The art of being self-made and how to find out what you’re really passionate about

April 21, 2010          Comments (2)

tony-hsieh1

I’m always in search of litmus tests for varying aspects of life. For example, if you want to know what someone really cares about read this. Well, here’s my latest…

If you want to know what someone is really passionate about, ask them who they’d have lunch with if it could be anyone in the world besides their family or friends.

Growing up I dreamed of playing in the NBA. I honestly believed I was going to make it…until, I was in 8th grade or so.

I dedicated my life to it. I attended basketball camp all summer long from 8am to 4pm. I’d get home; quickly grab a snack and then train intensely on my own all afternoon into the evening. Ever hear of Jump Soles? Well, you’d find me running on the street, and in my driveway doing drills with them on.

By summers end (of my last devoted summer), my goal was to be able to dunk. Unfortunately for me: White Man Can’t Jump. (Although, I was easily able to touch the rim which was a huge accomplishment for me!)

(I still played JV/Varsity basketball but it was never the same once I realized I wasn’t good enough to make the NBA) I also remember watching sports all the time. Who could ever forget the good old Sundays of the NBA on NBC back when Jordan was playing?

Or, if I was watching college basketball 60 minutes would come on once the games were over. Ugh, 60 minutes? I’d turn it off and go finish (actually start) my homework that was due on Monday.

About 4 years ago, I realized 60 minutes was one of my favorite shows. It’s absolutely fascinating. Every story is interesting. No, this isn’t a promotion for 60 minutes but it’s certainly proof that our tastes evolve.

So back to my litmus test: When I was growing up, if you asked me who I’d have lunch with I would’ve said Michael Jordan in less than a heart beat. Sadly, I had many dreams of playing basketball with him in my driveway. The best dreams of him, though, were when he’d be in my kitchen having lunch and I’d have time to call my friends and invite them over. Those were some disappointing mornings, let me tell you.

Anyway, if you asked me who I’d have lunch with now it would absolutely be a self-made entrepreneur. There are not many more impressive things to me than someone who starts out with a little and ends with a lot. (A lot doesn’t have to be money, by the way. It could be power although often linked to money but influence, access, free time and impact to name a few.)

While my goal isn’t to become a billionaire like Mark Cuban, I’m still fascinated by him and many others.

There’s something to be said about creating your own way in this world. There’s something to be said about those who are completely self-made from scratch. People who work for what they have, instead of having things handed to them, are just so much more interesting. You can’t buy that perspective and depth it gives you. You can’t fake it nor can you successfully mask it.

While entrepreneurship makes me tick, it probably doesn’t make you tick. I’ve argued before against being an entrepreneur unless you’re practically possessed by your idea because you believe in it so much.

And I’d argue that if you’re dying to find out what your passion is or what you’re truly interested in – ask yourself, “Who would I have lunch with if it could be anyone in the world besides my family or friends?”

I think it’s a very telling question.

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If you think you have too many passions, you might enjoy this post.

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The Paradox of Dating Tremendously Successful People

April 9, 2010          Comments (3)

bill_clinton

I’ve long questioned the definition of success so there’s no need to do that again. However, for this post, let’s say that we define success as Steve Jobs type success. You know, the billionaire next door type – except he’s never there.

It seems to me that many people are attracted to power. Power exudes confidence. Or, does confidence get you power? (If that’s what you’re after)

I’m not talking about women being attracted to men in uniform or students being attracted to their teachers. I’m talking about women who are only interested in dating very powerful men.

But here’s the paradox: Sometimes what attracts us to a person is the very same thing that turns us off.

Perfect example: Jon’s Corzine’s ex-wife described him as being, “tainted by ambition.” She must’ve known he was a very ambitious guy from the get go. You don’t lead Goldman Sachs and then become the Governor of New Jersey and then head back to Wall Street (a rare move) without being insanely ambitious.

It seems to me, so many women want to date a “successful” guy so they can live a rather comfortable lifestyle. Sure, why not. If you’re going to pick the same guy with or without money, why not take the guy with dinero?

A woman might argue that they’re just attracted to the qualities and characteristics of a very successful man.

But many of these same women get turned off by the fact their man is out working 15 hours a day. So, which is it?

It’s impossible to achieve that kind of “success” and all that it might afford you without being extremely focused and single-minded. I think women need to know what they want up front.

I’ve questioned the point of being insanely ambitious and successful to the nth degree. I think many people believe this is the key to happiness. I think most people are just chasing wind.

To my last post, I believe it’s really hard to achieve remarkable success without organizing your life around doing what you love. And it’s really hard to “obtain” power without putting in the hours.

As the brilliant Michael Lewis states:

A job will never satisfy you all by itself, but it will afford you security and the chance to pursue an exciting and fulfilling life outside of your work. A calling is an activity you find so compelling that you wind up organizing your entire self around it — often to the detriment of your life outside of it.

Another problem! Many people are attracted to people with callings or a deep passion for what they do. Typically, most tremendously successful people are pursuing their calling.

But Lewis’s definition, which I think is right on the money – proves the very point I’m trying to make.

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