All the Things You Don’t Need


Have you seen the site Unnecessary Quotes? It’s fabulously sarcastic, offering a collection of signs that have quotation marks in all the wrong places.

I started thinking about other unnecessary things after a few people asked about my language skills for traveling. You can’t be a world traveler without speaking six languages, right?

Surprise! I’m not a language ninja. I speak bad French and awful Spanish.

Otherwise, I’m definitely not the guy you want to have around as a translator. (Airport codes and frequent flyer info, yes; translation at the next U.N. meeting, no.)

It’s not that I think everyone should speak English, or that learning other languages is unimportant. If I had kids, I’d put them in Chinese school in the morning with a Spanish-speaking nanny in the afternoon.

But you know what? Even though I’d happily accept the gift of magic language skills, I also know that my inability to cross most language barriers doesn’t really hinder me from going anywhere or doing anything. You don’t need to be a language ninja to travel. Sometimes it will be awkward and sometimes it will be funny, but your chances of starving to death on the road are quite low.

If I Could Only…

Focusing on something you don’t have (but think you need) can be a dangerous, common pattern. The pattern is to identify something you lack and use that as an obstacle that prevents you from doing what you really want.

With an obstacle identified, we feel better. No harm done, right? No harm except that nagging sense in the back of our brain that we really should be doing something differently. Not to worry: most people come to terms with it over time.

Fortunately, many of the obstacles we perceive are not really obstacles. Many of the things we think we need are unnecessary.

I don’t mean to discount handicaps, social disadvantage, etc., but the way out of most challenges was best defined by Oprah:

“We are each responsible for our own life; no other person is or even can be.”

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in a prison cell on Robbin Island. He got out and led South Africa on a path of forgiveness and transition. Viktor Frankl created a philosophy on finding personal meaning while imprisoned in a concentration camp.

When I think about people like that, I become less tolerant of other excuses. If you can emotionally thrive in prison, even more things become unnecessary. Let’s look at a few of them.

You don’t need experience. Experience can sometimes get you in the door, but what really matters is what you’re doing now. The past belongs on a resumé; the future is only partially in your hands. Today is the only day we are fully in control of.

You don’t need a mentor. No one will ever be as invested in your success as you. You can’t outsource the responsibility for planning the course of your life.

You don’t need paperwork. Paperwork includes degrees, certificates, endorsements, licenses, recommendations, referrals, and so on. Please note: it’s not that some of these things (or the other things) are unhelpful. It’s that they are unnecessary.

You don’t need to pay for access or information. I realize the irony: I sell information products on the right side of the screen. But if you want to break things down to the simplest level, almost all information is freely available. If you live in Iran or China, some information may be kept from your view – everywhere else, whatever it is you want to learn, go and learn it. If you have no money, go to the library. Go to the bookstore and read books in the cafe.


If you want to start a business…

The list of things you don’t need grows longer. You don’t need to move to Silicon Valley; you don’t need to pitch to venture capitalists; you don’t need to borrow money.

This part could go on for a while – you don’t need an office, you don’t need a MacBook Pro, you don’t need to outsource, you don’t need business cards.

From time to time I’ve been asked about my productivity habits. Here is my primary GTD workstation, pictured below for all posterity:


Technical Specs:


No instructions are included, but it’s pretty basic. GTD is a great organization system because you don’t need much of anything to use it. The principles of GTD as I use it are:

1. Write stuff down
2. Do easy stuff quickly
3. Review big stuff periodically

As I said, basic but life-changing. But enough about notebooks and venture capital – let’s get serious. Are you ready? Here we go:

You don’t need other people’s permission.

If you’ve heard the one about forgiveness and permission – how it’s easier to say “Oops, sorry” than it is to get something cleared in advance – this is totally true. This principle helped me finish college in two years and sneak into graduate school without taking the GRE. (It certainly wasn’t high intelligence or aptitude for study.)

However, you also don’t need permission for much of anything. You don’t need permission to be happy, for example. Just be happy.

Where’s the line? The line is where your actions cause harm to someone else. My view is that as long if you stay behind that line, you don’t need permission. Thankfully, I don’t know many people who want to intentionally harm someone else. We just want freedom to pursue our own choices without being held back by anyone else.


What You Really Need

If you don’t need most of those things, what do you need?

