“To be normal, is the ideal aim for the unsuccessful, for all those who are still below the general level of adaptation. But for people of more than average ability… the mortal compulsion to be nothing but normal signifies the bed of procrustes – deadly and insupportable boredom, a hell of sterility and hopelessness.
Carl Jung, The Practice of Psychotherapy
Is there anything worse for the creative, the adventurous and ambitious man, than to be normal? Just another average Joe, fitting in with the herd. To never realize the effectiveness of your talents, or develop yourself into something greater than a lazy bovine, plodding through the fenced field, chewing fertilized cud, shitting where you stand and waiting for the day that relief arrives in the form of a swift steel bolt to the forehead. And right before death… the epiphany: it could have been so much better.
The Call to Adventure
“When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who runs in the opposite direction, appears to have lost his mind.”
When I was a wee pooper, at recess, rather than joining the kids as they played ball games on the field, I’d sit and watch them. I’d think “Why do they all move as a mass, yell at the same volume, and try to achieve the same objective? Why do I feel out of place, a faker, when I try to join their game, play by their rules, and achieve their objectives?” Was I weird?
I’d spend my fifteen minutes walking the field, imagining all the tiny creatures screaming up in horror as the giant obliterated their habitats, placing myself empathetically into their point of view, granting them all the intelligence and self-awareness that any human would possess, and wondering why we see animals, even amoebas, as purely instinct driven automatons.
Closing my eyes I’d rocket into space, around the sun, dipping into various planets for a swim in mercury lakes, have picnics on asteroids, and then return home just as the buzzer rang for class. One day they would all see, I thought, I’m not the weird one… they’re normal.
I’d watch them screaming in harmony as they ran back to class, happy as leaves in the sun. Sometimes they’d ask why I didn’t want to play, but how could I explain, it was just more fun to crush empires and fly around the sun? My imagination gave me a place to live out heroic quests, far beyond the normal. I may not have been destined for athletics, or mathematics, but what I knew, was that I had to live life in a way that fascinated me.
I’m sure some of those kids went on to their own great adventures. Maybe some became pro-athletes, but at age ten most aren’t that self-aware. We’re all trapped looking out from our own perspective, until taught otherwise, or enlightened through life experience. For most of us, we feel alone in a world that doesn’t understand, or want to help us.
Are You Destined To Be Normal?
“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
Men who strive for great success, to escape a life of “normalcy,” often have the ability to visualize abstract thoughts. They have the drive for a heroic life. But those who actually achieve great success, rather than just dreaming, are able to act on their abstractions, and make them concrete.
This is the great crisis for modern men; most of us don’t have a quest, an ambition, or the determination, focus, and drive to realize one. And if we do begin on our quest, we’re not equipped to deal with defeat, to pick ourselves up, and start again should we fail.
Being heroic takes courage, creativity, will, and hard work. For those reasons, it’s easier to be normal. But this guide isn’t for the normal… it’s for you.
What Does Being Successful Mean?
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation…”
Henry David Thoreau
Success is more than just achieving a desired outcome; or realizing a goal. I’m not speaking about common success; I’m referring to heroic success, the sort that grants you a legendary life, living a movie, conquering the world, slaying the frost giant army and then dining in Valhalla with the Gods.
Of course, success is subjective. But I’d define success as having a fulfilling career, a healthy mind and body, and a sense of purpose, or destiny being fulfilled daily. Success is not happiness. You don’t need to be happy all the time. In fact, being unhappy, or unsatisfied, is what drives us out the door, into the world of adventure, creation, and legend. Sometimes it’s a deep fear, perhaps even of boredom, that inspires us in search of meaning and purpose.
Some men just want a job that pays well, a pretty wife, healthy children, and a boat for weekend fishing trips. That’s fine. But I’m speaking to those of you who know you’re destined for something more, to be better than normal, to those who feel out of place, in the wrong century, alone in a school of fish, sitting at the bottom of a rainbow wondering how to climb it.
This is for those of you who want to live a heroic life.
Men: Needs and Wants
The majority of men have no goals beyond meeting their basic survival needs:
- A job to provide income
- A house to live in
- A social network to alleviate loneliness
With these needs provided, they can then focus on wants:
- Hobbies to escape the boredom of existence
- A girlfriend for romance and sexual release
- Wealth to purchase material possessions: luxury items like cars, stylish clothing, organic foods, gym passes, computer gaming systems, over seas vacations, etc.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting. Humans are curious by nature. We want to explore, try new things, be happy and have fun. The problem arises that material wants fail to provide us with long term contentment, fulfillment, and happiness.
