This article has nothing to do with Brad Pitt.
Or being naked.
So why did I call it that?
Because I knew a lot of people would click on the link when they saw it.
And I have a very important point to make that everyone who clicked on that title needs to hear.
The Power Of Unimportance
Right about now you’re probably slightly pissed. Maybe you feel betrayed – “I wanted my Brad Pitt secrets” – but at least you’re still reading.
Take a step back for a second and ask yourself why you’re miffed that I ‘tricked’ you.
It’s because I misled you into believing you were going to read another fluffy article. Here’s why you shouldn’t be mad:
The next 5 minutes of your life are going to meaningful.
Don’t live up to your potential
From an early age we are all tricked into believing that we need to live up to our potential – whatever that actually means. We embrace this notion and spend our every waking moment either:
- Trying to determine what our potential is
- Worrying that we’re wasting our potential
We spend hours – and cumulatively days, weeks, and months – of our lives pouring over articles, trying to find the best thing for me. Searching and searching for that fitness or nutrition plan that will optimize our life, make us lose fat effortlessly, unlock our wildest potential. Trying to find that magic key to happiness.
We spend our lives in jobs that we hate, keeping our heads down until we one day have enough money saved – or the kids go off to college or we finally retire – before we allow ourselves to do something enjoyable.
We search for meaning where there is none.
It’s as if there is this huge fish tank and it’s our responsibility to fill it. An aquarium-sized fish tank.
Everybody has a big fish tank – some of them larger or smaller than others: all them a predetermined size, however. We own these big tanks and before we die we must figure out a way to fill them to the brim with water. Those are the rules.
But to our knowledge, the only water we can use is in from the Baltic Sea.
That’s kinda (read: incredibly) far from where I live so I’ll just spend all my time planning for the trip I’m going to make one day. I’m going to devise the perfect plan then make one big sweeping power move and hire a flying crane to pick up my fish tank, while the whole world watches, and fly it all the way to the Baltic Sea where I will then fill it to the brim.
And I’ll have filled my potential.
I’ll pay no attention to the fact that I just spent thirty years planning the whole operation, or that flying cranes don’t exist, or that I completely ignored the trillions of gallons of water in the Atlantic Ocean as my imaginary crane flew over it.
None of that stuff is important, right?
Because I’m making plans.
The notion that each of us would own and be responsible for filling some enormous fish tank probably seems ludicrous: and that’s because it is. Now replace that imaginary fish tank with your notion of success, of living up to your potential.
Then substitute the water for your experiences.
The idea of living up to your potential is complete BS.
Because believing that you should be doing something, even though it could be completely ridiculous or irrelevant in the big scheme of things, is only setting yourself up for disappointment. Penelope Trunk, one of the greatest articulators on the web, puts it this way:
Should is a dangerous word. Someone once told me there is no word for should in Spanish. Is this right? Surely, though, there is a Spanish way to say I feel like crap because I’m not living up to my potential. After all, Spanish is the language of Catholic guilt. Should is the American way of putting ourselves down in the name of the need to impress other people.
What are some of the things we are suckered into believing we should be doing?
- We should have an ideal body
- We should have an ideal job
- We should make a lot of money
- We should live above our means right now (because we’ll be able to pay it off one day)
- We should only do things that are easy
- We should know everything there is to know about a subject
These are the tip of the iceberg.
So what happens if we stop believing we should?
In the context of those examples, we’ll take pressure off ourselves to eat the perfect diet – or to exercise obsessively. We’ll stop weighing ourselves, aiming for a target weight. We’ll relax. We’ll stop overspending, overeating, and over committing.
We’ll take the time to engage in things that we may fail at.
Our OCD will be cured.
That invisible group of unscrupulous critics whispering incessant jabber into our ears will finally quiet down – for good.
And best of all, we’ll stop engaging in triviality.
The quickest route to insignificance
Engaging in trivial activities is an incredibly powerful way to do nothing.
