I was recently reminded of one of my favorite articles from The Onion — published the week in 2011 that Steve Jobs passed away.
The headline read:
“Last American Who Knew
What The F*ck He Was Doing Dies”
The article went on to quote a fake, satirical statement from Barack Obama:
“We haven’t just lost a great innovator, leader, and businessman, we’ve literally lost the only person in this country who actually had his shit together and knew what the hell was going on.”
“Jobs will be remembered both for the life-changing products he created and for the fact that he was able to sit down, think clearly, and execute his ideas — attributes he shared with no other U.S. citizen.
This is a dark time for our country, because the reality is none of the 300 million or so Americans who remain can actually get anything done or make things happen. Those days are over.”
It was a sad time for the world, indeed.
And of course, the article was satire, but it wouldn’t be satire if there wasn't any truth to it. So here’s exactly…
“Have It All Together”:
So many questions I get center around this idea that you need to “Get your shit together.” Like somehow that’s a worthwhile goal.
So here’s a recipe for “having it all together.”
In fact, I know of TWO ways to do it:
The first way is to lie to the world (AND yourself) — and make it LOOK like you have it all together.
If you’re a good liar, this is effective in the short term. But in the long term, it will burn you out to the point where you can’t keep it up anymore.
The second way is to give up the idea of “having it all together”… altogether.
Let it crumble and disappear from your reality. Because “having it together” is imaginary.
Steve Jobs didn’t even have it all together:
If he did, he wouldn’t have hired the same person (John Sculley) who ended up firing him from the very company he founded.
He wouldn’t have launched so many product failures (The Apple Lisa, Macintosh TV, The Apple III, Powermac G4 Cube… just to name a few that cost Apple millions.)
And he wouldn’t have tried to buy Pixar and completely miss the mark — by spinning it as “the next great hardware company”. (Its real value was in producing films like Toy Story.)
We only find examples of “having it all together” when looking at OTHER people’s lives.
And we only believe that because we don’t SEE their whole lives.
One Of The Biggest Lies
We’ve Been Told…
…is that life is a ladder and you climb it to the top.
We humans are primates. And because our ancestors evolved in hierarchies, ladders are attractive to us.
That’s why — throughout school, college, and the “corporate” life — we’re constantly grasping for the next rung.
The whole time, we’re hoping there’s this final “having it all together” moment. But that’s a trap. The ladder doesn’t lead anywhere.
The end is the same for you, me and Steve Jobs: death.
So What Do You
Do About This?
Life is an adventure. A story. Not a destination.
How boring would a story be if the main character NEVER encounters a challenge, frustration, or opportunities to grow?
How boring would a symphony be if the same notes were played the whole time? Or if you skipped right to the last chord? If there were never swells and builds in the music — and a range of different emotions?
If everyone realized “having it all together” isn’t an attainable goal, then we’d stop living out that whole “everyone ELSE’S life is better than mine” myth…
And we’d start tuning into our own adventure stories. Writing our own symphonies. Striving for greatness, but enjoying the ride and dancing along the way.
So today, flip this fake mental construct upside down and inside out for yourself.
No one exceptional “has it all together.”
If you really do feel like you “have it all together”, you’re not doing enough for the benefit of the world (and yourself). And you’re probably in an existential funk because of it.
The solution? Look for more people to help. Do it well, and get paid for it. Repeat.