What is the one make or break quality we need for success? What is that key factor that sets apart those who go on to be wildly successful on their own? How do I create my own path and continue moving up?
Imagine you were guaranteed a higher level of success each time you endured one week of extreme discomfort. Would you do it? You might wait for a week that was convenient for you. You might say "I'll do it next week" for the rest of your life. Some people would wait until their one week paid vacation then when it came they would put it off again until next year because they would rather go on vacation. Vacations are comfortable. Most people would rather stay comfortable.
That wont help you to accomplish great things.
Here is my Story of being uncomfortable:
From 2010-2012 I made multiple leaps of faith into new mediums; just learning. I went from graffiti to illustration, to calligraphy, to tattooing, then back to graffiti. I went back with a heightened appreciation for graffiti and a new approach. That new approach birthed the thanks face.
When I got notoriety from painting the streets of NYC, I started making a little money. I sold paintings of the thanks face to hard core enthusiasts. I started making t-shirts with the face and stickers; I was generating side income. This was awesome but it was never my goal. Eventually there had to be a next phase. I knew I wanted to make clothes. Clothes were the next phase. I took a full time graphic design job in order to fund my clothing vision. It was very uncomfortable.
Going to an office every day was not for me, but the money was good. This was the most exhausting phase.. I worked 50hrs a week at the office and stayed up until 3am every night designing, emailing and networking. Building up my own brand. Sleeping for 4-5 hours every night is not comfortable. That's what I had to do.
I see people get stuck at this phase, this level. They build something small and then wait for something bigger to happen for them so they can quit that day job. Some sort of big break they think is coming. Often they justify that they've worked so hard. I think people are just too comfortable with that paycheck. How can you get to the next phase if you're comfortable? This is when you say: NEXT PHASE!!!!!!
I quit my day job and bought a new tattoo machine. I had already stopped tattooing, but I knew quitting my job was going to stop my cash flow. Tattooing was just the sort of flexible income I needed during the hard months to keep the rent paid. It was HARD!! Even though freeing up my time was the goal, doing tattoos here and there was NOT bringing in the same kind of money as my old job. I had built up my website pretty well but I had to front cash to make clothes. Anyone who runs a small business knows how hard cashflow can be, but I made it work. I made sacrifices. It was extremely uncomfortable.
When I saw the next phase of growth for my clothing brand, I hated the idea of going there. I had begun to hate where the street wear industry was going and how watered down everything had become. But I was in too deep! It was my only income! The day job was gone! I'm all in! DON'T I STICK TO THE PLAN? ISN'T THIS WHAT I WANTED ALL ALONG? No. But it's okay. It's time to make a drastic change. I knew I had to paint. I knew I had a lot of learning ahead of me. Even the thought of that was uncomfortable.
I was faced to make a choice: Work off of the bag of tricks I had and start creating art that I could sell right away... OR spend time learning and developing into the artist I knew I could be. I already knew illustration techniques and typography but I wasn't a devolved painter. I knew I had to take a step back so I could take a leap forward. I wanted to paint with such honesty and integrity that people fell in love with it! I wanted to paint with so much technique that galleries would notice my work! I wanted to make it to the top!
That's when the real choice came. Do I stay here in my apartment? Maybe I will be broke for the next six months while I learn more. Maybe I will have to move back in with my mother so I can build more. Living with my mother will be uncomfortable. People might think I'm a loser. But I will be recognized as one of the greatest painters of all time some day! It will be worth it! But I've lived on my own for years now. What will people my age think of me? Maybe they will gossip. That would be uncomfortable. Do I care so much about what others think that I'm afraid to move back in with my mother at age 25? No.
I knew what I was doing for myself and that's all that mattered. I've seen people let the fear of taking a step back prevent them from ever taking a leap forward. Today I'm in the position to buy my own place in NYC. That's the phase I'm working on now (and boy is it giving me a migraine). This is the kind of leap forward that can come from taking a step back. BUT IT DOESN'T COME WITHOUT DISCOMFORT! MY MOM CAN BE REALLY ANNOYING!
I would say that no matter what your dreams and goals are you have to be willing to make drastic changes at any given time. It may mean changing your original plan, it may even mean changing your original goals! That is the IT factor for me. Willingness to change. The world we live in is constantly changing. How can you expect to stay the same and have long term success in ANYTHING?
Maybe you don't have a mother. Maybe you're not an artist. Maybe your story is much different than mine. The point is that my original plan took many twists and turns. I could have stuck to it stubbornly. I could have kept paying the rent and stayed comfortable where I was. I could have never broken through in the art world and never gotten to the next phase. Your story doesn't have to be my story, to apply this same mindset. MAKE THOSE CHANGES!
Where I am today is not where I had originally planned to be in 2010, or in 2012, or in 2014. Where I am today is exactly where I was meant to be. Its the best place I've been in my entire life. It's only up from here. Always up! NEXT PHASE!