Why I Do What I Do: A Manifesto

When I first started writing online in early 2016, I was absolutely convinced I was here to help the world be ethical salespeople. I wanted people to help not sell, after all—that was what I knew. You can read more about that here.

But as I started to read, write, and create more, I found myself being pulled more and more toward my natural thoughts. Not things I considered work, but things I innately (and constantly) think about. It wasn’t long before I convinced myself I needed to share those ideas with the world. The ideas that inspire me. The ideas that I hope will inspire you, too.

You might not agree with everything I write, but I’m not trying to be right or wrong. I take my work more seriously than I take myself. I realize my my fallibility and irrationality. I’ve documented my imperfections before and will certainly again in the future. I laugh. I cry. I complain. I try my best. I do it all over again. You see, if everyone agrees with what I write, I’m likely not pushing hard enough. Sure, this might mean I’ll take a couple casualties along the way. I’m okay with that. I’m just sharing what I’ve observed, considered, and researched. I’m sharing what I have evidence to support. That means sometimes the door is left wide open. Other times just a crack. Sometimes shut, but unlocked. But never locked. Okay, maybe sometimes locked. In any case, you always have a standing invite to knock, with just one caveat. Do you have good intentions? Maybe that goes back to my beginnings. Help me, don’t sell me. What is the motive behind your compelling case? Why do you want me to believe it? What are your interests? What is your intention?

For me, intention is everything.

I’ve heard screenwriter Aaron Sorkin share how he pleaded to keep the opening scene of The Social Network as Mark Zuckerberg getting drunk on a screwdriver rather than a beer. Sorkin knew Zuckerberg was angrily drunk creating FaceMash. It was only after the scene had been shot that he learned Zuckerberg had, in fact, been drinking beer. David Fincher, director of the film, pressed him to change it, and ultimately they did, but not before Sorkin plead his case:

“The screwdriver is so much more cinematic...It reads as drinking to get drunk, as opposed to a college kid just thirsty so I’m drinkin’ a beer. What does it matter? Why the authenticity just for authenticity’s sake? I’d never have him shooting up instead of drinking, that’s entirely different, but we know that he’s drunk. What does it matter what he’s getting drunk on?”

Sorkin is more concerned you understand intent over just truth. He even says about his work, “It’s meant to be a painting, not a photograph.” I can only hope one day I create work that lands like Sorkin’s, but like Sorkin, intention is the most important thing for me. Intention is my general through line.

My intention is to help you to think differently, live better, and be more open-minded.

I often find myself thinking about people—musicians, fictional characters, randoms, whomever really—and speculating about their lives. Their journeys. Their relationships, emotions, and behaviors. Their interactions with the world. How did they get here? What did they have to give up? What drove them to this point? What does everyone seem to be missing? Where does the “act” end and “person” start? I can go on and on but it’s really just an utter fascination with the human condition.

When you think about these things all the time, you begin to see dots, connect dots, and spot trends. Certain things just keep popping up over and over again. As you begin to research those dots and trends, you’ll recognize subtle nuances. Nuances that get you thinking a little differently. Nuances that help you live better. Nuances that make you more open-minded. Sometimes they’re glaringly obvious. Sometimes they’re hidden in plain sight. Sometimes they’re unseen by nobody. I hope I can find a couple of those that would be good for both of us. This is largely what I write about and share with you. You’ll often see multiple points threaded through one of my articles. I typically don’t write in a straight line.

Why do I want you to think differently, live better, and be more-open minded?

The short answer is almost everything is not what it seems.

The long answer is that at our core we’re all trapped. We’re all held captive by our own perspective. We only know what we know. This perspective ends up dictating our life, career, location, friends, partners, and I can go on and on and on. The tragic story of Tim Bergling is a jarring reminder.

Wait—Tim who?

A world-famous DJ known to most as Avicii catapulted to success at an early age. A young, impressionable, and confused nineteen year old. Just like you or I. People telling him how great he is, what he needs to do, where needs to be, and what makes sense for his life. It all happened fast. Hit records, private jets, exotic locations, and packed arenas. Not like you and I. Just one problem, though. An identity he didn’t even want yet was forced to live everyday as the world clamored over his every move. An identity that was only fortified with every song, set, and appearance. An identity that made him retire at age 27. In a retirement letter he said, “I know I am blessed to be able to travel all around the world and perform, but I have too little left for the life of a real person behind the artist.” It was an identity that left even him saying, “Tim who?”

Here’s what I know. The story you’re not telling yourself is just as real as the one you are. I guess you can call that a door locked idea. I really believe in it. This is why I’m such an advocate for reading. It extends your perspective, alters your reality, and reminds you about the endless amount stories you can be telling yourself.

Some might suggest a life of ignorance is easier. This is a totally plausible idea. Personally, I’ve thought about it many times. I can think of a few compelling arguments. You might be able to convince me. It’s the people that live a life dedicated to close-mindedness. Totally convinced their way is the right way. A life of defending rather than exploring. That’s the group I have my biggest struggle with. If that’s you, I’ll ask you to consider one question: what will it take for you to change your mind? Seriously. What will it take? The power to change your mind is one of the greatest aspects of being human. It always baffles me to see people give up that power so easily. Please, don’t give up that power.

Maybe you were left thinking, “But Doug, Avicii still has millions of dollars. He could do whatever he wants.” I’d challenge you to look past whatever subjective metric you hold in your head and understand everyone fights their own battle. Well, because they do and that metric in your head is subjective. There’s not a more glaring example of how faulty this thinking is than how Avicii’s story ends. A glaring example that money is nothing more than a subjective metric which we falsely think means wellbeing. He committed suicide in 2018.

Of course, I could have ended this article with the triumphant story of the world-famous DJ who battled his way out of poverty. A classic rags-to-riches story. Who now eats caviar rather than ramen noodles. The one who changed his life through grit and determination. The one on the front cover of that magazine. The one who’s an inspiration to millions of people around the world.

But you’ve heard that story before.

I want you to think differently, live better, and be more open-minded.

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