Iain Thomas is one of the most unassuming and successful individuals that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. His philosophy is to let his work and actions speak for themselves and with a string of accomplishments under his belt and more to follow, they certainly do…
My Definition of Success | Success means not only being content in your own life but in having enough energy and drive to bring contentment to other people’s lives. I believe happiness and hence, success, is found in others. There is very little joy in life if your success doesn’t impact those around you too.
What Drives Me | I am a creative person and unfortunately that also means I’m an egotist. Creative people are the only ones who have bizarre thoughts and instead of going “That’s funny, I better go check on the oven,” say “I must share this with the world!” We think our ideas and thoughts are so important that they must be shared yet I think everyone has daydreams or flights of fancy. I believe the desire to change the world and make individuals stop and think about the universe and their place in it, though perhaps selfish because I want to be the vehicle for that experience, is what drives me.
My Life and Career Highlights | I had very low expectations growing up. My big fear was winding up homeless, in a cardboard box, as I was raised in an academic family which focused heavily on territories I, to this day, find terrifying such as economics, maths and programming. I thought you had to be good at one of those things to make a living and so my first big success, that I still celebrate, is the ability to make my creativity feed me and put a roof over my head. While I’m incredibly proud of my first book, I Wrote This For You, being a #1 bestseller internationally and its continued dominance of the bestseller lists nearly two years after its launch, the most sublime moments for me are when I get emails or messages from someone who’s found something important in my work. I’ve received letters from kids in cancer wards or who are being bullied or who are just having a horrible time at home that bring me to my knees and impart a greater sense of meaning on what I do than any statuette or ceremony could.
The Difference between good and Great | People who are good at what they do settle for being good at what they do. People who are great, get up every day and work at being great.
The Secret to being Successful | I don’t know how people become successful in other fields but here’s what I know. Find something you love. You have to love it. If you don’t love it, then everything else is pointless as you’ll never have the kind of endurance you need to keep working. This doesn’t mean quit your job if you don’t love your job. It means work harder. I wrote my first book early in the morning, during lunch, late at night, whenever I could – the point is I loved doing it and so I made the time to make it happen. Don’t make one painting or one song or write one short story. You need to make a thousand. It’s hard to make one great work of art. But if you make a thousand, the odds are in your favour that at least some of it will be great. We learn by doing. So do it again and again and again. Don’t wait for the right time or when you’re inspired. Do it now. Don’t expect overnight success. There is no overnight success. What we think of as overnight success is the brief, explosive blossoming that the rest of us get to see after years, if not decades, of hard work. And if you’re doing what you love, who cares when it happens?
Characteristics of Greatness | A healthy fear of failure is essential, as is the ability to balance it with the confidence and vision you need to achieve what you set out to do. Too much of either will doom you. If you’re too afraid, you’ll never begin. If you’re too confident, you won’t know what to take out. On a more practical side, I have a firm belief in a meritocracy, that your work should be so good that it should open all your doors and do all your speaking for you and so I hate the idea of networking or trying to impress people with my personality, which forces me to focus exclusively on the work itself.
Lessons I have Learnt | If doing something you love is important, letting go of something you don’t love anymore is even more so. I spent years of my life writing the I Wrote This For You project. One morning, the photographer I worked with and I realised we simply didn’t want to do it anymore. I felt like I’d said everything I needed to say. We shut it down that afternoon. It was a great decision because I’ve now got much more energy to pursue other projects and bring them to life in ways that a demanding project like I Wrote This For You otherwise wouldn’t allow for.
The Meaning of Life | Accept that life isn’t meant to be easy. If you believe you will eventually get to a place in your life where it will become easy, you will be disappointed a lot. Life can, however, be worth it. I believe that’s why we live. To find worth in our labor which gives meaning to our existence.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” from my father. I originally thought it meant that life would be easy if I simply did something I enjoyed. Instead, I’ve found that while the sentiment is correct, what it actually means is “If you find what you love, your work will always be worth the effort you put into it.”
On Getting Rich| If money makes you happy, make money. If something else makes you happy, do that instead and there’s a good chance the money will find you anyway. And even if it doesn’t, you’re still doing something that makes you happy.