This book took 5 years to finish, not because Sacks’ memoir isn’t compulsively readable, but because there were other books I thought I should read instead.
Sack’s life is one to emulate. Not by becoming a neurologist and cultivating a British Accent. But rather by seeing life, all of life – love, career, hobbies travel, failure, success, as an adventure to pursue.
Master questioner (is that a word?) Tim Ferris brings all the good stuff out of Kevin:
When you think of the word or hear the word successful, who’s the first person who comes to mind?
Kevin Kelly: Jesus.
Tim Ferriss: Why would you say that?
Kevin Kelly: There aren’t that many people who’ve left their mark on as many people in the world as he has. I think what hewas up to, what he was doing is vastly been twisted, misunderstood, whatever word you want, but nonetheless, what’s remarkable is … and here’s a guy who didn’t write anything. I think success is also overrated.
Tim Ferriss: I’d love for you to elaborate on that.
Kevin Kelly: Greatness is overrated. I mentioned big numbers, but it’s more of the impact that they had on people’s lives. I think we tend to have an image of success that’s so much been skewed by our current media, just like our sense of beauty of women. In terms of all possibilities, it’s in a very small, narrow, define … ritualistic in a certain sense. I think our idea of success is often today it means you’re somebody who has a lot of money, or who has a lot of fame, or who has some of these other trappings, which we had assigned, but I think can be successful by being true to, and being the most ‘you’ that you could possibly be. I think that what’s I think of as when you think of Jesus, whether you take him as a historical character or anything beyond, was about … He certainly wasn’t imitating anybody, let me put it that way. I think that’s the great temptation that people have is they want to be someone else, which is basically they want to be in someone else’s movie. They want to be the best rock star, and there’s so many of those already that you can only wind up imitating somebody in that slot. I think to me the success is like you make your own slot. You have a new slot that didn’t exist before. I think that’s of course what Jesus and many others were doing, but they were making a new slot. That’s really hard to do, but I think that’s what I chalk up as success is you made a new slot.
Tim Ferriss: What is your new slot? You knew that was coming.
Kevin Kelly: Who says I’m successful?
Tim Ferriss: I’m not. I’m trying to not make any assumptions here. Or what would be your slot?
Kevin Kelly: My slot would be Kevin Kelly. That’s the whole thing. It’s not going to be a career or you would really ideally be something that would … you had no imitators. You would be who you are, and that is success actually in some sense is you didn’t imitate anybody, no one else imitated you afterwards. In a certain sense you have, if you become an adjective, that’s a good sign, right?
Tim Ferriss: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kevin Kelly: I think success is actually you make your own path. If they’re calling you a successful entrepreneur, then to me that’s not the best kind of success
Whenever I need an encouraging kick in the ass I listen to this interview.
Kevin isn’t saying that one shouldn’t have ambition. He’s saying that our idea of success – money, possessions, lifestyle, is narrow.
That attempting to live someone else’s life is narrow, foolish even.