Don't stand still

What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, but I'm going to tell you about a crazy experience I had.

(Note: this is the third issue of my newsletter for independent makers. Subscribe here.)

I was recently in town speaking at a conference.

The first night, there was a party for attendees. I got talking to the bartender. He was an older gentleman in his 70s. He told me some history about the Tropicana hotel: how it had opened in 1957 and had links to the famous mobster, Frank Costello.

I asked him how long he'd been there. He responded: "1966."


He joked that he'd be standing in the same place for 50 years. In those years, he'd seen the Vegas strip transform around him. The Tropicana was initially one of the only hotels on the strip.

Since then, nearly 40 hotels have been added to the area.

This bartender's 50+ years of service was impressive.

However, his life hasn't changed much in those years. He's still doing the same job: serving drinks to conference goers and revelers.

And maybe, he has no regrets. But this image struck me: his life had stayed the same while everything else had changed around him.

There's a danger in standing still.

When you don't move, the world grows up around you.

Instead of being a creative force on your surroundings, you become a passive observer. Onlookers can say "I was there," but miss out on the satisfaction of making stuff happen.

Human history has always rewarded individuals in motion. Successful people don't stand around waiting for things to happen. Instead of being passive observers, they focus on moving forward.

Our natural tendency is to play it safe: "don't rock the boat, don't make mistakes." But mistakes are how we make progress.

The healthiest people I know are grateful for the present but aren't satisfied to stay put. They want to get better, create new things, and follow their curiosity.

I don't want to wake up in 50 years and realize that I just stayed put. I want to make my life better.

How about you?

A better future

Traditionally, I haven't been a fan of "magical thinking." Currently, there is an NBA draft with the same name as me. I'm a 5'8" nerdy Canadian. No matter how hard I work, I'll never be a pro basketball player.

To move forward, you have to have an imagination for the future. You need to envision a better life: what does it look like?

In the past, I've held myself back with the belief that my life will always be the same as it is now. I'd tell myself: "I'll never achieve that success. That dream isn't for people like me." I'd limit my imagination. I call this being "haggard." It's stewing in life's difficulty, instead of seeing its possibility.

Don't limit your potential! Be open to the idea of progress. If you're closed, you won't move forward. Develop a dogged determination to make life better every day.

Justin Jackson

PS: Want to make progress in your life as an independent product person? Sign up for the Product People Club waiting list.

Watch my Vegas vlog here:

Published on May 2nd, 2017
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