That was my mantra starting at about age fifteen when I turned onto the ethos of the punk rock music that shouted from heart. I was a discontented suburban kid. Bored. Unseen. Pissed off at school, parents and anyone else who tried to tell me what to do.
Over the years as I ‘matured’ that slogan and philosophy eventually switched gears to ‘Question Authority.’ It’s a bit less confrontational. And a whole lot more useful. I’ve keep this one with me every day of my life. I hope you do too.
Another piece of the punk rock worldview is DIY— do it yourself.
Back in the day that might have meant attempting to make your own t shirts (I dropped out of college to start a tie dye biz— I know, I’m part hippy / part punk;) or revving up a generator and playing music at high volume in a field, alley or garage somewhere. Did that plenty of times.
The concept that I could make things happen, regardless of resources or actual skills, or anything else, has hugely benefited me in my life. I’ve started businesses when I really had no idea what I was doing. I’ve taken jobs that I was nowhere near qualified for (and somehow excelled at… eventually). I’ve summoned the moxie to create and recreate my life again and again and again. This is all amazing. Until it’s not.
I’ve built the NFA biz— a critically acclaimed book, tons of private coaching sessions, live classes, speaking gigs— from absolute zero. I have succeeded in many ways. And I have failed time and time and time again. Abysmal, heart crushing failures.
Like the times when literally no one showed up for my workshops. Or the time the heckler at a library class completely derailed my train of thought. Or what about the major pile of dough I burned on a useless PR campaign?
As you may recall, I’m big on failing fast. There’s even a chapter about it in my book.
After digging into some major deep meditations last week, I’ve finally understood some pieces of myself that need to be upgraded.
Creating new systems, ideas and strategies are absolutely key components in innovation and creativity. But we do not have to reinvent the wheel. My fifteen year old self has always been obsessed with reinventing wheels. It has served me well as a creative. And slowed me down in many other ways.
Instead of reinventing, I’m currently finding it to be a way smarter move to step back, slow down and learn from others who already invented the particular wheel I’m interested in.
When possible, it’s a wise move to let others make mistakes, tweak their process, fail fast. It can absolutely be worth the time, energy and expense, to take a class from someone who knows what’s up or find a mentor or whatever. Someone who has been through the ringer and come out the other side.
Network and learn from someone who has already done your thing. Take a class. Ask questions. Scour the internet. Or the library.
Remember… the punk rock spirit def has its assets. But it also has its liabilities.