Put A "Ding in the Universe" a la Steve Jobs - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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Put A "Ding in the Universe" a la Steve Jobs

Nov 11, 2014


"I want to put a ding in the universe," Steve Jobs used to say.

A ding is a dent, like you might get in your car when you bang it. It's shape-changing, and that's what Jobs wanted to do, change the shape of the universe, make his mark, leave a legacy. And that's what he did.

Do you want to leave a mark on the universe? Like Steve Jobs? Or Warren Buffett? Zakir Hussain? Well, you absolutely can. Because all of these guys and most people who are great successes have a few things in common - no, it's not great talent and great luck.

It's things that you can adopt into your life to catapult yourself into that same universe-shaping success. Figuring out these 5 things can get you chasing after big dreams. You can achieve anything - and don't let anybody ever tell you otherwise.

Source: Thetaxhaven / CC 2.0

Know What You're Made Of

When you know what you are - where your strengths lie, and what weaknesses you must overcome, you know where to focus your energy. In his classic essay Managing Oneself, Peter Drucker, the management guru, tells us to ignore our weaknesses and keep improving your strengths:

In identifying opportunities for improvement, don't waste time cultivating skill areas where you have little competence. Instead, concentrate on - and build on - your strengths.

So spend a little time building self-awareness. Get in tune with yourself to see how you feel when you are working on something. Some tasks will make you feel energized, some projects will make you want to jump out of bed to get to work, some problems will get your creative juices flowing. These are areas of your strength - and where you can make the most impact.

I have had several jobs since I first entered the workforce. My main area of focus wan nonprofit management, and I worked with several organisations as a program manager. I loved what I did but I found that when I was writing, reports mostly but anything, really, I was truly enjoying myself. I had thought I wanted to be a program manager, that my education had prepared me for that and if I abandoned that I was wasting everything I had worked for. But I finally admitted that perhaps I was in the wrong place - and I am now working on the area where my strength lies - writing.

It's not about what you should be doing. You think you should be an accountant because that's what you studied or have chalked up experience in... but if it's computer programming that really gets your blood flowing then do that. You might become a good accountant - but you could become a great programmer.

Have Supreme Confidence in Yourself

When Steve Jobs was 12 years old he decided that he wanted to make a frequency counter (whatever that is). So he tracked down Hewlett (of Hewlett Packard/HP) for the parts. Think about the confidence it takes to go straight to the source, to go to whatever lengths it takes, to get what you want, and to believe in yourself enough to go to that length.

When I was studying International Relations as an undergraduate student I was reading Shashi Tharoor's book. I had some questions for him, I was very interested in India's foreign policies. I dug out an email address and sent him what I can only say in hindsight was a tentative email. Receiving no response, I shrugged and moved on.

I doubt Jobs got a response to his first attempt or second or third. But I'm pretty sure he never shrugs and moves on. You need to have supreme confidence in yourself and your abilities. You deserve an answer from Hewlett, and Tharoor, and anyone else.

One 12-year old boy believed in himself that much and look where it got him. Believe in yourself and you will make your mark as well.

Surround Yourself with Awesome People

My boss recently told me about a book he was reading where the author said that even gifted athletes need a coach - so why do you think that you do not?

Any person who has had a good mentor can tell you what impact it can make on your life. And any person who achieved great things will tell you they had a mentor to guide and inspire them.

Surround yourself with people you admire and can learn from, who have traversed the path you want to travel, who have conquered peaks you hope you climb.

It doesn't have to be related to your job. Anyone that inspires you, that makes you feel like you can achieve great things, that believes in themselves and in you can be a mentor. Ideally it should be someone who intimidates you a little - someone who seems wise, seems to know what he's doing, seems like he's got a few trophies tucked away.

If you're wondering where you can find one, don't worry. Nowadays, luckily, the world is small enough that no one is too far to reach. If you have a LinkedIn profile and a little bit of confidence you can easily jump over a few degrees of separation and reach out to the person you want to learn from.

People love to give advice. Knowing this makes it easier to approach someone - you're giving them an ego boost too, a chance to share their wisdom. A mentor can get as much out of a mentor-mentee relationship as a mentee.

You might not strike gold the first time set out to find a mentor - you might find someone apathetic, or too insecure to share their ideas, or too arrogant to see potential in you. But just keep looking because a great mentor is an amazing resource on the path to great achievement.

Work More Than You Imagined You Ever Could

Sometimes we get so caught up in the glamour of success that we forget that successful people work like crazy. They work hard, they work for hours on end, they work all night, they work for years!

In the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, the author looks at the work habits of over 150 of the greatest writers, artists and scientists that ever lived. And what did he find? That they all worked relentlessly hard, of course.

"Sooner or later," writer VS Pritchett writes, "the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing."

It just takes away all excuse, doesn't it? They were successful because they were extraordinarily talented, that they had higher IQs, that they were just lucky, had better resources... none of that matters when you learn that they worked relentlessly to achieve the things they have achieved.

I guess the answer for us is the same, to buckle down and get 10,000 hours of practice under our belt to achieve mastery.

