One of my favorite fables is The Boar and the Fox. It goes something like this. One day a Fox is walking in the woods and spots a Boar, sharpening its tusks against an old tree. The Fox, seeing no one around, asks the boar: “Why are you sharpening your tusks? There is neither a hunter nor a hound in sight.”
The Boar responds: “It would do me no good to have to sharpen my tusks at the time when I should be using them.”
Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, advises his readers: don’t start a business until people are asking you to. In other words, focus on trying to fill a demand or need – don’t just create an idea and hope people like it.
But what if, like me, you don’t know what demand you’re trying to fill? What if you know you want to start a business or enterprise, but you’re not sure what to do, who to help, etc.? My answer: Sharpen your tusks.
Prepare yourself. Start a project you can be excited about. Don’t worry about being rich and famous and powerful yet. Develop your skills and make yourself valuable. Build a network of valuable connections. Show your work.
As you develop your skills and grow your knowledge, you’ll have a much better time spotting and seizing opportunities that come your way. And because you’re prepared, you’ll have a much easier time with it.
So don’t feel bad when you hear “success stories” of people around you. Just focus on yourself, build yourself, and you’ll be fine.
Sometimes you have too many ideas pop into your head that take you into a million directions. You want to write a book, you want to start your own business, you want to create your own course, you want to build a website, etc.
You know you can’t do it all at once, but you also know that you don’t want to let go of these ideas. So what do you do?
What I do is create a file for each possible idea. Then I put all these “possible projects” into a folder (actually a notebook in Evernote, but same difference). And voila!
Most of the projects include ideas that I probably will never get to; but some of them do turn into projects that I’ll actually work on.
Doing this allows me not only to give an idea a chance for consideration later, but to give my mind a break by letting it not get consumed by a possible project. Right now I have 25 possible projects in there (some of which I actually did turn into real projects).
I love this practice because I never get bored now. I always have something to work on, something to apply and develop my skills towards. Maybe it’ll have the same effect for you.
This post is a reminder for myself and other self-help readers:
Don’t read because you want to know how to be successful. Don’t read because you want to know how to be happy. Don’t read because you want to stop feeling sad, depressed, unmotivated, bored, and so on. Don’t read because you want to improve yourself or your relationships. Don’t read because you want to be richer or smarter or healthier.
Instead, read for insight. Read to understand differently. Read to realize something about yourself or the world. Read for the moment when you can say, “Wow. I never thought about it like that,” or “I didn’t realize that was possible.”
It’s those moments – the moments of insight – that actually allow you not only to grow, but to approach life differently. Tim Ferriss has a different approach to business than, say, Derek Sivers does, just as Tony Robbins has a different approach to happiness than, say, John Gray. And all these differences come from the different experiences, the different insights, each person gained from life, from trying and experimenting and planning.
In the end, it’s not anything specific that will determine if you become happy, rich, or smart; rather, it’s how you approach your life and what lessons you’re learning.
Don’t look for answers. Rather, look for interesting, deep, exciting ways to approach the question.
As much as possible, focus on doing things that energize you and avoid doing things that drain you. If it excites you, say “yes.” If it doesn’t, say “no.”
If you focus on doing the things energize you, then two things will happen: 1) you’ll be happier because you’re doing something you like, and 2) you’re more likely to do those things very well. This will keep you motivated and doing more work that energizes you, fueling the cycle of activity and enjoyment.
On the other hand, if you focus on doing things that drain your energy, then you’ll likely be more miserable and, even more, will do those things half-assed, which will only demotivate you.
This is something that I myself apply to any advice given to me. If someone tells me that I should do x, y, z to achieve some result, I pay attention to how I feel about it. If it excites me to try it out, then I will do it. If it doesn’t, then I don’t.
Of course, you’ll have to break this rule from time to time. Sometimes you will have to do things that you don’t really want to do. But as much as possible, you want to maximize your time so that you are mostly doing the things that energize you and avoiding the things that don’t.
This idea is simple and doesn’t need much explaining. Yet it’s probably the most important rule you can practice in your own life because it’ll help you not only manage your time, but make life so much more enjoyable.