This is a more a personal story on my reflections on the effects of trying to do many things at once. When I moved to Texas from Puerto Rico on the summer of 2010; I was trying to change my life completely and start working on my film career. Back then I was a completely different person, I was a mess. I knew that if I did not changed my environment and my psychology that my life was going nowhere. Much has change since then. It was 5 years ago and it feels like a lifetime has passed.
I bring this up because the internet or more specifically how people perceive the internet, has made people think that they can change fast. That somehow you can magically in a short period of time become a better person or become a successful entrepreneur, A YouTube or social media celebrity. You know this as “the overnight success” phenomenon.
I follow a lot of smart people which I have mentioned in the past like Tim Ferris, Gary Vaynerchuck, Seth Godin, Rammit Sethi and more recently Dorie Clark. Some of them as long as 5 years and all that time I have observed a common thread. That many of the fans devour desperatly their content; but they don’t necessary apply it, there just contented with knowing the theory of success, but not the practice. I have a name for this myself, the information zombie. I did this myself for a time and still have to remind myself of not to regress, by no means I say I’m perfect. Here’s how it works and how it can affect certain people.
Phase 1: Being exposed to the virus
You can become an information zombie by being exposed to the overnight success virus if you have extreme mental starvation and malnourishment; which can be caused by your past economical, psychological and social environment. You might have been raised in poverty, dysfunctional family, a lack of a positive role model. Alas, all the usual suspects that you have read in studies such as this one or this one. Making matters worst are the news you see on the media such as “First time screenwriter gets a million dollar offer.” It doesn’t matter that these are myths 98% of the time and the other 2% was luck or a certified genius. Still these kind of stories play tricks on your mind. You start thinking that you can be that overnight success, since your particular economical or mental situation may not have completely broken you. You still have a flicker of hope, a small fire, that you are desperately trying to cling on. This is called the hero’s journey, in this case your Luke Skywalker from Star Wars or Neo from the matrix, desperately trying to find out the truth.
Then comes the thought leader or the teacher; your Yoda. Here is where the real danger comes. You are so hungry to complete the journey that you fail on taking the precautions to protect yourself from the virus. This is Luke ignoring Yoda when he ignored the warning that he had to complete his training first and chooses to face Darth Vader instead. How that turn out for him? How many time successful people say over and over the same things before we catch on. It takes years to build a brand; which can be a business, your career, your network. However, we are so hungry that we try to do many things at the same time.
This is exactly what I did. At one point in my journey I wanted to be a traditional filmmaker, a freelancer, get out of debt, build my network, blogging, etc. All this despite that I heard time and time again from all my Yoda’s that I can only focus on one at the time.
Phase 2: Becoming a Zombie
Here where things can get real dark. If you are not careful you can lose yourself trying to change very quickly. You can become just like the undead going from eating brain to brain, reading and consuming finding only tactics. You try everything because you are multi-passionate and you want success and damn it…you want it NOW! Sadly all your efforts fail which is not so bad; if you are hyper aware, because you can move on. This is akin to getting shot in the head while you are human. The other alternative is that you don’t completely fail, your are just mediocre and you move at the slowest of paces. You start walking like the undead. Unfortunately many stay as a zombie all there lives. You get caught in this limbo of going through the motions, getting distracted with the flashy new thing just like the zombies watching the fireworks in a George Romero movie.
Phase 3: Finding a cure
The good news is that there is a cure, the bad news is that it’s a heavy treatment and it’s not easy. Just like the painful process of the chemotherapy, but a necessary one in other to survive. The first things to do when you are tackling to many things at once, is to stop what your doing and ask consult with mentors who have done what you are trying to do. If you don’t have mentors, find them. Do not try to figure things out on your own, because that’s how you got into this mess in the first place. Also don’t be tempted to substitute potential real life mentor’s that you can reach out to through networking with books. I’m speaking to all introverts who do this, because frankly books make it all sound easy. The authors of these books spent years with research and real life experiences and condense everything into a few pages of paper. Not to mention that the publishers edit most of these books to make it “marketable”. A real life mentor will give you all the nuances as well as the nuts and bolts of their experience. I wrote before on how to find a mentor and check the resources page for more in depth guidance of the process of connecting with other people.
Be aware, protect yourself from the virus!