I am not Steve Jobs, not Mark, and certainly not Bill Gates, but I am your average guy who manages to succeed when he puts his mind to it. When you want something really bad, you manage to accomplish it, and my story hopefully will convince you that you don’t have to be on the front page of Time Magazine to be able to accomplish whatever you want. It’s all in your mind, so let’s unleash your true potential. Listen…
“Everything around you, that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you, and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.” – Steve Jobs
Last April, I was involved in an academic research on the 13th General Election of Malaysia. My official position was that of a Research Assistant. I was entrusted, alongside another RA, to record observations of the campaigns in Kuantan, Pahang. I had 30 peers stationed in other parts of the country. We worked non-st0p throughout our 7-day stay there.
After that, we were to submit the notes and campaign materials to the lead researchers. At this stage, all of the research assistants were given the option: to either write a research memo or a research report. A memo would contain all the observations made but written in a concise manner, whereas a report would entail a more critical analysis of the observations made. If the report was well-written, it would be included in the book that would be published.
I stumbled upon a dilemma. Among everyone, I was one of the very few RAs who were still in their undergraduate studies. But that’s not all. At this time, I was only in my first year. I was the youngest RA in the study.
I felt like I wasn’t worthy to be writing the chapter, to be having a publication under my name. I debated with myself for quite some time. However, with encouragement from the research leaders and also a little dose of “IDGAF, I’ll do it”, I decided to give it a shot.
Throughout the next few weeks, I worked on the draft relentlessly. There were times when I wished I had someone guiding me, but for the most part I was alone. I carried on, I spared not one bit of my brainpower to come up with the best chapter I could possibly write.
Fast forward. Just 4 days ago, the book was officially launched in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur. It was edited by the lead researcher, Meredith Weiss, and jointly published by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and the Strategic Information and Research Development Centre. You can find out more about the book here.
It’s official, I’m published.
Even before finishing my degree, I have a chapter to my name. In the academic world, a chapter is worth a lot. What I did, was pretty extraordinary if you really look at the situation. What I did, was to break the unwritten rule.
Usually, academicians only begin to write in their postgraduate studies. Even so, most postgraduate students never become published. Me, I have a dad who was busy promoting the book to his friends. All this, because I decided to ignore the rule.
I don’t care who you are, but if you tell me that you have no dreams, no ambitions, then you must be lying.
All of us have that picture of the life that we want to lead, somewhere in our minds. We think about things that we want to achieve, things that would make us feel like life cannot possibly get any better. Yet, most of the time, we don’t do these things. Why?
Rules – written rules, unwritten rules, unspoken rules.
You have to be at least 30 years old to run for the position.
You must include percussion sounds in rap song.
You need to have the best test scores to study abroad.
No matter where they come from, ‘rules’ such as these becomes ingrained in our heads that we start to believe that they are the truth. Truth of the matter is, truth is relative, and rules are merely enforced opinions.
It used to be a ‘rule’ that the sun revolves around the earth. Anybody who thinks that now, is downright stupid. How arrogant are we to think that everything that we consider as the ‘truth’ today, will remain so until the end of time?
On the smaller scale, it’s even more ridiculous to abide by any form of regulation or restrictions in the pursuit of your passion. What other people believe in, is most often ridiculous. I’m going to elaborate on this through three common ways these rules stop people from doing what they really want.
“There are other people who are much better than me.”
The unspoken ‘rule’ is that only those who are really good should be the ones doing something. So if you’re not already good, just quit it already. Nothing can be more false than this. On the contrary, because you don’t have a lot of experience, is why you should be doing it. Countless authors have cited that experience actually stifles innovation.
The more of an ‘expert’ somebody becomes, the more entrenched they are in their own set of rules, and the less able they are to make new discoveries or provide novel solutions. Moreover, how good anyone else is, should be of no concern to you. The only measure of yourself that you should have, is against your past self. Constant comparison with other people is unhealthy, and is also one of the main reasons of unhappiness.
“I will do it, but later on, when I’m more ready.”
Here, the person falls into the trap of laterlaterland. The ‘rule’ here is that you need to be up to a certain standard before attempting anything. Of course, skill is required. However, let’s inspect why people feel unready. More often than not, it’s due to a lack of confidence in themselves and not actual inadequacies. This springs from insecurities, which might come from (again,) comparison with others or simply a very negative attitude.
Stop comparing, and start believing in yourself.
No matter how not good you think you are, there is one thing that you cannot deny – failing right now, will make your success later much bigger. This unhealthy attitude of postponing indefinitely is what leads to a lot of 40 year old people with mid life crises. You will one day regret having this attitude, so change it now. Stop stalling and just do it. The worse that could happen is for you to fail. Guess what failing is better than? Doing nothing.
“I don’t want to do it that much.”
This is the worst possible scenario as a result of all the ‘rules’ propagated by the masses. When you’ve been bombarded with so many assumptions of how things should be, of how you should be, and of how things should be done, you will end up suppressing how you really feel. Instead of declaring what you want in life, you just quip that you only want it a little bit.The cynicism has made you even too afraid to tell yourself that you want something, because you just can’t ever imagine yourself being able to achieve it.
Therefore, you bypass the fear of failing by using the emotional shortcut of ‘meh, I don’t really want it’. If you are in this stage, there is still hope. Find what you really want to do; be honest with yourself. It’s better that you die trying to achieve the life that you want to, than to die as a prisoner of the cynical opinions of others. Getting out of this stage, is of course, not easy. But it’s worth it. This is your life, live it like how you really want to.
Rules are there for a reason, to ensure everything is in order. However, ‘in order’ isn’t always the best way to have things in order. Also, the ‘order’ changes, at an even faster rate nowadays. If there is something that you want to do, but there are rules or people stopping you, don’t give up.
Just think about how to get around them. Is there another person you can go to? Is there another place you can go to? For every problem, there is always a solution. Be creative, and use your head.
At the end of the day, your beliefs are what will determine how your life will turn out like. If you believe in yourself, there is not a single person or any set of rules that can stop you. That’s how powerful all of us can be.
Forget the rules and just do it!
Photo Credit: We Heart It