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Now Is The Time To Be Unreasonable

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John Mashni
John Mashni Author

I only write about what I have done: no theory. Writer, Attorney, Entrepreneur, Movie Producer, and more… 

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Stop compromising your future to satisfy people who are not important.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

— George Bernard Shaw

Most people never intended to end up where they are. They drift and dream, and then work and work. And work.

Most people, in a few spare seconds or moments, might think about changing or pivoting. Or reinventing.

But then the moment passes. And the dream is gone.

Yet some are blessed to have a person who will fight for those precious dreams — someone who will speak up, shout, do whatever it takes to make sure that the most important parts of us don’t die.

I believe that there are no ordinary moments. Right now counts forever.

But some moments carry a little more weight. Certain moments have meaning that cannot be replicated or replaced.

Message in a Bottle — or Email

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

— Viktor E. Frankl

I found an email recently that nearly made me cry. I sent it — not to anyone else — but to myself.

I will share the text of the email, but I want to give a little context first.

I sent this email to myself so that I would read its message when I most needed it.

I imagined that this email would be like a digital message in a bottle. I would just “throw” this message out, and it would return — not to someone else — but to me. And hopefully, its return would be right when I needed to remind myself of something.

I wanted to remind myself of a commitment that I had made.

When Change Is Required

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”
 — Jim Rohn

Years ago, I worked in Flint, Michigan, and drove over an hour to and from work every day. I was married and we did not have any kids at the time.

I remember getting home from work late one February evening, and my wife was waiting for me in our kitchen. I remember being excited to see her at the time, because she usually wasn’t waiting for me when I got home.

As soon as I saw her, however, I knew something was wrong.

Her first words: “We need to talk.”

She was leaving me.

At least that’s what I thought. A lot of things ran through my mind in that moment. But what I came to learn was that I had the greatest wife any man could ask for. She pushed me over the ledge.

“Something is wrong.”

I don’t remember exactly what she said. But this is what I heard.

“You are not the same person that I married. When we got married you were the happiest, most fun guy. You were so enthusiastic and excited all the time.

You are not happy now.

And something needs to change. I don’t know exactly what caused the change, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t feel comfortable about where we are going in our lives, and I need you to make a change.

Something has to change right now or else.

I have done some research and I have a few ideas. You are a talented and gifted person, and I think you can do better with your life.”

She was right. I didn’t notice it because it had happened so gradually.

But she was absolutely right.

I didn’t know what to say, and actually, I didn’t know what to do either.

Fortunately, she already had an answer.

“I think you should go to law school.”

What…!?

LSAT to Law School Classroom in 9 Months

“You cannot change the wind, but you can change the set of the sail.”

— Jim Rohn

She had it all worked out.

  • If I took the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) and received a certain score, then I could receive a great scholarship.
  • I could go to a nearby school so we wouldn’t have to move.
  • It would only take three years, and she would be willing to work and support the two of us while I went to school full-time.

She was willing to sacrifice to make this happen. She was willing to sacrifice because she believed in me.

We both talked and prayed about it for the next month — March 2009.

But I knew she was right. I wasn’t happy. I was not the same person. I felt trapped. I felt like there was nothing else I could do.

If I thought back 5 or even 10 years earlier, I had so many dreams and goals that I wanted to accomplish — and at that point, those dreams didn’t seem any closer to being accomplished.

So the next month I started studying for the LSAT. I studied during my brief time for lunch and at night. I studied early in the morning and I bought every book I could find to help me. I had a plan and I followed it.

In December of that year, I left my job to start law school full-time. Just over three years later I graduated and passed the bar exam. In short, I had completely reinvented myself — new degree, new career, new job, new colleagues, new network, and two new kids. But I still had the same great wife.

The Middle of March

“If change is forced upon you, you must resist the temptation to overreact or feel sorry for yourself.”

— Robert Greene

Most people avoid tough decisions. They hate them. And so they avoid them.

But my wife is fearless. She attacks tough decisions like a warrior.

She forced both of us to confront what we really wanted.

From mid-February 2009 to mid-March 2009, we both had a hard decision about my professional future:

  • Leave a good job, with great people.
  • Cut our family income in half.
  • Leave my dreams of audio, video, and storytelling to become [gasp] a lawyer. Aren’t lawyers (ultra) boring?
  • I would not have an income for at least three years.
  • I would be extremely dependent on my wife.
  • What would it do to our marriage?
  • Would we be able to have kids?
  • What would people think?

