how to become the best in your field

Rule #1: Stay Away From Everyone Who Is Content

I respect the farmers in China who are content with so little, but I could never be like them. With my Western ways, I am obsessed with achieving greatness. I believe it is much better to sacrifice your life to the world by giving it something great only you can give it than to live out a menial existence of being content with little.

So here we begin with the first rule of achieving greatness. At all costs you must avoid the people, including your own family and friends, who do the following:

  1. They tell you it’s pointless to become great.
  2. They tell you to stop following your dream because you should spend more time with them.
  3. They tell you you could never become great.
  4. They tell you there are more important things in life than becoming great.
  5. They say they themselves could never become great.
  6. They believe they and the people around them will always stay mediocre.
  7. They are content with doing nothing great for humankind with their lives.

The people that do these things, if they are frequently in your life, will not only slow you down but may also stop you from becoming great. Listening to these kinds of people and accepting their foolish advice is very, very dangerous. You must ignore them at all costs, no matter how hard it is. This is the first sacrifice you must make in achieving greatness.

Here is a story to capture the meaning of this first rule in a nutshell:

Although my disclaimer will tell you I have yet to become great, I still have much experience in pursuing greatness. In my quest to become great I have made many sacrifices falling in line with this first rule.

My example for you is my relationship with my roommates. I am a university student and having roommates means I have extra money to live comfortably while also paying hefty tuition fees every four months. This is a temporary sacrifice because comfort is important for the work I do. But at any rate, my roommates do many of the seven things listed above. They are content with little, and listening to the idle conversations they have almost makes me sick. They waste time drinking and chatting about trivial matters and never come to any new ideas or conclusions about things. They even sometimes repeat the same conversations they already had, as if all they want out of life is to know that they are normal.

I can’t spend time with these people for more than an hour. On the weekend I’ll sometimes partake in their idleness, but all the while I’m realizing how much time and thought-power I’m wasting talking about stupid things I really don’t care about like the weather. To some of you who have yet to learn many of the other rules for the Art of Becoming Great, these statements of mine might seem cruel. But the truth is these statements and the actions I am taking are necessary for achieving greatness. I will not risk my chances of becoming great by wasting several hours every day chatting about how good my roommate’s day at work was, especially when they work in a coffee shop. And I will never apologize for saying this!