Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Henry Rollins' Letters to a Young American: Do it Yourself

Henry Rollins shares the DIY philosophy he learned from Abraham Lincoln and has always tried to follow. 

Thought exercise: Open "stickies" or "notepad" or grab a real piece of paper. Write the words "Dear ___ year old self," filling the blank with an age at least 10 years younger than you are now. Now, for five full minutes, write whatever comes to mind.


What's the Big Idea? 

Chances are whatever you wrote contains some variation on the phrase "don't worry about..." with the ellipses representing some preoccupation that time has revealed to be meaningless, unproductive, even harmful. It's likely, too, that your advice to yourself contains something of more general value - the kind of sage advice that almost never comes to mind when you're explicitly trying to advise someone else. 

We asked Henry Rollins - a guy who at the age of 20 left his responsible job as manager of a Haagen Dazs to tour the country as the frontman of the hardcore band Black Flag, and has gone on to build one of the most diverse and unprecedented arts careers ever, as a musician, author, spoken-word artist, television actor, and world-traveling photojournalist – to improvise a “letter to a young American,” coming of age in a time of, at best, “cautious optimism.” The result, as we’d hoped, was a letter to a young Henry Rollins, full of invaluable advice for just about anyone on trusting in your own ability to learn and become whatever you want to, no matter what obstacles you face. 

 

 

What's the Significance? 

Nobody’s perfect, but Henry Rollins has done a better job than most of approaching life courageously. Like his hero, Abraham Lincoln, he’s a voracious reader and autodidact in multiple fields. Too busy working his way through high school to take acting lessons, he invented his own form of performance art – a mix of motivational speaking, and strident sociopsychopolitical comedy – developing his unique voice onstage as he went along. Never formally taught what not to do, he has dared to make his mistakes publicly and had the humility to learn from them. 

In a recent article, Why Are Harvard Graduates in the Mailroom? Adam Davidson of NPR’s Planet Money points out that many of America’s comfortable middle-management jobs have disappeared. As a result, he says, many ambitious young professionals without “something to fall back on” are diving into the jungle of Hollywood or other creative professions in which legions of drudges vie for promotion to a few top spots. 

An Ivy League education still looks good on a resume, but if “the best” formal education is no longer a guarantee of (at least monetary) success, then what do you tell a bright kid who wants to get ahead in the world? “Work hard, be honest, and trust in yourself,” the sage advice Henry Rollins stole from Abraham Lincoln and wants to pass on to the next generation, seems like a pretty good place to start.

 

Watch Henry Rollins' Letters to a Young American Part 2: Live Heroically >>

 

Follow Jason Gots (@jgots) on Twitter

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

 

 

Live tomorrow! Unfiltered lessons of a female entrepreneur

Join Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and best-selling author Charles Duhigg as he interviews Victoria Montgomery Brown, co-founder and CEO of Big Think, live at 1pm EDT tomorrow.

New hypothesis argues the universe simulates itself into existence

A physics paper proposes neither you nor the world around you are real.

Tetrahedrons representing the quasicrystalline spin network (QSN), the fundamental substructure of spacetime, according to emergence theory.

Credit: Quantum Gravity Institute
Surprising Science
  • A new hypothesis says the universe self-simulates itself in a "strange loop".
  • A paper from the Quantum Gravity Research institute proposes there is an underlying panconsciousness.
  • The work looks to unify insight from quantum mechanics with a non-materialistic perspective.
Keep reading Show less

How meditation can change your life and mind

Reaching beyond the stereotypes of meditation and embracing the science of mindfulness.

Videos
  • There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to what mindfulness is and what meditation can do for those who practice it. In this video, professors, neuroscientists, psychologists, composers, authors, and a former Buddhist monk share their experiences, explain the science behind meditation, and discuss the benefits of learning to be in the moment.
  • "Mindfulness allows us to shift our relationship to our experience," explains psychologist Daniel Goleman. The science shows that long-term meditators have higher levels of gamma waves in their brains even when they are not meditating. The effect of this altered response is yet unknown, though it shows that there are lasting cognitive effects.
  • "I think we're looking at meditation as the next big public health revolution," says ABC News anchor Dan Harris. "Meditation is going to join the pantheon of no-brainers like exercise, brushing your teeth and taking the meds that your doctor prescribes to you." Closing out the video is a guided meditation experience led by author Damien Echols that can be practiced anywhere and repeated as many times as you'd like.
Keep reading Show less

Improving Olympic performance with asthma drugs?

A study looks at the performance benefits delivered by asthma drugs when they're taken by athletes who don't have asthma.

Image source: sumroeng chinnapan/Shutterstock
Culture & Religion
  • One on hand, the most common health condition among Olympic athletes is asthma. On the other, asthmatic athletes regularly outperform their non-asthmatic counterparts.
  • A new study assesses the performance-enhancement effects of asthma medication for non-asthmatics.
  • The analysis looks at the effects of both allowed and banned asthma medications.

Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast