I make a point in a talk I do for student groups that there’s no hurry to make your mark or to “hit it big”.
There seems to be more pressure than ever for young people to not only have their career figured out right out of college, but to be rich and famous by the time they’re, say, 30. Crazy.
I challenge these 20-year-olds to instead aim to be awesome by the time they’re 60.
This advice goes over with a resounding thud every time I share it. But I’m convinced that you will make better decisions and actually grow and improve faster by choosing the long game instead of trying to conquer the world in your youth.
Even DaVinci’s first great success, The Last Supper, didn’t come till he was almost 50 years old.
Recently I saw this letter from a then 77-year-old Akira Kurosawa, the great Japanese filmmaker, wishing a happy 70th birthday to fellow filmmaker Ingmar Bergman:
Remarkable. At 77, he was expecting his best work was still ahead of him.
You don’t have to have it figured out. You won’t ever. Do your best where you are. Be excellent in just the next five minutes. Don’t force it or rush past this moment or compare yourself to some arbitrary or pointless standard set by others.
The arc of your life, should you be fortunate to have it counted in many decades, could bend gently and satisfyingly towards a kind of excellence you can’t even imagine from your current vantage point.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” –Henry David Thoreau