We are all obsessed with self-improvement.
Just take a look at Medium. The majority of people on Medium are consuming articles like: “5 steps to…” or “Why You Are Still Not Productive…” or “A how-to-step guide to achieving ….”, etc. on a daily basis.
We want to be better, and that’s ok.
What’s not ok is obsession.
To understand why we are so obsessed with self-improvement, we need to first examine how we were raised. Our generation (I was born in 1998) by some people is called ‘Generation Z’, others think we are still millenials — it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are the first generation that has had so much visible success available to us at all times.
Our parents used to watch TV and read paper magazines if they wanted a gossip story about some star or celebrity. To see what kind of mansion Bruce Willis lives in, for example.
We, on the other hand, are born into the age of gossip. Literally. Instagram — is a one big yellow press media. Every single minute we scroll, watch, read and observe how other people live: through News Feed and now, Stories.
We are constantly flooded with content about other people. And nobody wants to look bad on Instagram, right? Hence, all we see is beautiful lifestyles, Coachella parties, Ibiza holidays and a rich life with hot chicks and expensive cars.
Some people use this to their advantage and build what’s called ‘a personal brand’. That’s when you are tired of having only 100 friends seeing your bullshit, and you want to expand that number by x100. Now the whole country sees your bullshit — and you can make money off ads on your profile. Ka-ching!
Get me right: there is nothing wrong with Instagram being out there. I am just observing a phenomenon that seems interesting to me.
With so much visible success out there no wonder why every 16-year-old boy thinks he is the next Zuckerberg coding his first website, and every girl wants to have eyebrows like Kim Kardashian.
When all we see on social media is other people’s success, we start to feel like we are not enough. Like we are missing out on something. Like life is going past by us like a freight train, while we are standing on the station, waving a handkerchief.
The reality is that just like yellow press, Internet is not about truth.
It’s about the 0.1% of what life really is — the ugly and the amazing, the disgusting and the beautiful. When you google something up, you’ll either end up thinking you have cancer or that you’re the chosen one. GaryVee doesn’t help here.
That’s easy to explain: websites are media, and media doesn’t get paid if it doesn’t get attention. And attention is obtained by clickbait headlines, outrageous stories and gossip.
It used to be that ‘googling something’ is equivalent to finding facts, information on the subject you are interested in, etc. It’s not anymore.
Googling something — means scrolling through tons of crappy company blogs written by marketers to ‘hack search engines’ optimization algorithms. These blogs convey 0 information and remind me more of collection of keywords than written text.
The only way to get quality information from the Internet is either:
a) reading books
b) subscribing to particular blogs and reading only them
c) using Google Scholar
The last one is great, by the way, try it out.
Now that’s the Internet that we (i.e., my generation) were raised. We were raised watching other people do things publicly — believing it to be true and trying to copy them. Be it Tai Lopez, GaryVee, Steve Jobs, or Kim Kardashian. The thesis is usually the same: ‘if she can, why can’t I?’.
The thing is, you — are you. You are not Kim, Steve, Gary or Tai.
You are unique, but it doesn’t mean that you are exceptional.
You are alive and able to read this, but there is no 1 grand narrative about your life and the way things should turn out.
You are not owed anything.
You don’t have to be anything.
You are just you. And you are doing what you are doing.
That’s it, really.
Don’t follow the footsteps of wise men. Instead, seek what they sought.
In entrepreneurship, everyone is worshipping geniuses like Steve Jobs. That’s great (I personally love the guy and have his portrait hanging on my bedroom wall), but they are not you.
Musk is Musk, Jack Ma is Jack Ma.
Stop trying to build a ‘unicorn’ — everyone is doing that. Instead to understand what motivates you personally and focus 100% on that.
Build a plane that actually flies instead of building a Titanic that sinks. And drowns Leo.
Knowing this, you don’t need more advice. You don’t need more articles that tell you which habit to instill and what time to wake up — that’s all bullshit. Wake up whenever you feel like and work.
Too many people are spending time debating the ‘lifestyle of an entrepreneur’ or what it means to ‘be an entrepreneur’ rather than just doing something. Don’t call yourself anything, don’t label shit, just do.
Now I know, labeling yourself may be inspiring.
You are a badass.
You made a decision to be someone. And now you’re just like one of those dudes from the movies and epic music starts playing in the background. Oh yeah. Feel that?
The problem with labeling yourself when it comes to self-improvement is that while it’s inspiring, it can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and friction. Once you say that you are ‘an entrepreneur’ you’ll want to stay consistent and play the part of one.
You know like, wake up at 4am, workout for 3 hours, drink protein smoothies, meditate, read non-fiction, take pills that’ll make you live forever, attend conferences, watch some GaryVee to get motivated. What else does a real entrepreneur do?
Do you want to be someone or to do something?
Success is first about spending all of your conscious energy figuring out what makes you tick. You do that not through reading another Medium article on self-improvement, but through actually going out there and trying things.
I like the quote from the legendary Kevin Kelly:
‘Don’t try to follow your passion. Instead master some skill, interest, or knowledge that others find valuable. It almost doesn’t matter what it is at the start. You don’t have to love it, you just have to be the best at it…if you continue to optimize your mastery, you’ll eventually arrive at your passion’
Specialize. Capitalism was invented with the idea that producers specialize, so that consumers can diversify.
Once you find your focus and put your head to doing something, think constantly how you can become better at it. Not how you can become ‘XYZ’, but how you can become incrementally better at what you are already doing.
Better professionally, better personally, better spiritually. Just Better. Instead of trying to be someone, or you are trying to do something — and constantly thinking how you can become better at it.
But there is a trick to measuring ‘better’: do not compare yourself to others.
The only person you are competing with is yourself.
Sounds cliche? Because it’s true. Each person has a different set of genes, background, experiences and family upbringing. We all have a different bar above which we can’t go.
Respect that. And be the best possible version of yourself. Good luck.
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I would be glad to talk to you about startups, entrepreneurship or content-creation. Let’s keep the conversation going!
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