The journey we are on is often associated with some goal at the end point. But what if the end point was now? What if we took a thought experiment and pretended the journey was unnecessary? Let’s do that and ask ourselves these two seemingly unrelated questions:
- How would you spend your time if you had 6 months to live?
- How would you spend your time if you were a billionaire?
I won’t try and answer these for you, but I’m reasonably certain you’ll find two things. Many of the answers overlap, and that many of the things cost very little money. In the end we remind ourselves that the ultimate asset is time.
Ok, I couldn’t resist to give personal answer here: I know I’d want to invest more time with my family, immediate and wider, and do those projects were the business model is fun and not financial. Oh, and all those billionaires we hear about…. they’re probably off on treks riding motorcycles across China. Something which requires very few zeros in a bank account.
It’s good to remind ourselves of what we already know. One of these things is the really important stuff which our financial position has no influence on. Here’s my top 10 list.
- Being a good family member: Integrity, love, caring, effort, understanding and being able to listen have no price.
- Our fitness levels: Having a gym membership, or exercise equipment is not a requirement. Walk, run, push up. Move.
- Eating health foods: The healthiest foods are the cheapest. Fruit, vegetables, raw oats, milk, water.
- Being happy: We’ll be as happy as we chose to be, right now. I know plenty of rich miserable people.
- Education: Library cards are free, all libraries have internet access. University courses are now free.
- Enjoying who we work with: If we don’t like who we work with, we can leave. We are not trees. Our roots are not fixed in the ground. Walk on.
- Giving: Sharing what we are lucky enough to already have costs nothing. Whether it is a physical good, advice, or knowledge. At the time of giving there is no price.
- Friendship: The to and fro of sharing life with a friend is a pure gift.
- Faith: Not necessarily the religious type, but the ability to believe in something, anything which makes the future a place worth arriving at.
- Work: The joy that comes from doing. The willingness to put in effort now, because it’s worth doing, not because of the reward.
Why did I decide to write this blog post? Well, last friday I had lunch with a friend who I hadn’t seen in a while. During the lunch I got to thinking about how there was nowhere I’d rather be at that moment. That no amount of wealth would change how enjoyable it was, or create a desire to be elsewhere. That moment was in itself one which existed outside of our financial construct. Turns out, that most of the important things do.
The problem is that I’m not exactly sure what they are. The passing of time is the only thing that will actually reveal them to me. As much I want to avoid making mistakes, I know I’m doing some things right now which will just look silly or uninformed once I look back at them. Last night I was looking back at my life in 5 year increments thinking about the things I’ve done, some of the projects I’ve undertaken and how I would have done things differently in hind sight I look back to what I thought was right 5 years ago, and it seems glaringly obvious what the mistakes are. The interesting part is that it is not a one off. It seems to be true again and again – as every period of time elapses, there in the past lies a set of errors. It’s not like I am graduating from mistake making either – granted, they are not the same mistakes, but the process of making them is yet to desert me.
My history is a constant reminder of the truth. Like everyone, at least I assume, I have clear strategic and tactical vulnerability. I used to worry about it, but now I realise if what I did then, didn’t seem stupid now, then personal growth would not have been possible.
I’m pretty convinced that a sign of us living a good life is when all days seem to be created equally. When a Friday is equal to a Tuesday is equal to a Sunday is equal to a Monday. Entrepreneurship is about a lot of things; achieving something, recognition or maybe even wealth accumulation. But surely it’s about what the actual days feels like. Does it feel good in itself, or is it only serving those achievement type things mentioned above? When generating our next startup idea maybe we need to add another criterion to the expected market demand and business model considerations:
Would we be happy spending the 300 Mondays doing this?
If the answer to this is yes, then maybe the other factors don’t matter as much as we thought.
I’m typing this on a Sunday evening. I’ve had various times in my life when I used to hate Sunday, not due to its own features and benefits, but because it was the pre-amble to Monday. Mondayitus. The dread for Monday was so deep and worrisome that it ruined the day before it which is was a free day. And what is more ironic is that I even liked Thursday more than I liked Friday, because Friday was too close to Monday. It is strange indeed how our minds can work. Sometimes it is worth listening to the strange.
Tonight, I went for a jog and I was genuinely excited about the week ahead and couldn’t even wait for Monday to get some of my projects underway. We are doing another world first for Tomcar Australia which will be global news. I’m attending the FML this Wednesday night to help jumpstart the maker movement in my fair city Melbourne. I’m working on a few Hackathons for some big corporates. I’m doing a new talk on the ‘future of work’, which I will deliver at the co-work in the lane way for the Hub Melbourne. Working on a new technology related property development. Shipping the Super Awesome thing & person from Romania. Working on my new book and might even be launching my new startup by the end of the week. I can’t wait.
