Want to do something? Do It.

There are certain moments in life I remember like they happened yesterday. The time on the digital clock (9:52) I stared at, eyes wide open, during my first kiss. My Dad giving me a pep talk before my first high school hockey game about how the worst that could happen was I give up 10 goals… and then getting scored on 10 times. My first day in grade school, asking the cute girl what a mechanical pencil was. And, the realization that I can do whatever I want.

This last realization was huge for me. I never appreciated that I could literally do whatever I wanted. Until sophomore year in college, my life had been laid out for me – go to school, play a sport and get involved in at least one activity, then college, then…

Summer after my freshman year, after living with a terrible roommate, I had an idea. Between working construction and working as a janitor at L.A. Fitness, I came up with the concept that would become RoommateFit, my first startup.

And I sat on it for a year.

I didn’t think I could do it. At the time, I didn’t know anyone starting a company. I had no idea what to do, no clue how to go about things. It wasn’t until a meeting with one of my now mentors where he told me that if I wanted to run with this idea, I should run with it. I could run with it. I didn’t need permission. I could just make things happen

That blew my 20 year old mind. You mean, I don’t need permission? I don’t need anyone to sign off on this? To approve of what I’m doing?

I didn’t. And I don’t. Which is crazy when you think about it – both liberating, and scary. Liberating, because I can literally do anything I want. Scary, because a world of possibility is open to me. If I fail to accomplish something, fail to do something, that’s on me. Not on my upbringing, not on my education, not on anything or anyone else. It’s on me.

Making this belief a part of my reality changed my life. I went from being a kid who never tried in school to someone on a mission. Someone who felt (and feels) like I could do anything.

This has led to an idealistic confidence and self assurance like I never imagined was possible. Pitch a successful entrepreneur on co-authoring a book while in college? Sure.  Start a blog? Why not. Solve a problem that’s important to humanity? I’ll give it a shot (TBD).

I think this confidence is often the disconnect that many see as Silicon Valley hubris. Most sane individuals see articles about a 20-something planning to disrupt a multi-billion dollar industry and scoff. I know I did before this belief that I could do anything. Now, I see an article like that and can (kind of) see where these people are coming from. That individual simply believes he or she can do anything. Believes it down to the very core of their being.

Most people never embrace this idea. Or, they embrace it in name but not in action: the writer who never publishes, the actress who never lands a role, the entrepreneur who never starts a business.

Do you know how many people tell me they want to be a writer? Tens of thousands. Want to guess how many have written anything? About 10%. And even of that 10% who’ve just written ANYTHING AT ALL, want to guess how many have put in more than a half-assed effort? Like, maybe .01%.

– Tucker Max

That’s most people. On the other hand, you have people like my buddy Scott Britton. Two months ago, he emailed me about an idea he had for a podcast. Five weeks later, he launched one. That’s impressive. That is owning the fact that you can do anything.

There is no other belief, no other mental shift that’s had such a profound effect on my life, on the person I am today. It’s made me more confident, happier, more playful and more excited about life. And it’s opened up a world of possibility and opportunity I didn’t realize existed.

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  • Duncan Falk

    Cheers Justin, good write. This would do well for those that were in your shoes 6, 7 years ago.

    • justinmares

      Thanks Duncan!

  • Steven

    I always give up because I can’t imagine how I get people to use what I would have made?

  • ericpsilver

    I’d first met Justin because he was working on RoommateFit. In many ways, it sounded like a lot of other pitches — and then he calmly explained how many people he’d called, how many customers they’d signed up, and next steps. We were all totally blown-away that an undergrad was out-hustling paid sales teams.