You need passion. You need to be absolutely passionate about what you believe in. If you don’t feel passionate about something, chances are you haven’t discovered it yet. Keep looking.

You need a vision and a task. The vision tells you where you are going; the task tells you what to do next.

You need the two answers. What do you really want to get out of life? How can you help others in a way that is unique to you?

You need commitment to stay the course. Most people give up at 5,000 hours; the winners continue to 10,000 and beyond. I liked what Seth said about the 3,000 posts he’s written: the first 2,500 were the hardest.

Very Important: What’s the difference between the things you need and the things you don’t need?

All of the things in the first category are up to you. Most of the things in the second category come from other people.

Mostly, you need enough. You need enough money, enough time, enough courage. What is enough? That’s for you to decide.

But don’t worry about what you don’t have. When you let go of all the things you don’t need, a lot of other things become much easier.


Also see:

Unnecessary Bubble Tea “Image” by Adam Kuban

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  • Karen says:

    Thanks so much! Over the last few years I have discovered my passion to write, however at times there seem to be so many hoops to jump through or different people giving different advice on what I simply ‘must’ do to succeed. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and allow my dreams to fade away into obscurity. I have come to the conclusion that living an authentic life is absolutely paramount. There are so many factors I can’t control in whether I make it as a writer. The only thing I can control is the way I live, experience and interpret the world around me. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to help other people live lives of meaning and hope and purpose. I want to be committed to excellence, not only in my writing but also in the manner in which I conduct myself. And I want to live a generous life. Like you say, it’s pretty simple, really. We just make it so much harder than it has to be.

  • Kath Thompson says:

    This is brilliant. I am sending it to everyone I know. Thanks!

  • Betsy Wuebker says:

    Great post, Chris. May I add:

    You don’t need someone telling you it can’t be done.

  • Chase says:

    This is great. And necessary. Unlike “filler” posts found elsewhere. This is a worthwhile blog.

  • Martin says:

    Chris, thats a fantastic post! Really helpful.


  • Erin Prais-Hintz says:

    Very thought provoking indeed. Passion, vision, value and commitment. It cannot get more basic than this. Thank you for your inspiration! Enjoy the day! Erin

  • Powered by Tofu says:

    Yes, I’ve found that learning “yes”, “no”, “hello”, and “thanks” in their language goes a long way, and a smile. 😉

    Nice timing, I just finished reading Seth Godin’s Tribes. Side note: Don’t you mean GMAT instead of GRE?

  • John says:

    Amazing. I had no idea that 5,000 hours were just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t think I’ve even broken 500 hours. I hope to be in the same league as the winners in the long run. I have to understand that my blog is still young and needs time and effort to grow. Unfortunately the “Get traffic now” message I hear all over the web, keeps making feel as if I’m going too slow.

    I guess I’m doing it right. Thanks for the post Chris.

  • Aximilation says:

    Awesome, forget all the downers, your life is your own, refuse to let them pull you down to their level.

  • Mary Anne Davis says:

    I continue to read what you put in my inbox quickly and eagerly. You are spot on. Thanks.

  • Chris says:

    Thanks, guys! You are all awesome.


    No, I meant GRE – I didn’t go to business school. From what I hear from MBA friends, that’s another thing most of us don’t need.

  • ChrisiaanH says:

    A great post, I was actually awaiting this one (about the language part and how you handle traveling without many lingo skills.)

    A great post and I love the GTD system there =] Reminds me of mine, also spiral bound and quite simple. Just a to-do list with boxes so I can tick them off when I’m done.

    I’s amazing how many things you actually don’t need when you think about it for a while.

    Persistence is one of those things you really do need to get ahead. The papers don’t matter, but IF you try and get a paper you need the persistence to get through those years of studying.

    Try and find a purpose in your life, perhaps a life philosophy. As long as you align everything with that you’d be okay.

  • Pace says:


    This is an amazing and inspiring post. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    I’m going to go off on a tangent now — I disagree that the line for the “forgiveness, not permission” rule is to avoid harming someone else.

    For example, if you’re a teenager and your parents are abusive. Run away or otherwise get out of that situation without asking permission, even if it hurts your parents.

    Asking for forgiveness instead of permission will definitely burn bridges if you do harm (or sometimes even if you just annoy) someone else, but sometimes that’s the right thing to do anyway.

