Do What Others Will Not

The only way to get ahead is to do what others will not.

If you’re in a job and you’re wondering why it takes so long to get a promotion, wonder no longer. Everyone has a job. Everyone is working 9 to 5. Everyone follows the rules. Never mind if you’re in a huge company– then there really are a million people who all act the same, and tell you what is ok and what isn’t. And you believe them and follow their lead, so of course no one gets anywhere.

Work in a small company, and it’s easier. Work in no company whatsoever, and it’s easier still.

Do what others are not willing to do. Go further than them. Take crazier risks than they are willing to take.

This quote, by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado, punched me in the face when I heard it:

“Traveler, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.”





9 responses to “Do What Others Will Not”

  1. Lauren Avatar

    I was thinking about something similar yesterday.

    I work at a small company where I am the only one who does what I do. When I came into the position, I was trained for a short period of time by the person I replaced, and then sent off on my own after he left.

    Complete freedom like this can either be inspiring or completely debilitating, depending on the personality.

    But I thrived in it.

    I went out and searched for answers, for solutions, for guidance – and I found a lot of opinions and places that I later crystallized into what would be best for us as a company, and for me.

    I failed. Often. But I was able to present things and get things done and accomplish things that were my idea and made me proud – this ‘trial by fire’ method shaped me or my career began to be shaped by it.

    People whose careers were started in large corporate companies follow the rules innately because that is what they were taught to do, it’s what they learned would get them ahead.

    My advice is to work for a smaller company, so when you do read a quote like that Machado’s, it’s not such a surprise. In fact, you know exactly what he is talking about.

  2. karim kanji Avatar

    Damn. don’t you hate it when you read a post that knocks you right in between the eyes?

    It’s like a quote that’s stuck in my head:

    If something is wrong in your life, look in the mirror.

    Or something like that. Thanks for the reminder to do what others are not willing to do so that I will live like others cannot.


  3. Angela Avatar

    Great quote. Definitely what I needed to be reminded of today. Thanks!

  4. SaraKate Avatar

    I work for a small non-profit, but I’m hoping to eventually own my own business/freelance/contract. This is exactly the push I needed today. Thanks, Julien!

  5. CT Moore Avatar

    “Rules are mostly made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.”
    — Gen. Douglas MacArthur

  6. Larry Avatar

    I bet very few people regret taking a crazy risk, regardless of the outcome. (Not counting all of the would-be-stars who end up in the porn industry.)

    I bet a lot regret *not* taking it when they had the chance.

    1. Julien Avatar

      @Larry: Exactly.

  7. Andy Avatar

    100% agree with this. I’ve ended up working for myself for the last ten years because I wasn’t willing to do what everyone else was doing and if it’s worth going that extra mile then you might as well go it for yourself than line someone else’s pocket. Of course, everyone is wired different.

  8. Lanny Ponti Avatar

    This reminds me of this quote: “Fortunately analysis is not the only way to resolve inner conflicts. Life itself still remains a very effective therapist.” Karen Horney

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *