What does it take to do something other's are unwilling to?
To answer this question we need to first understand what we are unwilling to do.
I've spent the past 3 weeks deeply analyzing what I'm unwilling to do and why.
I've learned that I'm unwilling to do things that I fear. More of my actions are stopped because of fear than inexperience ever could.
I fear things that I've never done before because it may make me look like a failure in front of others. As much as I wish social approval didn't matter to me, it does. I'm still learning to overcome its negative effects and to accept its positive effects.
More specifically, I've feared math, learning to code, public speaking, lifting and dropping out of college. It might be difficult to relate because one of my fears may be a part of your strength.
Here's what I've learned about fear and anxiety: momentum trumps inertia.
It's counterintuitive to conventional advice, stop thinking before doing. Just do.
Once you stop thinking you're able to start doing. Consistent action or momentum is the force that's helped me overcome my fears. I still have a long way to go but I've begun making progress and that's what matters.
Some relevant quotes from a book I just finished reading:
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Providing a catalyst
Every week I’ll share key insights from a conversation I had learned a lot from in a series called, Providing a Catalyst.
The most memorable conversation I've had in the past few weeks is with Steven Lu, co-founder of Interseller. The start-up I worked for last spring.
Before leaving he told me something that I didn't quite understand at the time:
"It's a marathon, not a sprint."
Last week, I was in a negative state of mind. I was afraid that I'd be unable to do the things that I've set out to do. I asked Steve if he'd be willing to get on a call.
I gave him an update on how I was feeling and what I was doing.
I told him about one of my many goals: generating revenue.
He then gave me a much-needed reminder about goal setting.
Instead of looking to achieve a certain outcome focus on what needs to be done to get to that outcome. Once you've determined the known steps, start moving.
There are very few things in my control and taking action is one of them.
At this moment I don't have control over generating revenue. However, I do have control over learning how to make a product, making a product, and selling it. Each one of these things can be broken down into even smaller tasks.
What I often underestimate is the effort and time it takes to do something significant. When I start doing something new my first instinct is to look at the pros. This always leads to disappointment and a negative state of mind. It's good to admire their skill and use their work as inspiration. However, it's crucial not to compare yourself.
An important nuance often missed in the headlines is the years of consistent action that it for the pro to hone that skill set. It's easy watching the fruits of their consistent action but it's unsexy to put in the time. A lesson I forget too often.
Here's an excerpt from a post I read recently:
'In his autobiography, Bryan Cranston (Walter White of the renowned Breaking Bad) described the lesson he learned that helped him go from an average actor to an extraordinary one. Here’s what he wrote:
“Early in my career, I was always hustling. Doing commercials, guest-starring, auditioning like crazy. I was making a decent living…but I felt I was stuck in junior varsity. I wondered if I had plateaued. Then, Breck Costin [his mentor] suggested I focus on process rather than outcome.
I wasn’t going to the audition to get anything: a job or money or validation. I wasn’t going to compete.
I was going to give something.
I wasn’t there to get a job. I was there to do a job. I was there to give a performance. If I attached to the outcome, I was setting myself up to expect, and thus to fail. My job was to be compelling. Takecome chances. Enjoy the process.”
Cranston went on to say after he made this mindset shift, he felt much more relaxed and free. There was no longer any pressure, because the outcome was irrelevant. “Once I made the switch, I had power in any room I walked into,” he wrote. “Which meant I could relax. I was free.”
Soon after this shift, Cranston was offered a role in the wildly popular Malcolm in the Middle, for which he was nominated for 3 Emmy awards. He is now one of the most respected and well-known actors in the world.'
source: Anthony Moore
I couldn't pick 1 out of the list above but here are some highlights...
Learning How to Think: The Skill No One Taught You
"I used to have students who bragged to me about how fast they wrote their papers. I would tell them that the great German novelist Thomas Mann said that a writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. The best writers write much more slowly than everyone else, and the better they are, the slower they write. James Joyce wrote Ulysses, the greatest novel of the 20th century, at the rate of about a hundred words a day—half the length of the selection I read you earlier from Heart of Darkness—for seven years. T. S. Eliot, one of the greatest poets our country has ever produced, wrote about 150 pages of poetry over the course of his entire 25-year career. That’s half a page a month. So it is with any other form of thought. You do your best thinking by slowing down and concentrating."
- Farnam Street
Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong
This article was eye opening and perspective shifting for me.
"For decades, the medical community has ignored mountains of evidence to wage a cruel and futile war on fat people, poisoning public perception and ruining millions of lives.
It’s time for a new paradigm."
"...This phenomenon is not merely anecdotal. Doctors have shorter appointments with fat patients and show less emotional rapport in the minutes they do have. Negative words—“noncompliant,” “overindulgent,” “weak willed”—pop up in their medical histories with higher frequency. In one study, researchers presented doctors with case histories of patients suffering from migraines. With everything else being equal, the doctors reported that the patients who were also classified as fat had a worse attitude and were less likely to follow their advice. And that’s when they see fat patients at all: In 2011, the Sun-Sentinel polled OB-GYNs in South Florida and discovered that 14 percent had barred all new patients weighing more than 200 pounds."
- Michael Hobbes
"Summed up, what I’ve learned from these people is to follow your own way, always. Figure out the right units of exploration, embrace strange intersections, and carefully consider what could go wrong. Rest when you need it, be dogged and aggressive when the situation calls for it, but just keep going. Do it all with respect for others and as much trail magic as you can muster."
- Patrick O' Shaughnessy
What Kids Need to Learn to Succeed in 2050
"So, what should we be teaching? Many pedagogical experts argue that schools should switch to teaching “the four Cs” — critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. More broadly, they believe, schools should downplay technical skills and emphasize general-purpose life skills. Most important of all will be the ability to deal with change, learn new things, and preserve your mental balance in unfamiliar situations. To keep up with the world of 2050, you will need to do more than merely invent new ideas and products, but above all, reinvent yourself again and again."
- Yuval Noah Harari
- I've decided to take a step back from the project I was working on after realizing I wasn't irrationally passionate about what I was doing and didn't have the necessary skillsets to bring it to fruition.
- After coming back from NYC, I moved into a hacker-house in Seattle. I'm primarily living with engineers, designers, and data scientists. Most of us are in a transitory period of life or colloquially speaking, "finding ourselves."
- My major focus has been becoming more consistent with my habits: eating well, strength training, sleeping, reading, writing, and learning something new for at least an hour every day.
- Yesterday, I was asked by a friend what fulfills me.
After some thought, I told him it's 2 things.
1. Forward movement in a positive direction.
2. Sharing positivity with those around me.
I found it to be an interesting exercise and suggest you do it too...
- Something I've been thinking a lot about recently is whether one can achieve freedom to do the things he or she wants while also having freedom from himself or herself.
Freedom to buy what she wants and to spend her time how she wants.
Freedom from fear, anxiety, negative thoughts, social influence, etc...
I believe building the right habits, being focused in one direction, and gaining momentum is the way to do this.
Do you have any thoughts? Would love to hear...
Thank you for signing up and reading this edition of Activation Energy.
- Abhi Vyas
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