Will reading another article on ways to get Brad Pitt’s abs really put you any closer to getting into shape? Be honest with yourself.
Are there actually any “Tips & Tricks” out there that you haven’t already read?
Sure, some fitness/business/finance/etc experts (ie marketers) are better at spinning impossibly old scenarios and making them seem fresh. And they are great at alarmism. Your lack of improvement is out of your control, they say.
You’re under the influence of obesogens/hidden chemicals/a failing system/etc – and these things are all outside your realm of control. But do you know what’s within your control? And do you know what will save you from all of these hidden locust plagues? Buying my product for the low price of $19.95.
As a blogger, especially in the health & fitness niche, I’m constantly faced with the decision between doing something meaningful or sticking to a proven formula for getting eyeballs on my content and lots of traffic.
And it’s an internal battle.
It is the same battle that rages on inside each and every one of us daily. Am I doing anything significant? Am I actually making an impact? Am I actually helping anybody or am I just being a self-serving nincompoop?
And that’s why I’m writing this article.
My favorite article on this site thus far is How To Embrace Discomfort. I love that article because I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is meaningful. I wrote it impassionately, with no regard for “marketing” or tactical copywriting.
I just sincerely thought it was something people needed to hear.
And when I published it, I wrote it off as an article that people probably wouldn’t like too much. I thought this because I’m a “health & fitness blogger” not well… I don’t really know what I expected people to think.
I expect that most of the unsubscribes from my email list or the unfollows on my Twitter account, for example, came from people who expected me to show them how to eat more fruits and vegetables or how to gain 10lbs of muscle in a week.
And to be frank – that’s just not me. I’m not into regurgitating trivial information.
And I’m not into selling people unrealistic expectations.
There are a million and two other fitness blogs on the internet that will spit trivial information in your face and call it Holy Water. That’s just not my style.
What are you avoiding?
That’s a powerful question.
I ask it to myself daily because I’m no different than anyone else – I tend to be scared shitless by important things. Because the most important things in life are always the biggest risks, the biggest time investments, the most uncomfortable undertakings.
And I’m guilty-as-charged when it comes to wasting loads of time reading trivial things, or worrying about insignificant “what ifs.” These things are just a really easy and convenient way for me and you to waste time. And when it really boils down…
They’re an excuse to avoid hard work.
With this in mind, I started exercising my “potential” muscle. I decided that taking is much more effective than waiting around to get something. I decided to choose myself instead of waiting for permission.
Potential is real.
But the truth behind the great lie is that there is no limit. There is nothing to live up to. No invisible tank to fill. Everyone starts at the bottom. Potential is a muscle that you must train to grow and get stronger.
And this requires action:
- Read important things: Stop reading drivel. Any time that you choose to spend not taking action should be entirely filled with meaningful growth activities. The most efficient and fulfilling passive way to expand your knowledge and wisdom is to read good writing. Read challenging ideas. Read unfortunate stories. Read uplifting literature. Read read read. Read the writing of thought-leaders, of true innovators, not amateur marketers. Fill your brain with grandiose notions of the excellence that you can achieve in your lifetime. Use other people’s wisdom to avoid stupid mistakes in your own actions. Set big goals. Relentlessly self-educate. Then put the book down and…
- Do the things that scare the heck out of you: We all have that one thing. Our burning desire. Our dream achievement. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s risky. Yes, it’s insane. The fact that it is all of those things and you still have a deep desire to do it means that you need to go after it. Now.
- Embrace discomfort: Stop equating comfort with happiness. Pain is part of work. And work is the only way to grow. Discomfort is a sign that you’re growing so embrace it and go where few other people have the balls to go.
- Do hard work: In the end, this is all that matters.
We’ve all spent enough time avoiding life. Our goals and dreams.
We’ve spent years procrastinating.
Making excuses. Sabotaging ourselves then turning a blind eye. Getting angry when someone else finally calls us out on it all.
It’s time to stop.
Time to engage in importance.
To stop being insignificant.