in the US, but it was repurposed by Weiden & Kennedy for Nike. All I have to say about it is that it’s fucking awesome! I love it when advertising can inspire. Have a good weekend. Do something worth remembering.
We have been brainwashed into thinking that failure is a bad thing. It shows that you can’t do something. That you weren’t able to achieve your goals.
So people become afraid. The get paralyzed by fear. They don’t do anything, because they might do it wrong. It’s better to last in obscurity than to be humiliated failing in public, right?
Failure isn’t a result. It’s a beginning. It provides you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. To test things out. To course correct.
We all have a million and one ideas in our head of how to improve our lives. How to achieve our goals. How to create new products. But only a fraction of us actually act on those thoughts. Because the rest are afraid of failure.
It’s easy to remain stagnant. It’s easy to stay the same. It’s easy to be afraid and make excuses. It’s hard to risk failure.
A STORY OF TWO PEOPLE
I have two friends. One year ago, the same thing happened to both of them. They wanted to apply to medical school. They both ordered their applications. One of them worked on her application, submitted her MCATs and applied.
The other thought about it and figured that she wouldn’t get accepted, so she didn’t apply. She didn’t want to get the rejection letter, so she cut herself off before they could reject her!
They are of comparable intelligence. They have similar experience and passion for the medicine. But one of them is now in medical school and one of them isn’t.
THE MAX POWER PRINCIPLE
In failure, I like to apply the Max Power Principle. When failing, make sure that you fail fast. You don’t want to waste your time in trying to achieve something that’s not going to happen. Not all of your ideas are going to be winners. Just get as many out there as you possibly can and see if they work. If they crash and burn, be willing to walk away.
It doesn’t matter how much time or money you invested behind a concept. If it’s not right there’s no need to invest MORE time and money behind it.
There was a chance that Idea Drunk would be a failure. Three years and over 300 posts later, it would seem like a success. But there are tons of other blog and writing projects that have crashed and burned. Like this. Or this.
Do what Max Power does – fail quickly and fail often.
A couple of weeks ago, I was taking my normal subway trek home from workl. There is usually a busker or street performer playing in the subway trying to gain the attention (and money) of the weary masses rushing home. On a normal day, they would be playing some crap that I don’t really understand or Green Day. Either way, it blends into the background – it’s the same stuff day after day. If it’s a different performer, nobody notices.
Until this guy showed up. He looked normal. He didn’t have an amazing voice and wasn’t particularly good on the guitar. But he was playing the Super Mario Brothers theme song! People stopped and took notice. They pulled out their phones and recorded videos. A couple of people dropped fivers in his guitar case. He wasn’t just a busker. He was a star in the subway and he was raking it in.
What made this guy successful at busking? Easy. He was different. He was nostalgic. He stood out.
He wasn’t a good singer. He wasn’t an amazing guitarist. He wasn’t dressed up in a cool costume. But it didn’t matter. People are willing to overlook a lack of skill for something different. The iPad didn’t have a front facing camera. It wasn’t the easiest to type on. It didn’t run flash. So? People don’t care because it’s cool and it’s different.
The admissions officers a top college will overlook an average GPA if you started your own environmentally friendly product line.
The recruiter at your dream job will overlook limited work experience if you are a world reknown blogger and have written a book in your field.
So that’s what I learned from a dude on the subway – it’s better to deliver on one thing that differentiates you from your competition than to focus on being “just as good” on what they’re already doing.