“Dad, we want to earn money to buy a Chromebook. What do you think we can do?”
I’m sitting on the couch on Sunday afternoon, reading a book. I look up at my nine-year-old daughter, Libby, and my seven-year-old, Avery. “How much do you need?”
“Well, let’s brainstorm some ideas. Go grab a paper and a pen.”
We write down a bunch of ideas for the next half hour.
I’ve been struggling with New Year’s resolutions this year. Somehow, they don’t fit me any more.
It’s taken me several weeks to finally put my finger on why.
Let me explain by asking you to compare two lists:
Listen. I know you’re scared.
But here’s something you don’t know, that your fear-clogged mind prevents you from seeing: we’re all scared.
Every single one of us.
We are all scared out of our wits. We are all groping around in the darkness of uncertainty with terror shredding our innards. We are all desperately hoping and praying that it will work.
You think it’s just the quiet, unobtrusive, timid ones. The ones who never break the rules. The ones who keep their heads down and fly under the radar.
But if you only knew…
Almost every important thing I’ve done in my life has been done on the side.
Most of the progress I’ve made has developed on the side.
The side — if you have one — is where the real action is. The side, if pursued persistently, is where you find meaning and purpose. The side is where opportunity and freedom are found.
Your front is your day job, how you support your family, where you spend the bulk of your time.
The side is where you dream and discover. The side is where you wonder and experiment.
The adversary doesn’t have to persuade us to commit grievous sin to keep us from reaching our ultimate destination.
We need not be dirty to feel guilty and ashamed.
The Seven Deadly Sins, as classified since antiquity, are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
But there is an eight sin that flies under the radar yet has perhaps the greatest impact on our lives:
There are two styles of climbing the mountain of achievement. These are manifest by what we’ll call the “Visionary” and the “One-Stepper.”
Each is useful in its own right, each has its own strengths and weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages. Neither is inherently superior to the other.
The important thing is to understand which one is your natural style so you can 1) leverage its strengths to the fullest, and 2) compensate for its weaknesses.
Read the general descriptions of each to see which one resonates with you most:
Success — what it is and how to attain it — is a genre well-explored, with no shortage of gurus or devotees.
Today I wish not to speak with you of success, but rather of progress, for progress precedes success.
Success is the top of the mountain; progress is the path that gets you there. Success is the destination; progress is the journey.
Success is your ambition and objective; progress is your orientation and motion. Success is your True North; progress is your compass.
I must start today’s article with a disclaimer: I don’t know how much of this is Objective Truth.
I readily acknowledge that people much smarter than me can poke holes in my theory, and find justifiable fault with the journey I took to develop it.
But I do know this: Regardless of how I get there, the insight I stumbled over in the darkness of my limited understanding is profoundly useful and can transform your life.
Are you perfectly content with your life?
I hope not.
I hope you are driven by a divine discontentment. But I also hope that your discontentment leads to growth rather than grumbling, progress rather than protesting.
I once wrote that you should always be dissatisfied. But the truth is that I used the wrong word. There’s a profound difference, I’ve learned, between mere dissatisfaction and deep hunger.
The world calls us crazy.
The world has constructed a box of rules. From the womb we have been warned to never stray outside of the box.
Inside the box, so we’re told, is safety. Security. Comfort. The good life.
Outside the box is risk. Uncertainty. Shame. A life of struggle.
We say that inside the box is stagnation. Mediocrity. Impotence. A life of conformity.