“Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were heading for shore.”
Whenever I am faced with the negative psychological side-effects of previous failure, I inevitably remember the way they famously train elephants in circuses.
All it takes is a rope around the animal’s neck and a pole planted in the ground. They tie a baby elephant against the pole. The baby elephant will try to walk away, only to figure out that they’re not strong enough to break free.
Yes, they will fight, for a while, but they will eventually understand that they can’t break free.
And, even as the elephant grows large enough to probably tear down the entire tent, they never even try to break free.
We are like this in more ways than we’d like to admit.
Today’s culture is saturated with articles, clever memes, and podcasts that idolize terms like “grind” and “hustle.”
Personally, I believe that assuming the responsibility to work hard for your dreams is one of the key elements of success, but at the same time, it’s equally important that we understand how to work, why we are doing the work, and what price we’re paying for the time and energy we invest in the work we do.
I am writing these words as my girlfriend is getting dressed for us to go out. I woke up 4 hours before her, after only 5 hours of sleep, in order to write my articles, edit them, and schedule them to be posted.
I woke up long before the sun was up in order to reply to my e-mails, check my stats, and figure out the day’s strategy.
I’m all about the grind. Always was. Mental laziness has this strange side-effect on me; it makes me anxious to the point of wanting to jump off a building.
We think we are made of skin and flesh and muscle and bones, but that’s not true. We are made of stories, of hope, of dust and stardust, and it is in our nature to always tell stories.
Yes, you might not be a writer, you might not be a blogger, but you are telling yourself the story of who you are, and why you are who you are, and maybe, just maybe, the story of why someone like you has to be.
For example, I like to go to the gym. That’s not the issue. But I hate having to place all sorts of items in my backpack, walk to the gym, workout, go home, take a shower…
In other words, it’s the tasks that need to be done that kind of ruin my motivation. And it’s so in most other aspects: I like to write, but I hate to edit. I love shooting videos of myself talking about life, but I hate to edit them. You get the idea.
Because of this story I tell myself — “This is just stuff that I need to do” — the work I do is usually mediocre. That is when I get myself to do the work because most times I don’t even feel like doing anything anymore.
But what if I could rewrite the story? What would I tell myself to get in the mood to do all that has to be done, even though I do not want to do it?