Like anything else worthwhile, finding success is a tricky thing. Defining success may be even harder, so we’ll save that for another time 🙂
For those who don’t know, I’m a bit of a self-improvement junkie. Between high school and my 21st birthday, I did a count and had read no fewer than 14 different self-improvement books – from The Power of full Engagement to Good to Great to Outliers to Getting Things Done – and frankly very little else other than those and textbooks. I think the last fictional work I read was Ender’s Game, which I received for my 19th birthday nearly 8 years ago, and re-read three times over the following two years. I’ve worked in 5 different startup companies, not including the one I’ll be launching this summer before starting med school, and in case it isn’t blatantly obvious, I have a ridiculously broad range of interests. I took on careers in business, writing, public speaking, banking, politics, and web development before deciding that medicine was where I wanted to spend the rest of my life. Oh, and twice I’ve asked for “To Do List” applications for my birthday.
I’m a weird guy. Hopefully in a good way.
Before this blog ever came into existence, Arto and I (and later Rob, Mailman, and others) had a five-year tradition of making “100 Coolest People Lists” each year of the 100 famous people we most admired. One thing that I appreciated about the 100 coolest people lists was seeing what made me like a person. After doing this for five years (and my taste developed a lot between age 19 and 25), it was clear that four qualities seemed to resonate with me in most of my picks. I was drawn to:
- People who were multi-dimensional and did more than one thing well
- Folks who didn’t forget where they came from and maintained humility, humor and perspective after finding success
- People who were unapologetically themselves
- People who habitually overcome obstacles (hint: this is also a big reason I love boxing)
That was a long and fairly personal intro, but hopefully not a boring one.
Today’s post is about someone who is practicing the fourth item on that list. I first read about Jia Jiang a few months ago, and did so again tonight while perusing my list of bookmarks.
Early on, Jia Jiang’s admiration of Bill Gates led him t0 pursue a career in computing. He came to the US on a cultural exchange program, later getting a bachelor’s and MBA and working at Dell. After three years there, he quit to focus on Hooplus, a social networking-based to-do list company.
After a rough round of courting investors to put money into his start-up, Jiang was crushed when a major investor backed out. The emotional anguish gave Jiang an idea: he would change the way he approached problems and build a tolerance to rejection.
His project, entresting.com, involves Jiang going through 100 days of “Rejection Therapy” (which sounds similar to – but way cooler than – the process of applying to med school, frankly 🙂 ). Each day, he makes an absurd (and often very interesting) request, and blogs about it. A lot of them are very interesting, and help him extract some insight about life and human psychology.
Some of the unexpected “yeses” he received: guest lecturing for a college class, becoming a guest on a radio show, coaxing a mall Santa to “Teach him how to Dougie“, and getting a donut shop to link donuts like the Olympic rings.
I’ll let you peruse the site on your own, but Mr. Jiang seemed like a good person to profile on April fool’s day, because he is in the process of developing a skill I’ve observed in dozens and dozens of top performers, and one I consistently try to improve in myself:
Increase your failure rate, and don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself… every day of the year.
That’s my challenge to you, dear readers. At least once this week, do something you’re afraid to do. I’m almost positive you’ll feel a lot better afterward. Success and failure both beget success. Happy April Fools Day, and wishing the best to Jia Jiang. Something tells me he’s well on his way.