Note: this was published when the website was under a different domain name.
Yes, I'm writing on a website called dinh.sh. A domain name that's my last name. How arrogant and self-centered. But you know what? I don't give a fuck.
Yes, this is written in English, although I'm 100% French. But you know what? I don't give a fuck.
All I've ever written and shared to my friends and family in the past was in French, because, well, they're French. But the truth is I like writing in English more. It feels more natural to me to write in English. Ever since I started writing songs about 20 years ago.
99% of what I write—save chat or emails with people who speak French—is in English. Hell, I think most of the time in English. I don't even know how this happened, but it's like that now.
And I like English because there are no fucking accents. éàïôÿêóâ... fuck that, it took me fifteen minutes just to type 8 letters.
Also, I can place the word "fucking" in front of pretty much anything, and it sounds cool.
Anyway, I digress.
I want to tell you about the biggest thing I learned in the past decade.
What have you learned? Did you take a moment to figure out what this decade taught you? How did you grow during it? Or are you going to keep living on autopilot?
For me, it's been a little over 6 years that I've been journaling almost every single day, and reflecting on my life. Also, every month since August 2015, without fail, I've been writing what I call a monthly review where I would reflect on the past month, writing down what I've learned, what went well, what I felt like, the goals I accomplished or failed, even the quality of my sleep and relationships. Doing this taught me a shit ton of things about myself and life in general.
And the biggest lesson life slapped me in the face with can be summed up in two words: be yourself.
To be yourself is all that you can do.
— Chris Cornell
Yeah, I know. How hackneyed (I learned this word last year. So now I'm using it to make it stick. The brain works like that. When you learn something new, try your best to use it repeatedly to memorize it).
So, be yourself. Sounds simple, right? Well, it might be one of the hardest thing to do in our era.
I guess it started with television, but since the arrival of internet, smartphones, and 24/7 connectivity, we've been bombarded with images and videos of other people doing fantastic stuff, becoming celebrities, having millions of fans, traveling the world to exotic places, being rich and so on. Is it really surprising that our capacity to identify what we really want has been severely stifled?
I know, because I've failed to do it for the last decade, if not more. Ever since 2000 actually, when I first thought I wanted to become a rock star. Thankfully, being a shitty singer in a shitty band spared me from ending up snorting cocaine and getting ugly tattoos all over my body. I think I have a genuine interest in playing and creating music, but clearly, becoming a rock star was something I started dreaming about after having watched too much live concerts and documentaries. I subconsciously thought that slapping a few chords on a guitar would let me easily get all the girls, millions of dollars, and raving fans across the world.
So I gave up the rock star dream at about 23, right when I discovered entrepreneurship. And by this, I mean easy money. So the next thing I pursued was becoming a rich entrepreneur.
Again, all I was doing was buying someone else's dream. Repeatedly exposed to success stories of startup founders, hearing the stories of Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the likes, quickly made me think that what I wanted—and, in a grand delusion, that I was meant to be—was to become a successful, and rich, entrepreneur.
And for the past decade, I've been trying hard at it, launching project after project, failing more or less miserably each time.
I tried to launch my own social network, to become the next Facebook.
I tried to launch my own marketplace, to become the next eBay or TaskRabbit.
I tried to launch my own group discount buying website, even though I'd never heard about Groupon at the time.
Then I heard about Pat Flynn and decided that I would be a successful blogger.
I even started a podcast.
Thank god, I didn't really try to launch a YouTube channel (yet).
In all of these case, the essence was the same: I tried my hands at it because I saw or heard someone successful doing it, and so I wanted the same success.
If I had to give reasons for my failures, they would usually be the same: wrong mindset, being focused on short term gains, i.e. money and "success" (not even really knowing clearly what it meant), thus half-assing my way through each projects until the motivation waned out after I didn't reach the overnight success I was hoping for.
This lasted for years. I avidly read books, blog articles, watched YouTube videos, went to conferences, listened to podcasts, bought courses... The classic drill. I was in search of the silver bullet, thinking that once I'd found it, I'd finally be successful. I searched hard, looking everywhere I could think of. Yet, it always seemed to elude me.
But my quest has finally come to an end.
The reason I couldn't find that silver bullet all these years is simple: there is no fucking silver bullet.
Or, if there is one, this is it: be yourself.
And to be yourself, at some point, you gotta stop giving a fuck.
Do whatever the fuck you want to do. I mean, what you really want to do.
Not what you think you should do.
Not what people say you should do.
Not what you think will make you successful.
Not what you think will make you rich.
Not what you think will make you popular.
All the successes I've experienced in my life came out of simply me being myself and doing what I thought was fun.
I'm not the super successful rich guy pictured in social media and magazines, but I can say I've managed to achieve some stuff and arrive at a level in life many people would call "quite comfortable". And those things I've achieved have never been the result of a try-hard pursuit, but rather doing things just for fun, simply following my curiosity.
But every time I've started to do things:
- to please people,
- because I saw someone else be successful at doing it,
- to make money,
- or to get attention,
I've lost my zest, stifled my creativity, lost my authenticity, burned myself out, and finally crashed.
So maybe the last decade taught you something invaluable already. And if so, perfect, learn from your own experience. After all, what I've learned is proper to my own character and context. But if you haven't learned one big lesson from the last decade, I strongly encourage you to take a moment to try to figure it out and, no matter what, be yourself.