I recently read a blog post from the co-founder of Basecamp, David Heinemeier Hansson. The link below will take you to that blog post. Below the link are some excerpts from the blog post with my commentary that are relevant to anyone with noble aspirations.
"Part of the problem seems to be that nobody these days is content to merely put their dent in the universe. No, they have to fucking own the universe. It’s not enough to be in the market, they have to dominate it. It’s not enough to serve customers, they have to capture them."
Like many things in life, dichotomies are misleading and fail to take into account nuances. There is a middle ground between apathy and world domination (however you want to define that) that can be just as fulfilling.
"But it’s more than worth a few moments of your time to reconsider whether that’s really what you want. Or, even more accurately, whether an incredibly unlikely shot at that is what you want. Don’t just accept this definition of “success” because that’s what everyone is cheering for at the moment. Yes, the chorus is loud, and that’s seductively alluring, but you don’t have to peel much lacquer off the surface to see that wood beneath might not be as strong as you’d imagine."
Introspection is is an invaluable quality to cultivate, lest you allow others to steer your life in a direction that may be antithetical to your own personal idiosyncracies. Take the time to really self-reflect. You know yourself better than your significant other, your parents, your best friend, your siblings.
Hansson goes on to enumerate his motivations for starting Basecamp that may resonate with others.....
"I wanted to work for myself. Walk to my own beat. Chart my own path. Call it like I saw it, and not worry about what dudes in suits thought of that. Independence isn’t missed until it’s gone. And when it’s gone, in the sense of having money masters dictate YOUR INCREDIBLE JOURNEY, it’s gone in the vast majority of cases.
I wanted to make a product and sell it directly to people who’d care about its quality. There’s an incredible connection possible when you align your financial motivations with the service of your users. It’s an entirely different category of work than if you’re simply trying to capture eyeballs and sell their attention, privacy, and dignity in bulk to the highest bidder.
I wanted to embrace the constraints of a roughly 40-hour work week and feel good about it once it was over. Not constantly thinking I owed someone more of my precious twenties and thirties. I only get those decades once, shit if I’m going to sell them to someone for a bigger buck a later day."
There truly is more to life than your career. As the 40 hour work week becomes more elusive than ever in many career paths, that does not preclude you from seeking out pockets of opportunity that have been untapped. Time is your only non-renewable asset. Do not undervalue it.
"All this may sound soft, like we have a lack of aspiration. I like to call it modest. Realistic. Achievable. It’s a designed experience and a deliberate pursuit that recognizes the extremely diminishing returns of life, love, and meaning beyond a certain level of financial success. In fact, not only diminishing, but negative returns for a lot of people."
More is not always better. Too much food results in obesity. Too much leisure leads to torpor. Too much work leads to burnout. Too much caloric restriction during a diet leads to muscle loss. Too much lifting in the gym leads to inadequate recovery and overtraining. Be keenly aware of the law of diminishing returns and find that sweet spot.
"The web is the greatest entrepreneurial platform ever invented. Lowest barriers of entry, greatest human reach ever. I love the web. Permission-less, grand reach, diversity of implementation. Don’t believe this imaginary wall of access of money. It isn’t there. Examine and interrogate your motivations, reject the money if you dare, and startup something useful. A dent in the universe is plenty."
In case you've been living under a rock for the past 10-20 years, the world wide web has revolutionized every single industry. Avail yourself of it. Use it intelligently. Cultivate expertise and knowledge in diverse fields. The pace of learning that can be achieved today is unprecedented.