The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The currently trending blog topic reads something along the lines of, "20 Things 20-Somethings Should Be Doing to Be Successful in Their 20's".
I have been guilty of writing these posts as a blogger and I have been guilty of clicking on these posts as a reader, time & time again.
Today I wanted to take a different approach to this topic, by sharing with you 8 thoughts that are a little controversial and unorthodox. Some of these thoughts will be relatively mainstream, like building a social media following. But others may make you cringe, like why I use the word fuck. Regardless, I hope you find it interesting, entertaining and hopefully... insightful.
I present to you -- "Why I say Fuck: A 20-Somethings Guide to Taking The Road Less Traveled By".
20-Somethings Guide to Taking The Road Less Traveled By
1. Craft a Strong Brand
You are a living, breathing brand. The only difference between you & Nike, Starbucks and Patagonia is that you are one individual rather than an organization made up of thousands of people. Regardless, you are still a brand and just like any organizational brand, you can be really strong or really weak.
We are all aware of individuals that have strong personal brands. If you need a reference, go to Facebook & look up Susan Hyatt.
Achieving a strong personal brand isn’t rocket science, it just takes self-awareness. If you ever have 5-10 minutes, grab a piece of paper & answer the following questions:
How did I get to where I am today? (Your Story)
What is my fight? Why am I fighting that fight? (Your Purpose)
How am I going to win the fight I am fighting? (Your Passion & Your Strategy)
What are the 3 words I want people to use when describing me? (How You Want to Be Perceived)
Once you have answered the following questions, consolidate it down into 4-5 sentences -- this paragraph will be your brand.
Here is mine as an example.
(1) At a young age I had to overcome a considerable amount of adversity that caused me to have severe anxiety, confidence issues and low self-worth. (2) This is why I fight to help others eliminate their anxieties, build their confidence and rediscover their self-worth. (3) I am fighting this fight through my deep passion for writing. While I can’t be everywhere at once, my writing can -- it can be an intimate conversation, a safe haven and a friend when someone needs it most. (4) I want my friends, my family and the people who read my writing to describe me as being compassionate, intelligent & creative.
Once you have written down your brand, fold it up and stick it in your wallet -- then live every damn day dedicated to that piece of paper.
2. Build a Large Social Media Presence
I walked up to Taylor Caniff’s Hollywood mansion this past summer & my jaw dropped, it looked like something I would have seen on MTV Cribs as a kid. In his driveway there was a burnt orange Range Rover with matte black rims, a lifted pearl white 2016 Chevy Silverado equipped with jet-skis and a lime green Aston Martin that looked like it could outrun a Stealth Bomber.
If you don’t know who Taylor Caniff is, Google him -- controversial internet sensation that has made fortunes from his massive social media following. Do I aspire to be like him? Absolutely not. Do I have some respect for him? Absolutely.
Anyways, here is my point. I don’t care who you are or what you do -- hairdresser, financial advisor, writer, athlete or student. You should be dedicating some time building a following on at least one form of social media.
Eventually you will find yourself in a position where you have a product, a book, a small business or an idea that you want to share. By creating a following, you are giving your passion the best chance at catching fire.
Please understand there are right ways and wrong ways to build a following on social media. Individuals with 12,000 Instagram followers that receive an average of 60 likes a picture are building their social media presence incorrectly -- this is called buying followers.
Building a strong & genuine social media following is simple -- do the things you love and take a little extra time to document those things. What you will find is that slowly but surely your following will grow with people who are genuinely interested in the things you are interested in.
100 followers who share your exact interests are better than 10,000 followers that couldn't care less about you or what you're passionate about.
3. Fly With Your Flock
When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by the way Canadian Geese flew in a ‘V’ formation. The purpose of their flying pattern was to cut back on wind resistance, allowing them to cover great distances when migrating South.
