Living Like a Boss

I know many people who call themselves authors, but they’ve never sold a book. I have, and now I know that it wasn’t that hard. The book took three months. Or maybe they have sold a book, and three years later they’re still writing it even though the topic isn’t a difficult one. Not that they’re Robert Caro struggling with an epic, they enjoy living the life of a writer more than writing, or you know, doing things. I know PhD students years deep into grad school and no closer to graduating. I know people talk about entrepreneurship but they aren’t one. They’re just regular guys. Same goes for “experts” “marketers” and “thinkers.” Mostly posers or dilettantes.

I don’t mean people who try to be cool or anything like that, but people who give themselves credit for accomplishments that haven’t happened yet. It’s not that they aren’t working on their book or start-up or whatever. They are. They just can’t close the deal. They aren’t in control of their own lives.

You know who doesn’t go around calling themselves “The Boss?” Bosses. Why? Because real authority is implicit, not explicit. The same goes for superlatives and occupation titles. You leave those for the people who follow you, who buy your work, who write about you, who introduce you. These meaningless words mean something to some people because it helps them definer their relationship to the world. That’s the wrong way to do it. You, the writer, don’t relate to the world as a writer—you relate to the world as you. The world relates to you and your writing. For [writer], plug in entrepreneur, expert, student, athlete or whatever. The leader is the leader because he leads.

Live a life of standards, not descriptors. Wake up each morning and live like a boss.

This isn’t just a power tactic, though it is a good one. It is a life tactic. It’s how you prevent yourself from becoming a clueless asshole (or a delusional never-been). From thinking that things that don’t matter, matter. It’s so easy on the internet to present an idealized version of yourself, and in the process, forget which is the real and which is the fake. It’s easier to cede control than have control. Don’t fake it until you make it. Shut up until you make it. And then when you make it, you’ll be so used to being that way that you still won’t feel all that inclined to talk about it.

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.