Steve Jobs gave a small private presentation about the iTunes Music Store to some independent record label people. My favorite line of the day was when people kept raising their hand saying, "Does it do [x]?", "Do you plan to add [y]?". Finally Jobs said, "Wait wait - put your hands down. Listen: I know you have a thousand ideas for all the cool features iTunes could have. So do we. But we don't want a thousand features. That would be ugly. Innovation is not about saying yes to everything. It's about saying NO to all but the most crucial features.
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Our lives drifts along with normal things happening. Some ups, some downs, but nothing to go down in history about. Nothing so fantastic or terrible that it'll be told for a thousand years. 'But because we grew up surrounded by big dramatic story arcs in books and movies, we think our lives are supposed to be filled with huge ups and downs! So people pretend there is drama where there is none.' That's why people invent fights. That's why we're drawn to sports. That's why we act like everything that happens to us is such a big deal. We're trying to make our life into a fairy tale.
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Everyone who became great at something has a similar story: For years, they worked on their craft every day, even if they weren't in the mood. Always pushing, practicing, working, and improvingYes it takes thousands of hours of practice, but that's good news! It's a clear path and it's under your control.
For years, I'd say yes to almost everything, trying to be nice and generous. Feeling obliged to be of service to the world. Maybe also a fear of being forgotten if I don't. But I paid the ultimate price in doing that, because for all those years, I got almost no work done! Some famous authors have written about this: that if they said yes to every request, then they'd never have time to write another book again.
Go find very early versions of things: the first TV pilot of a later-successful TV show; early audition tapes by famous actors; early demos by famous musicians. Focus on these early examples, not what they became over the next 20 years. Remember that what you're doing will constantly improve.
Most people don't know what they're talking about. They move their mouth and say things because they don't want to admit they don't know. Or they think they know, but it's just confabulation and biases. So ignore them unless what they say resonates with some real wisdom inside of you. Assume they're a fool and find out the truth for yourself.
If you keep thinking about putting on a conference or being a Hollywood screenwriter, and you find the idea terrifies but intrigues you, it's probably a worthy endeavor for you. You grow (and thrive!) by doing what excites you and what scares you everyday, not by trying to find your passion.
There are plenty of millionaires who would pay millions to hang a Van Gogh painting on the wall, but hardly one that would have ever had the crazy nut over for dinner. I feel like the big companies are like that with musicians. They'll say, 'We love music! It's all about the music!' - but if a musician shows up at the door, they call security.
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