Reinventing yourself

Ocean view

I wrote this post for myself.

Recently I read James Altucher’s post titled “The Ultimate Guide to Reinventing Yourself.”

It gave me a lot of ideas. It made me think about the journey I am on.

I turned 29 years old last week.

I don’t feel old. But I don’t feel that young either.

I’ve been married for almost four years now. I didn’t graduate from college in this decade.

I’ve done several different things in my career. Basketball. Software. Marketing. Web design. Sales. Career counseling. Writing.

I think I learned some things along the way. I hope I have.

These are some of the things that worked for me. Maybe they will help you too.

1.) Reinvention never stops.

This first one I stole from James. (Thanks, James.)

Because it’s true. Or at least, it’s been true for me.

I moved last week from Portland to a small town on the Oregon Coast. It’s pouring here today. I can see the ocean. The rain and waves make me think about change. And they help me stay present in the moment.

In January I start working on my Master’s degree. I’m studying at Georgia Tech.

Always in motion, like the waves. Keep moving forward.

2.) Mentors spur reinvention.

Every time I reinvented myself, it was because of someone important I met. A person who made an impact on me.

My friend Ryan showed me how to start working for myself—how to learn and practice marketing and sales. How to think like an entrepreneur.

Frank Burlison helped me realize I could create websites. Then he taught me the basics of basketball scouting. PoP showed me even more. So did others. Some of them think the Internet is the work of the devil, so I won’t name them here.

Mentors don’t have to be direct. They don’t need to be people you know personally.

I read a lot of books. Authors, books make good mentors.

Ramit Sethi and Tim Ferriss made big impacts on me. So did Ryan Holiday. And Seth Godin.

The authors don’t even need to be alive. Marcus Aurelius. Napoleon Hill. Seneca.

I need another book case. Maybe two or three or four more.

For me, mentors teach, but they also show. They show me what is possible. They demonstrate how to step outside my current perspective and see something new.

A lot of the time we have invisible barriers in our heads about what we can do. We think, “That’s not for me. I couldn’t do that.” Maybe sometimes it is true. But a lot of the time is it bullshit.

I used to believe that learning was about natural talent. And that if you didn’t pick something up right away, you were bad at it and should give up. That belief sucks.

If I can learn how to learn, you can learn. Almost anything.

3.) Reinventing yourself takes time. That’s okay.

I didn’t used to be patient. Not at all. Maybe I’m still not. But I’m practicing and getting better.

Working for myself taught me that success in business is about getting good at something and using that skill to help other people.

If you become really fucking good at something, you can be super successful.

I don’t know if I’m exceptional at anything yet. Maybe. I’m trying to keep getting better. And it takes time.

4.) Being exceptional can mean combining skills.

Tim Ferriss previously wrote about why he thinks being a jack of all trades is making a comeback.

A broad range of skills holds a lot of value. It helps keep you engaged. It allows you to understand what the people around you are doing. You can see the big picture.

With a lot of my work I combine basketball, technology, and writing. There are a lot of people who can do one of those things well. Fewer can do two. Even fewer can do all three.

James Altucher likes to talk about idea sex. It’s 20% pornographic and 80% brilliant. Combining ideas makes them more rare, effective, and valuable.

That line of thinking led me to help people get jobs. What if I took the business principles I learned while working for myself and showed other people how to apply those strategies to their job searches?

5.) Forget “following your passion.” Just try new things.

Seemingly every guru these days talks about how you need to “follow your passion.” It’s an idea I used to believe in.

I decided I don’t like the notion that each of us has some overriding passion to devote our lives to.

It runs counter to reinventing yourself. How can you reinvent yourself if you already decided exactly who you are?

Maybe it’s better to just try new things—especially things no one else is doing quite the way you want to do them.

In Shadow Divers, author Robert Kurson relates the rules for living created by Vietnam combat medic and elite deep sea diver John Chatterton.

Chatterton took a meandering path to discover his love of deep sea diving. He tried many different things while examining the components of each that he loved.

His second rule illustrates this part of his journey.

“If you follow in another’s footsteps, you miss the problems really worth solving.”

That’s what I need to remember.

I'm going to read a book now.