This Millennial Did Not Have His Own Phone (And Yet He Did Not Melt and Die…)

I once knew a guy named Mervin who did not have a phone.

I’m not saying he did not have a smartphone, I’m saying he had no phone, period.

No landline, no rotary phone, no smartphone, no dumb phone…not even a phone-with-an-average-IQ-of-95.

Now, I know that in the 21st century, this mind-boggling idea is as rare as chicken farming in the North Pole, but Mervin got along just fine.

And no. Mervin wasn’t Amish or a tech-hater or anything like that.

Aside from the phone thing, he was a fairly typical young college millennial:

Mervin had friends, he used computers, he knew how the internet worked. He just chose not to have his own phone.


I once caught Mervin biking merrily along a sidewalk, and when he stopped to chat, I asked him that very question.

Turns out, Mervin was studying to be an engineer and was focused on learning what he needed to learn to be the best engineer he could be.

He didn’t want to be distracted by Fakebook or Slackchat or iGiggle or any other time-sucking clowns in the social-mobile circus.

He was perfectly happy zeroing in on his true love, engineering, and ignoring everything else. NOT having a phone helped him do just that.

But, he admitted with a sigh,

“I’ll probably have to get a phone when I start applying for jobs. Hopefully that won’t be for a while, though.”

So What Can YOU Learn From Mervin?

The power of knowing what you want, and going after it with all your heart.

By the time Mervin and I had this talk, he was already a Masters student, meaning that he had gone through 5–6 years of college without a phone at the most socially demanding time of his life.

And not surprisingly, Mervin was one of the best students in his department. How could he not be, when he was so focused?

The Question Is: How Committed Are YOU to Your Own Projects?

It’s okay if you’re not 110% in, the way Mervin was with his engineering, to the point where he didn’t even want a phone.

But the more you can focus like he did, the better chance you have of succeeding.

A writer I know recently told me that he wasn’t necessarily better at writing than other writers, he was just more focused and persistent. He wrote when others quit. Or got distracted. Or bored.

And that’s why he’s making a comfortable living as a writer while the others have gone back to their slave — I mean day — jobs.

Wait, Wait, Wait. Are You Saying I Have To Throw Away My Phone to Focus?

No, not necessarily.

The truth is, it’s not really about your phone.

It’s about your desire to distract yourself.

It’s human nature to always go after the shiny new stuff, to keep ourselves dumb and amused.

But if you can resist the temptation and drill down on your strengths, you will stand out.

And it’s easier and easier to do so nowadays, what with everyone else succumbing to the sirens’ call of their distracted natures.

So Here’s a Final Secret For You:

It’s not that hard to shine above the people around you, when those people always have their eyeballs attached to a distracting a glass screen.

All you have to do is the opposite, and you will stand out easily.

Of course, you have to decide how much you actually want to stand out.

You may not have to be as “extreme” as Mervin and throw away your phone, but the bigger steps you take in the direction of non-distractions, the more likely you are to succeed beyond your wildest dreams. 😉

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