How to Win at Anything Without Trying
\Photo by Chris Peeters from Pexels
The way to succeed is to not try at all
Have you ever seen a person who’s having a hard time sleeping?
What do you tell him?
Try hard? Persevere? Keep pushing?
No. You tell him to relax and not try at all. You tell him to chill, knowing that he’ll eventually fall asleep.
Why then do you think that success in any endeavor is different? Well obviously, not everything is the same as going to sleep. But I’m not talking about a literal comparison.
I’m speaking metaphorically.
Let me digress.
Charles Bukowski was a German-American poet who published six novels and hundreds of poems, selling over two million copies of his books.
But his life is far from a writer who’s sold millions of books.
In his 20s he quit college and roamed around America working blue-collar jobs and writing on the side. Out of the hundreds of short stories he wrote, only a few got published. Even the few that got published didn’t get the traction they needed to take off.
Disheartened, he stopped writing altogether and started working at a post office.
After 10 years, he quit his job and began writing again.
This time he got his writing published, albeit with little success. It wasn’t enough to put food on his table. Thus, he joined his job back.
But this time, he did things differently.
He started writing every single day before or after work, and at whatever time he could find.
Over the years, he continued publishing tons of pieces in magazines and journals. *Still, *he wasn’t at the point of making a living as a writer.
Of course, the fact that we’re talking about him tells you that he’s considered one of the greatest and accomplished writers of his time. But it took him a helluva time to reach there.
His story is almost the perfect American dream. A man comes from Germany, fights, and perseveres for decades, and finally makes a life for himself doing what he loves.
Why is it then, that his philosophy in life, as well as the epitaph on his tombstone, is “Don’t Try”?
Why Do We Try So Hard?
We’re too hard on ourselves.
Not because we have high standards, but because we have the wrong standards.
We get our standards from what we consume. And we consume stories of overnight successes all the time. How a kid made a smartphone app and went on to become a millionaire while you’re still trying to earn an extra hundred dollars per month.
It paints a false, shiny picture of success.
Nonetheless, we believe it.
We aim for overnight success. We aim to gain a massive readership in a few months. We aim to lose 50 pounds in 3 months.
The truth is, it takes much longer than we’re otherwise told.
Looking at the life of Bukowski, it’s easy to put him on a pedestal as an example of the American Dream. But what hides behind the pedestal is his decades of hard work without any approval or encouragement.
You’ll fail a lot. And you need to be okay with your short-term failures. Even further, you not only need to be okay with them, but you also don’t have to give a s*** about them. When you do this, you stop trying to succeed.
You can finally dump the emotional baggage that you’ve been carrying around. The pressure to become successful, and the false egoic desire of wanting fame, money, and happiness.
You need to get it. out of your own freaking way.
For instance, if I keep worrying about the success of this post — how much money is it going to make, will it be curated, will publications accept it — I’ll not be able to write a single word.
But if I stop caring so much about success, I can write more. And that increases my odds of success.
That is the whole point. If you want to succeed, don’t try.
The Reverse Law of Success
The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experiences is itself a positive experience — Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck
Pursuing something reiterates the lack of it in the first place.
When you think you want something, you send a message to the Universe that you don’t already have it. And when you affirm that you don’t have something, then the Universe repeats that feeling.
The events in our life are just a mirror reflecting our own consciousness.
How Tommy and Josh Are Winning at Podcasting
“You’re too late to the party. The podcast dust has already settled.”
This is a sugar-coated version of all the criticism that Tommy Jackett and Josh Janssen received while starting their Daily Talk Show.
Podcasts, email newsletters, and websites have been around for years, if not decades. The number of players in the industry is huge. And they’re all after the same thing — your attention — which is limited.
But Tommy and Josh were different. When the world told them “you won’t be successful”, they said, “We don’t want to be.”
This is what we’re talking about.
They know that they’re probably not going to succeed.
3–5 years down the line, they may not see the podcast explode. But things can quickly turn around from the sixth year.
With this honest acceptance of the negative, your life dramatically improves. And so does your relationship with long-term success and short-term failure.
This is why Tommy and Josh have made a 10-year commitment to do one episode every day.
How to Apply This
I’m not a prolific writer, yet. But my commitment to write/edit every morning before my day job will make me one.
That being said, here are two things I do to ensure I don’t quit and remind myself to not give a shi*t about success:
Focus on systems rather than goals.
Goals are just checkpoints to look at occasionally instead of being obsessed over. I try not to look at my stats and earnings on Medium. I try to not attach myself to my book sales. I don’t check the number of subscribers I have every day.
I focus on writing. I write every day. And that’s it.
Commit to something
When I first heard of a 10-year commitment that Tommy and Josh made, I was unsure.
But the number itself is arbitrary. Regardless of what number you choose, things start to work out.
Here’s why — most people give up a new project in six months to two years. Let’s say you commit to three years of writing. By just doing that you ensure that you’ll not fail.
But there’s something more. With every month you continue writing, the odds of you quitting decreases exponentially. When you’ve been writing for three years, you’ll be less likely to quit.
Right now, pick a number and go with it. It will redefine your life for the better.
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