I Did Something That Was Wrong

image - Flickr / Christopher Michel
image – Flickr / Christopher Michel

First, I outsourced HBO’s website to my own company that I had started on the side.

HBO had no idea I was both running their website and running the company that I had hired to build their website.

At my company I wrote the proposal and signed it with my business partner’s name. I charged a hefty premium. At HBO I was the one who got the proposal and agreed to the price.

But this isn’t what I am writing about.

There was a focus group for the website. The interviewer asked each person, in private, detailed questions about what they thought of the website. I can’t remember what anyone said but there was a woman who I found very attractive.

After the interviews I went up to the woman and told her I found her answers to be very interesting. I said that the company that designed the website would be interested to hear more of her opinion and invited her to visit my company.

Later that day she went to my company’s offices to meet everyone. She was looking for a job, or an opportunity or any of the many things people look for when they are trying to find their way from point A to point B.

Everyone wants hope and I felt that to get what I wanted I had to feed people false hope. I didn’t have enough confidence in my own ability to provide real help instead of false hope.

I was at my company and she was surprised to see me. “You work at both places?” She was a little confused.

She spoke to other people at the company and described what she did. “Public relations.” Very good.

As I walked her to the elevator I, of course, asked her out on a date.

She had thick eyebrows. I only mention this because they curled into a sculpture of anguish as soon as I asked her out.

She didn’t answer me at all. Which historically I knew to be a bad sign.

At the elevator she just said, “I have to go,” while the elevator closed.

This is one way to do things.

There was a big gap between what I thought I wanted and what I had.

In fact, I thought the fastest way to bridge that gap was to give myself permission to do anything.

Only later I found out I was very wrong. Being wrong caused me much much anguish and regret. I would end up like a dog, only eating the leftovers my master would throw on the floor.

If I were to say, “the gap is only in the mind” then that sounds like a cliche. It doesn’t really mean anything.

Because to me the gap felt very real. I felt mostly incompetent and that the way to be competent was to use my brain to do whatever it took.

There’s only so much time you get to live in the gap between expectations and reality before it becomes a torture chamber.

People say, “live life as if you are about to die”. This doesn’t mean party, sex, drink, lie, squander, indulge.

It means this moment be the hero of your story. Be honest. Be healthy. Do the things a hero would do. Make the characters in your story people who you would want to read about.

Entrepreneurs always say, “create the product YOU would want to use.”

Writers always say, “Write the story YOU would want to read.”

Success is, “Live this moment the way you want your entire life to be remembered.”

When the elevator closed on me I saw for a brief second the utterly disappointed look of a complete stranger. “He is creepy and disgusting,” is the look I saw.

I knew I had done something that was more wrong than right. I wanted money, I wanted someone to like me, but I tried to control too many things because I thought if I didn’t then I would end up lost and lonely and dead.

I don’t think I know anything anymore. I don’t know how to bridge expectations with reality. I gave up on that because nothing I did to close that gap ever worked and still doesn’t.

I gave up trying to control the future so I could focus more on being the best I can be this present moment.

And then the gap closed and it stayed closed for good. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated.

Keep up with James on Twitter and jamesaltucher.com

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