Is Your Life Worth Your Time? -- Live a Great Story by Beating Mediocrity

There are too many mediocre things in life.

Too many jobs that people sort of like.
Too many vacations where people sort of have fun.
Too many significant others that people sort of love.
Too many dreams that people sort of want.

I'm in the middle of reading a riveting book series which has kept me on the edge of my seat. I love that kind of thing! Tales of heroes overcoming the odds, good versus evil, a sappy romance here and there. Yesterday, I had just finished reading the third book and was starting the fourth when I decided to watch the third movie. I figured it would be an entertaining experience to watch what I just read - wrong. I got about a quarter of the way through the movie before turning it off and spending the remainder of the evening continuing on with the fourth book. It wasn't worth my time because I knew something better lay on my coffee table just a few feet away.

Starting something doesn’t automatically justify finishing it.
— Timothy Ferriss, "The 4-Hour Workweek"

How many crappy movies or books do we waste our time and mental resources on because we "have to finish it"? If there are better options, who says you can't take those? Use your time wisely to make the most out of every minute!

NOTE: Entertainment and rest are just as important as productivity and getting things done, when balanced and in moderation.

Time is our most valuable non-renewable resource. Money? It can be earned back. But time passes and is gone forever. Why do we insist, then, on settling for mediocrity in so many areas of our lives?

Our time is too valuable to waste on anything short of remarkable.

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
— Theodore Roosevelt

He wrote over 25 books including a 4-volume auto-biography, became the youngest president at the time at age 42, was the only president to win the Congressional Medal of Honor, preserved over 200 million acres of national forest and parkland, negotiated the end of the Russo-Japanese war which garnered him a Nobel Peace Prize... however all of these are just a few accolades of his "professional career".

Let me tell you a story that might illustrate Roosevelt's vigor for life in all areas, not only his career.

Roosevelt spent several months at Elkhorn Ranch along the banks of the Little Missouri River. He and his two friends, Bill Sewall and Wilmot Dow, were navigating the frozen terrain while hunting one morning and had left their boat tied up at the bank. Upon returning, they realized that their boat had been stolen, leaving them to find their way back to the ranch on foot. Though many men would chock it up to bad luck and move on, Roosevelt thought quite differently on the matter.

"In any wild country where the power of law is little felt or heeded, and where everyone has to rely upon himself for protection, men soon get to feel that it is in the highest degree unwise to submit to any wrong…no matter what cost of risk or trouble. To submit tamely and meekly to theft or to any other injury is to invite almost certain repetition of the offense, in a place where self-reliant hardihood and the ability to hold one’s own under all circumstances rank as the first of virtues.”

He and his cowboys spent the next three days building a small boat.

"Two of my cowboys, Sewall and Dow…set to work with a will, and, as by good luck there were plenty of boards, in two or three days they had turned out a first-class flat-bottom, which was roomy, drew very little water, and was dry as a bone; and though, of course, not a handy craft, was easily enough managed in going downstream. Into this we packed flour, coffee, and bacon enough to last us a fortnight or so, plenty of warm bedding, and the mess-kit; and early one cold March morning slid it into the icy current, took our seats, and shoved off down the river."
"For three days, the three men navigated the icy, winding river among the colorful clay buttes hoping to take the thieves captive without a fight. A shootout was a concern, for Roosevelt noted that “the extraordinary formation of the Bad Lands, with the ground cut up into cullies, serried walls, and battlemented hilltops, makes it the country of all others for hiding-places and ambuscades.” However, Roosevelt was certain that the thieves would not suspect that he was in pursuit, for they had stolen virtually the only boat on the river.”

Harvard College Library Theodore Roosevelt Collection

Upon arriving at the thieves’ camp, they silently docked their boat and crept up the bank to where the men were huddled around a fire. Within seconds the thieves were captured and made to take off their boots...

“...as it was a cactus country, in which a man could travel barefoot only at the risk of almost certainly laming himself for life.”

Tired, cold and wet, they hauled the prisoners back to Dickenson where he handed them over to the local sheriff who paid him $50 in fees for the capture of three prisoners and the 300+ miles traversed.

You can read the full story in all it's detail here. All quotes are from Theodore Roosevelt's 1888 memoir, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail.


Here are a few tips to help you beat mediocrity and live a great story.

1. Go Big or Go Home

Why settle for "sort of"? It's boring. The remarkable things that we do - the times that we make an experience stand out - will be the things we remember. You know what I'm talking about - you've probably experienced a few. The moments when you walk away speechless... they're the stuff of stories. They're the substance that allows us to say with confidence that we have lived a full life.

2. Follow YOUR passions and dreams

Yikes, "follow your passions and dreams"? That's vague. We've all heard it before. The point of this post, however, is not to give you a play-by-play of HOW (we'll cover that in future posts) but rather to put an emphasis on YOUR. Society, parents, friends, teachers - they're all really good at telling you what you should pursue. But those who are too afraid to pursue what they love end up frustrated when they have wasted their life pursuing what others told them to. Don't be afraid to reach out for what YOU love. It won't always be easy - but it will be worth it.

3. Questioning the Value

We have thousands of voices demanding our attention every day. People, ads, notifications, our own dreams... it gets overwhelming. And if you're the kind of person who loves to say "yes", like me, you'll find your schedule packed with luke-warm activities and responsibilities. Now you feel like you're doing something - and you are - but each task comes with an opportunity cost. That time cannot be spent doing anything else, now. So stop and ask yourself if this is what you want to be spending your time on. Is it worth it? You have to...

4. Learn to say "no"

This is one of the most difficult lessons for people like me. I love saying "yes"! To me, "yes" opens doors of opportunity. But what I have come to realize is that "no" does the same exact thing. "No" gives us time. "No" allows me to do the things that I really want to do instead of what other people want me to do. Learn to say "no."

Live excellently!