A friend came to visit me yesterday.
He’s working on creating videos for YouTube to help people learn about science. He came over to record a video of my daughter as part of his new project. He had an expensive looking camera, a tripod, and microphone attached — the works.
I asked him how much he spent on his equipment. He said, “about $4900.”
I told him that I wanted to start shooting my own videos related to the things I write about, but I didn’t want to do it until I could afford nice equipment.
He looked at me and said, “You know, that reminds me of a quote I heard from Les Brown. He said to ‘do what you can with what you have’.”
He has expensive camera equipment now, but in the beginning, he took videos with his smartphone. I’m sure he dreams of having a studio and full camera crew one day, but for now, he’s doing what he can with what he has.
It’s so so easy to run away from the work you’re meant to do — especially if it’s creative work. The “Resistance,” is a clever creature that masks itself in rationalizations.
Are you using your excuses to hide?
Here are some common excuses that can be remedied with “doing what you can with what you have.”
The Notorious B.I.G. got it wrong when he said “Mo money, Mo’ problems.” Most of us are dealing with “No Money, several problems.” It’s convenient to use a lack of money as an excuse to hold you back from doing what you want to do. It’s also a valid excuse. But you still have room to do what you can with what you have.
In the future, I plan on writing more professional quality books with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers behind the effort. But I funded both of my first two books for $1,000 or less. (I still use an editor, that’s a must).
I’m putting all of my profits from book sales into creating better ones in the future.
You have resources at your disposal to help fuel your dreams. If you have a computer then you really have no excuses. The internet is the great equalizer. It has given us all the power to connect with billions around the world.
Start a savings account. Call it your dream fund. Even if you can only spare a few extra dollars. Being broke is no joke, but it’s still not impossible to overcome.
Oh my God. Whoever said it’s a joy to raise children was lying. I love my daughter and I enjoy being a parent, but it’s so frustrating. Kids demand a large quantity of your time. Again, you may, in fact, be busy and have little time to work on your dreams. Do what you can with what you have.
It’s 6 a.m. right now. My daughter won’t sleep. So I have her sitting in her bouncer right next to me. She’s watching me write. I’m doing what I can.
Cal Newport wrote a book about doing “deep work,” which means you’re focused and have no distractions while doing important work. I don’t think Cal has kids.
With kids, you must do your works in the cracks and crevasses — an hour here, 30 minutes there, 45 in that sliver of time where your kids are not the focal point of your existence.
My daughter is screaming right now. BRB.
“I don’t know anybody.” “You need the right connections to make it in business.”
Here’s a revolutionary idea — make some connections.
Read the book When I Stop Talking You’ll Know I’m Dead. It’s the autobiography/memoir of Jerry Weintraub, one of Hollywood’s most successful producers.
When he first started his career he was a nobody. One night he had a dream about becoming Elvis Presley’s manager. He woke up that morning, somehow got the phone number of Elvis’s current manager, and told him that he wanted to be Elvis’s manager and take him on the road.
The guy laughed at him and hung up. Jerry called again the next day. Same result. Jerry kept calling.
He called every day for a year straight.
Finally, Elvis’s manager said, “You still want to take Elvis on the road? Bring a million dollars in cash and meet us at the hotel tomorrow and you have a deal.”
Jerry had 24 hours to come up with a million big ones. That’s a large amount of money even now. At this point, most people would have given up. Not Jerry. He called everyone he knew begging for money. Eventually, he made contact with a wealthy entrepreneur who just-so-happened-to-want Elvis to go back on tour.
Jerry got the money. He took Elvis on tour and the rest was history. He went on to work with Frank Sinatra, produce the Oceans 11–13 series, and make tons of connections along the way.
In the book, Jerry said, “When people say no to me I just act like I didn’t hear them.”
He did what he could with what he had.
Not Smart Enough/Good Enough/Worth Enough
There’s basically only a handful of careers you truly can’t do without an above average amount of talent.
- Play professional sports
- Become a famous singer
- Become the next Zuckerberg/Gates/Jobs
Anything else is fair game. You’re probably bad or mediocre at 95% of things, but you have the potential to become great at a few things.
Your job is to find them. Once you find them, your job is to transform your talent from potential to kinetic.
Are you really not good enough? Or are you hiding?
Can you find any examples of people who are less intelligent and less talented than you are but still succeeded? Of course, you can.
Do what you can with what you have. God/The Universe gifted you with something.
Rip the busyness badge off of your chest and throw it in the garbage where it belongs. I’m not going to lecture you on your T.V. or social media use — you know the truth. I don’t even have to say it.
Time is the currency of life. The majority of us (myself included) are ridiculously careless with it.
I’d like to write every day, but I don’t. Here’s why. On the days where I wake up later than usual I feel like I don’t have enough time to sit down, focus, and write something good. That’s not doing what I can with what I have.
What if on those days I wrote for 5 minutes? Or just a sentence? Anything to continue to producing work. (Note to self: this will be my new routine)
You’re in a never-ending war with time. You’ll lose a lot of battles, but maybe you can win the war.
Are You Doing What You Can With What You Have?
What you do with your life is none of my business. These are questions you can ask yourself, or not.
Looking in the mirror and admitting your role in the events of your life is simultaneously depressing and liberating.
It’s depressing because you know it’s all your fault, but it’s liberating because it gives you the option to do something about it.
I beat myself up when I’m being lazy, because I know I’m not doing what I can with what I have. Maybe that’s unhealthy. But maybe ignoring it is fatal.
You can choose to be content with what you have. But if you want more (freedom, joy, success) you have to work for it.
Some people say you shouldn’t try to motivate yourself. Life is complicated. Sometimes you’re low. Sometimes it’s not the right time. This view is valid.
I have a different philosophy. I believe we’re all 100% responsible for our actions. I believe when we’re at rock bottom it’s our job to pick ourselves off of the ground. Not to become famous or make a million dollars, but because of the sacredness of life.
Work through being unmotivated. I woke up this morning and I didn’t want to write at all. But now that I did I feel amazing.
You’re an investor. Your time, energy, and mindset are your capital. You use your capital wisely and investment. It grows a little. You reinvest and you have more. You continue — compounding takes time.
When you reach the tipping point and your investments take off, remember that it’s all a product of the tiny amount you started with.
This is the only way.
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Originally published at medium.com