The Terrible Fear of Missing the Point
Drew Houston is the CEO and co-founder of DropBox. Yes, the cloud storage platform that you've probably used, weren't entirely sure if you needed to use again and that went public at $29 a pop on March 23 of this year. Drew, and a supporting cast of merry-mind-melders, keep popping up in my life and they have a way of infecting you with their ideas. I use the word infection because being struck by an idea is an omnipresent risk of being in it's proximity. Once infected you can think of little else but the symptoms. In the case of an idea-infection the symptom is an opening of doors that is irreversible. Each breadcrumb of information leads further down the path....to where? Nowhere. There isn't a 'there.' There isn't such thing as arriving. There is no destination. You're stuck on this path forever pal and you best deal with that.
In Tribe of Mentors, Drew paints a picture that I've been thinking of ever since. A door opened that cannot be closed. A thing done that cannot be undone. The picture is that of the tennis ball, the circle and the number 30,000; the cast of his commencement address at MIT in 2013.
The first is a tennis ball. Any old tennis ball. The old one your dog loves and will incessantly chase after when thrown. Find something you love more than yourself and be the dog. For Drew:
"The most successful people...are all obsessed with solving a problem that really matters to them"
There has never been a better time ever to be a problem solver and you bet your boots there are a host of problems worth solving. Solve problems for yourself. Give ideas away and solve problems for others. Drew points out that these shouldn't be any old problems. Trump's hair flaps in the wind. THAT'S a problem. But are you going to solve that problem? No, you're not, so find problems worth solving, make something people want and create true value. If you look closely the world could work a lot better and we need you to get there.
Second, a simple circle. The circle is drawn around you and the 5 people you spend the most time with. Think of the circle as an organism. There are 6 components of the organism and the unit as a whole is a living, breathing thing. Characteristics of all 6 members combine to make up the whole. You are the average of the five people you are in that circle with. Since we were born we were destined to suffer from osmosis of the mind; we interact with stimulus in the outside world, we form a belief around that information and then we act based on that belief. We've completed information's circle of life and the new action/belief are put out into the world for someone else to distort, duplicate or destroy. Who you have in your circle matters. It matters a lot. It may be the most important decision you ever make.
The third is the number 30,000 (or thereabout). For our purposes here I'm scaling to 31,025. That's how many days you have from birth assuming you live to 85 (I hope you live longer if you're in good health). You've done 9,125 of those days by the time you're 25. When you're 25 how many things do you know that matter? If you're humble you know that it is very few. It's actually ridiculously few. Nonetheless here you are living your 9,126th day and you're none the wiser about how many single life-units you have left. Picture 30,000 of anything. You've surely been to a concert with more than 30,000 other freaks. In fact that is a small concert. Lebron James almost attracts that number nightly during the NBA playoffs. Now look around the stadium or the festival grounds. Each one of those people is a day of your life. YOU CAN FIT EVERY SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE IN ONE PHOTO FROM A CONCERT YOU DON'T EVEN REMEMBER! That's absurd. The most humble I've ever felt was the day I read Tim Urban's Your Life in Weeks.
The point is this: find something you love more than yourself and create true value for the world, find your tribe and make their lives better and remember that life is measured in years but lived in days.