    If you’re interested, here are more of my thoughts on the matter. (:

  • Daniel Edlen says:

    I always think about “Swimming With Sharks” when I read posts like this. You’ve added the “don’t fuck with people” caveat that that movie trounced brilliantly.

    Great stuff about responsibility and acting. I’m thinking about fear and desire, gonna right about it I think to review “Ignore Everybody”.


  • Rasheed Hooda says:

    Short and sweet, as always. Thanks, you’re helping me become a speed reader. 🙂


  • Deanna says:

    I figured out some of this information by accident in my own life. It seems like there’s this nice little story arc that society has prepared for everyone ahead of time. You go to school, go off to a 4 year university and get a college degree, get married, buy a house, buy a minivan, work 9-5, retirement (and in that order).

    I accomplished a lot by going about my life in unconventional ways and I figured out a lot of the things that everyone told me I had to do, I didn’t actually need. The typical “that’s just how it’s supposed to go” attitude doesn’t hold water anymore.

    I think more people need to hear what this post has to say.

  • Mike says:

    It can be such a little trap, defining your situation or *yourself* by what ‘you need’ or what you don’t have. I find once my mind is clear I amaze myself at the little obstacles that sneak up on me disguised as ‘when I’ve done this’ or ‘when I have that’.

    Once the clarity is there, the passion and vision (et al.) tend to follow…

  • Vidao says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for you posts. As it happens i am right in the process of down sizing, getting rid of stuff (books: this is difficult, i like books, but i guess besides some realy special ones, i will be able to live without the rest), clothes (this one is easy: where i live (Brazil) the ones i dont need anymore will be used by people that most certainly will make good use of them; CD`s (thank you Steve Jobs); flat screen tv? Why would you actualy want that anyway? So, i am getting rid of all these things, because i am planning on a rather radical life style change in the next months (live on board my Catamaran, and see the world at my own pace….) As you mentioned: enough is enough…

  • Harlie says:

    Awesome post Chris- am reflecting on what ‘enough’ is. It is not every day that a blog post makes you stop and think. Thank you.

  • Beth says:

    An amazing little gift from the universe has been visited upon me. Remarkable, as this phenomena always is, that I often seem to happen by or stumble upon the experiences or words (as in this case) that I need to hear at precisely the moment when I most need to hear them. Really glad I happened by your words today. Thanks.

  • Sean says:

    So many times people are looking for validation or support before they start a new business. What it comes down to is you and your desire to succeed. Thats it. You don’t need all the other stuff, and your post illustrates that very well.

  • Etsuko says:


    This post just became my #1 favorite of your blog posts! I’m trying to build up my own business while still doing a full time job, which I am going to leave in a few months. I already gave them notice so I know I’m not going back, I am committed to take this path to follow my passion. There are times that I ask myself “am I crazy?”. People at my job certainly think that I am, for leaving a great job with secure paychecks. Your post reminded me what I need to continue focusing on.

    Thank you for your inspiration always!

  • Jill says:

    Hi Chris,

    I was just introduced to you today from Danielle LaPorte’s “White Hot Truth”. Your posts may very well save my marriage…lol. I can FINALLY relax and have some fun with what I am creating instead of spending every cent my husband makes on all the thngs I think I NEED. Funny how all those things don’t ever seem to help but the more authentic I become on my journey the more things flow nicely into place 🙂

  • Shawna R. B. Atteberry says:

    Thank you for this very, very timely post. I have just realized that I am spending way too much time worrying about the things I don’t need–especially expertise and documents. I need to focus on my passion and write, and stop worrying about the rest. It’s always nice to see some sort of confirmation that you are on the right track. 🙂

  • Lori Hoeck says:

    You write: “With an obstacle identified, we feel better. No harm done, right? No harm except that nagging sense in the back of our brain that we really should be doing something differently.” — Dr. Wayne Dyer’s new release “Excuses Begone” outlines mind viruses — like your thought on obstacles — as the cause of our limitations. Sounds like you two are on the same page.

  • Keith says:

    Brilliant stuff . . . as always. Your style of writing always intrigues me. You start referencing a concrete example (i.e. second languages) which you quickly extrapolate to flesh out your broader scope. Having years of experience in teaching and training people, I believe this method of linking personal concrete to the abstract helps the learner jump the schematic gap. You always drive your point home in quick steps without tangents.

