I had an academic frenemy growing up. Since I started broadening my horizons senior year of high school – into sex and drugs and rock and roll, to be specific – he sort of edged me out. I’ll never forget how, in my yearbook, he declared victory, citing the old adage “slow and steady wins the race.”
Did that bug my thin-skinned teenage ego? Hell yeah. But I was a slave to my emotions, which were clearly pulling me in all sorts of different directions, back then. But unleashed into the wild after college and grad school, I took flight in the real world with a vengeance and did pretty well for myself.
While both my frenemy and I started out as engineers, he is still, ahem, an engineer. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel in any way superior. God knows, I’m still more of an emotional mess than I’d like to be. But that’s just me. And I’m cool with that. I’ve always been cool with that.
While I may have burned my candle a little too brightly, even burning out at times, that’s just me. That’s what worked for me. And it worked remarkably well … for me.
The point is, slow and steady does not win the race. But the reason is not what you might think. The reason is there is no race. I sincerely hope my old friend is happy and I have a very strong suspicion that, deep down inside, he is. So am I. We both won. I won my way. He won his.
On stage with Bill Gates at a historic All Things D (now re/code) interview with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, Steve Jobs said something about thinking of everything in terms of Beatles or Bob Dylan songs. I do the same thing. And when John Lennon sang, “Whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright, it’s alright,” he was right.
Not to shamelessly plug my upcoming book “Real Leaders Don’t Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur,” but that’s sort of the key message of the book. Do what works for you. Period. And quit obsessing about what others say and do.
It takes a lot to really get me riled up, and the one thing that upsets me most these days is seeing everyone clicking on gazillions of posts on the personal habits and productivity tips of the rich and famous.
Let me see; how can I say this diplomatically and with humility? Wait, I know. Bullshit. It’s all complete and total bullshit. Don’t do that. Do what works for you. And quit reading all that nonsense. It’s not just a waste of time. It just might cost you your one and only chance to be somebody who makes a difference in this world.
The world doesn’t need more them. The world needs more you.
Look, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a steady guy who gets the job done and is a good family man. But there’s also nothing wrong with a woman who is driven by passion, sometimes to the extreme, and sometimes to her own detriment. The only thing wrong is being one or the other and wasting your life trying to be something you’re not.