We All Start at Zero

Me, You, even @justinbieber

steep

I like to think of life as everyone starting in the same place. From ground zero. Of course, that is not true. People are born with advantages — money, looks, whatever it may be.

But for us commoners, plebeians, I think there is no use in complaining about others advantages or disadvantages to starting. After all, there will always be someone “better off” than you just as there will always be someone “worse off” than you. So instead of spending that time and energy wishing and dreaming — think of life like this:

Think of all things in life like everyone started at zero. That in order to rise to the top — things needed to happen. Something goes on between the bottom and the top. I call this thinking of life in terms of skyscrapers. Imagine all of us as skyscrapers.

The interesting thing about skyscrapers is that no one really cares about the 13th largest skyscraper in the world. In fact, people really only care about the tallest skyscraper. The number one.

In the same way, people really only care about people who are “at the top” of their industry. They care about leaders, not “followers.”

Ok, so now that I have thrown some metaphor at you — let’s get back to the idea of zero. And let’s use the example of Twitter.

Everyone — no matter how famous they are — if they want to start their own twitter account, sign up exactly the same way. Of course there are people who buy accounts to level up and so on but ignore the cheaters. Think of it organically, everyone starts from zero.

Wow you must feel pretty special now — you built your twitter account just like @justinbieber probably did.

Now if we all start at zero — what went on between zero and that next place. To steal from @peterthiel ’s monopoly on the phrase Zero to One — what does it take to go from Zero to One, in anything you do in life. He uses it moreso to describe ideas that go from zero to one, but you can also use it to measure your personal development. In anything you do, what are the steps, the process? Where did you start and where do you want to finish? And is what you are doing a little incremental change to your life, or is it truly a big step towards personal development? All of these thoughts are refreshing and help me to prioritize things. More than that though, doing this really helps me LEARN! (And that is one of my goals for this summer — to learn as much as I can).

This continues to be an interesting exercise for me for a couple of different reasons.

First, it helps me better understand skyscrapers. It helps me decipher the importance of the floors in between 0 and the top. And helps me realize how crucial to the development of that building those floors are. Although without the top floor that building may go unnoticed, without the middle floors it may not be standing. You need the middle floors before the top floor — just like you need to do the work before getting noticed.

The more you think about it, the easier it is to understand exactly how much work, hustle, sweat, and tears goes into building up yourself. How it gets harder and harder to build floors of a skyscraper the higher you get just like it gets harder and harder to improve (diminishing returns) as you get better at something.


Another humbling part of this exercise is that you can do it with anything. And what I like about it is that it questions my entitlement. Why do I think that I can be as successful as _____________. What have I done or earned to do, anything? Most of the time that answer is insufficient and does not merit me a place among “the leaders.” You never really appreciate hard work until you try and do it. More than that, you try to do it over a really long period of time. That is the challenge — consistency over a long period of time.

But one day, I will get there — it just takes time. Lots and lots of time, oh yeah, and work. A boat load of it.

In summary: I want you to remember a couple of different things.

- Try not to compare yourself others. Success is a personal thing. Easier said than done, but it will objectively make it easier to grow.

- The bottom to the top is filled in with a lot of work.

- Metaphors are good, some times. lol

Hope you enjoyed reading!

Again, thanks for reading my stuffs . Tweet at me @jrdngonen or email me jordangonen@wustl.edu — I like it when you do !