Shortly after writing this blog post, I began crafting an eloquent pitch to send to Bill Phillips, an editor at Men’s Health.
Normally, I write in Word, Google Docs, or Evernote. But I had Mr. Phillips’s e-mail address saved in Gmail, so I opted to write it there.
Being a shitty first draft, as Anne Lamott calls it, I included a cliché. It sat inside parentheses—my cue to swap it out for something better during revisions. Good writers hate clichés and I wasn’t going to use one in my first e-mail to Men’s Health.
After finishing the tentative outline, my fingers freaked out and I accidently sent the e-mail.
Without checking for spelling or grammar.
Without formatting the e-mail.
Without fixing the cliché in parentheses.
Without thanking him for his time.
But I hold my head high. Even though I sent a sub-par pitch, the fact remains that it’s sent. And that’s the most important part.
I would be astonished, downright flabbergasted, if you haven’t heard of Nate Green. Because of both the path I walk and my dream destination, I attract a similar crowd. His story is inspiring, no doubt. And you, probably like me, have intentions of tip-toeing in his footprints.
Entrepreneurial freedom. Living the life of your dreams. And generally kicking ass in the process.
Nate calls it becoming your own hero. Hot damn.
Become your own hero.
Now that’s catchy stuff.
You probably look up to Nate and see possibility, just like I do. Let’s not sugar coat it: you want his life. Those footprints he made? You intend on following them.
Well, I have some shitty news for you.
There’s a reason why it’s called becoming your own hero.
Nate didn’t have a path. He made his own. And as soon as a path does emerge, it’s useless.
Don’t follow it.
Nate proved that the ability to navigate the terrain was possible. That’s it. Now it’s time for you to do the same, only with your own trail.
In Nate’s terms, I’m becoming my own hero. I have a long ways to go, as I’ve settled into a middle tier of success. Don’t get me wrong, I live for and love what I do. And that’s enough to keep me going.
But I’m stagnant.
As of this moment, my life is the most efficient and optimized for success as it ever has been. Each day is planned to maximize learning and productivity. And boy do I do a lot of learning.
But today, I think I finally understand.
I’m learning too much.
You can look around my room and find dozens of entrepreneurial books. You can shadow my life and tag along with the websites and podcasts I follow. (I will blog about these more often in the coming weeks.) Every day, however, I’m drifting further away from where I need to be.
Every day I’m coming closer to a pathway.
But that’s not where I, or you, should be.
There’s no adventure on the path. And when we’re there, we’re afraid to stray from it. But you can’t be original by following a path.
Don’t you want to be original?
JUST SHIP IT
Looking to kick off a writing or coaching career? How about this: stop reading about the process. Just stop for three weeks. And during that time, do one thing: ship something.
You can have the best product or idea in the world, but unless you ship it, no one cares.
For two weeks, I’ve had an e-mail in queue to Bill Phillips, an editor at Men’s Health. Haven’t sent it. Haven’t even written it. I’m afraid to, really. And this is the problem that not only I face, but the same problem you face.
We’re afraid to fail.
The path is perfect. You can’t lose if you follow it. And if you travel the woods alone, you might end up nowhere or get lost.
But one year from now, the people who make it through are the ones that just go. The ones that aren’t afraid of failing. Because they are going to take action. Everyone else will be staring at the path and glancing at the woods, wondering which way to take.
They may even be reading about which way is better. Book after book. They may even be listening about which way is better. Podcast after podcast. They may even be watching about which way is better. Interview after interview.
When I e-mailed Lou Schuler last year, I was admittedly fearful. Lou responded with this:
Now ask yourself: If you have to sack up just to email me, what’s it going to take to approach someone who can actually publish your work? And not just approach the person, but approach in a way that makes him take you seriously?
Why Lou, that’s a mighty fine question. And one I still struggle with months later.
Until now, becase I’m not afraid of failing anymore.
I have about five eBooks that need finished. What if they flop? What if no one downloads them?
I have a great website idea in “Become Superhuman.” What if no one likes it?
I want to make this blog more personal. More me. More about my own dive into the wilderness. What if no one cares?
But now it’s different. If my eBooks flop, great. If no one likes my website, awesome. And if no one cares about my content, fantastic.
I’m no longer chasing success. I’m chasing two things: value and failure.
You can’t fail if you’re not in the game. So as long as you fail, you’re fighting for something. And the most valuable currency either given or received is value. No one cares about muscle mass. But everyone cares about how muscle mass makes them feel. That’s value.
This philosophy shapes from two things: a small passage from a Seth Godin speech and a stanza from a Jonny Lang song.
Do you care enough to ship something into the world that might fail? Do you care enough to get laughed at? Do you care enough to put yourself out there and have it not work?
And this voice in the back of your head, the one that’s saying, “No no no, don’t listen to him,” that’s your compass. Every time it tells you you’re on the wrong track you know you’re doing exactly the right thing.
It would sure be nice to go triple platinum,
But there’s no guarantee it’s ever going to happen.
And if I can only reach one set of ears,
I know that I fulfilled my purpose here.
Don’t try to be Nate Green 2.0. Trust me, I’ve been there. It won’t work. Even worse, you, as a person, won’t matter. You will be a copy. And when you’re gone, no one will care. You might be able to make a quick buck, but don’t you want more? Don’t you want to do things that extend beyond the confines of currency?
By all means, have mentors. They are integral in your development. But be yourself. Make your own path. And do something people will remember.
Now, if you excuse me, I have a few e-mails to send.