But it was even more than that…

I was giving up on a dream that I had. Promises had been made to me that made me think all of my dreams could come true going down the path I was already on.

I thought where I was, was where I was supposed to be.

Making the change — reinventing myself — meant that I had to admit that I was not measuring up to the person who I wanted to be.

I had to admit that I needed to be better.

That is hard, right?

Most people never admit that they need to be better. It is hard, humbling, and sometimes even embarrassing.

But I had a higher standard — and my wife reminded me of that standard.

No More Compromise

“Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene.”

— Arthur Christopher Benson

I knew that I could be better.

I knew that I could be happier.

So what was stopping me?

  • Compromise.
  • Saying “yes” to everything and everyone around me.
  • Giving all of myself to other people’s dreams and goals so that nothing was left for my own or for my family and the people that I love.

Why did I write that email I mentioned earlier?

I needed to remind myself that the time for sacrificing my own goals, my family’s happiness, and my own potential, was over.

No more compromising my future to satisfy others.

No more agreeing to other people’s vision of the future, without considering how it affects my own purposes in life.

No more.

The Email

“Whatever you tolerate, you cannot change.”

So, while thinking about all of the above — my wife, law school, our future — I needed to send a message to myself.

One morning in March of 2009 — right when I was finalizing this decision to completely reinvent myself — something happened that made me promise myself I would change. I cannot even tell you what happened exactly.

But one morning I felt so strongly about changing that I felt compelled — while at my job — to sit in front of my computer and capture exactly what I was feeling.

Most feelings come quickly and go even faster.

And some feelings are so strong and powerful that we cannot stay the same.

I wanted to capture how I felt in that moment — on that March morning. I had to remember what it felt like so that I could always come back to that feeling.

So that when things got hard, I could remember why I decided to change. To reinvent.

I sat down at my desk. I started typing a short email. To myself.

And then I went back to work.

Below is the exact text of the email that I sent to myself on March 18, 2009.

from: John Mashni
to: John Mashni
date: Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 10:07 AM
subject: REMINDER

John,

This is a reminder. Be unreasonable. There is no time for compromise. Protect your time. Everyone around you wants to waste it and push you away from your dreams. You need to focus on you and your goals and not let other people steal your time and money and love for free.

Don’t forget.

Watch out for exceptional mediocrity.

All progress depends on the unreasonable man.

Unreasonable?

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

— George Bernard Shaw

Most people are very reasonable. They can be persuaded to do almost anything — even things that do not help them in the end.

Being unreasonable can be harmful. So you need to be careful.

Unreasonable does not mean:

  • That you have an excuse to hurt people, be mean, or disrespect anyone.
  • That you should treat anyone less than a person.
  • That anyone else’s goals are less important.

But for me, I had compromised enough. I had buried certain parts of myself for long enough.

It was time to be unreasonable about my priorities, in order to live them out.

  • Unreasonable means that you do not compromise on what is important to you.
  • Unreasonable means that when someone tries to take time away from your personal goals, dreams, and vision, you stop them.
  • Unreasonable means that when someone tries to take your time set aside for the people most important to you, you do not let them proceed.
  • Unreasonable means that even if people do not believe in the highest form of yourself, you do. And you do not compromise what the best you looks like.
  • Unreasonable means that if the people around you are depending on you to succeed, you do not waste time or energy on projects that do not lead to victory.

Someone Is Hoping You Make Really Good Decisions

“There is a person 40 years older than you right now that really hopes you make good decisions today.”

Most people have regrets. I know I do.

But we can prevent regret by making decisions now that we will be proud of.

Nothing is set in stone. No story is finished until you write the ending.

You can change.

I am not even sure why I felt so compelled today to share this email. Maybe someone else needs someone to hear “we need to talk.”

Maybe you need to say “we need to talk” to someone you love.

One conversation with my wife turned into one email. That email is saved so that I re-read it once a year or so. Every time I read it, I nearly cry.

My Challenge For You

What message would you tell yourself in the future about how you feel in your deepest moments?

What advice do you wish you would follow in the future?

Be unreasonable.

Follow that advice.

Send a message in a bottle, or email, or note, or whatever works for you.

Don’t wait for someone to say, “We need to talk.”

But if you do need it, then I have a message for you.

We need to talk.

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