When you work in an area you love, you’re far more efficient than doing what you are indifferent to. Rather than all being general practitioners, by focusing on one aspect of life we can make much more progress than focusing on many. Instead of gaining a cursory knowledge of ten skills, we gain real expertise in one. While this can be known as specializing, or niches, I like the term “over-emphasis.” You over-emphasis your strong areas, while giving moderate attention or even no attention to your weak spots. You simply don’t develop in areas you have no talent for.
An example: it took me just as long to write Creon vs. Gilgamesh as My Life of Crime. The latter is a subject I’m passionate about (gaming the rebate and coupon systems of retailers), while the former is a mandatory school assignment. The latter is eight times longer, and each sentence is more interesting. The subject that is not my speciality is boring to read. On time vs. word count alone, I’m eight times more efficient in my area of over-emphasis than elsewhere. If you combine the appeal of the writing and presentation, I may be 100x stronger in my niche than outside it.
If you love to do something, dare to over-emphasis it in your life. Don’t create a blog for general photography tips when you really want to focus on computational photography. Don’t write an article on the totality of all the injustices in the world when you really want to focus on abortion. If you love taking photos of flowers and sunsets, don’t dismiss the field because it’s too common. While there may be 60 million other people taking photos of the same subjects, only one percent of them are fanatical about it. If you’re competing at all, you’re not competing with the whole world, and you have the advantage of offering a unique, creative vision, not mere boilerplate. I could choose not to write about personal development because the subject has been beaten to death, but then I’d miss out on all the personal growth I gain from writing, and more importantly, what my readers may gain from a fresh perspective.
The beautiful thing about over-emphasis is that it cuts through the noise. If you’re familiar with computer science, the signal to noise ratio is how much of your signal is garbage. If you have a high amount of noise, it’s like playing a record that’s beaten and scratched, or watching a t.v. show on rabbit ear antennas, snow and all. People often complain that because there are so many more people in the world, particularly online and blogging, that the field is too crowded. People start new blogs on subjects they think will be immediately profitable, even if they don’t care about the subject whatsoever. Don’t do this. If you pick what you’re passionate about, you can make things happen rather than waiting for others to make things happen for you. Instead of following the buffalo, the buffalo follow you.
In fact, the only way to live is to make things happen rather than waiting for luck to kick in. Even if you fail miserably, it’s much more fun and interesting than leading a regimented life.
If you’re going to wake up every morning and tend to the twenty-by-twenty garden in your yard, meticulously pulling every weed, planting new flowers, and growing small crops of tomatoes, then perhaps you should start a farm. A lot of people work nine-to-five jobs for forty years, and then they retire to do the same thing via yard work, crocheting, or other busywork. Doubtlessly, there are people with great ambition in these fields, but most of the retirees just work to pass the time. That’s why it’s “busywork.” Busywork is pointless work. It’s just to waste time, without getting anything real done. If you’re not doing something real, then what are you living for?
I don’t want to work nine-to-five for pay. Don’t even mention volunteering to do it. Why don’t more of the retirees travel the world taking beautiful photographs, or start charitable foundations with the wealth they’ve built up over decades of toiling? Because they refuse to over-emphasis anything important in their lives. They value procedures, tradition, submission, fear.
Public schooling puts our children through years of busywork. Memorizing lists of facts or writing mindless essays on classical literature doesn’t teach you anything of value. The whole point of public school is to condition you to be a drone. Then, you work nine-to-five forty years, tend to your garden for twenty years, and die a bleak death, while leaving a small sum to your grandchildren (who won’t appreciate it anyway).
Fortunately, I’m home-schooled. You can be too. If you can’t learn on your own, you can’t learn in college. If you succeed in school, that just proves that you didn’t need it to begin with. If the fate of your life rests with family, or friends, or your boss, or your professors, or the freemasons, then you’re failing your mission in life. But if you’re still living, you haven’t failed yet. “Failing” isn’t “failed.” Create the strength within yourself to become self-reliant and to learn where others only dawdle. Solve big problems while your peers submit to uncertainty. Work hard on what you love. You may be labeled with attention deficit disorder (or whatever the latest name is), but what you really have is an abundance of attention for the subject you over-emphasize. And that is courageous living.