To Succeed 'Starting From Scratch' Needs to Become Your Best Friend

Isaiah McCall

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When you realize you’re not going to have a straight-edge corporate life you will panic. There is no gameplan for you. No working a 9–5 job, secretly resenting your boss, and no retiring to Florida for your “golden years.”

That life isn’t for you. Thank God.

A 9–5 job is easy to find. Anyone can work in an Amazon Warehouse for $15/hr. However, becoming a creator, an artist, or an entrepreneur — that’s a calling. And not always a good one. Your life will be unruly and chaotic. You have no straight path for success.

Here are some of the early indications if this is you:

You crave adventure.

You fantasize about living another life.

You can’t ever envision your 9–5 job bringing you any enjoyment at all.

Additionally you think your friends who choose “normal” lives are actually crazy; and often notice that the people who are called crazy are maybe saner than the rest of us.

Thankfully, you live in 2021. Nothing is normal. Wearing masks is not normal. Widespread conspiracies regarding every sector of life is not normal. In fact, we’re watching a new normal develop right now.

Our present environment encourages being a polymath to stave off malaise. Adaptability and composability are necessary skills to survive, moreover, thrive. In a world where new problems surface every day, starting from scratch needs to become your best friend.

This is what you should consider, however, before venturing down this perilous road ahead.

Break the glass. It’s an emergency

I know what it’s like to feel trapped.

I’ve quit three serious full-time jobs in the span of two years and every time. Asking to leave was always the hardest part.

It’s a ripping off the bandaid moment. You know your life will be better after you do it. But you have to do it — and that’s a short burst of intense pain.

A catalyst is imperative for change. Ripping off our metaphorical bandaids fuels us to start new passions and pursue interesting ideas. And you don’t need to wait for a life-changing event to happen, you can make you’re own.

I read once that a millionaire revoked his U.S. citizenship because he desperately wanted to get out of his 9–5 rut. His pursuit for meaning was more important than a stable life. He became very wealthy as a consequence.

Clearly, you don’t need to go that far. But after you read a great book or encounter a spiritually changing event. Or, happen upon a weird random occurrence, synchronicity for instance, it can serve as rocket fuel to get you started.

The importance of martyrdom

Obsession has an awful stigma. Too much of anything is a bad thing. I disagree, and look at obsession much differently: Obsessing over meaningful work is what transforms your life, and then the world.

The individuals that inspire me are obsessed with their work. From Navy Seals to the creators of “South Park.”

We like to think we’re working hard, but really we’re doing a slightly above-average job, if you can even call it that. You work just enough to make sure you don’t get fired or enough that you can live a stable life. I’ve been there too.

Instead, you should live like a martyr. Treat the most important work like something you’d die for. Elon Musk and his brother lived in a dingy poorly-lit office and showered in a public gym for months while helping create PayPal.

Do you have that kind of obsession in you?

Try obsessing over something positive at least once. See how you feel. Pay attention to how your ideas develop. Contemporaries, even your friends and family will call you crazy. Don’t take offense to it. You’re on a journey they can’t begin to understand.

Remember, it isn’t obsessing because there’s always someone out there outworking you — which there is by the way — it’s about obsessing because you obtain peace of mind that you gave it everything you had.

Pay attention and criticize everything

It’s a crime that if I mention the word “learning” or “education” to a teenager, let alone a full-grown adult, I’m mostly speaking on deaf ears.

Education is the backbone of our world. And not just outdated, expensive and mostly useless college degrees. An education from the streets often makes you more pragmatic than most intellectual elites.

Absorbing that vital information, however, is another story. This is why it’s important to pay attention to the world around you. Meaning is found in the craftsmanship of the desk I’m typing away on to the words and typography in a good book.

Somebody somewhere perhaps took pride in creating these things. As I look around my room everything has a story.

I’ve learned important life lessons everywhere. From homeless I’ve met on the cold New York City sidewalks to millionaire entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed as a journalist. Both have tremendous impact for me.

The skills that appeal to you are staring you in the face every day, if not just out of your reach. If you fall victim to being entertained everywhere you go — and not being critical and paying attention to the world — you will not find the meaning you’re looking for.

Modern man is Sisyphus

Sisyphus is a character in Greek mythology who is punished by God to forever roll a boulder up a hill. His suffering is endless. Much like ours.

You, and everyone you know and love is dying right now. Every second of every minute, of every day we near closer to our end. Although you can’t psychologically live life like you’re going to die tomorrow, this story should motivate you to do more; to find meaning in the eternal suffering.

I believe it was Carl Jung who concluded that Sisyphus is happy. Rolling that boulder up a hill gave him purpose. What prevents happiness, moreover, peace of mind is experiencing meaningless suffering.

Cancer, being furloughed or watching a loved one die unexpectedly. Sometimes we hate life after events such as these.

Work, however — meaningful work — is a kind of suffering that leads to peace of mind. Becoming an ultramarathoner last year gave me peace of mind. I was never happier running and suffering up those cold November hills.

Meaningful suffering, prudence, makes your world and your loved one’s world a better place. Accept that you will suffer no matter what. It’s up to you whether you want that suffering to have any meaning or not.

Just remember these Pink Floyd lyrics

“Dogs” by Pink Floyd is one of my favorite songs of all-time. The lyrics are prophetic for many working their way up the corporate ladder who fear starting from scratch:

And after a while, you can work on points for style

Like the club tie, and the firm handshake

A certain look in the eye and an easy smile

You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to

So that when they turn their backs on you

You’ll get the chance to put the knife in

Yuval Noah Harari (Final thought)

During my road trip from Colorado to San Diego — which I’m currently still on; apologies for the lack of content — I met with fellow Yard Couch editor

Ikram Al Mouaswas

. She inspired the idea to write about this topic after recounting her experience interviewing acclaimed author and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari.

Yuval explained to her that in order to succeed in today’s world you had to prioritize adaptability. Starting from scratch isn’t an option, it’s necessary to stay relevant in the near future. It’s a thought I’ve ruminated for some time now that I’m glad Ikram articulated based on her interview.

Also, can you believe she interviewed Yuval? That’s nuts.

I’ll leave you with this. Count Baldassare Castiglione, a sixteenth-century Italian philosopher, invented the term “Renaissance Man” in a book called ‘The Courtier.’ Castiglione didn’t believe intelligence, athleticism, or business savvy made a virtuous person.

He believed you had to do it all — or at least try. It was the only way to truly nourish the hunger in your soul.

“There are many who think that they are marvelous if they can simply resemble a great man in some one thing; and often they seize only on the defect he has.” — Castiglione

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USA Today Reporter and Ultramarathoner. I write about Cryptocurrency, Fitness Hacks, and Greek Philosophy. Also a diehard Trekkie | mccallisaiah@gmail.com

Jersey City, NJ
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