Last week I read the realest article I have read in a long time. Maybe ever. If you want to check it out, head over to Cracked.com. I mean, I am going to summarize it here, but it’s definitely worth the read.
Can You Stinkin’ Operate?
At some point in the recent past I came to the following conclusion which is also the author’s main argument: I am only worth what I can do. It doesn’t matter if I almost never miss a graduation/birthday/wedding/ baby shower, etc. I doesn’t matter how good I am at paying my bills. (I am a pro at that if anybody’s wondering.) All the world wants to know is, “Can you do the d*** job that I need you to do?” That’s. It. As I’ve been mentioned before, I have a Cushy Corporate Job at a call center, and, honestly, I’m a little embarrassed by that fact. Answering phones is not a highly skilled skill, so I do not feel like I’m worth much. And I have a bachelor’s degree. I have a bachelor’s degree and I answer phones for a living. Without making a grand statement on the state of the economy, that’s a pretty depressing reality. Also, aside from the fact that the author of this article and I came up with the same conclusion, he:
a) said it first, so he gets the credit.
b) said it in a tangible way on the website he co-created. And,
c) probably got paid to do it too.
At the present moment, all I’m really doing is responding to work he’s already done. And though I am happy to write (because I love writing), the ideas that I’m presenting to you aren’t entirely new. And that, my dear friends, is exactly the point. What is unique about you? What new thing can you offer to the world? Can you be honest, philosophical, and funny all at the same time? (I’m so impressed by David Wong’s tone in that article.) Can you consistently provide entertaining content that will make people want to return to the same website over and over again to read your work? Can you do anything of value at all??? It’s a tough question. And I hope that you can answer it confidently on your own terms. Personally, I have struggled with this issue for a long time and this blog is one of the ways I’m starting to answer that question. But in the past, I used to fall back on the fact that (most of the time) I’m an extremely nice, highly loyal person. Here’s the thing about that….
Nobody Cares How Nice You Are
At least not if you can’t do the job. The world needs closers. (Again, read the Cracked article.) If you can close really well and you’re an a$$hole. That’s fine. We’ll take it. If you can close really well and you’re a genuinely nice/thoughtful/funny/exciting person, awesome! That is highly desirable and almost rare. But if you’re a great person and you can’t close? Well…. Thanks (sort of), but you are a non f%&@ing factor. This is one of those life principles that totally sucks. I’ve been on both sides of the situation (being able to close and not being able to), and I’d like to say that the nice guy always wins out just for being nice. But it really doesn’t work that way. There is, however, some good news.
You Don’t Have to Be Good at Everything
All you really need is a niche. In the article the author makes an interesting point I had never thought about before. He says, “How much of your time is spent consuming things other people made ?” When I first read that line, I felt teeeeeerrible. Almost all my time goes to consuming other people’s creations. (YouTube, Hulu, Netflix. Hell, the entire freaking internet!) And in the case of my job, all my time there goes toward building someone else’s empire rather than my own. (I hate you, Corporate America.) But the bigger picture is that the world we live in is so highly specialized that consuming other people’s creations is perfectly acceptable as long as you have a talent or skill to give back to society. That’s right. If you’re really good at something valuable that people need, the world will allow you to be mediocre, even bad, at literally everything else. Plus you get bonus points if the one thing you’re really good at is also meaningful to you or makes you happy. But that’s another post for another day.
This is a can do world that needs can do people. Stop hiding behind what you don’t do (I don’t lie. I don’t kill people. I don’t steal stuff. I’m never late to work and I never miss a day.) and start living by what you accomplish. Because remember:
- Nobody cares how nice you are. Not lying/killing/stealing/being late are minimum requirements.
- Thinking about all the things you don’t do is a little bit negative. Whether you realize it or not, it’s screwing with your self-esteem because even you don’t fully know what you’re worth. You don’t know what you can achieve.
Now, to the latter fact about self-esteem I’m sure the author would say, “Wanna feel better about yourself? Learn to f&%!ing do something!”
Touché, Mr. Wong. Touché.
I would, however, like to offer a small modification to that statement.
Michael Jordan (I don’t know if you’ve heard of him. But he was, like, kinda good at basketball.) was once quoted as saying, “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” Many sources have cited that Michael Jordan was passed over on his high school’s varsity basketball team as a sophomore and that moment was the fuel that helped him focus better, train harder, and make the team the next year. The rest, as they say, is history.
But he had to believe that he could do it first. If Michael Jordan hadn’t believed he was better than another guy who got chosen before he did, he never would have put in the extra effort to get on the varsity roster the next season. And then the rest of us never would have experienced the amazing talent that is Michael Jordan. That’s almost a tragedy if you look at it that way. So, I totally agree that doing something (anything!) will get you out of the I-hate-myself funk. But you have to first believe that you can get out of it. You have to believe that you’re worth more than the junior varsity status the world has incorrectly labeled you with. You have to believe that if you aren’t a success already, you should be. And you will be. If –ENORMOUS if- you actually act on that belief, build your skills, and prove to yourself that you’re worth it every single day. And in the process of proving it to yourself, you will prove it to everyone else too. Who knows? If you work hard enough and you have that spark, you might even change the course of history. So Git Up, Git Out and get something, Big Boi. Time to find out what you’re made of.