For a long time, I thought the alpha bird stayed at the front of the 'V' formation for the entire flight. But one day when I looked closer, I noticed that every so often, a bird at the rear of the V would race ahead to the front of the flock and take the position of the previous leader. This action would give the previous leader a chance to rest near the back where the wind resistance was weakest.
If every goose were for himself or herself, they would never be strong enough to weather the full migration -- so they work together.
I realized long ago that I would never be able to reach my goals without a team. I also knew that I would never be fully fulfilled if I wasn’t working to help others reach their goals.
I am a huge advocate for creating a flock, a support group, a mastermind, etc.
Find people in your life that aspire to be successful, that care about your well-being and that are supportive.
Build your flock and fly with these people. You will find that the journey to the top of the mountain with a team is easier, more fulfilling and ridiculously fun.
4. Why I Use The Word Fuck
I have had this conversation on a handful of occasions.
Carl: “Hey Cole, do you think you should stop using the word ‘fuck’ in your blogs?”
Cole: “Well Carl, I can’t say that I have. Do you think a few people find the word ‘fuck’ offensive?”
Carl: “Yeah Cole, I do.”
Cole: "I appreciate the concern and I will give it some serious thought."
The general consensus -- I should probably stop using the word fuck.
Here is the deal. When I started my blog, I started it with the understanding that if I tried to appeal to everyone, I would fail -- plain and simple.
In a world where the next big thing is only the next big thing until tomorrow, the only sure way to fail is to play it safe.
Do a few people visit my blog posts, read the word ‘fuck’, scoff and slam their laptop screens? Yes.
Are there a few shotgun wielding, testosterone heavy masculine males that think to themselves, “What is this shit? This dude needs to get a damn diary"? Probably so.
But that’s okay because these people aren’t the readers I am targeting. I am targeting readers that are a little edgy, who won't wince at the word fuck and who aren't afraid to talk feelings and emotions.
I am targeting readers who may or may not be a little broken, but have the hope and self-awareness to build themselves back up again. I am targeting readers who have all this crazy potential, but have never been told they should follow their dreams.
You see, the stuff I am writing about is life. Not the fairy tale bullshit we like to think life is. No, real life, a place that is raw and painful at times. A place that will knock you on your ass. A place where fuck is a word in the English dictionary and whether you like it or not, someone, some day is going to scream it in your face.
We were raised and educated in such a way that we were expected to make straight A’s, and that life was a multiple choice test, and that it was important to be liked by everyone.
Think about it, who did we respect the most in elementary, middle school & high school? The popular kids. We couldn’t have given a shit less about the book worms and the chemistry nerds. We called the girl with the oversized glasses that knew all the answers in math class a teacher's pet.
& now we are scratching our heads as book worms, chemistry nerds & teacher’s pets are changing the world.
I want to make something very clear -- popularity and being well-liked by everyone does not equate to success. There should be people who are jealous of you for chasing your dreams, who think your opinions are bullshit and who think you use the word ‘fuck’ too often.
If there aren’t these people, you are way too quiet and you are playing life way too safe -- go make a ruckus. If you aren't pissing a few people off, you are doing something wrong.
5. You Can Be Confident & Compassionate
There is a huge misconception that an individual can’t be both confident & compassionate -- this is false.
What I love about running my Lucid Dreamer’s series is that I get to see patterns in highly successful individuals. A recurring pattern I have seen in every single person I have interviewed is this combination of confidence & compassion.
Brandon Scott, Erin Morrison, Tristian Gregory, Alisha Sims, Austin Current & Taylor Mathis walk into every room like they own the place. When I met with every single one of these people they radiated an intense amount of confidence -- looking me in the eyes, smiling brightly and holding their heads high.
Every single one of these people were also highly compassionate. So much of their success was fueled by a greater good for other people. Their missions were much greater than money & self-image, their missions were about helping make other people’s lives better.
