Week 44 — Making Work That Lasts 50 Years & Beyond
Sometimes I catch myself thinking in the middle of a drive …
Do I have what it takes to create something that lasts a lifetime? If I’m being honest with myself, no I’m not. Knowing that frustrates me immensely, if only I could that snap my fingers like a superhuman and become a master in whatever that I choose .
Clearly, we don’t live in that world. We don’t live in a world with shortcuts, yes there are ways to be more efficient, but no shortcuts. Most of the time the shortcuts take too long anyway, so it’s pointless to look for them.
I had recently finished listening to the Ryan Holiday’s Perennial Seller, where Ryan really drives home the mindset and broad strokes in creating work that lasts. It doesn’t just mean literal artwork or music, it could be a product or even a business that you’re trying to build.
It has beautifully and bluntly articulated my dreams and the obstacles that lie in wait for all who dare try to create a legacy. These obstacles will most definitely shape who I am as a person and determine what kind of success (and failure) I will attain.
It has also given me a much needed splash of cold water to my ego and dreams, bringing all my floaty, delusions of grandeur crashing down. His writing makes you question your very existence and more importantly why you choose to embark on a path that few are willing to trod, even fewer succeed.
Why Bother Creating Something That Lasts?
I can’t speak for everyone, but I remember as a young boy, LEGO was my go-to sandbox. I would imagine and build up planes that would traverse the earth and somehow stumble into the fiercest dogfights mid-air.
I have since outgrown my love for LEGOs (unfortunately), but one thing stuck with me and it was that inner desire to go out there and create something, to express myself in a way that I would be proud of.
I never found that in all of years of studying. Not as a young athlete (which was also why I was bang average) and not as a young boy studying for his national exams. None of that ever satisfied me, which upon reflection, I now understand why I was so average and clearly “underperformed”. I was never meant to do extremely well in school, because it would have changed my life and my desires.
When I started my journey as an entrepreneur in my second year in university, everything changed, it just clicked. That paradigm shift made sense to me. Now, every single thing I do supports my goal to build a business that lasts generations.
So, when someone asks why do I do what I do? It’s hard to answer because it’s not something that’s obvious on the surface, it really is something internal and I dare say spiritual at times. It’s about bring out that indominable human spirit, to fight in the face in fire. Few can empathise with what I’m saying, but what matters is that we all have to find our why.
The Risk & The Reward
There are few things that are sweeter than creating a piece of work and having a complete stranger enjoy and appreciate what you’ve done. Because the process of creating something is arduous. The more complex, the more painful it is.
It’s also a very scary proposition, because it could be one that you fail spectacularly. You could put in weeks and weeks of research, planning and execution, only for the project to be shelved. You leave a little bit of yourself every time you create, but at the same time, you gain more than what you expected through the process. There’s a butterfly-in-a-cocoon moment every single time.
Talk is Cheap: It’s What You Do That Matters
If I had a penny for every idea I had, I would be a multi-millionaire by now. Dreaming up ideas don’t lead to building up a business that lasts a lifetime. It is part of the process, but people often spend all their time conceptualising and not enough time carrying out the repetitions.
There’s also another group of people, those who tell you that they aspire to be their own boss and to run their own café when they “have enough money”. Well, how much is “enough”? Do you even know what it takes to run a café?
Obviously, I don’t verbalise stuff like that, but I smile and wave and wish them well on their journey.
There comes a time when talk is not enough and the only thing left to do is to pick up a weapon and fight. This is not something you can cheat your way out or outsource your way out. If you want to create something that lasts a lifetime, you have to get hands dirty and do the thing.
Instant Gratification Vs Running a marathon
We live in a time and a generation that thrives off instant gratification and the insatiable hunger for something new everyday. Just think about the videos people consume daily, we’re obsessed with getting our hunger satisfied now.
From Tik Tok to Amazon Prime, we have become hooked on getting things now and not having to wait and let the anticipation brew before being rewarded with the thing you’ve been waiting for.
This hurts the creative process of building something that lasts. James Cameron wrote Avatar in 1994 and was only able to release it in 2009. That’s 15 years before launching his project!
Did he just sit there and let his script ferment? Far from it! He spent the next years helping invent the technology needed to film Avatar because the technology back then simply could not support his visionary work. We all know what happened next, with Avatar breaking all kinds of records, beating Titanic which happens to also be James’s other masterpiece.
Doing something of an Avatar level magnitude takes time and lots of effort. Not to mention heartbreaks and disappointment.
And so, if it all sounds repulsive or too much work, then don’t do it. Because, embarking on a journey like that forces you out of your comfort zone and into dangerous territories.
Not everyone can stomach the uncertainty.
And it’s okay to walk away from it.
Just be honest with yourself.
Till next week!