I’ve decided that Monday is our best friend. There is nothing more telling in life than how we feel about it. Monday knows all. It is about time we started listening to our internal mental Monday sermon and tried and create a Monday that Monday actually appreciates. I ignored Monday for a while, but now I’m listening to it again and it is helping me smile.
As far as I can tell our Mondays are the ultimate arbiter of happiness.
Whenever we hear this turn of phrase, it tends to be regarding a negative situation or outcome of the proclaimer.
Why was I born into a poor family?
Why did I get the cranky boss?
Why aren’t I good at mathematics?
Why am I so short?
Why don’t I have clear skin?
The interesting thing is that we never hear these people asking why they were born healthy, with working limbs, in a country without war or famine, and with a family that loves them.
No, they’d rather point out the ‘margnial’ negative facets in their life and only ever look up the ladder to people who are better off in one particular area. They forget to look down. We all have elements in our lives in which others are better off, and we all have elements in which we are better off than others. So it’s vital we look both ways, up and down, and keep a balanced perspective on life.
In fact the real why me question they might ask is why don’t I have a better attitude? And the reason they don’t ask this question is that it is something they have total control over.
Two young boys had the unfortunate up bringing by a father who was a thief a scoundrel and a drunk. He gave them little support and set the worst possible example for how to lead life as an adult.
One of the boys grew up to be just like his father. A thief and scoundrel and a drunk.
One of the boys grew up to be a successful businessman and a stand up member of his community.
When they were asked why they turned out the way they did as adults they both gave the same answer:
“What did you expect, my dad was a thief, a scoundrel and a drunk”
Was thinking about this laying in bed last night. The things we should never think twice about
spending investing money on.
Mainly because they make us and life better and they build on our entrepreneurial foundations. Here’s my top 10 list.
- Health Care
- Car maintenance
- Shouting a friend (Meal or a drink)
- Healthy Food
- Childrens well being
What’s on your list?
I’ve been thinking about a few different projects I’d like to do. Which at this stage have no real revenue or business associated with them, other than I find them interesting. I thought I’d list them here to see if anyone has similar crazy ‘just because’ projects. Maybe these fun crazy things are what we should be doing and building, instead of working out what other people want. Maybe the thing that really matters is what we want. Either way here they are;
- Take a year to fly to every commercial Airport in the world – without a break. yes, including living in planes and airports for a full 12 months. Document it and what happens for some reason. Find interesting stuff and people. See what happens. Film it. Socialize it on live digital media. Find something no one has ever thought of or seen. Just because.
- Live for a year only on food that is grown at home. Vegetables and animals. Cook using only wood and home made ovens. Every bit of food that goes in my mouth I will have grown, baked, killed cooked and created. Document it all. Just because.
- Walk around the entire coastline of Australia. Beach by beach, headland by headland. 25,760 km’s of it. Learn something. Document it…. Just because.
- Make a short film. Without any false ambitions of becoming the next Tarantino. Just to create. Be part of it. Just because.
- Renovate a house. Yes, a totally dilapidated 100 year old timber home. To see what my eye and hands can really make when they collaborate. Build a house my family can live in, be safe in, grow together in. Take time out and do this. A non Grand Design for me and my people. Just because.
- Start a cult. Just to see if we can make a positive one. A cult of good. To see if I could lead people in such a way that they live for the cause, but to flip it. To make the cause about fixing broken shit in the world….Like the banking system and the 1%. Just because.
- Be a used car salesman. mainly because I think it would be really, really hard. To see how I could sell in a difficult environment. To test my skills, and see what I could learn to take into my future. To be the most untrusted person in the commercial world. To be that guy. The be that guy and see how I handle myself and what I become. Just because.
- Coach A little league team. Pass on some skills, about the game, and maybe about life. Teach some youngsters stuff that matters – have am impact on their attitude without them even knowing. See how it feels to help out the people who will inherit our world. Just because.
- Live in a tropical paradise. Mainly to remove the myth or confirm it. A place where little money is needed, the weather is always warm and technology and financial growth are irrelevant. Find out out if the picture of paradise is real or perceived. Stay forever if it is real. Just because.
- Join a street gang. A real underworld style gang. Think East L.A. Get dirty and down and be part of something bigger than me that is from the opposite side of town. Learn their rules and play by them. Deal, steal and destroy. See if the emotional roller coaster is the same, or different. See if I like it more or less. Understand the plight and political machinations of a crime organization from the inside. Draw the analogies and comparisons to the legal world – find out the truth. Just because.
Sometimes we need to embark on startup projects, that aren’t really startups…. Just because.