Do You Deserve It?

A really well meaning kid emailed me yesterday. He just failed out of his first year of college. He was talking passion and philosophy. His email signature was one of those lines about mission statements in Jerry Maguire and when I replied, he hit me with the Tim Ferriss autoresponder (that he’s had for several months).

“Due to a heavy workload…I’m only checking email once daily.”

Alright dude, where do you get off? I know how hard it is to fail out of college. If you’re sentient it’s nearly impossible. It’s not about passion and direction and working a 4-hour workweek. It’s about accomplishing the basic tasks that you were assigned at a satisfactory level. Then you can start to talk about the other stuff.

School sucks. There’s tons of bullshit and busy work. That’s the point. You need to be able to master that. And succeed past it to the point where you can handle it on autopilot as you focus on the things that matter. What you don’t get to do, especially as a young person, is just pretend that you’re better than doing it. Seth Godin had a cool line about this a few months ago. If you don’t have an extraordinary resume, where do you get off masquerading as an extraordinary applicant?

I always try to think: Do I deserve this? Did I put enough credit in to comfortably debit out? That’s partially the reason for this. I’m a little masochistic but that’s me. It’s arbitrary standard but I feel like the way to stay grounded is to institutionalize the idea of questioning yourself and your status.

Hard work is not fun. It’s hard, actually. And without that as a backbone or a given, moving forward is impossible. Failing out of school, getting fired, constantly being passed up, not finding a break, etc. If I can’t get the basics right, where do I get off (deserve) talking about anything else?

Just a question I tried to keep running at all times.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.