I know many wealthy men who are miserable, addicted to drugs (often prescribed) and alcohol, or other vices like gambling ( also crypto-currency and the stock market), video games, pornography, politics, junk food, and so on. Even though they have wealth, either from their career, inheritance or good fortune, they still suffer from ailments of the soul; a lack of purpose, or meaning.
Many of them have an idea of what they could achieve, but are unable to muster the momentum to realize their ambition. If they do, once they realize their goal, they’re back to existential angst. This causes all kinds of torment. For example men who think that sleeping with hundreds of beautiful women will satisfy them. I know from experience, all it will do, is satisfy a curiosity, and then it too, grows old and cliche.
It’s in our nature to want. For the heroic man, what’s greater, and more pressing than our wanting, is our need to create, explore and conquer—not others, but our own mediocrity.
The Great Suffering
“Our labour preserves us from three great evils — weariness, vice, and want.”
Every man is a creator, and the creator who is unable to create is doomed to a life of suffering. Whether his drive is to create employment for himself, a great work of art, a church to worship his deity, or a home to shelter his family. The creative man lacking the will to get up, and do the work necessary to create his vision, will ultimately fall into a state of lethargy, apathy, and depression.
And worse, to realize, your mediocrity is a choice. Every day you fail to take action, to make your life better, it’s absolutely, your fault.
If this is you, before you go kill yourself, understand it’s in your power to escape this hell. All you must do is become a hero, choose a heroic goal, and move towards it every day, for the rest of your life. Easy, right?
If you’re able to discover this calling, you’ll find yourself waking up every day excited, fulfilled, and emotionally satisfied with your life. Then congratulations… you’re an incredibly successful man. You’re heroic.
Why Be Heroic?
Living life heroically, is scary.
Committing to a life’s quest, means facing your demons. They’ll try their best to keep you lost, defeated, indecisive, in your place. They don’t want you to rise… they want you small, quiet, and safe. They want you to fit in, and be normal. Realizing this, is that to live life heroically, is terrifying.
You’ll need courage.
Heroism may seem like a sacrifice, of your time, energy, and even your physical safety. But it isn’t an altruistic act. The man saves the drowning dog not for the dog’s sake, but his own. Because he knows if he doesn’t, it will haunt him for the rest of his days. In that case, all great creative action, is an act of self-fulfillment and heroic.
Small vs Epic Goals
If your goals are too small, you’ll achieve them too easily, and your quest will be over. You’ll find yourself hopping from small goal, to small goal, without making great progress in an epic quest.
Yes, your life is a quest; you’re the hero, and you don’t want to be out there beating up pick pockets. You want epic journeys, taking on the galactic threats, to save the Universe, not just the block. This will be your motivation to work hard, and long, to achieve greatness. Being who you are, to do less, is spiritual suicide. You know this intuitively.
Consider the wanna-be rapper who spends his days making beats, rather than recording an album, the entrepreneur who works on small bits of code, rather than hiring help so he can create the grand marketing plan, the marathon runner who spends days shopping for the right shoes to jog the block, rather than scaling the mountain.
Your goals must be epic in scope, otherwise, you’ll lose motivation, and fall back into lethargy, apathy, and despair. This isn’t a choice, it’s your destiny.
You can, and will have multiple goals, and changing goals. The point isn’t to reach the outcome, but to have a purpose, a daily activity that excites, fulfills you, and gives your life meaning. If your journey changes direction, so be it. But you must be focused on a big picture, epic outcome, and then chip away at it, one day at a time. The alternative is hell on Earth, a spiritual suicide.
Now, how do you choose a heroic goal?
Choosing a Heroic Goal
You can live in the service of a person, or people, in the service of an institution or ideology, or in the service of your personal value system. I’m writing for those of you, who choose independence, to serve your value system. If you haven’t worked that out yet, then first make it your goal to realize your values.
There are three main criteria to consider when choosing a heroic goal. It must be:
- Intrinsically rewarding
- Specific and focused
The goal should be something you find naturally appealing, which contains activities you’d enjoy regardless of external rewards like validation, fame, or fortune. That doesn’t include binge watching your favourite sports series, or any passive activity. The goal must involve using your talents and skills. It must not be a passive exploration, but an action of will and determination.
To be intrinsically rewarding, you must be able to do it well, and improve while doing so.
