Being successful was cool up to about 2019.
Then a trend emerged online that rebelled against the idea of being extraordinary, and finding your version of success.
I’m not going to link to the content because I don’t want to start World War 3. But we’ve all seen the success-hater stories.
About 6 months ago a rebellion started.
The leader was a young New York man named Zach Pogrob. He saw what was happening online and went in the opposite direction.
He bought a physical black flag and started waving it everywhere. He told people it was good to be successful. He told us to set goals that we pursue for decades and to try to be the best in our field. Copycats emerged everywhere. Now the trend is being reversed.
Even ancient stoicism writer Ryan Holiday weighed in:
This backlash against “elites” is so preposterously dumb…This idea that we should celebrate average people and their average opinions about things is well…how you make everything worse than average.
Being average and living below your potential is the stupidest goal in the world. It’s time we wage war against average once again.
Why average people want us to never chase success
The war against average started because those who’d given up on life wanted to bring us back down to their level.
The idea of success threatened their identity and they didn’t like it.
So they started going viral telling us to be deadbeats and give up on our goals and dreams. They told us productivity is a waste of time and we should just do whatever we feel like in the name of “self-care.”
Just eat whatever we want and don’t you dare get a side hustle.
And if you dare attempt to make money online then you are a scammer. How dare you provide for your family?!
Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for wanting to find your level of success. Sure, it’s hard and you might fail. Buy trying is how you live life and create nostalgic moments you’ll remember for eternity.
These average critters don’t understand it’s the journey, not the goal. We’re not trying to be successful and shame others for not having the same goal.
- We’re trying to pursue a mission larger than ourselves.
- We’re daring to dream, to use our imagination, to be creative.
Nobody has to like it but it doesn’t mean we’ll give up.
Mediocre people give up on success because, often, they were mocked once and let it get to them. So rather than try again they let the critique force them to never rise up again.
All that’s left for them is to chase mediocre goals. If they can’t be successful then no one can — and they want us to think it’s a crime against humanity if we even try.
Don’t fall for other people’s limited views of the world.
Don’t fall into the half-alive habit
At 28 years old, Henry Ford joined the Edison Company as a young gun engineer. Before and after work and on weekends he worked on the gasoline engine. This led to experiments with automobiles.
8 years later the Edison Company offered him a promotion.
They had one nasty condition, according to his autobiography: “give up on the gas engine and devote yourself to something really useful.”
It didn’t help that Henry’s network told him gasoline engines were stupid and only rich people would ever drive automobiles. They argued gasoline-powered engines would never be better than steam ones.
“Stop that nonsense. Steam is the only way to power an engine old chappy.”
In 1899 Henry quit his job and went all in on building the gasoline engine for the next 10 years. One observation of his stands out:
I have noticed a great love for regularity. Men fall into the half-alive habit.
People around him didn’t want him to work on gasoline engines and perhaps become extraordinary or even join the history books. They wanted things to stay the same. They wanted predictable regularity.
When his car factory roared to life his workers had the same problem. Every innovation created enormous pushback from his workers.
Regularity is dangerous. Stupid, even. As Ford said, “It indicates that the next jolt of the wheel of progress is going to fling you off.”
The truth is those who get flung off the wheel of progress are those who settle for mediocrity, regularity, and throwing mud at anyone trying to do something extraordinary in this world.
Elon Musk is a great example. Sure, he acts like a d*ck sometimes.
But the guy is literally building interplanetary transport and directly helping to reduce carbon emissions in a big way with his electric cars and solar panels. No one else in history has had this kind of impact.
We may not like his political preferences or rebellion against gender pronouns — but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aspire to achieve these kinds of big goals.
The reason why success looks like a scam
Success is hard to achieve.
Being extraordinary is rare. So when we read that we should just settle for average and drown in Netflix and self-care it makes sense.
In the book “Personal Development for Smart People” author Steve Pavlina points out that success in competitive fields is low because there’s so much churn at the bottom. I see it with online writing all the time.
New people join the creator economy. They write for 90 days and nothing goes viral. So they quit. More people then enter the writing world and replace those that gave up. The churn is so high.
The writers I began writing with 9 years ago have all given up — except one.
It’s no wonder people say writing or making money online is a scam. If most people don’t make it then it makes sense. As Morgan Housel says:
Pessimism always sounds smarter than optimism because optimism sounds like a sales pitch while pessimism sounds like someone trying to help you.
But the reason people don’t succeed with writing or online business isn’t because it’s impossible or a pyramid scheme. It’s because people’s patience and time horizon are wrong.
If you set a goal and give yourself a decade of daily practice to achieve it, it’s highly unlikely you won’t win big. That’s how you defeat average.
Average is seductively comfortable
That’s why those stuck in that rat race don’t pursue uncomfortable goals.
Being extraordinary requires a different type of thinking. Those who are successful chase discomfort.
- What they say sounds crazy.
- Their goals look insane.
- Their routines look superhuman.
- The time they wake up every morning sounds like hustle p*rn.
The alternative is you don’t put yourself in uncomfortable situations. By doing that your emotional maturity becomes no better than a 12 year old pubescent teenager. Acting like a 12 year old as a 40, 50, or 60 year old human is a strange way to live.
Without discomfort you’ll find yourself stuck in the messy middle with all the other lottery chasers hoping for overnight success or luck to make their dreams come true so they can sit on a beach until they pass away.
Imagine asking for permission for the rest of your life. That’s what average buys you. Upgrade to the permissionless life.
Following the rules is exhausting
Joey Justice says “Beginners learn the rules. Experts follow the rules. Masters break the rules.”
Go to school, get brainwashed, know nothing about how money works, go to college, get a degree job that’ll get replaced by AI, be patient, follow orders for a few decades and maybe get a promotion. Am I the only one who thinks this is bat sh*t crazy?
It sounds logical to follow the rules. To choose the common path and be average. It looks like safety.
But the best things you ever do in life defy the odds.
They break the rules and make everyone go “how the hell did you make that happen given the status quo?”
That’s the magical place you want to be. It doesn’t matter whether you become successful or extraordinary. What matters is you try. What matters is you don’t worship the average life and end up with regrets.
There’s a war against average.
People are waking up. It’s not to late to escape. Dare to dream. Dare to create. Dare to chase obsession. Dare to inspire others with your example.