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One is the loneliest number. However, one also has to be the most underrated number, as well. Unless it is used in an ordinal sense, (“first” is far from underrated), one is seen as a bare minimum. For you to have any of some item, you have to have at least one of that item. Thus, many people come to fear “going it alone,” and just diving into something.

In case it hasn’t been blatantly obvious, for the past several weeks I’ve been following some different motivational blogs. One of my favorite motivational bloggers happens to be Jon Acuff, who works with Dave Ramsey (yes, I’m one of those people). Jon handles motivating people to follow their dreams, and Dave handles helping people get their finances in order so that it is possible for them to do so. At least, that’s the dynamic that I imagine these two have in mind in their interactions and cooperative efforts.

I like Jon because his message is, to my ears, the most painfully simple and brutally honest that any motivational speaker has ever given. Jon isn’t about “positive thinking,” at least not in the sense that many mean it, that positive thinking is all it takes. He doesn’t push out a bunch of blind optimism. Instead, he seems to operate (based on my exposure to him) on two basic maxims:

  1. If you want to do or be something, there’s only one way for that to happen. You have to do it or be it. You neither need, nor want, nor can wait for permission.
  2. Fear only manifests itself when you’re doing something important.

It sounds very simple, but I think Jon’s getting at the same essence that most motivational speakers touch on in different ways. It’s all about the power of the individual. One person can do way more than most people give credit for. They just have to decide that while, yes, it’s scary; yes, the entire effort could lead them nowhere; but, you know what? It’s too important to them to not do. So, that one person steps out against the world, against the grain of “conventional wisdom” telling them that there are only 10 or so pre-approved jobs that lead to success and that they need to pursue one of those and pray for a good economy. Then, that one person puts on a pair of boxing gloves and starts fighting for what they believe in, for those very hopes and dreams that conventional wisdom derides as “childish,” “idealistic,” and/or “impossible.”

People with vigor and a love for what they do are the ones who build economies, and they are exactly who the world needs more of. It isn’t about playing some game. It’s about endeavoring to share who you are with the world. “Express yourself!” It’s not just an N.W.A. lyric.

The secret to success is to do as much of what you love as possible until you figure out which one you do so well that people start giving you money. Find your muse, and follow it to your destiny, working your butt off the whole way. Jon Acuff sums it up thusly: “Action always beats intention.” Simple as Rock-Paper-Scissors.

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