What Matters Most

What Stops You From Doing What Matters Most?


What Matters Most
What Matters Most


Incomplete Advice

There’s a book about entrepreneurship called “Millionaire Fastlane”.  Mind the corny title, it’s actually a good book packed with a lot of insights about what’s required to become successful and sobering realizations about how society is set up, and how most people aren’t thinking clearly when it comes to wealth creation. In the book, Demarco also makes an interesting point about “passion.”

He said that the market doesn’t really care about your passion. If you’re going to start a business, think about fulfilling a market need first. Passion isn’t what matters most. If you’re passionate about something that isn’t satisfying a market need, you’re going to fail.

And that sounds like legitimate advice, except there’s another side to the story. Whatever you’re going to do in life, whether it’s starting a business or becoming a doctor or a lawyer or a swimmer, you’re going to spend most of your time doing the job. If you’re not loving what you’re doing, then you’re going to turn your back whenever things start to get tough. And invariably, things will get tough.

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Friedrich Nietzsche

There is no career choice that is absent of any challenges, and the question then becomes, why go on? What’s motivating you? Is it possible to be completely motivated by the prize? For some people, sure. The author of the book I just mentioned is a case in point. But he started from humble beginnings and had an obsession with expensive luxury cars. Expensive toys like shiny, red Ferarris were things he dreamed about every night ever since he was a little boy.

Demarco shares a story about how a young man pulled up in his driveway with a sports car when he was a young boy, and he didn’t understand how that was possible. He reasoned that it must have been a gift from his wealthy parents, but it turns out it wasn’t. That young man was a self-made millionaire.

Since that day, MJ Demarco was determined to do the same. His life mission was to find a way to become a self-made millionaire and buy his dream car. The materialistic dream was meaningful to him. Getting  the car was his passion.

Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone will assume that others are living the same kind of story, it’s easy to overlook something like passion but there is a lot to be said about the value of doing something you love.

The Barrier 

It’s not just doing something you love, it’s doing something meaningful to you. It needs to be intrinsically motivating, and for most people, it needs to have some kind of external reward. It needs to tap into your strengths and tendencies at a fundamental level. If you’re engaged in an activity that grabs you , the idea of becoming successful at what you do becomes a lot more attainable.

What stops people from doing what they really want to do? Other people’s opinions. In 12 Rules For Life, Jordan Peterson writes about how we are essentially social beings. Our brains are wired to think about other people. And for as long as human beings have been alive, they have lived in communities. Their death and survival was based on what others thought about them. And so, the environment that selects – is actually made up of people.

Our society will determine whether or not we live or die, thrive or succeed, find love or remain alone.  It’s normal that people are overly sensitive about what others think of them. But if such thoughts are too prevalent, they can be destructive. They can erode your sense of self, and your desire to find your own purpose in life – without fearing the judgement and ridicule of others.

What Matters Most

Peterson also talks about a distinction between matter and what matters. The world is not made up of matter – it is made up of what matters. The most real things to us – whose existence we cannot deny are pain, emotions, and meaningful events – not rock, molecules, or atoms. What matters to us will define our lives. One way to define our lives would be to according to what other people think, constantly doubting ourselves out of fear. The alternative is to take a bold initiative and be honest with ourselves. That way, we can find out what matters most to us, and fill our lives with those things that we truly find valuable.

In Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, a wonderful idea is put forth. Conformism is doing what others do, and totalitarianism is doing what others tell you to do. And either of the two paths would inevitably result in “existential vacuum” since the necessary process of self-actualization is never attained.

But we’re still conflicted. Most people want to be successful, they want to be happy, they want to achieve these goals first and foremost, and oftentimes, it seems that achieving those things are incompatible with doing what they love. So they sacrifice the latter for the former, hoping by doing so, they would finally achieve “success” or “happiness”.

Viktor Frankl’s message – one really worth considering is that we’re thinking about success and happiness in the wrong way. They aren’t goals that we can reach, they’re by-products that we might be lucky enough to find, and are more likely to find when we pursue something that’s meaningful. The same way you can’t force someone to laugh or to be inspired or to fall in love, you can’t force yourself to become successful or happy. In fact, the more you try to force yourself towards these goals, the less attainable they become.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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