Success Strikes Temporarily

Well shit.  

I had made it.

Sometime in the summer of 2012 Noah and I rented a furnished condo in Manhattan.  East Village to be precise.  It was three bedrooms, and only two of us.  Having an extra bedroom in Manhattan is baller.

I was 29, also had a nice apartment in Austin, TX, could work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, renting a condo in semi-arguably one of the coolest cities in the world, and made something in the neighborhood of $40,000 that month.

Life was going well.  

But here’s the part that’s a total mind-fuck:
We sat down at a coffee shop for a sip, and started discussing life.  And this….what we were doing in that moment ….THIS was it.
THIS was “the American Dream” we were living.  

Working from wherever, making good money, travelling, being young/healthy/ridiculously-good-looking, the world is your oyster!  Oddly enough, that realization only brought a slight grin to my face for a few seconds….then faded.

I wanted to get back to work soon.
I wanted to produce something else.
I wanted to work on myself some more.
I wanted to improve/go-further/learn-new-stuff.

STOPPING AND RESTING at this point was a frightening and boring option.

It reminded me of all the times my parents took us to some breathtaking place somewhere in the world.  We’d travel long-n-far, make several stops, encounter several obstacles, and when we were finally there, it was pretty neat-o for a second……but as I saw it and took it in for a moment, it was then time to move on.

The journey was fun.
The stories along the way were fun.
The stresses of being with the same people for weeks-on-end was fun.
Working towards some common goal was fun.  

The journey of getting to a point is what made you grow.  Simply “being there” was relatively insignificant compared to “getting there”.

That was an odd realization.

Goddamn it.  I’ll just admit, the old cliche:

“The journey is better than the inn”

…pretty much summed it up long before my dumbass figured this out.


Ok, so what’s the takeaway here?  I’ll tell you:

You will always be working hard, so you may as well WANT to….and make it fun for yourself. 

I’ve met a ridiculous amount of people who’ve said to me, “I just want to have a business on auto-pilot where I don’t have to do any work, and it spits out a lot of money.”

Those people never go anywhere. I’ve never seen one of them succeed.  They’re dweebs who want SOMETHING for NOTHING.

They want the world to give them something, without giving the world something back first.

It never happens that way.  So before you ask yourself how to get something you want……maybe reverse the question and ask how YOU can give something to others first.

Blog posted on: July 18, 2013

40 comments on “Success Strikes Temporarily

  1. Joona

    This was such a good reminder. I admit that I’ve been in that “something for nothing” camp at some point – we’ll who hasn’t. Some time ago I realized that it’s not going to lead to anywhere, besides frustration.

    It was time to go pro and actually take baby steps (and sometimes big leaps) every day.

    Just as you said – it’s the journey, not the destination.

  2. Robert

    You’re right Neville.

    I can see that it is so easy to give value to people. And people do appreciate it.

    There are too many people who expect something for nothing. Especially here in UK where I live there are plenty of people who don’t want to work and get money for nothing.

    What I want to teach my kids is to show them by myself that giving more to others leads to better life to those people and myself.
    Waiting for your next post.

  3. A-ron

    But the payoff is the climax. Why go through the journey if there’s no possibility of orgasm?

    I think your title is a better anecdote than that tired cliche. Not that the journey can’t be exciting, but that fucking payoff is exhilarating, even if it’s short lived.

    I love you.

  4. Susan

    Hi Neville,
    I have been following you and Noah for some time and I really like your emails except for one thing – you swear too much and it is annoying! You can get the same message across without all the swear words. I know that it’s hard to stop when you are around people who do or if it is part of your everyday vocabulary but you are tuning off your readers, except for the ones who walk and talk like you. Try writing without swear words for 3 months and see if your readers respond better – I know I will :) Thanks and have a great day!

    1. Neville Post author

      I use swearing when necessary. Sometimes it’s purposely there to make your brain churn a bit.

      I’ve cut down big time already, and over the years I imagine it’ll fade almost completely!

  5. Simon

    Great post Neville. The classic lesson still resonates: Give and ye shall recieve, well, much more than you probably gave! Its a great reminder especially about enjoying the journey, its easy to get wrapped in a tunnel vision only to get the end and realize, lo…I missed the scenery!

  6. Amanda

    LOVED this post, Neville! I have been enjoying your awesome emails/blog posts for quite some time now, and to be honest, feel a little guilty that I haven’t told you before now how great they always are. So, here it is: You ROCK. Seriously.

    Today’s post was extra special for me though, because I have been ruminating on that very notion for a looong time now. You know, all that “big picture” stuff. This post hit home for me in a big way, and was a perfect reminder that, despite all of my goals, life dreams, etc., it’s not really some end-prize that I am searching for… If I’m being honest, I am really interested in learning to enjoy the process. :)

    Thanks, as always, for another thought-provoking and awesomely-written post! Stay awesome.

    1. Neville Post author

      Thanks Amanda, awesome to hear (see? I’m giving, and now receiving)!