Do Crazy Things

To do incredible things, you need to do crazy things. "Because,"as Steve Jobs said, "the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Get ready to make incredible mistakes, to be laughed at, to be shunned even. You need to take some scary, over-the-top risks - for the sake of your passions.

And you have to do this knowing that all the crazy things you try will fail, and it will hurt, and tears will sting your eyes and shame will sting your egos.

And then one day, it will just work. Your insane risk will bring a proportionately insane reward. And your awesome mistake will change the universe.

So gather up every ounce of courage - tap your experiences for it, glean it from books, borrow it from those around you - and then chase after that failure. Chase after those big mistakes, because beyond the big failures lies that life-changing success.

Whatever your universe may be - your self, your family, your community, your country... your world. You can shape that universe, bend it to your will, and achieve greatness. So, go out there, arm yourself with the above tools, and start your hammering away.

Do you have any big dreams you're chasing after? Dreams that will change your universe? Tell us about them so we may become part of your journey...


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15 Responses to "Put A "Ding in the Universe" a la Steve Jobs"

Shreya modi

01 Nov, 2019

Bad, worst, stupid

Raphael Joseph

14 Nov, 2014

I am not the one who believes that one needs to push oneself to the brink to achieve success. It is discipline that does the trick. It is doing it daily that does the trick. Just look at the sun. It is not up there for all the 24 hours but just about 12 hours but it does come up daily. We cannot have breakfast, lunch and dinner together but it is important that we have it daily at different times of the day. Working 9 to 5 is alright provided you try and make it smart work, provided you work sincerely and honestly. In my office, we had something called a weekly report that we made every Saturday. It was so voluminous that my predecessors who did it did not go home before midnight every Saturday because we had received standing instructions that we cannot go home if we do not submit the Report to the Chairman’s house for him to glance through it on a Sunday. Most of the reports were in Excel and the guys who did it did not know much of the MS-Excel formulae and short cuts which led to delays in finishing the reports. A few years down the line, a young engineer joins the team who is a cat in MS-Excel. He automates the Report in Excel using various formulae, short-cuts and logic and voila! Reports taking six hours to prepare is getting over in just an hour. This guy likes the world outside the office more than the world inside. He doesn’t like the idea of staying late in office. So, I feel that one should not push too hard but work smart.

Like (2)


14 Nov, 2014

Just Awesome !! Anisa !! Sounds great, motivating and inspirational apart from sheer logic captivated. One of your best write-ups. Great Going !! Keep it up !! And thanks for your handsome efforts !!

Rahul Gupta

13 Nov, 2014

You know what you are saying! Very inspiring :) Thanks and Keep it up !


12 Nov, 2014

Dear Anisa Virji, Inspiring article indeed. We in India have to inculcate the habit of motivating children to dream ,dreambig and dream Crazy things too and visualize the dream come true ! CONNECTING ALL RIVERS in INDIA and avoid water scarcity in many states ! ! !


12 Nov, 2014

Dear Anisa, i regularly receive your update and make sure i read most of them, its really inspiring and helps me to motivate myself, in midst of my worries/tension, the tough situation that I am undergoing through. Thank you. currently my Dream is to have fulfilling career and improve myself and be a Good Marketing head, looking forward for someone who can mentor me

Virendra Bisht

12 Nov, 2014

Hi Anisa, I regularly receive your articles, though i don't read them all, butwhich ever i read i feel good and inspired after that.The good thing is that i always feel as if i am in the same situation ,around which your article is revolving. I feel that a lot of people like will be getting inspired with your work. .Congratulations! Keep it up.

K Raghavendra Rao

12 Nov, 2014

Very inspiring article. Thanks

vinod mahajan

12 Nov, 2014

very nice and stimulating .Thanks Anisa .Your articles will inspire a lot of people. thanks again


12 Nov, 2014

Hi Anisa,The article is awesome,Its really motivating.Keep it up. Thank you

Nitesh Goyal

12 Nov, 2014

Nice article..


12 Nov, 2014

Hi Anisa,It is a very good and awesome write up!Keep up the great work.The inputs to believe in self,exploring on things and looking out for a mentors are really helpful.Thank you.Dippak


12 Nov, 2014

Hi Anisa, You are writing awesome. Keep up your great work. You tried Tharoor, but I suggest you try Modi and see the difference, I am sure you will get a response within few days. I got inspiration and saved few lines of your article in my personal collection, when I read, it provokes positive thoughts. Great! Keep it up. Girish

Bhavin Patel

11 Nov, 2014

Really Nice & motivating article....Thanks for such a wonderful article....

MG Kapoor

11 Nov, 2014

All rubbish. When success is in store for you all doors keep opening one by one by themselves. Also nothing succeeds like success. One success is a big booster and gives rise to another, yet another and yet another. One failure leads to another, and another and yet another till you are doomed. Kagaz Ke Phool aptly describes life's saga. The likes of Einsteins, the Hussains, the Steve Jobs are but exceptions to the rule. My philosophy in life is "Trust in God and do the right". Also donnot hurt a poor man's tummy.

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