Rules Are No Obstacles for Committed People

December 15th, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

Steve @ 7

Steve:  I’m going to win the spelling contest this year.

Mom:  Yeah, right.  You didn’t even come close last year.  You don’t stand a chance.

Steve wins first place in the second grade spelling contest and collects a month of double allowance from Mom, who was happy to bet against him.

Steve @ 21

Steve visits the Computer Science Department Chair’s office.

Steve:  I want to take 31 units this semester, so I can graduate in 3 semesters total.  I’m supposed to ask you to sign this form to approve it.

CS Dept Chair:  [laughing]  Well, that’s original!  No one has ever asked me that before.

Steve:  No, I’m serious.  I have to take that many units.  Otherwise it’s going to take me two years to graduate, and I don’t want to be in school that long.

CS Dept Chair:  It’s supposed to take four years, although many people take even longer.  You don’t seriously expect me to approve a new freshman for that many units, do you?

Steve:  How many units will you approve me for?

CS Dept Chair:  [shakes head after much deliberation]  I’d be willing to go as high as 25, but that’s more than I’ve ever done.  No one has ever asked me this before.

Steve:  OK, please sign right here.

Steve takes 25 units at CSUN plus another 6 units off campus.  Technically that’s against the rules, since the extra unit card is supposedly inclusive of off-campus units.  Steve takes care to ensure that no agents tail him when he leaves campus.

At the start of the next semester, Steve transfers his six off-campus credits back to CSUN before returning to the CS Dept Chair’s office.

Steve:  I want to take 39 units this semester.  I’m supposed to ask you to sign this form to approve it.

CS Dept Chair:  [spits out coffee]  Aren’t you the same guy that asked me this last semester?  [turns, calls to office assistant]  Hey, Karen — here’s that guy I was telling you about!

Steve:  Here’s a copy of my report card from last semester, showing that I took 25 units and aced all my classes.  I also took six more units at LACC.  Here’s a copy of my transcript showing that I got As in both of those classes as well.

CS Dept Chair:  Wow.  [rubs chin]  Hmmm…

Karen:  [scratches head, looks quizzically at Dept. Chair]

Steve:  Now I’d like your approval to take 39 units this semester, and if possible, I’d prefer to take them all on campus.  I understand that you had no reason to believe I could do it last semester.  Now you have a reason.

CS Dept Chair:  Hmmm… Well… OK…

Steve:  [points to form]  Right there in that box.

CS Dept Chair:  [signs form]  Good… er… luck, I guess…

Karen:  Bye.

Steve takes 39 units at CSUN and then returns to the CS Dept Chair’s office next semester.

CS Dept Chair:  Hi, Steve.

Steve:  I’d like to take 40 units this semester.  I’m supposed to ask you to sign this form to approve it.  Here’s my report card from last semester when I took 39 units.

CS Dept Chair:  [signs form]  Good luck, but somehow I don’t think you’ll need it.

Steve collects diploma along with a special annual award given to the top CS student as selected by the faculty and dept. chair.

Steve @ 23

Steve:  I’m going to start my own business.

Family:  Yeah, right.  Can’t you just be normal?

Steve’s family mails him job applications.  Steve tosses the applications in the trash, starts Dexterity Software, and runs it for 11 years.

Steve @ 26

Steve:  I’ve decided to go vegan.

Friends:  Yeah, right.  Can’t you just be normal?

Steve goes vegan.  Henceforth, no more animals will be harmed in the making of this life.

Steve @ 32

Steve:  We’ve decided to move to Las Vegas.

Extended Family:  That’s a bad idea.  Vegas is full of derelicts and drug addicts and prostitutes.

Steve:  How is that different from Los Angeles?

Steve & family buy a four-bedroom house in Las Vegas for the price of an L.A. tree stump.  Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes Governor of California.

Steve @ 33

Steve:  I’ve decided to start my own personal development business.

Friends:  Yeah, right.  So you wanna be like Tony Robbins or something?

Steve:  Or something.

Friends:  You’re only going to make a fool of yourself.

Steve:  Wouldn’t be the first time.

Steve launches StevePavlina.com and writes about 300 articles.  Traffic grows to 500,000 visitors/month.  Steve begins earning enough to make a living from it.

Steve @ 34

Steve:  I’ve decided to attempt polyphasic sleep to see if I can adapt to it.

Critics:  Why on earth would you want to do something like that?

Steve:  30–40 hours per week of extra waking time would be nice, but mainly I want to find out if I can actually do it.  I can’t really know unless I try.

Critics:  You’re going to fail.  It’s impossible.

Steve:  OK.

Steve successfully adapts to polyphasic sleep.  Today is Day 56. Steve begins referring to monophasic sleepers as bears.

Steve:  I’ve also decided to become a millionaire.

Bear:  You can’t do that.

Steve:  Why?

Bear:  It’s against the rules.

Steve:  Great… less competition then.

To be continued…

Reads almost like an Ayn Rand novel, doesn’t it?

What Steve actually hears

Steve:  I’ve decided to do X.

Cowardly Lion:  Bock bock bock.  Cluck cluck cluck.  I’m scared.

Steve:  Step aside please.  Coming through.

Cowardly Lion:  Huh?  What?  Um, OK.

Cowardly Lion goes home and ponders what it might be like to live as something other than a cowardly lion for just one day.  Cowardly Lion obeys previous conditioning by flipping on TV to help eliminate such socially disruptive thoughts and feelings.  Cowardly Lion begins feeling “normal” again (ca. 1984) after noticing that friendly TV characters universally agree that people like Steve are broken, anti-social, and wicked and that Cowardly Lion is in fact perfectly normal, average, and socially acceptable.


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