The drugs don’t work…

In life, if you can be anything, be you.

Phillip J. Clayton
9 min readAug 30, 2022
Not a real book…

Drugs, in this context, is a metaphor, or an analogy… it can be anything that you use as a coping method.

Sometimes, one must shamelessly engage the narcissist, have a good chat and then send it back to its cage. We often feel guilty about embracing ourselves because we are told to accommodate others, often leaving ourselves behind. The undeniable truth is, that no one gets out alive.

So then, what do you do with your time?

I often speak from a place of privilege, I have never wanted anything, needed anything, not really… I am heavily driven by greatness; I want to achieve things considered beyond my reach. I have everything I want, everything I need, and anything I want that’s not yet in my position is already sorted because I make it so.

I am driven by a constant flow of creativity, and the desire for more. However, I do not work myself to death, I crave my time, my time is precious to me. It’s nice when you have someone that can be there too, but that’s not always the case, so you learn to be comfortable with yourself.

It was discovered some time ago that I was neurodivergent, it can mean any number of things, differing in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical or normal (frequently used with reference to autistic spectrum disorders); I am not neurotypical. I was not told I was autistic, but I have certain cognitive challenges, which include but are not limited to dyslexia.

For many years I felt left out, not feeling valuable, sometimes I felt stupid, ignorant, moronic… I could not relate to a lot of things people say or do. So, I locked myself away, and the feeling of not belonging was heavy.

I remember some time ago, as a young teen… one of my cousins invited me to hang out with the rest of them. As I walked in the back, the eldest cousin said loudly, “why doesn’t Phillip hang out with children his age…?” I was a small body, but I was in my teens, not a child. Nonetheless, I stopped, turned around, and walked away, I have never gone back to them since, not mentally anyway.

A quick lesson in self-preservation, sufficiency, and independence, I promised myself I would never require the company of others to be happy, to be ok, to be free. But life happens, I was so fearful of opening up myself that I used to pray not to fall in love with anyone, I mean that in the literal sense of the word, it Is not a metaphor. The plan was, to live alone with a lot of money, an overachiever so mysterious, that no one would know where my wealth came from, or who I was. I fell in love with ambiguity and mystery, secrecy became my ally.

Life has a funny way of teaching you things, exposing your vulnerability, bringing down your walls, your protection… it’s humbling. Happiness begets pain, and pain begets happiness, and despite all you try to do to avoid the two, they are inevitable. Perhaps because nothing lasts forever, change is constant, and this will be so until the day you die. Cherish your time.

I am incredibly ambiguous, only those I wish to know me will ever know me. I am always curious and intrigued by many things, and understanding people can be difficult, but when a connection forms, I treasure it.

I am not sure what kind of adversity I have experienced, that is worth talking about, but the pain is no stranger. I rarely get close to people, a very close friend killed himself in my younger days, then another close friend was murdered, and others died from natural causes and/or illnesses. As tragic as they are, I do not believe these experiences to be unique to me.

I have certain cognitive dispositions that do not always allow me to function in ways that someone else, especially intimately dependent, will be ok with. In my head all is well, I am focusing on ideas before I lose them, but for them, they are being neglected. I also, do not always know how to express my emotions, but my actions are usually very well defined in how I feel about that person.

I know people who have struggled, and I see how hard they work for what they have. I have worked hard for what I have, the pandemic, yes, 2020… made some of those things go away. My first job in my life was working in a supermarket packing groceries, it was a summer job, my father was friends with the owner I believe, and between my mom and himself, they got me to do summer jobs as a regular thing. Another summer I worked construction with my uncle’s company, I didn’t like any of these jobs, but I liked the independence of having my own money.

I discovered the value of money, or reward, when I first decided one early morning, to take the lawnmower out, and cut the grass, my parents heard the noise, looked through the window, and saw that I was ok. I also started washing the car so that I may impress my father, I wanted to learn how to drive. I started getting up early in the mornings to get my chores out the way, the sooner I did this, the more time I had to play.

I didn’t have to work, looking back now, my parents, especially my mother, were making me flexible and tough, they were preparing me for my own survival. Everything I did induce the drive and willingness to endure whatever was necessary for me to grow.

People, sometimes think I am too direct, or I may not show much empathy. It’s not empathy I lack, I know people struggle. What I lack is the ability to pity anyone, I do not believe it helps them, I believe nurturing and celebrating achievements are helpful. Do not berate or degrade people when they fail, but do not misplace empathy and pity, pity removes the ability to learn.

Sometimes, something beautiful ends, and the very best you can do, and possibly the hardest thing you can do, is forgive the hurting you’re left with and let it go. Understand that people, sometimes, do not hurt you purposefully, they have their own struggles. Sometimes, they also don’t know how to process their struggles without negatively impacting those around them. Saying goodbye, the detachment can be soul-crushing, but let it go. You now have a lot of processing and healing to do, and so do they. Do not leave them in hate, and anger, you will have a lot of anger to process on your own. I never said it would be easy…

People grow in different ways, and we all deserve some grace… We are no more innocent or guilty than each other, we had or have different circumstances and challenges. It’s hard to say what we would do and not do when we didn’t experience the same things. Be kind, be gentle.

As a goal, perfection makes for a great moving target, it helps to raise the average — Life is not about being perfect, it’s about constant self-discovery. Define a life goal and be guided by it in everything. Be gentle with yourself, be kind, have empathy, and never compromise yourself for others. How we respond to change matters more than change itself.

Surprisingly, asking the question “who am I?” is a lot more loaded than one might have hoped for. It borders on everything that defines you, yes, everything. Make it more complicated, or perhaps, complex… by asking yourself “what do I want?”

What you want and who you are can be influencers for each other. The want sometimes changes the who, or the who may dictate the want.

In the professional space, I feel like a deity… I say that with the greatest of humility, it’s just my confidence. In my personal life I am frail and a primitive man… Self-actualization is not all it’s cracked up to be. People say a lot of things…

39 years of anxiety, agitation, loneliness, general restlessness…depression. Yes, I can tell you some things. I am still waiting for it to end, and maybe one day it all will.

When things go awry, we try to find something to hold on to, so we don’t become undone. Sometimes, it’s not much… A man who seeks death may never find it, it’s most likely that when he finds purpose and happiness that death may find him.

Nonetheless, we march on, Marcus Aurelius said, “Let each thing you would do, say, or intend, be like that of a dying person.”

The human experience is a condition, and it influences everything I do. I embrace all its joy, sadness, tediousness, and pleasantries. I must understand people to develop better band experiences, this is my job. The work must be great, it must have meaning, it reflects us, it reflects me, my leadership. Otherwise, throw it away — The stoic self speaks, I am human.

I am the artist first, expressive, unfiltered, adulterated, and boldly embracing the frailty of life. I am the orator… I share my life experiences with poetic verses and curses. I do so gently… you are part of my world as I am in yours. Design gives me purpose.

These are the pebbles that I live by, at least I try to. We need to have the ability to pivot so we need a guide. The rock on which I build my church.

  1. Creativity is critical thinking…
  2. Not everyone brave is smart and not everyone bold is brave.
    Radical thinking is sometimes trapped inside an introverted soul, sometimes it’s an extrovert one, find people who ask why and what if.
  3. Competency is important, but that can be taught, find educated people, not by sheets of paper but by the ability to absorb, process, and interpret information.
  4. Chaos does not last, there is no anarchy, only order. Humans need leadership, and they look to the boldest of themselves to lead. Be intelligent about this if you are that person.
  5. John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are intrinsic to each other”
  6. Smart is savvy, smart does not know everything but smart knows where or how to find answers.
  7. Give less of a fuck about validation, show that you know what you’re doing, or be willing to learn how to do that thing better.
  8. No sensible individual calls themself an expert. Expertise is recognized.
  9. Be interested, be intrigued, be critical, think about how to improve or create great experiences before it’s requested, and be a futurist.
  10. Every great solution must be sustainable and sustainable needs funding and management. Factor this into your ideas.
  11. Happy clients received great solutions, not yes people.
  12. Great clients value their businesses, most importantly, they invested in their business and their brand. Only work with those clients and the professionals who serve those clients.
  13. Clients pay for your team.
  14. A lot of people will offer advice, mostly unsolicited…like I am doing now…but only you know what you want, even on social media. Use only what you need and leverage it.
  15. Work is not a cubicle; work is leveraging time and effort for maximum results. Nothing gets done in a day.
  16. Anyone who says they multi-task is lying. They said yes to too many things; They do not know how to manage time; They do not know how to set objectives or set tasks; They lack the hands they need; Everything is piling up and they call it busy.
  17. If you believe you’re too busy, then imagine working in a Hospital Emergency Room, then ask a doctor why they do not panic. ER has a red, yellow, and green system/response to injury. Red being immediate treatment, Yellow being serious but not dying, green means, not critical.
  18. Ignore almost everything, somewhere in the middle, is happiness. Never stop searching for it, you will find peace there.
  19. Life is not fair or unfair, it simply is.
  20. It’s ok to take a break and get great sleep.

This is a routine list someone shared some time ago, and I like it.

Morning routine:

  • Gratitude
  • Mental love letter
  • 3 things to achieve your goal
  • Exercise/Coffee/Water Garden
  • Read 30 mins. (positive or instructional)
  • Focused work (60 mins)
  • Calibrate day (15 mins.)
  • Review top 1 to 5 year goals
  • Email

Day routine:

  • Work
  • Take breaks
  • Eat

Night Routine:

  • Review day
  • Carry-over items
  • Journal new ideas
  • Read 10 pages of inspiration
  • Don’t watch the news customize an RSS feed


  • Input (what you feed your mind)
  • Association (The people you spend your time with)
  • Environment (Your surroundings)

I leave you with this, never assume other people will do what you would do, and always remember that people say a lot of things… but they really only end up doing what they will for self-preservation.



Phillip J. Clayton

Brand consultant | Strategic advisor | International brand & marketing design judge: | Writer | Creative director