Nobody Has a Gun to Your Head

“Baby, that’s grammar school. Any damn fool can beg up some kind of job; it takes a wise man to make it without working. Out here we call it ‘hustling’. I’d like to be a good hustler.”

Charles Bukowski “Post Office”

I didn’t come up with it myself. I stole it from award-winning writers Ryan Holiday and Robert Greene. It’s called “The Notecard Strategy.”

As I read a book, I underline the sentences that leap out from the page at me. Sometimes I scribble my own commentry in the margins too. And then a week or two after I finish reading it, I go back through the book, and I see what still feels relevant – the passing of time helps separate the wheat from the chaff. I then copy out those bits long-hand onto notecards, putting some kind of theme or category in the corner of the notecard, and then I keep all the cards in the shoebox that my burnt-umber Adidas trainers came in.

The Bukowski quote above was something I scribbled down a couple of weeks ago, and as usual, I wasn’t quite sure in the moment why it spoke to me. But speak to me it did, and so I wrote it down.

Well, now that a little more time has passed, I think I know why.

Because Hank (Hank Chinaski, Bukowski’s alter ego in the book) is so, so, so right. And not just about jobs. About everything.

The way that most people go about doing something is not necessarily the best way. It’s not even necessarily a good way. It’s just the way the majority unquestioningly happen to do it.

But who has it has to be your way? You don’t like the normal way? Fuck it. Do it your way.

I’m admittedly the world’s worst at this, but in my rare moments of clarity even I realise that doing something begrudgingly because “that’s what people do” – and having literally no reason beyond that – is a great way to waste a life.

So stop pretending there’s a gun to your head. If there is, it’s only because you’re holding it there. You get one life. Live it your way.

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