Brandon works to connect, collaborate and contribute with people to help them become the best versions of themselves. Erin uses her boutique as a way to connect deeply with women, also making it a habit to give on a weekly basis. Tristian works with women to build better lives for themselves, he is a huge source of inspiration to so many people. Alisha photographs women to help build confidence and overcome insecurities. Austin recognizes that building client’s bodies directly impacts their minds and spirits. Taylor looks for ways to make other people’s days just a little bit better.
I challenge young twenty-somethings with this -- Be confident, be powerful and own every room you walk into. But remember that confidence doesn’t have to equate to selfishness, arrogance & entitlement. The most confident people are the most compassionate people, because they recognize their life and their mission is so much bigger than themselves.
Be confident. Be compassionate.
6. Stop Networking & Start Giving
In business, I get so tired of hearing the word Networking. It has become a term that self-serving individuals use to cover up their selfish intentions -- stop scheduling meetings, luncheons and coffee chats with the intention of gaining.
Start approaching your business & personal relationships with the intention of giving; and remove any idea of gaining from your head. This will allow you to build strong relationships with wonderful people, because they will see you are genuinely interested in their well-being.
This takes ultra self-awareness, but you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are a fountain or a drain for the people in your life. Are you giving or are you taking? Is it about you or is it about them?
Every single day you need to do something, anything to make someone’s life just a little bit better.
I am going to brag on my father for a minute, but I have always admired him for how big his heart is and how much he gives. Dozens of times we have been in Starbuck’s drive-thru lines and he has requested to pay the bill of the car behind us. I have watched him leave big tips for waiters and waitresses just because he had a feeling they needed it. So much of what he gives is never seen or heard about, he just does it because he is a giver.
Givers gain. No, this doesn’t mean I scratch your back you scratch mine. It means that when you make an effort to give and give often, your heart will feel fuller than you could ever imagine.
7. Control Your Pleasures, Don’t Let Them Control You
I am pretty liberal when it comes to partaking in pleasurable experiences. I think it is natural, healthy for the soul and it feels good -- so, do it.
With that said, I think it is important to control your vices & your pleasures, and not allow them to control you.
Eating is good, until you live to eat. Drinking is a blast, until you feel as though you can’t have a good time without it. Reading is amazing for your mind & spirit, but don’t read so much that you forget to see the world outside black & white pages. Throw on a stellar Netflix series & grab a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios? I would camp out all fucking week for a couple tickets to that show. But too much Netflix too often would be counterproductive.
The bottom line is that I don’t care what it is you do, too much of any one thing can be detrimental.
Enjoy your pleasure, but don’t live for it. Live a life full of pleasurable experiences, enjoyed in moderation.
8. Use The 80/20 Rule Every Single Day
The 80/20 Rule, also commonly known as Pareto's Principle, is an observation that most things in life are not distributed evenly. The basic concept of The 80/20 Rule is that 20% of the input creates 80% of the result.
The 80/20 Rule is most commonly used in business when improving inefficiencies & maximizing positive outcomes.
For example; when businesses began realizing that 20% of their customers were responsible for 80% of their annual revenue, they started focusing marketing efforts directly on capturing return customers. Hence, all of the annoying email subscription requests you receive on a daily basis.
What is fascinating about the 80/20 rule is that it can be applied to you when looking for ways to maximize your effectiveness. If you take a moment and reflect on the various cause & effect relationships in your life, you will see The 80/20 Rule time & time again.
20% of the problems your girlfriend is complaining about is causing 80% of the fights in your relationship. 20% of your study habits are causing 80% of your positive test results. 20% of the negative people in your life are causing 80% of your unhappiness. 20% of your unhealthy habits are causing 80% of your weight gain.
The list goes on...
My challenge to you is to find the 20% of people in your life that make you the most happy, & spend more time with them. Reflect on the 2-3 things in your relationship that are pissing your girlfriend off, and fix them. Pin Point the 20% of spending habits that are causing your bank account to dwindle and stop doing them.
80/20 Rule proves that you can make massive changes to your life, by changing just a few actions.
By Cole Schafer