Henry Rollins: The One Decision That Changed My Life Forever

More or less anybody who has ever done anything newsworthy can cite, as Henry Rollins can, some turning point at which they made a risky decision that paid off, and a lifelong sense of mission not easily derailed by minor failures. 

What's the Big Idea? 


There's a lot of talk in the business-self-help sphere these days about risk and failure being essential to success. There is "fail camp." There is this book

As Nobel Laureate psychologist Daniel Kahneman told us recently, the thing about risk is that it's risky. The economy may benefit from the handful of startups that survive their first five years, but at the level of the individual, there are a lot of casualties. This is true in the arts, too, which is another kind of entrepreneurship. According to Kahneman (warning: bummer approaching), aspiring at age 20 to be an actor is a significant predictor of unhappiness at age 40. I wonder whether aspiring to nothing at age 20 is a significant predictor of mild, glassy-eyed contentment in later life . . .

So what's a young hopeful to do? Well, there are basically two options: find a more or less "safe," all-consuming career path that you can live with (there seem to be fewer and fewer of these all the time), or accept the uncertainty, pick a direction, and charge full steam ahead. And maybe work a restaurant job or two along the way. 

In the case of Henry Rollins, a serial artistic entrepreneur and iconic self-made man, the decisive moment was especially stark.

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