I've been out on book tour for the launch of my new novel, From Nothing. At one of the early talks I began with a simple question: Why do we do difficult things?
I'm not talking about ordinary-difficult things like schlepping yourself to work every day or paying all your bills. I'm talking about really big stuff. Pick a career path. Marry someone. Divorce someone. Start a company. Write a book—without an advance check.
Why do we decide to tackle extraordinarily hard challenges? Why do we embark on the kinds of things that change our lives?
I’m going to give you the answer in just a few more carriage returns, but before I do, think about what your answer might be.
Why do you do exceptionally difficult things?
Is it for money?
Is it for status and ego?
Is it because someone else pressures you to do it?
I think those enticements can play a role, but I don't think it's why most of us do difficult things.
I think we do difficult things because we can’t not.
Try repeating that in your head. Read the words "Why do we do difficult things?" Then answer aloud: Because we can’t not.
If you're not alone, say it rather quietly under your breath, but do say it aloud. If you are alone, shout it from your gut.
Why do we difficult things?
Because we can't not.
Excellent, I think I heard you that time! You'll note the purposeful application of a solid double negative. Don't worry, the grammar police aren't coming for us, at least not this time.
I want this message to encode in your mind: Because we can’t not.
The topic of my book talk was why I choose to write for what amounts to the tiniest part of my income given the full span of hours invested. The question at hand was why I didn't spend more of my time on lucrative business projects instead of sitting alone in a room for half my waking hours banging out words without much promise of real financial upside no matter how well I write.
There are obstacles to book distribution at an enterprise scale that are beyond my ability to control. If I chose to write fiction solely for wealth creation,