1-Sentence-Summary: Everything I Know ditches all the rules and gives you a guide to living a fulfilled and adventurous life that can be infinitely updated, stretched, expanded and customized, based on who you are, instead of another “do-this-to-get-rich-fast” scheme that doesn’t work for everyone.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Paul Jarvis is not your average freelancer. Or writer. Or writer. Or podcaster. Or programmer. He’s just Paul Jarvis. A tattooed, rat-loving guy, who works incredibly hard to help you create cool stuff, mostly digital products. After working for himself for the past 18 years, he’s pretty much unemployable now, and that’s a good thing, because it leaves him with more time to help you and me.
He writes weekly articles, which he exclusively sends out to his mailing list. In 2013, he published Everything I Know to share some of the lessons he’s learned along his way so you can move past your fears and act out your plans – wherever your adventures may lead you.
Here are 3 of his no-size-fits-all lessons:
- Above all, let your inner values guide your life.
- Make time to create the work the world needs right now.
- Steal, mix, match and adapt ideas.
I hope you’re feeling adventurous – buckle up!
Lesson 1: Let your most important guide in life be your own, inner values.
Here are some of the external yardsticks the world gives us to measure our worth by, which we usually happily take and compare ourselves with:
- Number of shoes in your closet
- Twitter followers
First, forget all of those. Instead, answer this simple question: What is important to you? What do you think matters? Whatever answer pops up in your head, it’s the first step towards finding your own, inner values. Chances are your internal worth is totally separate from any of the ways the world measures how valuable you are, and that’s great.
Now you have your own yardstick, with an incredibly simple way to measure your sense of worth by asking: How well do I live up to my own values?
Ironically, this is also the basis of worldly success, because it allows you to start doing things your way and create something unique, that’s different and irreplaceable.
Lesson 2: Make time to create the work the world needs right now.
Whether you’re trying to plan your finances or start a business, you can’t predict the future. It’s impossible to control any eventual outcomes, which makes setting too specific goals a futile effort.
However, you can control the work you’re doing right here, right now. Therefore, the magic trick is to just get started. The moment you start focusing on what work the world needs today, that matches your own values, you can get cracking on a side project that’ll deliver just that.
But know that making an effort to deliver such meaningful work will come at a price: the sacrifice of consumption. You can’t just do everything you did before and slap more hours on top. Paul suggests you shift your mindset from consumption to creation.
For example, if you watch less TV or listen to fewer podcasts, you can now take that time to shoot your own Youtube show, write a blog, or build a business. In order to maintain balance, ask yourself: what can I do without, if it means I get to create something great?
Take time, start now, don’t fret about the future and keep following your values to reach an outcome – any outcome – because it’ll be worth it either way.
Lesson 3: Don’t be afraid to steal, mix, match and adapt other people’s ideas.
Ideas aren’t the result of thinking inside a vacuum. Every thought you ever have is the result of your cumulated experiences – the entirety of what you’ve ever felt, seen, heard, read and learned.
In that way, we innovate by letting others inspire us and then infusing our own, unique values into it.
Therefore, you can start by “stealing” initial ideas to start working with, for example by meshing three different website designs into your own, or mixing a travel writer’s style with one of a scientific research paper. The more you iterate and integrate what you stand for into the work, the less it’ll look like the original, until you arrive with something totally unique to you.
Imagine the idea you start with as a piece of clay, which you shape until it’s in line with your values, so it’ll eventually tell your own story.
Look at Four Minute Books. With each summary, I take a small piece of someone else’s work, learn from it, and then tell you a story about it from my own perspective.
Note: Paul suggests you focus on creating, not what the final result looks like. As a certain Ernest Hemingway said: “The first draft of anything is shit.” But it’s important to let your creativity flow unfiltered in the beginning. Just go, make something happen.
My personal take-aways
Recently, I realized that much of the “one-size-fits-all” advice out there, well, doesn’t fit. I got really frustrated by it and switched to listening to people with a more philosophical approach, because it leaves more room for me to align what I learn with what I already know about myself.
Paul is one of those guys and sure worth following. He reminds me a bit of Seth Godin. You can feel that he cares about you and that’s rare.
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- Why being weird and showing it in public is a good thing
- How limited the power of goals is and when they’re a sign you’re following someone else’s path
- The benefits of greeting and acknowledging your fears
- Which criticism to just move on from, and which to learn from
- How to make your work valuable enough for people to pay for it
- Why you have to build a rallying point and find your people
Who would I recommend the Everything I Know summary to?
The 25 year old in the middle of his quarter-life crisis, the 54 year old who’s worried she’s not doing anything to impact the world in the second half of her life, and anyone who thinks they need to have a really great idea before they can start working on it.