Don’t Be Easy

I have to give a talk next week at Microsoft. I said, “I have to prepare it. But it will be easy”.

She made a joke, “Don’t be easy.”

But she’s right: If you are going to give of yourself, don’t be easy. Don’t make your words slutty.

Make it painful to get those words out. I have to dip the words in struggle. Make them marinate.

Sometimes we get into a routine. Things are easy. Life is easy.

When I sold my first company, life was a little too easy for me. The problem with easy is that you can spend “easy.” But when things are difficult, you have to earn back the life you spent.

I’m often afraid when things are good. What if things get bad? What if I go from good to bad? Again!

I wish I could not think about it. Not shake. Not say curses out loud when I don’t mean to. “Why did you just say that? What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know,” I lie. Maybe 200 times a year I have that conversation.

Graham Greene says that we live life fully until we are twenty years old. Then the rest of our lives we re-tell that story in one form or other.

We re-tell it in our stories, in our emotional wounds, in how we treat others, in how we live our lives.

But I don’t think it ends at 20. It keeps going. New wounds.

Life is good. Can I just relax? I think of the businesses I’ve started. Some (most) have failed. The friends I’ve made. Some (most) I no longer speak to.

The children I helped make. They are growing past me.

The businesses I have yet to start. I hope they do well, given what I now know. But we’ll see.

The books I have yet to write. I feel I need to improve. To get better. To keep exercising my creativity so I can say something new.

Relationships I have. They never seem easy. Tortured by my own insecurities mixed with everyone else’s. My own open wounds, bleeding into the open wounds of everyone else.

Don’t be easy. Don’t let it be easy or else it’s been said before.

I am telling myself that now. Ask something new every day and I will have the fuel to say something new.

But, for once, I wish things were easy. Maybe even relaxing. From experience, though, I know it’s good if I never get my wish.

  • Thomas Dotson

    I saw a quote recently that brought it all home for me. Sorry but I do not remember who said, “Success is never final, and failure is never fatal.”

    • Good quote! Another similar way I like to think of it is “things in life are usually not extremely good, or extremely bad, for very long.” i.e. don’t get too complacent at the high points, or too despondent at the low points.

      • Thomas Dotson

        When I started in my business a friend gave me his business card. Imprinted on the reverse side was “Panic is a sprinter.” That thought has served me so well over the years. Similar to what you pointed out above.

  • Excellent post. This like made my day: “Ask something new every day and I will have the fuel to say something new.”

  • What I love most about your writing James … is that you listen intently to the stories around you to find those things that explain the world in chunks.

    “Don’t be easy.” Indeed. Good ear, and great writing sir.

  • I travel a lot as an author, medical writer, analyst and speaker. I meet many professionals with the brand of being entrepreneurial leaders, writing gurus–all with popular blogs, podcasts, or platforms. The only 3 that ever responded personally or authentically to a communication? James Altucher, Seth Godin, and Lynne Rossetto Kasper (The Splendid Table).

  • I needed this one today. It actually validates a conversation I had with someone just an hour ago about some decisions I’m trying to make. Thanks for the extra motivation James!

  • Kei

    You are one of my favorite bloggers and a great inspiration to me…every time I read your words, they pick me up…Thank You for sharing your life through words.

  • Mohamad Alshorbaji

    This article was easy compared to other articles you wrote.

  • I remind myself of this, because easy often means cheating yourself. Its getting the hard work done that separates a life lived and one simply experienced.

  • You’re doing just fine James. Hail your strength, courage and wise words.

    I know I’m using the same “language” when I speak. During my 15 years as a martial arts trainer in Taekwon-Do, I have a way of talking with a choice of words people don’t forget. Some (often) disturbing and a little shocking, but they get it. Marinaded in a light mix of humor, it softens the rough edges of my words and explanations :)