Passion Alone Won’t Get You There

Episode 4: The Sum of All YOLO’s 

In Which I Will Inspire Accusations of “Fear-Mongering”, and For Which I Will Apologize Zero Times

Some of the other titles I considered for this post:
  • Clear and Present Drizzy
  • The Sum of All Headlines
  • Patriot Bling
  • Ghost Recon’s Plan
  • Debt of Hotline 
  • Kiki, Do You Love Geopolitical Intrigue?

Sometimes I’m clever. Sometimes I’m an idiot. Both are often entertaining.

Drake (the Degrassi star who does music now and is a bit too touchy-feely with NBA coaches) and Tom Clancy (writer of countless SpecOps/political thrillers including Patriot Games and Rainbow Six) don’t have a strong history of occupying the same internet territory.

UNTIL NOW {read in deep and ominous narrator voice}

Clancy’s book-turned-movie The Sum of All Fears features Cold War level diplomatic tensions and our consummate hero, Jack Ryan, saving the day by breaking rules, practicing his Ukrainian with his buddy Sabretooth, and hacking internet telecommunications to stop all-out nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia. Gripping stuff. High rec for both the book and movie.

Drake, on the other hand, is the assumed genesis of the battlecry of many millenials who, while possibly are quite pleasant and agreeable under normal circumstances, become increasingly punchable with every “YOLO” screamed before knocking back another shot en route to further poor decisions and impending regret.

As much as I’d love to give Drake the Bart Simpson treatment for perpetuating this asinine line of thinking,

Me vs. Culturally Perpetuated Adolescence

I have to give him one thing: he accidentally got it right.

I mean he’s also demonstrably wrong; the idea that you have one life to live so you should make as many reckless decisions as possible because “whatevs” is dumb and destructive and, well, rabble rabble get off my lawn.

Still, you and I will only live once. This fact makes our actions and decisions important, and it makes our trajectory vital.

If there’s one thing you learn from this post let it be this:

You are fully capable of staying in the unfulfilling, unsatisfying, growth-inhibiting, and soul-eroding job you’re in now for the rest of your career.

We’re lying when we tell our friends “I can’t stay at my job much longer or it’ll kill me.” It won’t. It’ll be emotionally, psychologically, and physically draining; we’ll complain about it to ourselves and to our friends and to our bartenders; and we’ll find ourselves still there six months, a year, and five years from now saying the exact same things about it and doing nothing

We’re astonishingly resilient creatures, but that resilience can lead to our salvation just as easy as it can lead to our destruction.

Sound extreme? I disagree.

A perfect (albeit exaggerated) picture of this concept is my buddy Robert Parr. Okay, he’s not my buddy. He’s not alive. Or real. He’s a cartoon.

He’s Mr. Incredible.

The Incredibles introduces us to Bob-O as he’s become the world’s foremost superhero, fighting crime and the forces of evil for the good of all humanity. He’s got the suit. The powers. The girl. He’s got everything.

Then the government gets involved and everything goes to shit (they have the same effect on my paycheck). They’re upset about all of the collateral damage – all of the infrastructure costs and whatnot. Cleaning up after Superheroes save the world again and again is far too inconvenient, so they shut down the Supers altogether. Mr. Incredible and all of his buddies are forced into plain-sight hiding. 

Scene change: The once-powerful Bob Parr sits in a cubicle typing at a computer with a look on his face that is all-to-relatable.

Actual picture of me from roughly 8am-6pm Monday through Friday.

I’m pretty sure I’ve had that look on my face for the majority of my professional career. It’s not the look of complete resignation. It’s not quite defeat. Those look similar, but there’s one thing that makes the bad so much worse. It’s that smallest bit of hope that you still feel which makes the reality of where you are all that more discouraging.

Over time that ounce of hope can do one of two things: 

It can sit stagnant, slowly decaying until you have no knowledge of what it is you once hoped for – serving only as a memory of a feeling you once had, a reminder of a choice you made to let go of purpose and possibility. Hope without action can erode us.


It can be a fire that is stoked – sometimes by dumping gasoline on it to make monumental and sudden change, but more often in small and seemingly insignificant ways. That hope can be the fuel that keeps or even just starts us moving, leaving rust and resignation behind. It can fight back against despair and atrophy, and it can remind us daily that the often-excruciating effort it takes to move one step forward will still leave us with a wholly different view than we had before.

Disclaimer: If you’ve seen The Incredibles let me clarify that I’m not telling you to throw your boss through a series of walls. If you do though at least send me a link to the vid.

Bob Parr lets his hope ignite purpose and possibility in him again. His journey back to Mr. Incredible is a rocky one at times, but through his diligence, courage, a bit of Pixar plot-twisting, and the help of his family he returns to his true and destined form, and kicks the shit out of some robots along the way.

So, the sum of all YOLOs?

It’s the recognition that every time someone has used that phrase they’ve accidentally, and often tragically, been right. You and I will only live once. We can use that knowledge to drive us deeper into despair and resignation, depending on fleeting moments of relief to believe there is any possibility of hope for our lives to get better.

Or we can use it to get us off our asses and start taking steps toward something greater. We can let it spur us on toward the things we were made for, not just the things that keep our bank account treading water and leave us feeling empty as we arrive back home every day after work. We’re capable of having that feeling every day for the rest of out lives, but we’re also capable of breaking free from it. You have to decide.

Every day you choose to ignore the decision is another day you’ve decided to stay stuck.

Get to Work: Action Items

1. Be unrealistic 

for a minute. Think of hopes and dreams that you may have suppressed as a kid, and think of some new ones you may have never considered before. Yes, be unrealistic. We’ll get to practicality soon.

For now just give yourself a moment to believe that you can get out of your current situation and move toward the things you were made for. Want to be a dolphin trainer by day and dueling pianist by night? Write it the hell down, laugh at how ludicrous it is for a bit, and write down some more ideas. We need to teach our brains to use hope for good again.

2. List out 

what you think it will take to get you moving from where you are now to where you want to go. Be okay with getting some things wrong and not understanding all of the factors. Just get started on it.

Consider skills that you may need to refine or learn, people you may need to reach out to, money you may need to save, and courage you may need to act with. List EVERYTHING you think of. You can add to it or whittle it down later.

3. Take a step forward. 

You have every capability of pushing this off to every “tomorrow” for the rest of your life. This has been an action step at the end of a few posts, and it will continue to show up moving forward.

That’s because I know how hard it is to take that first step. It’s terrifying and it feels like it gets you absolutely nowhere. Remind yourself that you’re wrong about that. Any movement forward is progress, and it takes the culmination of many small moments of progress to create significant change in your life.