Graduates (especially you guys in Malaysia), whatever field you’re in, whichever part of the world you call home, this is for you. Take it for what it’s worth.
Everybody who ever did anything great in their lives started with an idea. Great athletes had an idea that they wanted to be the very best athlete they could possibly be. Artists, musicians, thinkers, scientists, you name it; everyone responsible for changing the world started with an idea. And they worked on it to no end to see it happen.
Think about your role; are you creating, remaining idle or destroying?
When you’re supposed to be working on something, stop checking your phone every 5 seconds. If someone texted you, the damn thing will let you know. And even then, there is no urgency to respond to everything instantly. It’s incredibly annoying to people who work with you and it distracts you from things you actually care about. Ever wondered why people in the past were able to produce such great works, be it in literature, film or music? It’s because they focused on what they were doing. They didn’t bother about what everybody else was doing all the time.
3. Idle chatter
Constantly juggling through all the different social media platforms is a waste of time. Clicking and scrolling endlessly through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest, rinsing and repeating, serves absolutely no purpose. Unless you’re setting a fixed time to do this, and carefully selecting what and who you read, we both know your ‘gotta check it all’ habit is wasting valuable time and more importantly, energy you could use to bring your ideas to life. Also, here’s a wee reality check : nobody cares about what you’re doing all the time and really, why should you care that much about others?
Don’t be a slave to the little red notification icon. Don’t be a slave to the refresh button. Addiction in any form is still addiction.
At the end of the day you feel tired, exhausted under the illusion that you have achieved loads, but really, ask yourself this: how much have you really achieved?.
4. You’re an idiot
You are really the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Look around and ask yourself: Who are the people you spend the most time talking to and doing stuff with? Those are the people who will influence you the most in more ways than you care to imagine. The way you speak, the way you eat, the way you think are all dependant on the quality of interactions you have on a daily basis.
Weed out the idiots in your life and choose people who make you want to be better, stronger, clearer-headed than ever.
5. Be constructive
Along the way, people will tell you how things can’t be done, how things won’t work. You can come up with the most brilliant idea in the world and these people will shoot you down. They will shake their heads and say “Nah man, ain’t gonna work. *Insert reason based on their completely-out-of-context understanding of the world here*.”
BUT here’s the thing. Instead of dismissing them, use that opportunity to strengthen your idea. If you believe in something, fight for it. The better you make your case, the better the idea will become.
6. Think big
We are each insignificant specks on a much bigger speck floating aimlessly in the universe. You are valuable when you offer something constructive to the rest of the world. When I’m talking about an idea with my team, I’m not interested in how things won’t work. That’s the easy bit. Thinking about solutions and workarounds is where the real creative process begins.
I’m looking for ideas. I’m looking for a dialogue. During my creative meetings, if the table is quiet and everyone is glued to the screens then only two things are happening: 1) no one is thinking (which is bad in a brainstorming session) 2) everyone is pretending to look busy by frowning and clicking aggressively. If you think putting on an act is your idea of being productive then you’re only cheating yourself.
Understand that you are part of a much bigger picture and the more you contribute to processes, the bigger your function becomes.
7. Make a job!
Stop thinking about seeking employment but creating them.
People graduate from universities with the sole aim for seeking employment. Guys, this is the biggest bullshit everyone feeds you while you’re studying. From day one of school we are groomed to study and work hard so we can get a good job. Colleges talk about how great their degrees are in securing a good job. Graduate and get instantly employed! Then they charge you ridiculous tuition fees to operate their business. Education isn’t about empowering students with practical useful knowledge.
It’s a business and you, the students, are the customers.
Think about it for one moment. Colleges are giving you money they don’t have so you can pay them with money you don’t have. All for what? The security of a job? Everyone has something to offer within themselves and THAT should be your job. Which brings me to my next point.
8. Be a specialist.
You graduate with a fancy hat, robe, a scroll of paper in your hands and a burning desire to take on the world. Now what?
When I meet graduates I ask them, “What do you enjoy doing?” and the answer is always a blank stare. They look at the ground, confused and reply “What do you want me to do?”. I’m not interested in working with you if you’re not bringing your part to the table. Ask yourself what you want to do instead of expecting people to tell you what to do. You can only do something really, really well if you enjoy doing it.
With most projects, you have 2 choices:
1) I tell you to do something then I own your work and pay you for it. Cost: RM2500 and we both lose. I end up hiring a monkey to hold a pencil and you end up hating your job.
2) You come on board as a collaborator then you own the copyright to your work and I compensate you for your time. Cost RM2,500 and we both win. I get your best work and you go home happy and we will continue working on projects together.
How you work is up to you.
9. Don’t be stupid
Being stupid is the new cool. Educate yourself and be knowledgeable. IT’S FREE. I know it’s depressing to hear this but every single thing you learned in university or college can be learned online for FREE. The trend I’m observing in Malaysia is for young graduates to shy away from any situation where they feel they’re not qualified enough to contribute in and limit themselves to the same group of friends they’re comfortable with.
Make it a point to upgrade yourself everyday by learning something new, reading that book people have been talking about, watch a new film, listen to new music, whatever. Being smart and interesting isn’t coded into your genetics. It’s a trait you work on, day by day.
10. Be stupid
Do silly things and break the mold. People will tell you how things can’t and shouldn’t be done differently because it has always been done in a certain. Then they will turn around and fall to the feet of the guy who actually did things differently and made a difference. People are naturally afraid. Afraid of making changes to the mold they’re very comfortably sitting in because trying something new would bring about unexpected results. It might be good or bad, but it’s safer to not try it.
Well, if you don’t try then you can’t fail right?
Remember that every single thing that exists around us today was the result of someone’s idea and hard work.
Wow, you’re still here. As a bonus for paying attention, here’s an extra one.
11. Little worlds
Any advice that anyone offers you (including this) is based on an individual’s view of the world based on their personal experience and understanding. It’s their world. Not yours. You live in your own little world with your own priorities and rules.
And that’s why you are the only who can decide what works and what doesn’t.
Every book ever written, every film ever made, ever work of art ever created is an extension of someone’s little world. Some choose to remain hidden within theirs while some choose to break out of it and expand that world to include other smaller worlds.
There are no Ten Commandments to help you succeed in life.
There is no magic formula.
Work hard, be honest, do what you love and treat others the way you want to be treated.