  • Nina Grenningloh says:

    Great post, Chris! So very inspiring and true. Your post reminded me of what I’m trying to remind myself everyday: There is no right way or wrong way, just YOUR way. Thanks for putting me back into focus!

  • Maus says:

    Chris, thank you for sharing your insights. I stumbled onto your blog and find it very congenial.

    This post speaks directly to me because I am trying to free myself of all unnecessary attachments. I find the last remaining challenge for me to be the issue of health care. I am a diabetic; and health insurance, if it is even offered outside an employee group policy, is very expensive. If I did not fear destitution from a medical emergency, I believe I would have the courage to leave my job and confront the world as my own man. Anything you could post on how those like you who have done so cope with health care issues would be most appreciated.

    As an aside, I have long been a practioner of asking for forgiveness rather than permission. But I have a hunch that doesn’t work nearly as well as a visa (a sort of permission) when you visit some of the countries on your global excursion. So, you have no doubt discovered (especially if you are not a master of six languages) that a little humor — which all people share — also makes life an easier path to navigage. At least I seem to discern a good spirited chuckle in your posts now and then. I will continue to be a frequent reader. -Maus

  • Tim Brownson says:

    Have you noticed how Seth Godin is now morphing into just Seth? Seth is enough now for most people to know who you’re talking about.

    But here’s the question. If he’d been called John Godin, I doubt you’d have been typed “I liked what John said about the 3,000 posts he’s written: the first 2,500 were the hardest”

    Reason being, we’d all be thinking wtf is John? Is that his buddy that blogs about parrots or some other John?

    So what is the point of this comment you may be thinking? Well so am I and if I come up with one I’ll be sure to pop back and let you know.

  • Betsy Talbot says:

    Chris, we spend so much time thinking about why we can’t do something that we don’t give much attention to how we can. 3 years ago we had a big dream to travel the world, a nice “what if” that couldn’t possibly happen in our life – at least not until retirement. Today we have a departure date in 2010 and a simplified lifestyle that supports our big dream long-term. The only thing that changed between then and now was our thinking. Amazing!

  • Andrew says:

    This is one of the best posts that I have read in a long time. Just reading it, several things popped into my mind that I had saddled myself with and didn’t even realize how much they were constantly on my mind. Terrific clarity in this unpretentious observation.

  • jaclyn turner says:

    This is exactly what i needed to hear now… just wanted you to know how you’re writing has inspired me! I have put in my notice at work last week… two more weeks in the office, and I will do whatever i can to never return to this environment. Thanks so much!

    Also, i wish i was in NYC to hang with you guys today! I’ll be there next month. 🙁

  • Mary says:

    Thank you Chris. This article was VERY timely for me, and your message was exactly what I needed today.


  • Glenn Edley says:

    Chris this post was a timely reminder to get back to where I started and didn’t forget a thing, a spiral bound notebook.
    Great post. Thanks for the reminder.


  • Wil Butler says:

    I gotta agree with the not needing permission.

    It’s amazing how many people sit around and wait for others to tell them what to do, or go around asking if it’s okay for them to do something then sit around waiting for the permission.

    This seems especially true when you work for someone else.

    I’m currently in the middle of a bottom-up initiative to improve the processes at the company I work at. Everyone wants to do things in new, better ways, ways that are readily available but oddly ignored, yet no one can get permission from the higher-ups, so no one bothers.

    Strange how people spend their entire lives looking for everyone else’s approval and blessing on their own lives.

    I wonder how much time in the average life is wasted waiting for approval.

  • Byron says:

    Great stuff. I have found your insight and frankness refreshing and practical. This post delivers once again.

  • elena s says:

    Finally some constructive and helpful information.

    There are too many websites and tutorials, telling you how to do this, how to do that, and much much more… Each of them takes time and is helpful in a very limited way and for specific aspects. You can’t follow all of them. You have to start your own project.

    Your article, Chris, is an encouragement for people like me who are starting their own business.
    And it provides some basic instructions to all those folks who still have to start and get out of their personal traps.

    Thank you very much! I’ll email this post to lots of friends.

  • DK Raymer says:

    Spot-on brilliant and exactly the Monday message (aka kick in the pants) I needed. I’ve been reading you now for several weeks and have enjoyed your posts and your travels. You provide wonderful encouragement for those of us with very big goals. Earlier today, mine looked like mountain. Not so much now. Thanks!

