Sand dunes


Commencement Week Seth-urday has some life advice for recent graduates as well in his post ‘An endless series of difficult but achievable hills’

  • “Lightning rarely strikes. Instead, achievement is often the result of stepwise progress, of doing something increasingly difficult until you get the result you seek. For a comedian to get on the Tonight Show in 1980 was a triumph. How to get there? A series of steps…open mike nights, sleeping in vans, gigging, polishing, working up the ladder until the booker both saw you and liked you. Same thing goes for the CEO job, the TED talk on the main stage, the line outside the restaurant after a great review in the local paper. Repeating easy tasks again and again gets you not very far. Attacking only steep cliffs where no progress is made isn’t particularly effective either. No, the best path is an endless series of difficult (but achievable) hills…The craft of your career comes in picking the right hills. Hills just challenging enough that you can barely make it over. A series of hills becomes a mountain, and a series of mountains is a career.”

Embracing the failure of an easy life. The piece echoes of my favourite quotes this week which came from author Mark Stevenson’s talk to the London Skeptics in the Pub ‘An Optimist’s Tour of the Future’ which envisions a rosy future, but a tough path to get there – "Wishful thinking is a dangerous cocktail of apathy and denial."

Even Hugh speaks on the difficult path to greatness illustrated by one of my favourite drawings of his (see below)…

  • “I often think that the thing that probably causes the most "quiet desperation" in modern society, is the relentless pursuit of ‘Having it all’. ‘Who says you can’t have it all?’ were the lyrics of an annoyingly upbeat beer jingle from the mid-1980s. This campaign for Michelob Lite tritely asked the question, "Who says you can’t love your work, and leave it too?" as an allegory to the question, "Who says you can’t get great, satisfying taste in a beer, that also happens to be kinda light and watery?"…If you read the article from 1987 that I linked to above, you’ll find the campaign wasn’t that successful. Of course it wasn’t. Why? Because as we all know, life isn’t like that…To be the best in the world at something- or even REALLY good at it- the sacrifices are utterly, utterly enormous. ‘Have it all?’ Are you insane?  We ALL know this…Of course, this ‘Have It All’, sacrifice-free attitude isn’t just the domain of unexceptional beer brands. It’s the domain of unexceptional individual careers, as well. We can only hope that ours is not one of them.”


Gapingvoid - Mediocrity Howls in Protest