Operative Words

Here’s the thing about me: I don’t really have many special skills. I can’t code, never trained in marketing, no financial background, and I certainly don’t have ‘years in the business’ behind me. But I’m doing alright working in precisely those fields.

I think in one sense, specializing in any of those areas is often disadvantage because it subverts your priorities and how you look at the world.

Think about the phrase “making connections.” A lot of people confuse it with seeing connections. Any idiot can see a connection. Making them is a totally different animal. It’s constructive process. It’s creative process. It’s taking two unrelated things and forging a relationship that wasn’t there before you found it.

Or think about networking. It seems safe to translate it as “meeting people” but how is that a network? A network is interconnected of nodes who share and receive information. In other words, job fairs and Linkedin are completely worthless. Networking, then, is about more than yourself – it’s current that you tap into and simultaneously power.

Most people lack a very basic but fundamental skill – the ability to look at things beyond the most obvious level. I think calling it a skill is generous, it’s more of a way of thinking or how you carry yourself. They can spot connections and have a huge Rolodex of contacts, but they couldn’t connect two unrelated things you if needed it and none of the nodes in their network have ever actually transfered packets of information.

Most people will never know what it’s like to get so excited that you have to pace to contain yourself. It’s all logical to them – spend to earn, ‘a lot of people are doing this,’ wait for approval, ‘that seems like a bad idea,’ ‘it’s the weekend, I’ll get to it Monday,’ whatever. And in the process, they cripple themselves irrelevant.

They forget that it’s all a hustle. They forget all the operative words: make, build, design, discover. Those aren’t business cliches. They are verbs, actions, processes. You don’t do any of that behind your desk waiting for emails. It doesn’t stop when you leave the office. It doesn’t stop ever.

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.