  • Barbara Hauck says:

    Best information I’ve read in a long time. I resonates true. It is direct, but nicely said. Good words.

  • Sean says:

    Helpful and inspiring as usual!

    This is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. You definitely nailed it though, everything we need is already with in each of us. Those outside can be encouraging and helpful, but the source is from within.

  • Corbett Barr says:

    Great advice, Chris. I especially like that you point out you really don’t need a mentor. Some people make it seem like you can’t get anywhere without one. I’ve never found any one person who can or will advise me on the breadth of things I’m interested in. I think that’s a good thing because it means my interests are my own and unique. Like you said, no one will be as passionate about your success as you.

  • Johannes says:

    This article was awesome. No matter what your circumstances are go after your dream and do not listen to all the discouragements of your environments and all the little excuses that come into your head.
    I highly recommend everyone watches the two subsequent movies on this topic:

    1) Rudy (based on true story of “Rudy” Ruediger who pursues his seemingly impossible dream of playing football for Notre Dame University)

    2) The Pursuit of Happiness (based on true story of a man pursuing his dream of becoming a stockbroker and providing a better future for his son)

  • Lucas Krech says:


    I have been operating on this principal for the last few years now. Nice to see it written out so clearly.

  • Nate says:

    Amazing stuff here. I’m actually sitting here with a big grin on my face because of this…

    “Where’s the line? The line is where your actions cause harm to someone else.”

    I was going to write a post on my blog about this exact thing within the next couple of days. I’m still going to, and I will make sure to link back to this post because it fits so perfectly with what I believe.

    I just recently wen’t on a week long hiking trip by myself to be alone. The purpose of this trip was to figure out some things about how I view life. That phrase right there covers what I walked out of the woods with.

    Pursuing what you want is EXTREMELY important, but there needs to be a line drawn somewhere. That is what I came up with, and apparently we think very similarly.

    Great post, Chris and you continue to be an inspiration. Thank you.

  • The Outdoor Type says:

    Nice post – love the intro re:travelling. People have asked me whether independent travel is “hard” when you don’t speak the language. I tell them travel is simple – you need to eat, you need somewhere to stay, and you need to be able to get around. All of these can be taken care of with hand gestures and smiles (and saying thank you in the local language!).

    Nice message in the post – getting started in business is not about buying a nice suit, getting business cards printed, etc. It’s about passion, commitment and work.

  • Sue says:

    I’ll bet that advertising agencies and marketing departments just love you for encouraging your readers to not get sided-tracked by all the stuff they don’t need–whether attitudes, beliefs, or actual “stuff”! 😉 (By the way, there is a great little documentary called the “The Story of Stuff” that touches on the very issue of the psychology used my marketers/advertisers to convince people to buy stuff they don’t need.) I’m sure this same psychology applies to the obstacles we create for ourselves because we don’t have x years of experience in a field or a degree in whatever discipline, etc. I am guilty of allowing myself to be stymied by such imaginary barriers on numerous occasions, and I am working diligently at becoming more conscious of when I get into that head space.

  • Irene Olszewski says:

    As one who jumped into the land of solos without a parachute, I wholeheartedly agreed with (and enjoyed) this post. If you have a passion and you choose to follow it, you will succeed. It’s amazing what you can learn by doing a little constructive research. We all start without experience. We gain it day by day. Eventually, we become experienced. If you look deep inside yourself and trust your courage, your business will thrive.

  • Kirstin Butler says:

    I just read through this post for the third time today, and it only gets better with each reading. Thanks so much Chris for laying it out there–what the absolute essentials are to do something we hope will have impact. I suspect I’ll be referring to these words for some time to come.

    And I’m very psyched to meet you in the flesh in NYC later tonight!


  • Anne says:

    I have had in my possession for more years than I can remember a little card that depicts a very large elephant lying prostrate on the ground with a number of turkeys sitting on top. The card reads “Never let the turkeys get you down.” I guess the turkeys are anything that says no you can’t, or you won’t make it!

    I love your spirit Chris and enjoy every email that comes my way from you. Reflecting on your point about not knowing another language, I do not have a second language either apart from a smile (which by the way can get you a long way), but every place I have travelled to has great memories of good food,drink and lots of smiles between people who had no common language.

