Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Life lessons from Andrew W.K.
Among Andrew W.K.’s many job titles (which include musician, producer, TV show host, club owner, and expert partier), one that many might not know about is the role of motivational speaker. At his CMJ lecture/panel on October 21 at NYU, listeners got insight as to why W.K. does things the way he does—and it actually makes a whole lot of sense.
1. If you don’t like something the way it is, do something about it. In the first 10 minutes of W.K.’s presentation, he ripped apart a chair. When asked, “Why did you do that?” his response was something to the effect of, “I didn’t like the chair, so instead of having someone take it away I turned it into a chair that I do like.”
2. Take responsibility for your life. “Don’t think of anything as an outside force working against you, but think of it as, ‘I did all this,’” he said. “So something bad happened to me. No, I made this bad thing happen. And then try to figure out the reason for it.”
3. It’s OK to embarrass yourself. You might be stronger from it. “Keep chopping away at that ego. Sometimes carving away at the idea of our self, the ego—the way we think we are, the way we think we should be, the way we imagine ourselves to be—slicing through that, completely crushing it in the most painful way, to me, is really the best feeling in the world,” he said. “And then building yourself back up and realizing that even the act of crushing your ego still involves the ego. So use the ego, humiliate it, and then sort of see what happens as a result of those two actions.”
4. Even with its problems, the world really is not that bad. “I think it’s very important to realize that when we allow for…the world to be a bad place, we’re encouraging it,” W.K. said. “It’s also just felt a lot more fun to me to think, ‘No, the world is perfect.’ And it might be perfect in a way that doesn’t make sense…but I want to have a space that, in some higher way, even the imperfections are pointing toward some ultimate good vibe.”
5. Always follow your dream and be true to yourself, even if it involves risking everything. “You have to completely go whole hog and you have to be completely irresponsible,” W.K. advised. "… Don’t only be true to yourself but be true to yourself by truly doing what you want to do and, from my experience, when I felt like I was making a really bad decision, those are the ones that always pushed me furthest ahead.…I was so motivated to not have those worst-case scenarios play out that I got it together enough to always see it through. So my only advice is to do the craziest things you can think of. Do the most risky things, do the things that seem the least reasonable or safe and I think that’s the surefire way to get some kind of result. If it’s not the result you’re looking for, just please don’t tell anybody I told you that advice.”
-text and photos by Laura Leebove