Intimate Moments with the Rich and Famous

June 11, 2014

We live in amazing times.

Today, I had one of the worst days I've had in a long time. I like to think that I have learned a lot about controlling my own emotional state over the years, but every once in a while, I lose control, and a series of unfortunate events can really get to me. In the worst cases, it literally feels like getting punched in the stomach.

But with experience, I've learned that even when this does happen, it is within my control to just remain calm and let the negative wave pass through me.

Today 3 negative things happened:

  • an unpleasant meeting with a client, that made it clear I had to walk away from their business.

  • a major rejection of one of my projects from an important customer, for an incredibly unreasonable concern.

  • I got flaked on by a girl I'd just met, which almost never bothers me. But once in a while, I still meet a girl that does make me overly reactive.

The combination of all these things put me in a really bad mood. I left work because I couldn't focus and get anything done. I walked home for 20 mins but still couldn't think properly.

What did the events of the day mean for the future?

Am I going to have a business in 2 months?

Can I really count on my other projects to do well or could they just fall apart like that one day too?

Worst of all, is it possible that I'd have to get a job?

When am I going to meet another cool girl?

My mind was in full negativity mode, but I was also trying to find a way to be productive without needing to think too hard. I realized I had an episode of the Tim Ferriss Podcast waiting for me on my iPhone. The title of the episode was "The 9 Habits to Stop Now -- The Not-To-Do List". As I started listening to it, I realized that there were a lot of important things that I have improved over the past little while, but also that there was still a lot of room for improvements.

Walking away from this client was a decision that I knew was coming but kept avoiding. Now it was unavoidable. This was in every way a good thing. In one fell swoop, I'd stop a number of unproductive habits caused by a distracting client who caused more than their fair share of hassle. This improved my mood a bit. Thanks, Tim.

After that, I started listening to another episode - an interview with Joshua Waitzkin - that I had half listened to before. This was an even more intimate discussion with an incredibly remarkable person. I heard new perspectives on topics that I had thought about a lot (like this one), but also opened my mind up to so many incredible challenges still ahead (which I'll talk about in the next post). And it made me ashamed that I was so worked up from my petty little problems. I'm not bad at a lot of things, but I'm far from world-class in anything. There are much bigger problems I'm gonna have to tackle. And all these remarkable people went through the same struggles. There they are, sharing those stories and lessons with the world. Thanks, Joshua & Tim.

At this point, almost all the negative baggage of the day was gone. I started working on programming a bit, and doing some work that was needed for my new apartment.

Later in the night, I was checking Twitter, and saw this video of Mark Cuban, talking about how he started his first business. If there was any lingering negative emotions over the moderately undesirable events of my day, it faded with hearing this little anecdote. In a few short hours, I went from emotional wreck to insanely grateful...

Grateful that we live in a time when we can people who are world-class, teaching us the elements of learning, or people who are successful tell us about their failures. I usually surround myself with high-achieving, incredible people. But even so, I don't know too many Joshua Waitzkins, Tim Ferrisses, or Mark Cubans. But I do know a LOT of successful people through the work they've put out there for my benefit. And I have a LOT of great teachers who are willing to put their biggest failures, challenges, and lessons out there for the whole world to see. So when I'm facing uncertainties in my business or life, I can see that Mark Cuban faced much worse crises and made it through.

I don't really think it's possible to completely eliminate negative thought patterns. We are all humans. But with such amazing teachers, it's easier than ever to face our greatest challenges and view them through sober eyes.

We do, indeed, live in amazing times.