    Thank you

  • soultravelers3 says:

    So true! “If there is a will there is a way” has always led me to go after exactly what I want.

    It is true one does not need languages to travel ( especially if one has a dominant language as their primary language, more so if it is the most dominant at the moment…English).

    However, I do think if one wants to immerse deeply in a culture while traveling, there is no better way than to learn the language. We did the work required to have 2 dominant languages and it has helped immensely in our open ended world travel.

    Yes, we also speak a little high school French and bits and pieces of lots of languages, but we find a HUGE difference on how much more deeply we can connect in Spain ( our 2nd language) compared to other countries like France, as well as how much easier it is, than in countries where we are not fluent in the local language. It is like night and day. We’ve been to many countries ( including much of rural Europe) where no one speaks English.

    I think if one has not had the experience of being fluent in two and how that affects travel, you can not fully understand the advantages and what is missed by not speaking the local language. One can experience things at a much deeper level when you know the language because it is the best way to know a culture and really connect with locals. Knowing Spanish also has helped us in Italy and Portugal. There have also been times where people in other countries could not talk to us in English, but could in Spanish.

    Of course, the best way to learn a language it to immerse in it, thus slow travel can be a great advantage in adding a second language. It is also a great way to give your kids a second language & give them the important experience of being in an environment where their native tongue is not the dominant language. By attending a local school in Spain, our child is bilingual and even more importantly biliterate in a way we could never have given her any other way.

    I’d also like to add to your list that one does not need to take planes to travel the world. They are extremely harmful to the environment, so something important to consider if we still want travel available to our children and their children.

    We’ve traveled to 4 continents, 29 countries and over 86,000 miles – most of it over land and in a very green way. Slow travel is not only better for our environment, it is also much more enriching, than dashing here and there on a plane and frantic quick look at the “sites”.

    Money seems to be the biggest excuse for not following a dream to travel. Strange that people do not realize that travel ( especially minus planes and hotels and done slowly) does not cost much at all. Over consuming and maintaining “stuff” is what costs. Living simply allows a life of so much more freedom.

    We’ll soon start our 4th year of our open ended world tour as a family and we live large on much, much less than when we lived at home. I did not let my age, weight, young child, money or mobility challenges limit me. If there is a will, there is always a way.

  • Tony Grogan says:

    Great post! I have a lot of work in my life to get rid of things I don’t need. I am a perfectionist to the core. I tend to make sure every last thing is in place before I take action. But after its over I find that 80% of what I prepared was not needed at all. I have already printed this post to hang on my office wall just as a reminder to focus only on what is needed.

  • Dillon says:

    Great thoughts. I think this dovetails nicely with the sufficiency post. Hope you enjoy NY. safe travels

  • Benedict says:

    Great post and a fantastic reminder that one already has all the tools one need to make things happen. So often the limitations we perceive are really self-imposed.

  • Victoria says:

    A well written and inspirational post. In our current world, I see more and more people associating things that they “need” with things of convenience. A perfect example of this reality is a cell phone. For over a year now, I have not had a cell phone; in my opinion, cell phones are a manifestation of our fast-paced, “I want it now” consumer society. Why should people be able to know what I am doing or where I am at any second of the day? It’s not normal for a person to be that available. Albeit cell phones are very useful and convenient (especially in emergencies) they are not necessary. However, when I tell people that I don’t have a cell phone, they look at me with bewilderment and/or dismay. “Don’t have a cell phone!?! How is that possible, how do you function!?” They manage to blurt out between exasparated breaths of air. After convincing them that I still manage to thrive as a human being without a cell phone, I try to explain to them something along the lines of that which you have articulated in the above article. We do not need cell phones. Sometimes, they may be helpful in dire situations- but they can also be harmful, for they have transformed the way we interact with society at large (don’t worry I won’t delve into that). If we really want to live out our lives to the fullest degree and make the world a better place, we need to detatch convenience from necessity.

  • Dan Krikorian says:

    Great post Chris…to go along with this, here’s a great quote from Derek Sivers’ blog:

    “At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut tells his friend, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history.

    Heller said, ‘Yes, but I have something he will never have: Enough.’ “

  • Stacy says:

    Thanks, great post. It’s true. When we focus on what we want to DO, the things we need become clear. So many of us are so good at getting in our own way.

