Warning: Please Do Not Follow This Advice

warning safe advice aheadSitting in the doctor’s office with my elder brother, the X-rays of my knees placed on the table, the doctor was fixing two cups of tea. I was already sucking on the straw, my Pepsi halfway finished.

The doctor was my brother’s friend. Me and my brother were here because of constant clicking in my knees.

Like most families, we do not go to the doctor on light pains or clicking sounds in knee joints. But my brother hadn’t met his old friend for a long time. I was told to tag along. Half an hour later, I had done the X-ray as required.

I was 16 years old at the time.

“You see here,” the doctor said, talking strictly to my brother, “see the rough edges around here, this is probably a developing case of Arthritis.”

I have heard of this Arthritis. I chewed on the straw, my Pepsi gone flat.

“Seeing your brother is so young, I think he should start taking precautions immediately,”

“What precautions?” I asked.

The doctor smiled widely, “well, for example, son, do not double-step stairs when you climb them…”

“What about Squash?” I asked. I was getting good at the damn game.

“No, no,” he said, the smile still wide, “from now onwards, just do not place undue pressure on your joints.”

“Yes, but for how long? And how much is undue pressure…”

The doctor looked at my brother.

“What he means,” said my brother, “is that from now on, for… for a long time”

Sitting in the doctor’s office, nursing the flat, half-finished bottle of Pepsi, me and my brother realized that I was being sentenced to a sedentary life, for the rest of my life. I looked from my brother to the doctor and back to my brother. My brother was looking down. The doctor did not stop smiling.

During the same time, my Mother took me to meet our family friends, for a different reason altogether. The “Auntee’s son” was bit of a legend, a gold medalist and reputed for his late-night study routines.

Sitting in their lounge, three cups of tea still steaming hot, and my glass of cold Pepsi half finished, me, my Mother, the perfect son and his Mother sat and discussed my future.

“So, which subject should he pick, Waqas,” asked my Mother.

“Well, computers are going to be big one day,” he said. This was around 1996 (Waqas was a gold-medalist for a reason, no?)

“But what about Art? He is quite good at drawing,” my Mother said, herself a published poetess and amateur painter, “and he is interested in that too.”

Waqas smiled widely, “but Auntee, there are no jobs for artists”.

“So computers sound like a good choice,” she looked at me.

I couldn’t care less: the Pepsi was nice, cold and fizzy.

In both cases, I was given good, well meaning advice.

In both cases, the advice was wrong.

We know that rough edges around the knees are no reason to sentence someone to a life lived indoors (See this FB video of Arthur Boorman’s life to drive the point home).

We know that following the crowd is the worst strategy to live a happy, meaningful, profitable, adventurous life.

The safest advice is usually – though not always – the wrong advice.

No one wants to be the person who says, “yeah, go ahead, risk it!”

That is dangerous advice. But safe advice is the perfect recipe for a mediocre life.

So ask yourself this, do you want a mediocre life?

Mediocre is safe, remarkable is dangerous. (click here to retweet this)

I am not suggesting that we should encourage reckless advice. I am suggesting that there is a middle way. Consider:

To learn how to swim, you have to get into the pool. For a non-swimmer, he just surrounded himself with death! But there is no other way to learn swimming. Sorry.

Good, balanced advice would be to lend you a pair of floaters to train and get the hang of it. Reckless would be to throw you in the centre of the pool. Safe would be to buy you a chess board.

I am grateful to God that I found better advice. That taught me how to break free. If I can do it, so can you. If you haven’t already done so.

Working from home, using the Internet to build a community, starting a meaningful, profitable business etc, all of this is possible. It’s not easy but nothing worth having is easy.

By God’s Ultimate Grace, If I can do it sitting here in Lahore, Pakistan, sustain my family, travel and undertake remarkable adventures, I assure you, you can do it too, no matter where you are in the world.

Chances are, you’ll do it better. It’s not rocket science (even rocket science is not rocket science!)

A lot of people want to live a life of adventure, but we forget that if we don’t take risks, we will not learn, not grow, not improve. We avoid risk whereas we need to learn how to handle it.

Was that good advice? 🙂

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P.S. I am this close to releasing my first workshop on starting a passion-driven online business that I talked about earlier. Still have to come up with the sales material and locations, but I think this adventure will be bigger and more exciting than the recent one! What I do know is that I am planning one in Lahore and one in Dubai (yes, that is how much I loved the city!). Maybe a third one in Karachi! Three cities, one day seminars, serious contenders only! Exciting stuff. Stay tuned on Facebook for more regular updates! God is great and all is well.

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