Your goal must be difficult and involve skill, but not so difficult that it exceeds your skill. It must be challenging, but not impossible. Otherwise you’ll become frustrated, and kill yourself (Or just quit and play video games for a month.)
The quest must be ambitious. You’re not going to write a book, you’re going to write a six book series, you’re not going to learn kick boxing, you’re going to fight in the national tournaments.
In this manner, you can measure your progress, and it won’t be over before you’ve grown and improved your skill. You’ll create a series of steps, and milestones through life, where each milestone met, opens up new paths and challenges.
It must be specific and focused, otherwise you’ll be caught up in a cloud of confusion, not knowing what steps to take next, constantly distracted by unimportant, unnecessary tasks that take you further away from your goals. These are your villains.
Once you’ve decided to escape a life of normalcy and suffering, you’ve chosen your heroic goal, you can begin your epic quest. Along this path, you’re going to encounter many villains. Some of them will be old familiars, and others, behemoths you’ve never imagined.
My personal villains are expansive, open world role-playing games, Youtube, politics, alcohol, hedonism, and my own self-doubt, ego, and laziness. Every day in order to live the heroic life I’ve chosen, I must confront these vile bastards and defeat them. But they’re too numerous, and strong. So in order to crush my enemies, I must employ my sidekicks. They are:
- Hero Worship
- Daily Rituals
- Positive Habits
- The Critic
Villains will constantly tempt you off your path. Some come in the forms of pleasure, distraction, escapism, relaxation, and even emotions like outrage and justice. You may love these distractions and feel they’re a necessary part of your life, but ask, are they helping you reach your goal? Are they bringing your closer to a fulfilling life, or just adding to your misery?
Reward should come after the work, not before. Imagine stuffing yourself with candy before dinner, or orgasming before having sex with a beautiful woman. The reward must be earned, or we won’t appreciate it.
Recently, I went on a multi-day back country hike. After two days in the forest, I came to a beach and met a man with a boat. He saw that I was exhausted. It was at least an eight hour walk, up a mountain, out of the forest. He offered to take me across the lake to the nearest road, where I could catch a ride home. I told him ”That would defeat the purpose.” My purpose was to walk myself onto, and off of the mountain.
The hero doesn’t want the battle given to him… he must conquer it himself. The point isn’t the destination, but the experience, the journey and what you can learn from it. Only then, do you earn your reward.
Failure is Your Teacher
“Weak men create hard times.”
Michael Hopf ~ Those Who Remain
Failure is not a villain. Failure is your teacher. It makes you wiser, stronger, and more skilled. Without failure, there would be no success. Facing failure, being knocked down, and then getting back up, is a great heroic feat, and takes immense courage. Failure is not a choice, it’s mandatory.
Not every quest will be completed. Some may feel like great failures, but ask yourself, will you carry the lessons from those experiences into your next great quest?
Every great quest has been undertaken before, by men greater than yourself. What can you learn from them? How can you travel the same road, but in your own manner and style? What can you contribute to the legacy of the people you admire?
What athletes, authors, inventors, soldiers, entrepreneurs, fathers, have you learned from? Seek out knowledge from these heroes, and then become one yourself, to inspire those who follow you.
A ritual will provide you with a map on your quest. You’ll see the day clearly; what lies before you will be illuminated. Personally, I start the morning around 8 am. I have a coffee while I look at the world news. I stretch, drink water, and then read or listen to something inspiring, or related to research for my days work.
I don’t turn on the video games, or watch cartoons, or jerk off (well, sometimes). And I often get this wrong. I sleep in, or get sucked into videos of world events, and punditries. But that’s when I realize, these are the villains, and they want my time.
Time is a vital resource. You can put money in the bank of time, or you can spend it. In your daily ritual, I suggest putting your investment in the morning, before you absorb yourself in other interest and hobbies. Invest, in your quest, and consistency execute your routine.
Whatever it is you need to get into a proper mindset, or emotional state, do that first. Then work, and work for as long as possible. The more you work on your heroic goal, the more at peace you’ll feel.
You must develop habits that help aid your quest. So ask yourself, does watching pornography for two hours, or watching conspiracy theory pundits really move you closer to life’s purpose? Perhaps you want to be a pornographer or write a book about the deep state. But if not, these are examples of habits you should either quit, replace, or delegate as rewards for after you’re done your work.
Positive habits are ones that make your life better.
- Getting up early
- Starting work on time
- Sticking to your schedule
If you just want to be normal, go to work for eight hours, then come home, then your only habit will be to get up and make it to work on time.
