Back, when I was going to journalism school, we had a class called Creativity. The professor in Creativity once told us: “You have the responsibility to become good journalists, despite your comprehensive education in journalism!” It took us a moment to process what he was saying. “Despite", not “because of”. In his unusual way he was waking us to the fact that we were the ones who need to do the learning and the doing. All the best classes in all the best schools cannot compensate for the lack of effort. And vice-versa. All the lack of great classes and schooling cannot stop one from fulfilling their authentic goals. Yes - authentic. I used the word as a disclaimer.
Despite the power of our imagination, we need to let someone else be the fist man on Mars. Or the first woman to discover time-travel. Despite the vastness of the universe we need to focus. Have a singular vision. Despite the endless possibilities to dream up many and big scenarios for our life, we need to choose one. Why? I will use a quote from the introduction to The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury - “So as not to be dead!” And also because if we choose two or more - we will have to divide our time between these two or more. Despite maintaining a wide range of interests and hobbies, we need to choose a primary mission. An occupation, vocation, purpose, life’s goal. Call it what you will, but choose it. Then go after it. With all you’ve got. Despite how scary it may be.
How do we choose? By focusing on the one thing that makes us most alive. It is ok, to change it later. We will discover something else that makes us more alive. Our lives’ stories are going to evolve. Better be ready to evolve with them. Despite how we might feel today, someday we will be able to connect the dots. That’s why we need to keep going. We can’t leave dots behind if we stay in the same spot. There will be just one giant dot, and we will be in the middle of it. Nothing to connect to.
It is a common practice - when we receive our college diploma, we take it as a license not to learn anymore. We have completed our education. School is out forever. It is a very official document giving us permission not to study anymore. So many stop learning. Despite your diploma your education is not over. It can only be over when you say it is over. Despite your diploma, you have a responsibility to keep learning. Despite your achievement, you have a responsibility to become really good at something.
This is what I tell myself too. Next Generation Indie Book Awards, which is like a Sundance Film Festival for the independent book industry, named The Excellence Habit 2016 winner in the Motivational category. Despite this award, I need to become a good writer. May be my next book will be titled Despite. Would you read it? What would you expect to learn from a book like that?