In all likelihood, this blog isn’t for you. But, for a very small number of people, this blog could be extremely valuable. And in order to understand whether or not you should spend any time here, you need to understand my motivations for creating it.
The story begins with a problem I faced.
Over the course of my life, I’ve had many good role models and have come into contact with many talented people, many of them being far more talented than I. However, for the entirety of my conscious 25 years, I never met anyone that had the same type of goals that I was unknowingly looking for. Over the last 5 years, I’ve learned how significant this was….
I’m a mission-driven person. I need to understand why I’m doing things. And even when I was surrounded by some of the most talented people in the world, I could not understand why they bothered doing what they did. Focusing on making a lot of money didn’t make sense to me. Achievement and respect within academic circles made even less. Solving problems was enticing, but incomplete. Simply because “you enjoy doing it” was necessary but not sufficient. Helping people was a vital component, but not a full picture. And “to change the world,” was lofty but lacked direction. None of these resonated. The result was boredom, depression, and feeling very alone.
What I didn’t understand was the nature of ambition and the importance of understanding one’s role in the world.
Ambition, the desire to achieve, is present at different levels within people. Having more is neither good, nor bad, in itself. And one’s level of ambition is an important factor for determining the individual’s role. The least ambitious have the chance to rest contently in the middle of the village, telling stories, living a good life, and helping to maintain stability. The most ambitious will be driven to the edge of the earth in search of something. We need both of these roles. And, for better or worse, I ended up on an extreme end of the spectrum.
By not seeing people that had goals that resonated with me, I was unable to understand my own ambitions and role, and could not formulate the proper mission. The scenario left a question hitting me in the face,”where are you going?”
I kept moving and kept learning–potentially in the most inefficient manner possible. I felt the need to get to the bottom of things myself. I read books and, as much as possible, worked on projects that I cared about or could at least rationally champion, and just kept moving. And eventually, at an excruciatingly slow pace, there was a series of experiences and pieces of information that lead me to the perfect articulation of my mission.
I’ll go ahead and just fire it at you:
To be remembered as a great ancestor
If you think this sounds absurd, you’re right to think so. If it wasn’t absurd, this articulation wouldn’t have been so hard to find. And as absurd as it is, it’s very rational to me and resonates with me emotionally. And I take it very seriously** (see note below).
This leads me to why I’m writing to you.
Writing has been an important part of my life for years now, it helps me think things through and to learn. However, I’m no longer writing just for my current self. Now, I’m also writing for the people that are similar to myself 7 years ago. The people whose ambitions were driving them somewhere and they couldn’t understand why or where or how they felt. I want them to see a real person say,”I’m here, this is how I feel, my goal is to be remembered as a great ancestor, I’m a bit extreme, and it’s perfectly fine.” Seeing people that you connect with is important, no matter how strong and creative of an individual you think you are. And there’s a paucity of people that are willing to express a mission such as this, particularly before they’re already great…
There are many stories and biographies about great people from history. Unfortunately, all of them that I’ve come across are written with decades of hindsight. Perhaps I’m just a skeptic, but to me the stories read not too differently from a myth in Greek mythology. Everything is far too neat and tidy and everything comes out in character. Hindsight focuses in on only the dots that fall in line.
Consequently, reading biographies of great people has been useful for me, but mainly as symbolic points of inspiration and to give me ideas of how things might work. It has only been slightly more valuable for me to read about Walt Disney and Steve Jobs than to read about Batman and Hercules. Growing up, the lauded figures of history seemed so far away that there was no chance that I could ever be one of them. But, eventually, I was able to see through all the talk of “prodigies” and “geniuses”. Maybe that’s the most important step.
My goal isn’t to write my biography, my goal is to share my mission, how I navigate that mission, and how I came to find it. I’ve learned a lot, and I want people, people like myself 7 years ago, to be able to stand on my shoulders. And when I triumph in the end, no biographer will be able to “glamorize away” the truth: I was just a dude with a lifelong mission and too relentless to quit.
I don’t want you to just find this interesting.
The internet is full of interesting stuff to read. And while reading offers a wonderful source of learning and enjoyment, the amount of time spent reading vastly overshadows the time spent taking action. And I think we need a bias towards action.
Consequently, my metric of success isn’t the amount of time you spend reading this–it’s the actions that you take because of this. I can only hope that the amount of time spent on this site is minimal, but my inbox is flooded with requests for help and word of people out there taking action.
As I write this, I’m at ground zero, and I’ve got to get out of here.
So I figured it’s the perfect time to start sharing my Mission, and the perfect time for me to start doing some very open and real writing so I can think and action my way out of this. I’ve spent a lot of time being a fool, and I’m sure I’ll continue to do so. But I know a few things now, and I’m going to illustrate my version of the process of going from zero to great.
Lastly, for some reason I’m compelled to leave you with a question that my intuition tells me will be a recurring theme here:
Is it a gift or a curse?
**While I take this mission of being remembered as a great ancestor very seriously, it doesn’t stop me from also approaching it with a sense of humor as well. You’d be surprised how fun it is to do something like pour someone a shot and shout, “one more small step to becoming a great ancestor!” Try it.