"My greatest sin was to waste my life believing that I wasn’t capable of something more."
There’s a motivational statement for you. What do you think that means?
Well, what the unmistakable author of The Art of Being Unmistakable, Srinivas Rao, means is that most of the things we worry about don’t matter. We can’t do much about the past, and the future depends on so many variables that worrying about them can make us miserable and miss the precious moment that is right in front of us. “When we’re excessively concerned we attach ourselves to outcomes,” he says, “most of which are out of our control.” We should treat our lives like a work of art, “Rich and colorful, with stories, scenic backgrounds, and soundtracks that make us sing with delight.”
We let too many things rule our life, education, bank account, job title, failures, successes. That’s why when we have the attitude that ‘nothing matters’ (meaning, those things that usually matter too much to us) we can relax and enjoy the journey. “What would happen if we pursued being unmistakable instead of wildly successful by external measures”? If you work on impact, the other things take care of themselves.
This book, by the legendary creator of Blogcast FM which evolved to be The Unmistakable Creative Podcast, will make a statement and make you question a lot of your motives. You’ll think differently about life and what makes you happy (which is what every good book should do.)
Be different, not better
"There is often scenic beauty at the end of an unpaved road."
This idea went against everything I was about, since I’m continually preaching that we should always be striving to get better, to improve in some way. But in the context of this entire book and what Srini was trying to communicate, I understood this a little better. Being ‘better’ means you are living a life of comparison. You are operating within a system which “is only capable of producing what its rules dictate.” Instead of repeating history with only a ‘better’ version, we can create something that doesn’t exist. We can take a turn in a different direction. That is how you become unmistakable.
All the unmistakable people or ideas we can think of stand out primarily because they took a different turn. They were outside of what we considered ‘normal’ or part of the existing system. Einstein, touch screens, microwave ovens, were different because they didn’t compare with what existed. They were so far removed that they were on the edge of being complete failures, because they couldn’t relate with the system. But in taking that risk, and becoming unmistakable, they ended up being truly better than we could have possibly imagined.
You can make anything you want
"Do not TRY to create. Create."
Srini recommends “doing what you can do that nobody else could in the way you could do it.” Since all of us are unique, based on our decisions, experiences, and paths in life, we have a distinctive stamp we put on everything we do. Even if you followed the instructions exactly, you would not do it the same way someone else did who also followed the instructions exactly. When you realize this, you can start to leverage your uniqueness as a desirable quality. Many people have started restaurants or wrote books or raised families, but no one can do that in the same way you can. That’s why Srini says, “Just do something; you will figure it out.”
He also warns that sometimes you’ll be tempted to compromise your distinct stamp or art in exchange for external rewards like money or metrics. The gatekeepers like publishers, producers and advertisers will want to water down your work so that it will appeal to the masses. But if your art gets destroyed in the process, no one will be there to pick up the counterfeit pieces.
The irony is that many people who we consider distinguishable are that way because they did step out of the mold and do something different. And they are well known for it. They held true to their art, and are recognized by those who appreciate it. Isn’t that what we want, to find our people – those who appreciate our work?
If so, then when we make anything we want and put it out to the world, we’ll find them.
My action: go make something unique, put it out into the world.
Don’t worry about what other people think
"Worrying about what other people think is a jail of our own creation. And the irony of it is those people are in the same jail with us."
Maybe you’ve heard this before. But do you still do it, worry what other people think?
It’s normal. When you create, you want it to be the best it can be, which usually means that other people will like it. So you worry, just a little. But when you remember what Srini says multiple times and in multiple ways in this book, you realize it’s true:
“You are the final authority on EVERYTHING in your life.”
If this weren’t true, then it wouldn’t be your life, it would be someone else’s. And unfortunately, many of us do live another life that someone else thinks we should live. When we create (and everything we do is creating our life) we should make it the best according to our own standards. You own your life.
Srini exposes the fact that many people are afraid to dig into their soul to find their REAL selves because they might be terrified of what they’ll find – the imperfections, the flaws and inadequacies. But that is also where you’ll find the things that make you unmistakable:
- “The part of me that is capable of making dents in the universe
- It’s the part of me that is capable of pursuing a wild-eyed dream
- The part of me that can create art for the sake of art.
- It’s the part of me that can experience the purest form of joy”
When you’re living someone else’s life, and you find and awaken those parts, the first barrier will be what other people think, because they will think that’s not you, when it actually is the real you.
So drop the worry. You are the CEO of your life. Make the executive decisions and take the risks. That’s what CEOs do. And in the case of your life, the only risk is that you might experience joy or make an impact by being unmistakable.
My action: Release concern for outside criticism.
What will you make in order to be different and unmistakable?