Episode 305: The Pursuit… Sacrificing Everything You Know for What You Really Love
It’s weird. Normally, the people I interview on this podcast are at the end of their career. Bill is just starting. He spent years in law school. And then made up his mind (after a day of fasting) that he’s going to be a comedian.
“I came to the decision that I wanted to be a stand-up comic during Yom Kippur, I’m not Jewish, but a friend of mine told me, ‘You just fast for a day. Don’t eat food. Don’t drink water and think if today was the last day of my life, what would I have done differently?’”
He was in school to become a Marine lawyer. It was a career path that everyone approved of. Society approves. His parents approve.
It’s almost like you have to break out of the matrix to get the courage to say, “Okay, I just spent 12 years in grade school, 4 years in college, 3 years in law school all for this one goal: to become a lawyer. And now I’m going to throw it all away”
I wanted to know why… because I could see this was the making of a “choose yourself” story.
“I calculated it out,” he said. “I figured I can out-work a lot of these guys.”
And the work turned into love.
“I cultivated this really huge love for stand-up,” he said. “It imbued my life with meaning, the more I sacrificed for it and the harder I pursued it.”
But there was also shame. He had to disappoint his circle (his teachers, his fellow classmates, his family and everyone who believed in him.)
“In law school, whenever a teacher would ask me what kind of law I wanted to practice, I would say, bold-faced in the class, ‘I’m gonna be a comedian.’ I felt people pull back. And I felt ashamed. Like what am I really doing? What if this doesn’t work out?”
“So why’d you decide not to be a lawyer and go for stand up comedy?” I said.
“At the end… what I’m really pursuing is to be my own fan.”
And then it made sense. Approval from others doesn’t guarantee success or happiness. It guarantees nothing. Sometimes it guarantees that you’ll be miserable.
Bill told me about the time he stopped seeking his mom’s faith in him. And how he replaced it with his own.
This podcast is filled with lessons on commitment and confidence, but more than that it’s taught me the true value of the pursuit…
Bill quit his career to become a comedian.
He broke through the matrix. And he’s free.
Links and Resources:
- Examples of AI taking over lawyers jobs (Legal Zoom, Rocket Lawyer)
- “Choose Yourself” by me, James Altucher
- Bill Burr
- Patrice O’Neil
- Larry David
- Amy Schumer
- Jim Gaffigan
- Dave Chappelle
- Felonious Munk (comedian on “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” on Comedy Central)
- Anthony Jeselnik
- Drew Michael
- Jerrod Carmichael
- Woody Allen
- Hannibal Buress
- Mitch Hedberg
- WTF with Marc Maron Podcast
- Nick Ogle
- The Hidden Tools of Comedy: The Serious Business of Being Funny by Steve Kaplan
- Ari Shafer youtube talk – 4 hours long
- The Lazy Philosopher (Will’s podcast)
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