What It Takes to Live Your Dream

5,000 Pages. 5 Years.

That’s how long it took before I made my first commercial sale as a writer. Five years of working hard with no results to show for it.

That’s five years, spent trying to squeeze by on as little income as possible, trying desperately to make more time for writing. Five years of worry and self doubt, and mediocre work everywhere else.

The Magical 5,000 Pages

From nowhere, after 5,000 pages things started clicking.

I make my first commercial sale; I started a new blog and grow from zero to 10,000 uniques in a month; I have momentum, I have begun to break the hump of the learning curve. Five years later, almost exactly.

I’m not saying this to brag, I just wish I’d known from the beginning that my success was inevitable. I wish somebody had let me know:

“As soon as you finish 5,000 pages, you will have paid your dues. After 5,000 pages, you will be approaching competency, but you will always be sharpening your sword.”

I would have written twenty pages a day, and stopped sucking a lot earlier.

You Can’t Afford to Wait to Follow Your Dreams

I always thought it was a bit of a bullshit line, when people said “follow your dreams”. But the truth of the matter is, you’d damn well better get started on them today.

When I was working doing freelance web development, I kept being haunted by the idea that I’d be stuck doing what I really didn’t want to be doing at all. And it made me an ineffective freelancer. The quote kept going on in my head, over and over:

“If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will destroy you.”

So I’d stay up late, and I’d write every night for at least an hour. Just to keep myself from being haunted. To let myself know that I was putting in the effort, and that was as much as I could do, until writing began to pay my bills.

Five years later, the trickle started.

You Must Be Willing to Wait and Work

Becoming adept at your dream field, and experiencing Flow should be your top priorities. We know from research that by becoming an expert at something you love is practically a formula for a happy life.

The problem is, those miserable five years you’ve got to put in work before you can see any results outside of yourself. This is why passion is necessary.

Nothing motivates me more than helping people become more successful. I love to see my friends and family become better and more powerful people in the world. I love the power of stories to change lives, and I love modeling worlds.

Discover Your Passion

Passions that last inevitably involve service to other people. Our immediate realities are direct feedback loops to the quality of life we put out to other people. So the only way to experience a better reality is to give a better reality to someone else.

Realistically, what makes you happiest? How can you infect that happiness into people?

A lot of people have no clue what drives them. No idea where to begin. For them, I suggest time off. Save some money and travel. Figure out what is unique about the way you experience and react to the world. Then get to work, ASAP.

And Ignore the Gatekeepers

In any field, especially the glamorous ones, there will be gatekeepers. The people who seem to have the ability to let “the chosen ones” become relevant in their fields. For writers, these are the Editors, the Professors, the Critics.

These people are all irrelevant. They have literally, zero power over your results. Your results will be determined by the quality of your work alone. No matter what, if you focus on the having the best work, you will have a place at the top.

So don’t pay buckets of money for their approval. Don’t pay for gurus to bless you with their knowledge and strategy. Don’t pay for technology that promises to solve your problems. There is only ever one person who can do the work.

And that is you.

Book Review: Winning Through Intimidation

If you’ve ever been frustrated by experts recommending positive thinking, you’re not alone.

Traditional Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work

In business it can be incredibly difficult to maintain so called “positivity”. Most deals fall through, and you’re consistently failing as you’re trying new things.

Enter the business classic: Winning Through Intimidation. (Now published as To Be or Not To Be Intimidated)

Sustain Positive Thinking Through Assumed Negative Results

In the very first chapter, Robert Ringer addresses this most basic issue for entrepreneurs.

He recommends assuming a negative result when entering into any negotiation. And the fact remains, most business deals don’t work. So assuming failure is an easy way to avoid letdowns, while facing a reality doing of business. Most people will waste your time.

Four Cornerstones of a Winning Mindset

  • Relativity – Not one person says they’re a dishonest person, and yet there are many dishonest people. Weigh all facts relatively when deciding on a course of action.
  • Relevance – Only focus on those things immediately relevant to boosting your income and achieving your business goals. Cut everything else away
  • Aim High – Ringer refers to this as Mortality Theory. Our time on earth is limited, and we might as well aim high, and take the largest piece as possible, rather than crawling our way up through the ranks.
  • Keep Perspective – aka Ice Ball Theory. Keep perspective, because eventually the entire world will become an Ice Ball when the sun burns out. Be willing to walk away from deals that don’t work, and be willing to laugh at the ridiculous nature of humans.

Assume a Strong Posture

In the book, Ringer initially struggled to close even the smallest of deals. He blames this on being ignorant of the true nature of his deals. He later assumes everyone is out to cheat his commission, and structures his deals for his ultimate protection from the beginning.

This means getting proper legal documentation, all appropriate licenses, using certified mail on all correspondence, and having an attorney present at closings.

Move Forward Regardless of Naysayers

Ringer makes the case for what he calls the “Leapfrog Theory”. We shouldn’t waste our time waiting for permission to work at the top of our chosen fields. Instead, we must declare our position at whatever level we deserve.

Results Are Inversely Proportionate to the Level We Are Intimidated

Your strength and posture are determined by the amount you are intimidated by other people. If you think you are “only a freelancer”, and position yourself as such, you will see very little results. If you position yourself as “the best solution provider”, and can back that posture up, you will see immediate results.

Takeaway: Always ask what can be done to improve and protect your posture before entering negotiations.