If your goal is to climb the world’s tallest mountains and film it for your blog, then you’ll need to develop habits like maintaining diet, exercising, allotting time to research your gear, climbing, filming and editing techniques. For that you’ll need very strong, solid, daily habits.
If you want heroic success, without heroic, consistent habits, the villains will wreck you.
“The starting point of all achievement is desire.”
Napoleon Hill ~ Think and Grow Rich
If your heart and mind isn’t brimming with desire, you won’t have the passion to reach to your heroic goal. How do you create desire? Fantasize about the outcome.
When I’m writing a book, I imagine the pride I’ll feel as I hold it my hand, the knowledge I’ll be able to share that will positively help friends and family, and the money that will give me more freedom, so that I can continue to do what I love.
Don’t just imagine what you will have, but feel what it feels like to already have it. Sure, you want to enjoy the process, but also look forward to the day all your work is realized.
“For I am the man this poem is about, the next champ of the world, there isn’t a doubt. If Cassius says a cow can lay an egg, don’t ask how. Grease that skillet.”
A limiting belief is a belief you design in order to limit you from achieving greatness. No, God didn’t put those limiting beliefs there, and you can’t blame daddy for poor genetics. It was you, and it’s up to you to change that opinion. You have to believe in yourself, the cause, and the process, 100%.
Nobody is going to believe in you more than you believe in yourself. If you fall, you get back up because you believe. If everyone laughs at your painting, you paint a thousand more, until your paintings are the most beautiful paintings anyone gazed upon, and rather than laughing, they cry at its wonder.
You are the greatest! And if you’re not… you will be.
You must be your own worst critic. Develop a strong distaste for mediocrity, especially your own. When you make that baby, you must be the one to look down on it, and say, “That baby needs some work. I love it, but I’m putting it on the treadmill as soon as it can crawl.”
You must know that you exist well below your potential, and never be satisfied with producing average work. You’ll stay at the grind for an extra hour, you’ll run an extra mile, you’ll be the last one up when everyone else has fallen asleep, and you’re still not satisfied. You are obsessed with creating your ultimate expression, of perfection.
Or at least getting as close as possible.
Imagine you’re hiking and you come to a crossroad. One leads up into the mountains, the other, to the ocean and the beach. Which do you take? What’s the right choice? Which direction calls to you? Both? Neither? At this point, all you do is take a breath, and rather than remaining at the crossroads until you starve, you pick a route, and move. It doesn’t matter. What matters, is the experience. You can always come back, and head in the other direction, later.
The definition of anxiety is trying to analyze every single possibly outcome, all at once. Many of us are pathological “thinkers.” We tend to overthink ourselves into a state of paralysis. This is my own personal nemesis as well. I’m a pisces, and our symbol, two fish chasing each other’s tails, is a symbol of movement, and indecision. A paradox.
Grab a free coaching session with Tony
Dating, career, purpose… I can help
Before we embark on our journey, we may want to predict every possible error, terror, and possibility. Intellectually, we think this preparation will protect us, but usually, one question leads to an infinity of “what if?”
Intelligent and highly creative men are especially awful at decisiveness. We’re able to visualize and organize abstract thoughts, but the vast infinitude of possibilities leaves us in a state of confusion, unsure which path to take, for fear of choosing the wrong one.
This is why you must trust your intuition: that mysterious ability to understand something without reasoning or proof, to gain an impression, and make an assumption without logical thought. To trust your gut, as they say.
You must move. You must do your work. You must choose.
The End of Your Suffering
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
Finding and realizing your heroic goal isn’t a binary decision. There’s not going to be a right, or wrong choice. There’s no final destination where you’re given a star and a piece of cake. But if you’re anything like me, a creative man who is perpetually dissatisfied with his position in life unless he’s moving towards heroic goals, then you have no choice but to take on great tasks, move towards heroic objectives, and improve.
Do what makes you feel good, so you haven’t wasted your life achieving goals that aren’t in line with your values. By deciding on, and moving towards heroic goals, you can wake up every day, excited for what lay ahead, and then move forward confidently down your chosen path. To do otherwise, is a slow suicide.
To discover and execute your heroic goals, to conquer your villains and create, this is the path to fulfillment, freedom and prosperity. The alternative of depression, sloth, apathy, and despair, is not for you, because you are not normal... you are a hero.
**This essay would not have been possible without The Academy of Ideas, and their members section.***