Your brain is a muscle. You have to use it in order for it to grow stronger and remain sharp. If you don’t, it will atrophy. It will slow down. Get sloppy. And it won’t be raring to go when you absolutely need it.
There are times when you feel like your brain is literally dead. Maybe you spend 8 hours a day doing mindless tasks instead of good work. Maybe it’s an hour a day when you’re looking off into the distance on your commute. Maybe the two hours an evening that the average American spends watching television is slowing your synapses.
We all have the potential to sharpen our most important weapon. The time to do so is sitting there in the cracks of laziness of our normal routines. The challenge is to try to change your routine.
Have a conversation over dinner instead of watching TV. Actively learn instead of waiting to be stimulated. Be proactive at work, dreaming up amazing projects instead of simply executing the boring ones.
Your brain is your strongest tool. In order to create great things, you have to keep it in shape by using it. Only boring people are bored. The interesting and creative folks always have their minds churning.
When opportunity knocks, there’s a very simple and polite thing to do – answer. If you’re not basking in superstar status, the chances are that opportunity doesn’t knock every day. Taking a moment to listen and consider an opportunity costs you nothing. And yet the potential benefits could be tremendous.
Most people are afraid of opportunities. Why? Because they represent change. Opportunities can fuck up the pleasant little life that you’re living. They can make you move cities, change industries, leave the people that you’re comfortable with. They represent a chance for failure. They represent a chance for rejection. So most people avoid being confronted with real opportunities. They would rather stick to dreaming about what they want in front of the TV instead of getting off their ass to answer the door.
If you reject opportunities from afar, than you never risk the failure associated with actually chasing something that you might want. You never get to know if that opportunity is real or not. You’re playing it safe for the sake of your ego. At the very least, have the balls to see if you can capture the opportunity that’s available in front of you. Then decide later if you want to keep it.
There are times when we all want to get noticed. To stand out in a crowd. To command people’s attention. In a conversation with a behavioural psychologist, I discovered that one of the easiest (and must underutilized) ways to do this is to smile. And it got me thinking – there are plenty of ways to get noticed.
There are simple things that you can do to gain the attention of the masses. There are also more difficult ways that require time and dedication. However, the harder ways are often the way that you get noticed by a discerning few.
HOW TO GET NOTICED – THE EASY WAYS
- Wear ostentatious outfits
- Start a fight
- Bring a puppy (or a cute baby)
- Spend money
- Point out a problem
- Say “fuck”
HOW TO GET NOTICED – THE HARD WAYS
- Be stylish in the details
- Be persistent
- Make people think
- Fix the problem
- Have your reputation precede you
- Lead a group
If you’ve tried to visit Idea Drunk in the last couple of weeks, you’ve probably been confronted with a warning screen from Google. The site got infected with malware a couple of months ago. I’m blaming getting drunk and surfing the internet without protection. But we got our penicillin, waited the for the infection to clear up and we’re back online.
A big shout out to Mike Freeman for putting in so much work to get everything back to normal. Now that Idea Drunk has a clean bill of health, I will be starting to update regularly again. Thank you for sticking with me through this. Enjoy!
This week’s inspiration is all about breaking the rules. Nike paid filmaker Casey Neistat to make a film about its Fuelband and #makeitcount campaign but instead of shooting a straight advertisement for Nike, Neistat took the money, went on a 10-day around the world adventure and created an advertisement for life.
You’ve done the hard work. You put in the hours. You hit the gym. You did the drills. You have game time experience. You’re preforming well, but you can’t get to the next level. There’s a missing ingredient. That ingredient is a pinch of swag.
Swag. It’s the confidence to execute. It’s the willingness to take the game on your shoulders. It’s ability to deliver a win in in a clutch situation.
To be clear, it’s not cockiness. Derrick Rose has swag, but he’s not an asshole. He’s a grounded guy. But he has confidence. Confidence that the hundreds of hours he spent working on his delivery is going to pay off. And that swagger is what gives you the confidence to take the shot. Preparation and experience is what gives you the skill set to nail it.
Without swag, you’re not taking enough shots. You’re not putting yourself out there and chasing the opportunities that you want. Without swag, you’re giving up before even trying.
Find your swag. Find it and start taking your shots. Because your swagger is your ticket to the next level. It will transform you from a bench player in to an all star.
Strength is a funny thing. It’s built by being tested. If you want to lift heavier weights, you test your muscles until they grow stronger. If you want strong creative ideas, you have to challenge your mind to produce creative insights, thoughts and art. Strong character is demonstrated by being able to do the right thing in sketchy situations. Returning a lost wallet. Being honest when it’s simpler to lie. Being able to go out, have some drinks with your friends and be above extramarital temptation.
