**Just a PC police warning, in this post I quote a book written by Russell Simmons (founder of Def Jam records) who uses words which some people may find offensive. Please understand that words have whatever meaning you personally attach to them and I choose to attach positive meanings to them**
So a lot has happened since my last blog post. I’ll spare you all the details but the TL;DR of it is, I got this fairly serious rare eye condition last October. Spent the next 6 months on what I call a “spiritual sabbatical” where I didn’t work and just took the time to get my mental health in order. Went to see a therapist, started doing Taichi and meditating and Now I’m back and I feel more balanced, happier, and more focused than ever.
Maybe one day I’ll write more extensively about my mental health issues and how I deal with them, but for now I just wanted to write about how I’ve decided what things I’m going to work on and what I’m just not going to do from here on out.
I read / listen to a lot of books. Two of my favorite books of all time are ‘Do You‘ by Russell Simmons and ‘Anything You Want‘ by Derek Sivers. They’re both philosophy books disguised as business books and there are a lot of lessons I’ve taken from both but the one concept that, though each author put it in their own way, is to be basically the same. It’s the process of how to decide what things / projects you should do and what you shouldn’t waste your time on.
In ‘Do You’ Russell Simmons talks about recording RUN DMC’s first album with Rick Rubin in Rick’s dorm room. He remembers vividly lying on the floor and saying “Wait til these, N**gas get a load of this!” He knew deep down that what they were working on was going to change peoples’ lives forever. He could feel it and the excitement would not stop bubbling out.
In ‘Anything you Want’ Derek Sivers explains a similar thought process where he only has two answers to any request to do something, “Hell Yes” or “no”. If someone asks you to do something, or an opportunity is presented to you, if your answer isn’t “Hell Yes” then it should be no. You shouldn’t waste anytime working on something that doesn’t elicit that level of excitement.
I’ve come to realize that these are really good barometers to gauge if something is worth spending your time (your most valuable, finite resource) on.
Tim Ferriss also talks about the opposite of happiness being boredom and for me, this really feels to be the case. I’ve come to realize that what makes me the happiest in life is trying to solve problems for people through business.
About a half a year ago when I was getting out of my eye funk, I came up with the idea for Lesson Underground, a student driven music lesson marketplace that helps connect music learners and teachers. Ever since the inception of the idea and all through the process of building the MVP, I’ve constantly had the line from Russell Simmons’ book playing in my head,
“Wait til these N**gas get a load of this!”
Even while spending quite a bit of money to get it going (the most money I’ve ever spent on a new business), its always been a “Hell Yes” for me.
Taking something from idea, to a real thing is a drug for me. Seeing people also see value in the idea and use the service is a high I don’t think I’ll ever stop chasing. This feeling is the opposite of boredom.
I think more people should choose to use the “Hell Yes” or “No” method to decide what to do with their lives. Whatever your “Hell Yes” projects or things are, do that. I get the feeling that a lot of people trying to rationalize and justify their actions rather than living out their Dharma, their purpose of living. People postpone their lives til when their body is at its worse and almost incapable of truly living the life that they dreamed of. Remember, life is short and there is no warranty or guarantee on it. Waking up one morning and not being able to see was a literal wake up call to remind me of that.