    And thanks for the reminder about not needing permission! We each have our deep passion; and letting go of the excuses that others need to “get it,” “accept it,” “give us the green light” can hold people back for years. It did me. Realizing that the only permission I needed was my own was a big step to moving into service in a way that not many around me “got.” Uh-o, too many quotation marks?!

  • Tamia says:

    I love this post! Simple, straight to the point, and most of all, TRUE. Very inspirational!

    I think I need to hear more about this “skipping the GRE” strategy…

  • Merklen Li says:

    Awesome awesome post. At the begging I wasn’t sure where you were going with the language thing but it kept getting better and better and got me completely absorbed by it.
    Could not agree more.

  • Matt says:

    This was a needed kick in the ass! Thanks!

  • Charles says:

    Wow, I actually thought I needed those things you said I don’t need. But now I realized that I have created unnecessary obstacles for myself. Thanks for helping me discover that!

  • Bea (Baya) says:

    Great article! I also think you don’t need to do it all at once. Perfection is part of the journey not just the end result. If you understand that you have a better chance at being a winner. Thanks for your thought provoking acuteness.

  • Andrew Lightheart @alightheart says:

    Just when I was starting to believe my story about getting a degree/MSc/becoming Dr Lightheart – you remind me that it’s about deciding and doing.

    Phew- glad we got that straight.

    Though being Dr Lightheart would be cool…

  • Bob says:

    Best article I’ve read this week. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • emily-sarah says:

    Awesome x infinity. It would seem we are hardwired to strive to make things more complicated than they are — or have a bad of excuses ready to use as needed. Thanks so much for this!

  • hilory says:

    As expected, another insightful, timely and honest post, Chris. I agree with almost everything that you have said…the one exception is that I do think a good mentor (admittedly an endangered species, despite the hype/hysteria of the ‘self-proclaimed’ gurus) can truly provide value. Is it essential? No, but it is helping me to avoid needless expenditures of the latest ‘it’ product, avoid information overload – a significant concern when beginning an online business, and save time by avoiding ‘newbie’ mistakes. Success will still require vision, focus, hard work, persistence and patience, but I wouldn’t totally rule out the concept of mentors.

    Thank you again for an excellent post.

  • Sandra Dupont MFT says:

    Each of us has our own unique expression. My job as a Teen Therapist to support the clients I see in finding theirs. Too often, parents, peers and society want to inform teens about how they should behave and what they should do with their lives. Obviously, there are safety issues that need to be considered. Obviously, there are guidelines that can help teens to live cooperatively within their families and society. But not all teens are meant to go to college, and not all teens will thrive in traditional school settings. Not all teens are meant to be doctors or lawyers.

    Too often, parents have a fantasy of who they want their child to be when they grow up. Clashes arise when the child begins to assert their independence and veer away from their parent’s. In this fast changing world, jobs that today’s youth may be holding may not as yet exist. Thus, isn’t their educational process better served by teaching them how to think, as opposed to how to be? If teens are not forced into some mold of their parent’s or society’s design, then I believe their natural inclinations towards exploration and resourcefulness will be maintained.

    The world actually needs more non-comformists like Chris!

  • Rose says:

    Your words have quite literally been a lifesaver. Thank you.

  • Tonya says:

    Along the lines of skipping the GRE, my father was a U.S.citizen and an M.D., who graduated from a foreign medical school, did the Fifth Pathway program and practiced medicine in the U.S. Nothing unusual about that, but he never graduated from university. He had no undergrad degree, but he didn’t let that stop him. He’s still my hero. One of my favorite of his expressions was “Where’s the back door?”, meaning for me to look for a way around whatever excuses I was trying to give him. Thanks for the further inspiration, Chris!

  • Christopher says:

    This is so liberating… its like a weight lifted from off your shoulders… thanks chris!

  • Jeff Goins says:

    Excellent. I have a similar work station. Always felt weird for being low-tech. Thanks for the affirmation, Chris.

  • Elizabeth Glanzer - Teen Therapist says:

    I agree with some of this, but other parts not so much. Outside the box and nonconformist is great, but no mentor? I can’t name one person who’s gotten to the top without a mentor. Why start from the very bottom by yourself and think you can achieve your goals without asking for help and advice from those who have already achieved what you want?

    Life is too short to not learn from other people’s mistakes.

    Too soon old, too late smart.

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