      If you change your attitude about doing the small things that lead up to the big things, it’ll make everything a lot more enjoyable (and probably more successful).

      I always ask myself when I’m about to do something boring:
      “How can I make this more fun for ME?”

  7. Leo

    Good one Nev!

    I noticed something interesting the other day while watching ants scramble around the dirt.

    They had a purpose. Their lives were dedicated to something greater than themselves. They collaborated for the greater good of the colony and worked relentlessly to fulfill that duty.

    The same with plants and trees. They grow and sacrifice everything to bear fruit for the greater good (me walking by and eating the deliciousness lol).

    These patterns are interesting. It looks like it’s in the nature of the universe to sacrifice, help, and contribute to the greater good of all (contribution).

    I think when we disconnect from that we get unhappy, and depressed. Like imagine an ant that didn’t want to work all of a sudden… he’d probably hate his life and wither away in loneliness.

    Anyways, I think as humans with BRAAAAAINS, we should constantly look for new ways to improve, and grow so we can contribute in some better way to our planet, never ending.

    Maybe thats the secret of life. Or maybe, not.

    Just a cool new way to look at it :)

    1. Neville Post author

      I think so long as your ass is alive, you’re living life the “right” way.

      However it can be a lot more enjoyable when working on something YOU think is worthwhile.

      I don’t care to run 50 miles straight….but someone else probably thinks that’s an awesome goal.

      I also heard someone say, “A lot of people say their job is killing them, but in reality, it’s probably the only thing keeping them alive.”

  8. Ray Corcoran

    i love this.. it’s almost kinda scary to think you can have so much and still desire to keep progressing.. but it makes sense once you break it down. i’m sure i’ll be the same..

    what you described at the start is very similar to what i’m working towards at the moment, so it’s interesting to hear what it’s like once you get there.

    it’s good to have success pre-30, and its exciting to think what is possible considering we probably have another 50-60 years left.

    thanks, this blog is one of the few blogs i actually enjoy reading regularly.


    1. Neville Post author

      Good to hear you’re working on it Ray. Don’t get me wrong, having a degree of success is AWESOME, and totally worth working for! But it’s not like a point you simply reach and sit there, it’s a journey more than a specific location.

      Best of luck Ray, and glad you still read me :)

  9. terence

    life experiences can happen as same for different need to get a life and stop being critical of neville.

  10. Nic Johnson

    Hey Neville, Great post. That sounds like an awesome American dream. I liked what you said about dweebs wanting something for nothing.

    I read a really interesting article by Paul Graham from Y Combinator where he talks about doing things that don’t scale, building a business one person at a time:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said, and how to make clients really happy. I spent an hour on Friday debugging a student’s JavaScript, and giving him detailed feedback and pointers. He was pretty pleased.

    1. Neville Post author

      Hey Nic, I actually already read that article (I love Paul G’s stuff too)!

      I imagine if one student likes it, others would too.

      Same in business.
      If one customer likes something, it’s common others will too (use obvious discretion on this).

      1. Nic Johnson

        It’s pretty cool, though it goes against all my freelance / business / developer instincts. The guy only spent $30 to be in the program, and I’ve probably spent around 4 hours making him happy already…

  11. javier

    ah!swearing thing is true. excessive swearing make the attention away from subject because now everyone and their mom uses swearing as a filler when they cant convey the message in their mind while even swearing used to stress a point makes people think that writing is of low quality.
    Anyway this is your best post ever.never thought you have a philosophical side :)

    1. Neville Post author

      Oh, I have a HUGE philosophical side! Yet I try to keep posts more actionable. Although you’ll probably notice lately (if you’re on the email list) that I post a bit more philosophical stuff with relatively low real-world application.

  12. Ronnie

    It is from a long time ago in a very different place but Kipling’s poem “If” comes to mind…

    IF you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
    If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    ‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
    if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

  13. Lee

    I agree with you here I love to plan a trip and work it out I get a great buzz doing it. The planning and travelling is quite often as big a part of the adventure as the adventure itself

    1. Neville Post author

      Going through all that MAKES the trip more worthwhile.

      It’s like building a car from scratch. If you just bought it outright….it wouldn’t be a big deal if it crashed….but if you built it with your own hands then it got in a wreck, you would probably cry.

  14. @FrankoChief

    Had been working on my client sales pitch and realized I was always well prepared and had done my homework. However, when the client and I were conversing I would always Be too so prepared that I Kwai not listening for the clients comments and into allowing them to tell me which direction they wanted to go. When I realized if I used one promp such as “does all this make sense?” or “have you experienced that?” or “what’s your take?” if not just up talking to signal a question and that it was time for their input. This littler change helped me to not only be more conscious of the conversation but to flow and guide the conversation which the client realizes is interactive instead Of an all out pitch and one sided. My sales improved dramatically since the client was now part of their solution instead of an observer. That’s all I have to say on that. Make sense?

  15. Pingback: Introducing the “Magic Bullet” | I Will Teach You To Be Rich

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