Just do it all alone.
For most of my life, I’ve lived in this myth that I can do it alone. That I can figure it out myself. That I can live in happiness, alone.
That myth was started by my incomplete observations of my parents and other people in my life. My dad seemed to build a successful business on his own. My mom seemed to succeed as a mom on her own. Even in the culture I live in, the individual is made to be godlike as if their success was won themselves.
But my dad actually worked with a team to get started in his business. He worked with investors, accountants, lawyers, engineers and other people who shared his vision. He sat in the waiting rooms at the offices of general contractors until they finally relented and hired his company to do the work. He would not have had much success without the cooperation of others.
My mom succeeded as a mother with cooperation from my dad, her mom and dad, her sister and friends who shared the journey of raising me and siblings. She didn’t do it alone. She read books, she exercised, she talked with her sister and her friends whenever there were problems to solve. And she was persistent in solving them. Now there are 14 grandkids for her to adore.
But somehow, I got the idea that I could succeed on my own. In some ways I did, but I was lonely for a long time thinking that I could do it all on my own. I really didn’t start to enjoy life until I surrendered what I had for something better. I surrendered a life of isolation for a life with other people. I joined groups with similar interests to mine, with a common goal, and I worked with those people to make their lives better, and in turn they made my life better.
From those groups I was a part of, I learned enough to settle down and get married. And my life got much better married. My wife is my partner in life and we got things done. I remember sitting across from the dining room table with her and hearing my immigrant wife say, “In about a year or two, I’ll buy a house.” She didn’t say where it would be, but in less than two years, we bought our first home together in Utah. We worked together to make that happen.
We found an agent and for six months, we visited at least one house a week until we found one we liked. I’d be at work and she’d send me links to homes to consider, and we’d schedule a visit. I remember stepping inside that first home and my mind filled with images of me living there. “So this is what it is like…” And I committed to buying a house. I would find a way.
But the reality was, once I committed to buying a house, people appeared out of the woodwork to help us buy our house. The agent knew lenders, escrow companies, appraisers, and anyone else that could help make this real. And boy, did it get real.
I fumbled my way into my first house. But everyone else there saw that they had an interest in making this happen. They increased my margin for error with their training and experience. I could not have bought my first home, or traded up to the home I have now, without those people, and my wife.
Looking back, I know now that I should have gone to college from the start. I see now why people go to college. It’s not just the education, they go for the associations. We live by associations. Most of us think of associations like the Chamber of Commerce, the state bar association for attorneys, or the American Medical Association. Governments are associations, too.
People get to know others in college. They form loose alliances with others in college. They get ideas for businesses in college. They practice those ideas for business in college and build upon them when they get out of college.
Think of the billionaires. They didn’t do it alone. Steve Jobs had a vision, but he worked with other visionaries to get his work done. He hired engineers, designers, artists and anyone else needed to produce the products that people want to buy from Apple. He had help from his wife, his friends, and everyone else who bought into his vision of personal computing. Jobs would not have succeeded without the help of all of those people.
The same is true for Jeff Bezo, CEO of Amazon. Amazon is legendary for their website security, but Jeff didn’t figure that out. He hired the best security engineers to make sure that no one could ever take their site down. That no one could ever pry into their databases. That their customers would be happy. And they are.
Even Donald Trump is lauded as an individual for his success. He is made to look like a self-made billionaire. Yet, he went to college. He made friends and associated with people and groups of people that helped to make him a success in the mind of millions of Americans. He had help from his father, his wife, his family, his friends, and his associates to get there. This isn’t to say that I support him as president, or the policies he promotes. I’m just saying that he needed help to get there. Every president needed help to become president.
So I’m kind of struggling here, as a writer. On Medium. I’m thinking about taking a class in writing just to exercise my brain and to make friends, and to develop ideas for building a business out of writing. I saw an article on Medium the other day about how one woman figured out how to make $100k a year as a writer. She didn’t do it alone. She joined an association, a group of people with the same vision as hers. And she seems pretty happy.
I could be using Medium publications. I’ve tried, and have been published, but I didn’t keep going. I could be making alliances with others here on Medium, but I don’t. I still have this mental block that makes it hard for me to form alliances. I’m not sure why I have this in my head. But the first step is to admit that it’s there. That is why I’m writing and posting this article here. I want to make my desires known to the universe. I want to go freelance and work as a writer until I die. And I want to make friends along the way. I can help them, they can help me. If Andy Rooney can do that, I can do it, too.
The reason we struggle alone is because we are built to cooperate. Cooperation is a skill that is baked into our genes. Humans developed language for the purpose of cooperation, and as far as I can tell, there is no other reason to have language but for cooperation.
We struggle alone because alone, we lack the benefit of the experience others have had. People with more experience have made all of my mistakes two or three times already. They can share their experience with me. And it’s mutual.
We share our experience to enrich both of us. If I give you a dollar, I am a dollar poorer. But if I give you an idea, we both have the idea, for I cannot unlearn my idea. Ideas are made to spread like fire. And they do.
That’s why I want to be a writer. Full time. 6 figures. And I won’t have to figure it out on my own. I don’t have to struggle alone. Together, we can succeed.