Why You Should Give Up

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“You’ll never amount to anything!”

Sadly they were right.

But not for the reasons you think. You see the thing is that these words are thrown out at young people all the time. The struggling student hears this phrase from his teacher. The young girl hears this from her abusive father. The entry level employ overhears his boss joking about it in reference to him. The woman instinctively feels it from the “boys club” she is excluded from at the office.

There are several paths that can be taken once this rebuke is slapped on the usually unsuspecting recipient.

One way is to just accept it.

One way is to fight back.

Another: Pretend to ignore it but secretly let it tear you up inside.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been told directly that I’ll never amount to anything. In fact I was usually told the opposite. That I can be successful at anything.

Which almost may be worse.

When you have the skills and ability to learn quickly, adapt and persevere there are open doors everywhere. But the problem becomes having to choose which one to try. Where to go and what to do. What interests you?

What if we don’t want to play their games?

What’s options do we have then?

The problem is that even though I was never told that I wasn’t going to amount to anything, I was often told I could do better. Nothing ever seemed good enough. And if you tell yourself that your not good enough long enough you start to believe it.

And then your confidence erodes.

It becomes self-fulfilling.

At least the ones who accepted from the start took the short way to where I feel that I have ended up.

Then they take this excuse and use it to assume a victim mentality. We’ve all heard the lines they spew: “It’s not my fault.”  “They made me do it.” “That’s the way I was raised.” “I was born this way”…

Always shifting the blame.

Shifting the focus.

Oh yeah the real focus I wanted to bring up is that I was really hoping Federer would win at Wimbledon. By the way I am a bandwagon sports fan. More on that later. But I love watching the best in sports and don’t pay much attention outside the tournaments, playoffs or world series. Well with exceptions…

So for the longest time I thought it was Wimbleton. It wasn’t until I saw it in print this year that I realized I was wrong all this time… It is Wimbledon.

I feel better confessing.

Djokovic, whose name I can’t say right to save my life, did a great job taking the title for the second straight year over Federer, who is no slouch and won 5 straight from 2003 to 2007.

The point being that these guys are truly champions.

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Fighting back against being told that you are going nowhere is a great story. But it is really hard to do. It is much too hard to be a champion. You have to go back 13 years to find someone outside of Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal to find another Men’s Wimbledon champion.

And in that time, Nadal only had 2 wins.

Murray? One.

Clearly the conclusion is to not play tennis…

But what does it take to be great?

Why try?

Why not just settle for good enough?

For far too long I had a life goal of being mediocre. And guess what? So far it has come true. And I am now rethinking what I should do. When I was younger I would always be asked what I want to do when I grow up. I am still not sure I have an answer to that question. But I do know what I don’t want to do…

The thing is that I would answer, “I want a job with benefits.” What a risk-adverse white middle class safe BS answer. And that truly was what I wanted out of life.

It wasn’t that my parents didn’t care.

They just didn’t know.

They brought me up the best they knew how and thought this was a fine way to spend a life. On the surface it seems alright.

“I want to be a worker drone” said no kid ever.

Well when you shoot for the middle and end up there, where do you go next?

That is when I came across James Altucher. In fact I explain in my book Conspire To Inspire who this guy is and how he impacted my life. Here is the chapter on James:

“5 James Altucher: @jaltucher

The other day while reading one of several of James Altucher’s posts, I stopped and had a thought. Where did I even come across this man? And how come I read him almost every day now? How come he has become almost like a mentor to me?

And I couldn’t remember and I asked my wife. And she didn’t really recall specifically. So I kinda put that question aside. Then naturally over the course of the next few days I had been thinking about it. Finally I remembered that I was writing my blog post Conspire to Inspire, that was the seed for this book, and came across a James Altucher’s post “10 Reasons Why You Have to Quit Your Job This Year”(17).

“The middle class has died. The American Dream never really existed. It was a marketing scam.” This reason number one from the list did not take any convincing for me to believe. Given my own experiences in the job market and conversations with my wife Sarah. This idea that there seems to be a fundamental shift in the workplace had been one that was constantly on my mind. Finding someone else who saw this and could explain it made my day.

Reason number three is “Corporations don’t like you.” This idea was not farfetched either. As my own job search was stalling out, I had to look no further than to my father. He had worked at a corporation for over 25 years and was now out of work because of the corporate game of mergers and restructuring. He then got picked up at another place for a couple of months but shortly got let go from there.

Nobody wanted him. Or me.

James goes on to say that corporations want “to destroy the career aspirations of their most talented people”. The other day I was at a training and saw “motivational posters” on the wall. They said things like “care”, “lead”, “achieve”, “dream”, “inspire”, “dare”, “grow”, “create”. But they don’t really want you to do those things. I learned quickly as a kid that they want you to conform. To fit in. To sit down. To shut up. They feed us these words to keep us wanting more, but they do nothing to help us reach these new heights. I had felt like my aspirations had been under attack since grade school. I felt like being creative was discouraged. I quickly learned that if I would sit quietly then I would get by. But now I no longer want to just “get by”. I want to dream. I want to create.

James brings a unique style to writing with his relatable yet fresh voice. I became inspired. I came to respect James for his open and honest presentation. He tells stories that were embarrassing to himself. He tells things in a matter of fact sort of way that does not make excuses or hide shortcomings. He writes about being gentle and kind. Not only to others but to yourself. I think these things are important and admirable. I think these things are imitable.

And need to spread.

James has an interesting background. “James Altucher is an American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, bestselling author, and podcaster. He has founded or cofounded over 20 companies, including Reset Inc. and StockPickr and claims to have failed at 17 of them. He has published 11 books, and is a frequent contributor to publications including The Financial Times, TheStreet.com, TechCrunch, Seeking Alpha, Thought Catalog, and The Huffington Post. USA Today named his book “Choose Yourself” among the 12 Best Business Books of All Time.” (18)

Whatever the topic, James has something thought provoking to say. His enthusiasm for life is contagious. And interesting because as James writes in his book Choose Yourself, “The search phrase that is most likely to take people to my blog is, “I want to die.” The number two search phrase is “I hope to die.”” (19) And by writing about death, James helps people find life. In that same chapter he goes on to give 26 different things to try in order to get yourself up off the floor, out of bed, unstuck, or just plain moving.

Now what?

James is currently still blogging, answering questions on his Ask Altucher podcast (with Claudia), and helping the world be a better place by encouraging people to do more with their lives. To stop being mediocre. To find alternatives to convention. Check out his website: jamesaltucher.com or follow him on Twitter @jaltucher.”

Copyright © 2015 Michael Paine
All rights reserved.

To find out the other people I profile in Conspire To Inspire buy it here.

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And so the escape plan began.

The gears have shifted. I started writing down 10 ideas a day thanks to Claudia Altucher’s book Become An Idea Machine.

My wife: @sepaine and I are starting a new project that will bring YOU great opportunities for the future.

Our plan will help you get what you want.

And really, who doesn’t want that?

Sign up on her web site here or mine here to get the inside scoop and future updates.

That way you can make sure that YOU will amount to greatness!

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Be a driver for Lyft and make $500 when you do 50 rides in 30 days!

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Go to sarahpaine.com for more great perspectives to rethink life!

SP

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Check out Claudia Altucher’s book Become An Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are The Currency Of The 21st Century:

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