w: ajleon

You Can’t Have it Both Ways

A couple weeks ago I almost sent out the first print edition of the Misfit Quarterly with vestiges of text and a few images that were certainly less than crisp. Most people wouldn’t have noticed the difference. And because of this I just barely sent it to them. But then I remembered. The point isn’t whether you notice the error, the point is whether I care enough about my work to produce my very best with every breath and opportunity the world provides me.


The truth is.

Our work is either remarkable or it isn’t.

We are either changing the world, or we’re not.

We either show up every single time, and leave every ounce of ourselves in our work, or we simply create average things for average people.

If that’s not scary enough, here’s the truly terrifying part. The decision is entirely yours. Contrary to popular belief, remarkable has nothing to do with luck, title, wealth, education or the perception of those around you. The definition of remarkable is “notably or conspicuously unusual, extraordinary”. That choice – to do work that matters, to produce something unexpected, to exceed the calculation of others – lies entirely in your corner.

But here’s the kicker. And this is what most people forget.

If you are going to make that choice, you need to bring it. Every. Single. Time. You can’t simply pour two or three perfect lattes a day, and expect people to care. You can’t merely design one or two exquisitely handcrafted websites while the rest of your portfolio is “meh”, and expect the world to take note. You can’t produce one beautiful report for the BOD this quarter, and mail in the rest.

Believe me, I know it sounds exhausting. To produce your best every time. To ensure that everything and anything that has your name on it also has your blood, sweat, tears and DNA baked into it.

But consider the alternative.

Those who create remarkable work sometimes and spew up average the rest are impostors, and will always be exposed for the frauds that they are. They may trick some other folks out there, but the disparity between their remarkable work, and their average work will always be visible to you and I. And when we end up on the average side of their work. When we’re the recipients of their report riddled with misspellings, or their conspicuously buggy line of code, or their lukewarm cup of coffee, we’ll sniff it out in half a second.

And we’ll know the insidious truth.

That they find no virtue in producing remarkable things because remarkable things are what the world deserves. That although they have it in them, they pick and choose when to be average, and when to bring it. And we’ll recognize this truly notorious verity – that either they didn’t care enough about us or our project, or they just think we’re f*cking stupid. But either way, we’ll never go back to them again. Because, in the end, you simply can’t have it both ways.

From Northern Texas
Your fellow Misfit,


Written from: a little hotel room in Northern Texas.
Image: One Way

This essay will be published in my upcoming book The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit.  

546 words



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