Ben Carlson’s got a theory or two, but this one has to be my favorite: The Adam Sandler Theory. In a nutshell, he basically says that the further removed from the common person you are, the more out of touch you’ll become. In Sandler terms, when you’re a young upstart making “Happy Gilmore,” you take comedic risks. When you’re a multimillionaire just looking to get paid, we get “Jack & Jill” and you, well, get paid. You, Mr. Sandler, have become complacent.
Complacency basically means not taking new risks. It’s not ALL bad, and playing it safe does count as an effective strategy once you’ve gotten to the top of the mountain. Complacency means boring. Complacency means you’ve gone stale. Complacency is a killer and it’s all around us – with or without Sandler levels of success.
Forget just looking at celebrities for a moment and admit that it is way too easy to get entrenched in some mode of doing things, especially as we get older. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have that particular lunch or bedtime routine (I’ve been accused of being a robot in certain aspects of my life), but figure out where adding a little risk could potentially improve things. The heart of Carlson’s rule is the realization that the way you don’t get removed from the common person is to actively stay connected with them. No surprise – that takes some effort, and some willingness to fail.
Here’s the smallest step I can think to take: do a role model reset.
Here are the rules:
A. First, you should always have several role models. They’re not just for kids. Take inventory, and if you don’t have any that immediately jump to mind – why don’t you? You need new voices to push you towards new risks.
B. You should always be willing to press reset on those role models – you should alway be ready to replace them with new ones. You don’t need to still be obsessed with whomever you thought was the greatest at age 15 when you’re 30, and still at 45, 60, etc. Tailor your role models to the risks you WANT or ASPIRE to take.
C. Don’t be afraid to look to younger generations, in fact, make it a point. Younger people generically take more risks, and it’s OK to have a role model in a 20-something who is doing amazing things.
D. When you do look for role models that are the same age as you or older, seek out people who make risk taking a habit. These are the people that regularly do role model resets for themselves, whether they publicly admit it or not.
It takes some work, but it’s well worth it. Press reset.
Footnote: Still need a kick or some examples? Listen to James Altucher interview Jim Cramer. Whatever you think about the Mad Money host, he puts himself out there EVERY DAY. The man’s a natural risk addict. So is James, it’s no wonder they’ve been friends for so long. Listen to Cal Fussman interview Alex Banayan and the story of how their relationship blossomed out of Cal’s friendship with Larry King (also as a role model). They’re both pushing amazing boundaries and I can’t wait for Banayan’s book. Listen to Ben Carlson talk to Michael Batnick about this theory and other interesting things. Just go.