Surprise Saturday: You Can Do Anything

You can do anything.

In 2011, Andreas Illiger released a game on the iTunes App Store. It was called Tiny Wings. Helping a chirpy bird fly through an endless landscape with upbeat music was fun - so much fun that it generated millions of downloads and dominated the charts for weeks. At 28, Illiger became an overnight millionaire.

You can do anything.

Mark Cuban shared a 3-bedroom apartment with five friends when he was 25. All of his clothes were in one big pile on the floor. He was working as a bartender and living off beer and happy hour food. Then, he started selling software for PCs. He was fired after less than a year. But he stuck with software. Eventually, he sold his own company to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion.

You can do anything.

In 2016, I started a website called Four Minute Books. I further condensed 365 book summaries in a year. I made about $5/hr. After that first year, I spent less time on it. But it kept growing. Now, I have someone helping me, and it makes a full-time income with about one hour of work each week.

You can do anything.

We define success by outcomes. We see those outcomes, and they feel like a specific result, created with fixed inputs over a fixed period of time. But they’re not.

Outcomes may happen suddenly, like for Andreas, or gradually, like for me, or first one and then the other, like for Mark Cuban. But there’s no such thing as fixed inputs or fixed periods of time.

All there is is your life and everything that’s in it. Everything matters.

And because it does, you can do anything.

Andreas made everything in his game himself. The graphics. The music. The mechanisms. The code. He’d been a developer and designer for ten years before it all came together.

Mark took a series of steps, choosing to follow one path and abandon another. He stuck with the right path at the right time several times and ended up winning big.

So did Harrison Ford, by the way. You know, the carpenter we all know as Han Solo. And Elton John. Sam Walton. Rihanna. Jackie Chan. J. K. Rowling. There is no straight line to success.

You can do anything.

Tolkien published Lord of the Rings at age 63. Ray Kroc franchised McDonald’s in his 50s. Judi Dench first showed up in a Bond movie in her 60s.

Success can only be measured and felt after it’s done, but it can never be judged in its entirety. Because we never have a complete picture of any single human’s life.

Whether it happens suddenly or gradually, one day, someone will say something, and you’ll realize: “Oh. Yeah, I guess that did work out for me.” You won’t know how you got there or why you got there or why you hadn’t seen it before.

All you’ll know is that, yes, this is success. You had never imagined it, but now you know it’s true:

You can do anything.

-Nik


About Surprise Saturday: In the long run, the only good pattern is breaking our patterns. That’s why, every once in a while, we need a shock to the system. An unexpected idea. A creative surprise. That’s what we’ll unwrap every Saturday.

Picasso said he didn’t seek. He just found. Let’s keep exploring.


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