This was utterly magnificent. Wow.
I just finished week one of my [big goals] project. ... But, the results were weaker than I expected. I'd say I accomplished approximately 30% of what I intended to last week.
Ok, so, why then? Were the goals too hard? Maybe a little, but I certainly COULD have done much better. They were challenging, but not in skill or time or even unpleasantness, but rather in willpower and self control and creativity. I was aware of the goals every day, and the goal of updating the spreadsheet before bed received a 70% score, one of the highest of all. The goals were not arbitrary, meaningless challenges imposed on me by a self help guru or game designer, but meaningful to the goals of my life. And yet...
I've been there. So often, I've been there. Author goes on some, and...
I started this website because I wanted a place where I could write and publish without having to worry how it would effect my personal life. Does that even make sense? I was explaining to a friend how hard I find it, to sit down and create something and send it off into the world. He is a writer, an established sports blogger and currently writing a book and a screenplay based on characters from his own life, so he knew all about what I was talking about. But he drew me to an interesting conclusion. Was I really afraid that I would write something bad? Bad writing abounds everywhere, nobody cares about it, and nothing I write is evil or profane enough that I need to hide it for those reasons.
No, my real fear is success. What if I accidentally write something really good and insightful? People are going to expect that same level of quality every time. I am going to have to defend my opinion in public, talk about it at parties, or god forbid I become an expert. People will think I know all kinds of things that I don't, and I won't be able to get anything real done.
And this - this following observation is so accurate:
People really get upset at emerging greatness. I used to think it was because they themselves were incapable of becoming great. But these days I think, instead, it is the shell that protects them from having to become great. By looking down on greatness, claiming that great goals and ambitions are impractical or naive or even selfish and egomaniacal, they are simultaneously building walls against their own failure to achieve.
Just... just go read the whole post. Very honest, powerful self-reflection. If you like my stuff, I reckon you'll like this piece a lot.
Did you read the article he got 'Bruce' from? He posted it in his post... http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/misc/2005_Stuck_In_The_Middle_With_Bruce.html
To be honest I thought that article was even better. It has the same conclusions in a slightly different context, but much more elaborate. I think it's really interesting what Phaedrus and Rizzo say.
But what I'm chewing on most, is how to properly identify 'Bruce' - that part of us that thinks we will loose, and (mostly unconsciously) convinces us to make decisions that will bring us back to the 'safe zone' of loosing.
How can one know if one's afraid of success or failure? Analyze oneself? The problem is, as Rizzo somewhat pointed out, that it 'can always be Bruce'. But it's hard to confirm. Do you have some thoughts as to how to figure those things out? I suppose there's a lot of psychology involved. The problem with that is, that we are terribly biased concerning ourselves. We can't help but be. We can work on it, of course, but there'll always be a little bias.
After all, we are our own 'protagonist' in this 'game' some people call 'life'. We think with the mind we analyze. So the mind, some more or less unconscious part, has the possibility to manipulate itself, right? That's what Bruce is about. Our vision concerning ourselves is always influenced by our underlying values and convictions, by the way we see ourselves. We are in the middle of it all. A forest looks much different when you are in it, or some way away. In it, there are trees. Big trees. Trees towering above us. Trees left, right, in the front and in the back. It's terribly hard to get a good overview like that. We are the forest. We are in the forest.
We can climb on the trees to try and get a better view of things (like, sitting back and reflecting about it all) but we are still on top of that tree. Its height determines how we see the rest. Hmmm...
How can we best assess ourselves? Yeah, that is a good question.
A few days ago, I wrote an open letter to a good friend of mine - "I Think Greatness is Something You Are, Not Something You Do" - I said to him, I'm not a great man, just a normal man working on great things. Greatness is something you do, not something you are.
To give you some background, my friend Brendon is just one of the most amazingly good people in the world. He takes care of everyone around him, his mind, body, and spirit are sharp. He's a black belt, an excellent programmer, a philosopher, a Shodan in Go (actually, even stronger than that - he's a Shodan under the Asian rankings, so probably even higher in America), a hard worker, extremely loyal, a clear and free thinker, widely read and knowledgeable, and again - an amazingly good guy. I've learned a lot from him (notably, he taught me how to play Go, sysadmin Linux, understand basketball at a very high level, improve at martial arts, improve my fitness, and other good stuff - we'd usually go drink green tea and play Go at Samurai Restaurant in Boston, go fight in the park, talk philosophy out at nightclubs, do stuff like that).
He wrote back to me about greatness and humility. I think this is a really beautiful piece, so I asked him if I could gently edit it and put it up. He graciously agreed. It's long, but go ahead and just start it and give it whatever time you have - there's a lot of amazing insight in here.
A Quick Favor Request - if you learn from this or it helps you, please send Brendon a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org - he was actually a little gun-shy about having such a personal piece put up with such raw power in it. He only agreed when I told him how many people it could help - so please, drop him a short line to say thanks if this teaches you as much as it did me.
Without further ado...
I finished reading Steven Pressfield’s The War Of Art yesterday. It was easily the most valuable book I’ve read this year. If producing any form of creative work is important to you I’d highly recommend you get a hold of a copy. In the meantime, however, here are some key takeaways.
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
Pretty self-explanatory. Whatever scares you the most is probably the most important thing for you to face.
“Resistance is fear. But Resistance is too cunning to show itself naked in this form. Why? Because if Resistance lets us see clearly that our own fear is preventing us from doing our work we may feel shame at this. And shame may drive us to act in the face of fear.”