We all know the ‘be-realistic’ phenomenon that we have grown up hearing.
5-year-old: “Dad! I want to be an astronaut when I grow up!”
Dad: “Sure son! You can be whoever you want to be. You can be whoever you choose to be.”
18-year-old: “Dad! I want to be an astronaut. I want to choose aerospace engineering as my course of choice.”
Dad: “Do you think that’s such a good idea? That too, with a very narrow job market and no job security, don’t you think there are better choices out there?
Be realistic son! Choose something with which you can make a living. This isn’t your 5-year-old self’s fancy world anymore. This is the real world!”
Whenever you think of doing something that people normally won’t do, you can be sure that you will hear that phrase from someone you know.
Being realistic is pretty easy. It’s pretty nasty too. It’s pretty difficult at the same time because it buries our dreams.
Being realistic makes us settle for whatever we think we can get.
If you’re like most people, you must have heard that phrase at least once in your life. Again, if you’re like most people, you must have followed that command and you’d have gone realistic.
Now, tell me one thing. What did you accomplish being realistic?
You see, it might be the most popular opinion out there.
Popular opinions are like pop-music. They’re trash, nonsense and outright stupid. Yet, a lot of people like to cling on to them, just coz the music feels comfortable.
Let me tell you why BE REALISTIC is a stupid, moronic, nonsensical advice.
Let’s assume that you want to become a New York Times number-1 bestselling author. In essence, you want to be the best writer of your time.
Well, you go out and tell that to your family and friends. You can even declare that to people who work with you. If you’re a student, you can declare that to the people who study with you.
Guess what 99% of the responses will be?
Yep. You got it right. “Dude! Be realistic.”
In reality, what does being realistic means? When 99% of the response you get from people tells you that you should be realistic, guess what that means?
99% of the people are being realistic.
Now, take a good hard look at those 99% people. What have they achieved?
The answer is a no-brainer. NOTHING.
99% of the world population, those that are REALISTIC with their approach towards life have achieved NOTHING.
Also, guess what? That’s one helluva competition to beat if you want to make a good living out there being realistic in the real world.
Now, let me tell you why doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic.
There is only one reason, one no-nonsense reason that you can figure out yourself.
Being unrealistic has very little competition. So does DOING the UNREALISTIC.
It’s crowded at the bottom where every single damn person is being realistic and doing the realistic. Go to school, go to college, get an engineering or a medical degree or major in something popular. Now, find a girlfriend, get married. Worse, if you’re in India, your parents find a girlfriend for you and get you married. Now, give birth to your next generation (more so within a year, otherwise your friends, relatives will either brand you or your S/O as the impotent one. If you’re in India, it will most probably be the wife who will get branded as impotent). Once you give birth to your next generation, have them be realistic and repeat the cycle all over again. Once the third generation is created by your next generation, you await death.
That’s what’s realistic.
Guess how many people are doing that? Almost everyone.
Becoming an R&B singer with a Virgin Atlantic Records deal is easier than becoming a software engineer at Google.
Becoming an astronaut and getting to work with NASA is easier than getting an MBA at Wharton and getting a job in Wall Street in a top 500 company like Goldman Sachs or DeShaw.
Why? Because, when you think of doing the unrealistic and even do as little as starting the work towards that unrealistic goal, you have eliminated 99% of the world as your competition. You only have the rest of the 1% of the world who imagine of doing the impossible, the unrealistic and make efforts to do so.
And it’s easy becoming the best coz it has very little competition.
No, I am certainly not saying it’s easier to achieve them.
It’s easier in the only sense that you have very little competition. Anything worth achieving is going to take a shitload of effort from you. It’s gonna take all you’ve got. You’re gonna have to be dedicated and obsessed about it, day in and day out.
It’s lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time-and energy-consuming. It is easier to raise $10,000,000 than it is $1,000,000. It is easier to pick up the one perfect 10 in the bar than the five 8s.
If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
Unreasonable and unrealistic goals are easier to achieve for yet another reason.
Having an unusually large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribu- lations that go along with any goal. Realistic goals, goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the first or second problem, at which point you throw in the towel. If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort.
So, are you being realistic? What happened to all the unrealistic goals you had? Becoming a billionaire, being able to buy a Lamborghini, living in a 3-storey mansion, going on that round-trip world tour, sponsoring 200 children’s education for the rest of your life, adopting a village, etc.
Whatever your unrealistic goals are, try being unrealistic for a while. And give them a shot too. Being realistic has never gotten anyone anywhere. People will ask you to be practical and be realistic all the time. Look at where it has gotten them.
If you want to be a billionaire and Warren Buffett asks you to be realistic, saying that he was realistic once, then there’d be some sense in being realistic. Guess what? None of those who did something to change the world around them was realistic.
No one thought man will ever be able to fly. Nobody thought it was realistic. When Wright brothers told they were going to fly, nobody believed. Of course, they didn’t fly in the literal sense.
Almost 1010 people thought it was unrealistic for Colonel Sanders to take his recipe and make a business out of it. They even asked him to be realistic and enjoy his retirement years and await death.
The people at the AIR thought Amitabh’s voice wasn’t suited to be a news reader and eventually rejected him. They told him he wasn’t fit enough a personality to seek out a job in the popular media. They asked him to be realistic and continue what he was doing – driving a cab.
Louisa May Alcott, when she sent her works to publishers, was told to stick to teaching and that it was unrealistic for her to expect her work to sell.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected 12 times by various different publishers. Most of their response? “Don’t quit your day job. We don’t think this will ever get published. The book is too unrealistic and if you expect it to get published, that’s an unrealistic expectation too. Please be realistic and get over your fancy dreams of getting it published.”
Guess what would have happened had all these people listened to those who called their dreams unrealistic?
If the Wright brothers had chosen to stick to being realistic, I won’t be able to see Australia or Switzerland ever in my lifetime.
The Bollywood would have never had a Sholay. It wouldn’t have a PAA. It wouldn’t have a Cheeni Kum. It wouldn’t have the legend that Mr. Bachchan is.
Emma Watson wouldn’t be where she is right now, had JK Rowling listened to those who called her dreams unrealistic.
Most girls would have settled for Cinderella. She gave them Hermione to look up to.
And much more.
So, unleash your unrealism and give it a shot. Being realistic never took anyone anywhere. It only takes you as far as your next step or two. From there on, you tail around in circles.
Nothing great has ever been achieved by a realist. If a realist ran the world, we’d be living in dark caves, without any mode of transportation or communication. Be unrealistic. Set big, hairy, audacious goals. Set goals that even intimidate you. Stretch yourself to your limits. You are capable of much more than you give yourself credit for.
Stop listening to the naysayers. Start listening to your inner compass. Start giving your unrealistic dreams a shot. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish.