Do Something You Can’t Win At
And make it something you love
Some of the best things in life are things that can’t be “won.”
Like visiting your grandma. Raising children. Building a beautiful relationship. Building a great team. Doing improv. Knitting.
But also creating. Inventing. Building. Putting something new out into the world for the sole purpose of seeing it done.
These are all things that are inherently “win-less,” and though some people might try to game the system (I’m thinking of a few folks my age who have magically gotten back in touch with their grandparents now that they’ve realized more of the inheritance pie might be up for grabs), the only ones they are cheating are themselves.
Don’t try to win at knitting, guys. Don’t try to win at wrenching on a car.
Do something you love — and be genuine about that, especially outside of working hours — and then just focus on throwing more love at it. That’s how you get good at it. That’s how you truly win.
I’m going to talk about improv again, because I went to another show tonight — some of my classmates were doing their first one, so I went to show my support. And the thing with improv is this: the minute you try to “win” at it, you out yourself as the asshole on stage.
The way to “win” at improv is by making other people look hilarious. It’s by building on what others put out there, and making it real.
And the way to be crazy good at improv is just to love doing it. The people who are best at improv freaking love doing improv — not those who go out there hellbent on “winning” the scene.
And don’t get me wrong — after the second class, I definitely wanted to be “good” at improv. I spent hours watching videos; I went to class and gave it my all. And after six weeks, I am. But I never went into it trying to “win” by, for example, “beating others.” There was nothing extrinsic or comparative about it.
It’s the same with writing — there is no “winner” in writing. There might be best sellers and high earners, but I can almost guarantee that few of them got there by having “winning” as their primary objective.
Same with startups. Inventors. Artists. I mean, maybe Banksy was trying to “win” at graffiti — I don’t know the guy — but I doubt it was his primary motivation.
All of them are intrinsically — not extrinsically — motivated.
A lot of life is about winning — sure. Go for it. But a lot of life is also about shit that can’t be won.
Pick something in your life you can’t win. Not work, necessarily, but definitely something you’d be pumped to get happiness from. And then love on it hard instead.