Todd Henry is the founder of Accidental Creative, a company that helps creative people and teams be prolific, brilliant and healthy. He regularly speaks and consults with companies about how to develop practices that lead to everyday brilliance.
He is the author of Die Empty, The Accidental Creative, and Louder than Words.
Favorite Success Quote
“Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of our soul and then walks grinning in the funeral” ~Kahlil Gibran
1. The Goal of Life is Not Comfort it’s Contribution
Society has tried to convince us that the ultimate goal of our lives is to increase our comfort.
But the problem with this philosophy is that no great work ever came from comfort.
You cannot contribute to society and build a true legacy while staying comfortable.
In fact, comfort is what kills great work and dreams.
The more you are pursuing comfort, the more you are going to be willing to compromise what you know is right and ultimately the more you are willing to reduce your goals and play it small in life.
It’s not comfortable to build a great business.
It’s hard work, it requires long hours, and lots of lost sleep.
It’s not comfortable to sustain a strong marriage.
It requires difficult conversations, a commitment to your spouse even when they are at their worst, and the ability to say no to the temptation of other women.
It’s not comfortable to build a great body.
It requires strenuous exercise, denying yourself the pleasure of excess food, and controlling vices that would harm your health.
But while it might not be comfortable to do any of these things, it is worth it.
2. Suffering is Not Evil
One of the missions of many modern gurus is to “Eradicate suffering wherever it exists”.
And while this sentiment sounds noble, when you understand its ramifications, the truth becomes clear.
Suffering is not evil, it is not wrong, and it is not a danger to society.
Suffering is a necessary part of growth and development.
Suffering builds character in the individual and equips them for challenges that they will face later in life.
I want you to imagine two men.
The first grew up in NYC, with rich affluent parents, and the whole world presented to him.
The second, grew up in the South Side of Chicago, with an abusive father and an emotionally distant mother.
They both grow up, and decide to take up the mantle of entrepreneurship.
When the first man comes in contact with his first set of challenges, what do you think will happen?
When he is required to work for 24 hours straight, to fire a dear friend, and to pull payroll from his own bank account… how do you think he will respond?
While he might rise to the situation and surprise us all, odds are, his love of comfort and soft life will have conditioned him to tuck his tail and run.
But the second man?
The man who became friends with pain and suffering from a very young age?
What do you think he will do?
He will laugh.
This is nothing compared to where he came from and he knows that he can easily overcome these obstacles to achieve his goals.
Suffering breeds strong men and strong men shape the world.
While you shouldn’t seek to suffer more than is necessary, you should embrace suffering as it arises and be willing to see it for the gift that it is.
3.Contemplate Your Own Death
We are all going to die.
Maybe Elon Musk will step in and save the population from its rapidly approaching fate, but until then, the only axiom of life is the inevitability of death.
You are going to die, I am going to die, and everyone who reads this is going to die.
And when we are presented with this reality, we have but one of two choices.
We can either continue living life like we always have, lazily coasting through our days, living the deferred life that everyone else has designed for us.
Or we can take action.
We can use this disturbing and dark reality to inspire us and empower us to live our best lives.
If tomorrow is not guaranteed then you can no longer waste today.
Don’t wait until later to tell someone that you love them, don’t wait until next week to start pursuing your dreams, and don’t wait a second longer to start living with joy and passion.
We are all dead men walking.
So we might as well make the most of it.
4. Make Mistakes of Commission Not Omission
There are only two kinds of mistakes in this world.
Mistakes of omission and mistakes of commission.
Mistakes of omission are the worst kind.
These mistakes are where we knew we needed to do something, desperately wanted to take action, but froze in fear.
These are the mistakes where we think back and wonder “What would have happened if I had taken that trip, quit that job, asked that girl out, or been willing to be my true self.”
These are the mistakes that haunt us to our death bed.
Then there are mistakes of commission.
These are the mistakes that we will most often look back and smile on.
These are the mistakes where we started that business, made a bad move, and then failed and learned what we needed to for our next venture.
These are the mistakes where we drop out of school, travel the world, lose everything and have to rebuild. But, we had a heck of a time doing it, met some amazing people, and lived a fuller life for it.
These are the mistakes where we go up and talk to the girl, ask for her number, and then get shot down. But we laugh it off, go back to our buddies and try again.
Mistakes of commission at the best, help us in future endeavors, and at worst teach us lessons.
You have a choice.
You can either make mistakes of omission and live the rest of your life wondering “what if” or you can make mistakes of commission and live the rest of your life saying “At least I tried”.
5. Are You Loving People Through Your Work or Using Them?
At all times you are either loving people through your work or using them through your work.
There is no in between.
When you use people through your work, sure you can make a few dollars.
But how long will it last?
How long until people say, “Enough! I am sick of this”?
When you love people through your work, you might find that the money comes a little bit slower (trust me though it will come) but the fulfillment flows in abundance.
You know that every post you write, every video you publish, and every product you sell is ultimately helping people, engaging people, and pushing them further in their journey to become their best selves.
When you can use your business to love people, the flood gates of the universe will open to you and you will start to see love and abundance show up in your lives in a way that you never could have imagined.
2. Die Empty