An Evening with Kevin Smith includes a story about Ben Affleck. The person who was casting the movie Daredevil asked Kevin Smith who should play the lead.
I said, "Affleck" because that's my answer for everything. I'm a big fan, so I think he can play anything. If people are like, "Jaws?" I'm like, "Affleck. Affleck plays the .... shark."
I told Affleck, "There's a dude checking if you wanna play Daredevil." He's like, "I love Daredevil." I said, "That's what I told him."
He said, "What'd you say?" I said, "You should play it." He said, "Why?" I was like, "I think you should play everything."
"Like, even the shark from Jaws?"
"Yes, the shark from Jaws."
I love this so much and think about it nearly every day. Wrapped in the hilarious dialogue and delivery is one of the most powerful forces on the planet: one person's complete, unwavering confidence in another.
Every day I'm struck by the talent of friends and people in this community. We're surrounded by people undeniably capable of big, adventurous things: beginning a new life in a new country, writing a book, learning programming, mentoring students, starting a business, caring for a sick loved one, teaching elementary school, speaking in front of 30 friends or 300 strangers, traveling the world, leading a team, being a good neighbor under difficult circumstances, and much more.
Sometime we forget and need to be reminded, though. We don't always see what others see. I'm thankful for friends who have stepped in at just the right moment and provided the perspective I've lost. I try to do the same. There are few better gifts to give or receive.
You should know that I'm a big fan. I think you should play everything.
Even the shark from Jaws.
Let's try a small Uncommon community project. Do you know someone who is unsure of a new adventure, someone who doesn't see themselves the way you see them? Seek them out and tell them of your complete, unwavering confidence. Let know know that you believe they are capable of anything. Your words may be exactly what they need to hear at just the right moment.
Then, feel free to reply with your story or just enjoy the moment. Thanks for sharing the spirit of possibility.
Last week's dispatch asked, What's the best advice you've received?
Four words from my dear friend Melina: "Don't ask, don't get." At least, I think I first heard this from Melina - it was either her, or colleagues of ours back when we worked together.
There was no lack of wisdom in that office - it was my first job out of university, and I learnt an amazing amount. The same advice in a longer form, just to make it clear: if you want something, you better ask for it (or even better, make it happen, if it's within your control). Don't just hope.
I remember these: “Girlfriends come and go, but you can always count on friends.” — Mom. “All advice is autobiographical.” — Austin Kleon
I received a beautiful piece of advice from a great friend recently. As I fretted about what I do, who I am, where I'm going, etc. (as you do in your twenties) she told me this: "You don't have to do anything or go anywhere. Even if you achieve nothing else for the rest of your life, you will still be exactly who you are and that is enough." I found it both an incredibly refreshing change or perspective and one of the most sincere compliments I've ever received.
When my mom was diagnosed with cancer last fall and given "weeks, not months" to live, and I was contemplating how to take time as much as possible to be with her (I run a startup; we were in the middle of an accelerator program and were re-building our product), an advisor encouraged me to do whatever it took to take care of and spend time with my mom: "You are now CEO of Make Mom Happy, Inc." I spent every day of the last three weeks of my mother's life by her side.
"People are more important than tasks."
The best advice I ever received came in a quote from Keith Olbermann. "The world bursts at the seams with people ready to tell you you're not good enough. On occasion, some may be correct. But do not do their work for them. Seek any job; ask anyone out; pursue any goal. Don't take it personally when they say "no" - they may not be smart enough to say "yes." In the newsroom at my college paper I had two bits of advice stuck to my computer monitor: take advantage of the access you have and proceed until apprehended. While it's crucially important to journalists, I think it transfers nicely into my daily life as well. The first paragraph gives me the guts to do what I do. The second makes sure I do it well.
The most striking and (pretty) good advice I received was "The only way you learn is by falling down." This from a guy I played roller hockey with at SMU for a year. He was a member of the fraternity on campus that was least known for the academic acumen, so this little gem surprised me.
I have two. My mom always quoted to us when we were kids, "be ye kind" and my uncle, speaking on marriage said, "some adjustments take years!" I find both of those helpful and applicable in many areas of life!
Best advice I've ever received: Seek significance, not success. I still dislike how that phrase illuminates my futile busyness and causes me to pause and reassess where I'm putting my energy.
How Not to Be Alone by Jonathan Safran Foer. One of the best things you'll read this year:
Each step “forward” has made it easier, just a little, to avoid the emotional work of being present, to convey information rather than humanity. The problem with accepting — with preferring — diminished substitutes is that over time, we, too, become diminished substitutes. People who become used to saying little become used to feeling little.
Oh my god, don’t make things for “Everyone.” by Dan Sinker:
“Everyone” isn’t an audience. “Everyone” is a byproduct of an incredibly successful thing that was made for a far more specific bunch of people. Don’t ever make something for “Everyone” make it for someone. And make that person love it.
A Defense of the Humanities by Leon Wieseltier:
The machines to which we have become enslaved, all of them quite astonishing, represent the greatest assault on human attention ever devised: they are engines of mental and spiritual dispersal, which make us wider only by making us less deep.