(Are you living your life like a lion? Is it going to make you happier if you do?)
“A lion never loses sleep over the opinion of sheep”
That’s my unofficial motto for 2013. It’s also a more eloquent variation of “haters gonna hate”. “Hate” usually comes from a place of jealousy and insecurity. But a lion will never trouble himself with the opinions of those that are uninspired. Do you think a CEO pays attention to entry-level employees that don’t think they’re paid enough salary? Do you think Kobe Bryant listens to the talking heads on ESPN? Do you think Steve Jobs listened to his shareholders when he created the iPod? Success if a path understood by very few. These are lions.
If you threaten someone’s precious bubble of complacency with your words or actions, they attack to save their own ego. They will retreat to the comfort of ignorance they have lived with their entire lives. As much as you would like to wipe the dirt from their glasses so they may finally see, they are the ones that must realize they’re blind. So when you do incredible things that others are afraid of they will often attack you. When I quit my job there were two types of responses: “Good for you” and “You’ll be back”. You can tell which of those people are your friends, and those that run their life governed by fear. Many of us prefer to run our life with the wool pulled over our eyes, but you should never make a decision based on fear. What’s the worst that could happen if you took a year off from work? What’s the worst that could happen if you go over and talk to that girl? What’s the worse thing that can happen if you move to Paris or New York? If you’ve ever wanted to do those things but were too afraid, then you run your life by fear. But know that a part of you will never truly be OK with that, especially at the end of your life when you take account of everything. So if you make decisions that aren’t based on fear, then you’re a lion.
The trouble with being a lion, is figuring out if you’re listening to advice from sheep, or another lion. As an artist, you have to be wary of the criticism you receive about your craft. If you’re a photographer, how much can you value the opinion of someone who only uses Instagram? How could they possibly know what you go through and your process to make a great photograph? This is also true of praise, you can’t let all of the praise you receive go to your head. That’s why it would be much more flattering to get the opinion of a well-respected artist than a family member or friend that already has an emotional attachment to you. The difficult part comes in when you have to factor in all these opinions and criticisms and then choose how to interpret it from there. Are you considering the opinion of a lion or that of a sheep? To read the path of a lion, I recommend the #1 New York Times Bestseller “The 4-Hour Work Week”. It’s going to piss you off and open your eyes at the same time — adjust your life accordingly.
If you take the unorthodox trail in life, then you’ll meet very few fellow hikers along the way. By definition the unknown is scary and treacherous. The terrain is going to be rough, and you’ll frequently encounter enough obstacles that it will make you contemplate going back the way of every one else. But if you keep traversing and never give up, eventually you’ll get to the top of the mountain — be the lion.
[I created a Los Angeles writing group and I’m looking for those that are lions. If you have what it takes, check it out here.]
[Photo: A bit of red outside of my apartment in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, France. Blood or paint? it was gone the next day.]