Monday, September 5, 2011

Seven Things a Guaranteed Success Wouldn't Care About

Rejection and Failure
If it didn't at all bother us to look stupid, to not accomplish what we set out to do, or to be told we were not good enough for that play, that magazine, that girlfriend, we'd have just as much energy to invest in the 500th attempt at something as we did for the first or second attempt. And with nothing to make us even a bit reluctant, we could get to attempt number 500 in half the time as it would take when we need to pause for a while and recover from the failure.

How Long Something Takes
This is a cousin to rejection and failure, but need not include either one. Sometimes we know that a specific undertaking will be time consuming right from the start. Even as small success is made ever so often, and we have not had particular obstacles thrown in our way, the nature of a mission, goal, or assignment requires so much of our present and our future that the sheer size of the time investment can freeze us, or make us abandon it right away. But if we never cared for a even a moment about how long it took to accomplish something important, even if it took 25 years, we'd be more inclined to take more journeys towards more destinations.

The Status Quo
I myself am already quite well positioned to not give a damn about this one. I am after all, Too XYZ for most conventions. My success has not been anything near where I want it to be in most aspects of my life, and that may or may not be because of the select places wherein I do let convention, have too much influence over what I say and do. But when when we go forward with an idea with not even the slightest consideration for how well it may fit in with what everyone else is doing and has done for decades or centuries, our focus can be 100% dedicated to realizing what we have set out to do, and 0% of our energies are lost to determining how to adjust it to outside expectations.

The Presence of People in Your Life
I have often written of introverts, and by extension have commented on extroverts. How the former sometimes wants nothing more than to be left alone when crowded, and how the latter wants nothing more than to be surrounded by lots of people when left alone. (Except of course, when the opposite is true.) But what if, whether introvert or extrovert you didn't much care one way or the other about who was or was not around for the lion's share of your time? House full of people? Fine. Haven't seen a soul in weeks? Fine. To put it another way, imagine if your own sense of happiness, value and enjoyment remained unchanged by who did or did not come to visit you? Was a constant even in the midst of guests? Sustainable through outward abandonment by friends? It would mean that your entire perception of yourself, and hence your dedication to what is important to you would not in the slightest way be determined by the thoughtfulness of others. The decisions, (often cold, thoughtless and random) to come in and out of your life would have no bearing on same. That's a freedom most people can only imagine.

Sleeping Conditions
One of the things I most envy in any person is not their talent, or their looks, or their money. Those are all sometimes a strong second place, but in truth, I would rather be able to so as a few people I know can do and just "decide" to sleep. My father it seems was one of these people, as are a few of my friends. They find a bed, couch, cot, or if needs be a bathtub, fold their arms, close their eyes and are asleep for the night. I shit you not. Maybe there is a party going on. Maybe a freight train goes by every hour. Barking dog. Could be pitch black or maybe a neon sign from the strip club across the street blinks into the room for the duration of the nighttime hours. It just doesn't matter to such people. When it is time to sleep, they do it.

Imagine the power and convenience of this. You could go on any trip, find yourself in any circumstance, be spontaneous and go an on adventure, or your presence could be required somewhere odd in the case of some kind of emergency. And when the time allowed and you made the choice, you could lie down and decide it was time to sleep, without caring where you are or what was going on. You could recharge your body and mind nearly at will, and be ready to go full blast the following morning, no matter what. It sounds like a minor thing, but imagine the near infinite flexibility of a life wherein you could get the sleep you needed no matter what.

Where You Live
Not unrelated to, but more important than not caring where you sleep is not caring where you live. You will of course do a lot of sleeping where you live, but you will also do a lot of the other mundane everyday things at home. A lot of time, thought an heartache is put into where one should live. (As someone who is hoping to move to another apartment before the end of the year, I am well aware of this.) But supposing you had no living preferences? You could feel at home anywhere outside of a battle zone. (Desert, urban, or otherwise.) You could go where you could afford to go. Whatever was open and available, you'd take. No view? No problem? Third floor, eighth floor, dirt floor, it would all be the same to you.

The ability to imbue any domicile with the trappings and spirit of "home" is indicative of someone who can create their own atmosphere, or more accurately carries one with them wherever they go. Someone such as this would never be homesick, never long to return to someplace they left, and could more quickly feel a part of whatever community in which they found themselves. In so doing they would be able to mine the benefits of blending in far easier than others.

Yes. It is now time for the irony portion of our program today. But consider what sort of freedom one might gain if they were not so much concerned about whether or not they are a success. And I do not just mean financial matters. Imagine someone who could care less if they are seen as a thought leader, spiritual guru, social commentator, or famous anything. What if someone were to be concerns only with being kind, and feeling warmth? not from other people, because that would dip into the previous category of not giving a damn about the company you keep. But warmth of spirit.

Suppose that someone cared only for increasing the amount of light in the world, whether or not it got them a job? What if a person could live in a homeless shelter, or in the proverbial "mother's basement" and gave not a second thought to whether or not his friends, potential mates, society, a particular church, or the blogosphere considered him a success? Would that person not eventually be free to spend his time however he damn well pleased, with whomever the hell he wanted, without having to worry about personal brands, rate races, nailing the interview, pitching the article, or any of that damn noise that keeps most of us up at nights? Would they night eventually find themselves in a place that also valued such an approach, surrounded by like minded people? And what is success but the ability to improve both one's life and somehow the lives of others or even the world through the use of one's unique powers and talents? Success would come to someone who didn't care to look for it.


In conclusion, a person who could pay no attention at any time to all seven of these things would, I feel, be nearly bullet proof. I don't think such a person exists as a whole. I am certainly not he, as I can lay claim to apathy for only a portion of what I describe here. I imagine that would be true for most people, as many of these things are very seductive, prevalent, and possibly genetic. Yet as I have thought about it I have determined that although no one person may fit the bill entirely, each person is in fact made better if they can find a way not to care at all about at least one or two of these. If you can do that, you are still far ahead of most people in the Western World, who eat sleep, breath and piss all seven of these things.

Did I miss anything? What would you add to the list?


Neeraj Sachdeva said...

I find myself re-reading this article, not because its difficult but because it is useful! Have you read the book '7 habits of highly effective people'?
In your post, I don't agree with the last part of the 'Success' section. I think those wishing and wanting success can get it, and only they can appreciate it. It is hard to be successful if one doesn't know what it is!

Ty Unglebower said...

I am glad you have enjoyed the post. Though I stand by number 7. For the lion's share of my experience, concentrating too hard on being a success yields less, because it puts one's focus too far away from the now. In most cases people just don't have the resources to daydream about the far future.