These thoughts on strength inspired me to put words on paper. Consider it a manifesto. A “call to arms” to be strong. Because life doesn’t always go the way that you wish it would. But these challenges are tests. They test your mind, your body and your character. And these tests make you stronger.
The “Be Strong” Manifesto
Life is a test. And only the strong succeed.
So be strong. Lift heavy burdens. After all, that’s how we get stronger.
Use your brain. Form strong opinions. Express them.
Use your heart. Have strong values. Don’t compromise them to fit in.
Figure out who you are. Establish a strong identity. Project a strong sense of self.
Be strong for your friends. Be strong for your family. Support the people that you love.
Build a strong network. Surround yourself with strong people. People who push you to be stronger.
Test your strength. Again. And again. And again. You’ll come out stronger.
Welcome the next big challenge. Because now you have the strength. To confront it. To own it. And to wrestle it to the ground.
Be strong. Be successful.
The inspiration for this manifesto came from two things. The first was the fact that I pushed myself to hit a personal goal that I was working towards for a long time. The second was someone who was able to help me reboot from a recent challenge. These words helped me. What’s helped you?
Our brains are hungry for content. Human beings are curious by nature. You can see it small children. Their eyes are constantly wandering and exploring new things. They want to touch, tug and taste everything they come in contact with. They’re thirsty for knowledge about the world around them.
You can see this thirst for information in yourself. Your brain loves to be entertained. It loves to learn. It loves to experience new things. If you’re on a boring commute to work, chances are that you’re mind is itching to absorb information. You’re reading a book or a paper. You’re listening to music or a podcast. Or even if you’re doing none of those things, you’re observing the world around you. Checking out the landscape. People watching. Doing mental math on the timing of the rest of your commute.
You can feed your thirsty mind with the correct diet of content or the wrong diet. The main components of a creative diet involve ignoring comfortable, easy to access information. Don’t waste your time with mainstream media.
Mainstream media caters to the lowest common denominator. It caters to the popular opinion. Mainstream media caters to the mediocre. It’s speaking to the stupid. The stories in mainstream media are not designed to provoke thought. They are designed to provide you with an opinion. They make it easy, so that you don’t have to do the thinking yourself.
When you stop thinking, your creativity dies.
You have to keep your mind nimble by thinking. You have to take in raw information and form opinions. You have to see situations from different angles. That means not relying on one source of information. Don’t just read one newspaper. Don’t just read a handful of blogs that all express the same viewpoint. Get out of your comfort zone. Read something that you disagree with. Watch a show that makes you angry. Listen to a podcast that’s from a completely different area of interest.
One of the best podcasts that I stumbled across was something called the Naked Scientists. (It’s not as dirty as it sounds. Trust me.) Basically, it’s a group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University who use radio, live lectures, and the Internet to strip science down to its bare essentials, and promote it to the general public. It’s fascinating. The first podcast was about how certain areas of the U.K. have high proportions of the population that are genetically resistant to H.I.V. due to their ancestors surviving the Black Plague. It was something that was totally out my obvious sphere of interest, but was amazing to learn about!
The best inspiration comes from when you expand your knowledge base and are able to connect to the creative problem you’re trying to solve. You’re not going to do that by just reaffirming the beliefs that you already have. So stay away from mainstream content. Dig a little deeper than the easy stuff. Learn about science, art, music, sport, business, innovation and history. Learn about it all. Because knowledge is what fuels your creativity.
A mystery person dropped a set of postcards from Nike on my desk. It could be the delusional inspiration of a Monday night or the fact that I was getting stared down by a postcard Mohammed Fara, but it got me thinking about the difference between dreams and goals.
Dreams are inspiring.
Goals are exhausting.
Dreams are irrational, free flowing and unexpected.
Goals are on purpose.
Dreams are fate.
Goals wrestle fate to the ground.
Dreams exist in your mind.
Goals are a reality.
There’s no failure when you’re dreaming.
You can fall short of a goal.
Dreams can change your life.
So can goals.
There’s a time for both. But if you’re stuck on doing just one, then you’re missing out on your creative potential. Dreams make you feel good. Feel inspired. They’re the crazy ideas that pop into your head. The ones that make you think, “Wouldn’t it be cool if …?” They give you something to look forward to.
Goals are the way that you make shit happen. They are the 15 shitty scripts you had to write until you finally got one that was good. They are the hours of training you put in to be ready for tryouts. They are the nights that you skipped the party because you had to an interview the next day. Goals make you put yourself out there. You take risks. And they give you a finite result – either you succeed or you fail.
Anyone can dream.
Not everyone has the stones to sweat for theirs.