Will you start a fire?

A Letter to Myself – and Maybe to You Too

Will you start a fire?

Have you ever had a day where you didn’t get anything done? It wasn’t that the task at hand defeated you. It was that you didn’t even pick up your sword to fight. Instead of connecting or creating, you idled.

I had one of those nights a few weeks ago. In my frustration at the time wasted, I wrote myself the following letter. Maybe it applies to you too.

***

I want to ask you a simple question. Are you content with things as they are?

Because you’re sure acting like it. You act like you don’t care if you ever move on and go live abroad. You act like you don’t care about the projects before you. You act like you don’t care about giving the world your best.

Tonight you accomplished absolutely nothing positive. Most of it was negative actually – mindless consumption. You didn’t connect with anyone. You didn’t do any writing. You didn’t learn a skill. You didn’t even do anything fun.

You say that you want to have an extraordinary life. You say you want to make a difference in the world. You say you want to shake it with hope. You say you want to fight for humanity. Then why don’t you do it?

Your words are empty. At least they are right now.

What do you really want? Do you want the Bright Army to succeed? Then breath it every single moment of every single day. Do you want to complete a manifesto? Then finish the outline and ship it. Do you want to have the option of different work someday? Then go test something out.

You said recently that now is the best time. I agree. It is the best time. So why do you waste it?

I say this not to tear you down. The place you are in today is far above where you were even a year ago. No, I say this to push you. I say this to wake you up. Wake up. The work is just beginning. Don’t falter now. Don’t abandon all you have built so far. Don’t waste the platform you’ve established.

Because that platform is big.

It is built from relationships. Sarah, Kirk, Sarah, Frances, Connie, Regine, Rex, Mom, Dad, Jeffrey, Matthew, Grandpa, Grandma, and countless others stand in support.

It is built on knowledge. Through books like The Art of Non-Conformity, Path of Least Resistance, Linchpin, The Personal MBA, How to Win Friends and Influence People you have understood things in a new way. Through courses like the Empire Building Kit you’ve seen what is possible and the steps required to get there.

It is built on hope. From the shadows of November you have seen what could be. You have seen life.

Use that platform.

So I ask you again. Are you content with the status quo? Or do you want to push on to something greater, something remarkable, and something that matters. Do you want to partake in your personal legend? Will you take the quest?

If you do, then choose to. I know you have chosen before. Those choices have been the source of great progress. But here’s the thing. Every day you have to choose again. No, every hour you have to choose again. No, every minute you have to choose again. It is not a one time act but a continual process. It’s a journey.

If you do, then do it. Do the work. Feel the fear and do it anyways. You have vast resources at your command. Command them. You have the wisdom of pain and suffering. Use it. You have the company of heroes. Enjoy them.

I know this appears to be simple. It is. But behind it is unimaginable challenge. The theory is straightforward, but the practice is difficult. That is life though.

And so we return to tonight – to this moment. The evening is spent and wasted. Nothing can get it back. Yet there is another side to it. All the failures of the evening are also past. The consequences of lost work will still manifest themselves upon the present, but that is within the realm of your control.

You control the present. You decide how to respond. No matter what happened before, good or ill, the control is still within your hands.

And so I urge you, my dear friend, live. Deep within, I suspect you still treasure your quest. Your story still echos in your heart. Rekindle that fire. Let it burn.

I am reminded of something you once told me: “People are like matches. Most let their lights burn, however brightly, for a time and then fade away. But the great ones ignite a fire.” Go ignite that fire. What are you waiting for?

###

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Will you start a fire? I made this photo in Torit, Sudan.

7 thoughts on “A Letter to Myself – and Maybe to You Too”

  1. I love this, Joshua!

    A kick in the pants, but in the nicest possible way. Thank you, because you are right, I do need this. It’s amazing how time can just slip away so easily.

    As someone once said, “All the world’s a stage and this ain’t no dress rehearsal”

  2. Totally awesome post …. I just finished Do The Work (literally right before I sat down at the computer) …. just another push in the right direction – Thanks ….this rocked my world!

  3. Procastination is an enemy within us that causes projects live stagnant or dormant. Just could not get sleep and decided to do some work pending for some time. We are God’s best and given the best gift ‘time’ not to waste it but use it productively. We do something thinking it is nothing to us but very precious something to someone like this one Josh, it is something.

  4. Josephine,

    Two great books that discuss the “enemy within us” are The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Linchpin by Seth Godin.

    I like your comment about time being a gift. When we procrastinate and waste it, we are not just robbing ourselves, but we are taking away from others.

  5. Perfect! That was such a great angle, Joshua, to write a letter to yourself and share it with us.

    I needed that too. I tend to kind of gear up on Mondays and don’t seem to get much done, so that was the perfect kick.

    That one needs to be framed and posted up where you can see it frequently. Even though it worked great for me, I’m sure it has more meaning to you. Maybe we ought to each write our own letter with a similar bent.

    Thanks for your creative insight, Joshua.

    Maybe that night wasn’t wasted at all. You turned that lemon into perfect lemonade.

  6. That’s awesome Rex. I’m thrilled it helped put you in gear. Your suggestion of writing a letter for yourself is a good one too. Writing is a great way to channel energy and frustration. The key is to be ruthlessly honest.

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