Fuck your gonna
– Gary Vaynerchuk
That was the closing statement of one of Gary’s videos I watched the other day.
I really hate to reference the same person twice in a row on these blogs. But Gary is dope af, and at this point, I am writing these just before I post them, so they are more snap shots of my mind at the time of writing as opposed to pre-determined topics which I do sometimes. For the first time in weeks, I’m organically inspired to write.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about action. And last week, a few things happened to reinforce those thoughts as something to explore further. One of the things was watching the abovementioned video. Then there was a statement Thuli made during our Monday huddles with CREA8, something along the lines of ‘you have learnt enough and talked enough, it’s time to do’. Then one of the many mails I get from Tai Lopez was on the danger of self-improvement as a placebo for action.
Self-help is a huge billion-dollar industry. And these days, it seems a new self-proclaimed guru pops up every 24 hours. There is always a new course, a new book, a new mastermind, a new Instagram account, a new magic bullet.
Once you get hit with your first taste, the book that changes your perspective, the speaker that fills you with the powerful hope that you can indeed do anything you put your mind to, it is easy to become an insight junkie, forever searching for the next idea, the next revelation or epiphany. The one that will change everything and transform you radically.
The dopamine hit we get from learning new ideas can get us addicted in non-productive ways.
Learning is crucial, and sometimes it does takes one moment, one insight to kick your ass into gear and truly change everything. It can be the glowing embers that light your life ablaze. But it is also easy and dangerous to get lost in the vast vortex of self-improvement and mistake insight for change.
Don’t equate the belief that you can take action with actually taking action
Knowledge is potential power. Action makes it real.
Learning is easy, it makes us feel like we are doing something. Doing is hard. It isn’t sexy. It takes relentless commitment and hard work. It takes sacrifice. It means killing your old self and letting the new emerge.
Self improvement is masturbation. Now self destruction…
– Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
Before this week, I have been pondering and occasionally lamenting to whoever would listen that I seemed to have lost interest in reading for a while now, maybe for about 2 months. Which is weird to go through for me, but also not too unexpected as I am the type to cycle between extremes.
So, I haven’t really read books in a while. I was busy working my way through Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, and Josh Kaufman’s The Personal MBA, and I just stopped cold. Sure, I got quite busy and consumed with finishing off client projects, and then I burned out and then had to rest and spend the recent two weeks finding my way back. So that’s probably the real reason.
But I’ve also mentioned on this blog, now and again, the general feeling of being over reading, and listening and absorbing and studying. I’m tired of learning, now I just want to do.
And that is what your study must birth, a desire and a bias towards action. Too many times, our learning just stays learning. But as faith without works is dead, so is education without action.
You just have to do. You have to taste the berries, as Gary would say. You won’t know what they really taste like by reading about it, listening to podcasts about it, watching YouTube videos about berries, what they taste like and how to taste them. It is fine to learn, but at some point, you just will have to pop the berries in your mouth and sink your teeth into them.
It is only then you will know the burst of flavour, the ensuring sweetness, the crunch of the seeds between your teeth, and the awkward but necessary task of spitting them out. The description of the experience, no matter how profound and detailed can never compare to the actual experience.
And that is what we must do. We have to do.
But where to start, you ask? Start from anywhere.
How to start? Start by doing it badly.
Even when you fail, and you will fail. Start again. Start as many times as you need to.
Each action teaches you in you a way you could never learn from books. It is visceral, it changes you physically, it seeps into your bones. It gets wired into your brain. Learning expands your awareness, but it is action that transforms you.
Sure books can guide you, but your heart defines you.
– Jay Z (Beach Chair) Kingdom Come
Sure, the books are important. Learn all you can. It shows you what is possible. It cuts your learning curve and can help you avoid some mistakes. There is no need to re-invent the wheel unnecessarily. It is important to learn from the people who have gone the way before you. It is key to stand on the shoulder of giants and leverage the experiences of your predecessors.
But don’t let preparation become procrastination. There is a time for everything under the sun, you must embrace the time for action too. Even with your heart pounding in your chest, the sound of blood rushing against your eardrums and the butterflies in your stomach, you must move forward, run across the board and jump…
You must do.
And you will do.
For a while, you will take action, and you will get punched in the mouth. Some of your plans will go off brilliantly. Others will fail miserably. Most of it will be met with deafening indifferent silence. But you will do. And that ‘doing’ will teach you even more. You will confirm some theories and be forced to relinquish others. You will learn even more about yourself.
And after all that doing, you will take some time to rest. You will pull back to evaluate. You will have changed; your mind will have changed. You will tweak your strategy a bit, you will go back to studying to learn even more, to go even deeper. You will have new questions, new challenges. You will need more wisdom, maybe some unlearning and re-learning. And then you will rise up again and re-enter the arena. You will take another crack at it.
And so, it would go, learning and practice, education and action. Sometimes concurrently, sometimes one after the other in a continual cycle, each giving rise to and feeding the other.
Until you get what you want.
I’m okay today…I’m calm, I’m focused, I’m not emotionally distressed, I’m not depressed. But I don’t know how long it would last. I tend to cycle…I’m okay now, but in two weeks or so, I might be depressed, sad and melancholy. It’s just the way it has been.
I remember stretches of melancholy as a teen in high school. I chuck that up to just general angst and adolesence..it was my way of dealing. By my second year of university, I spoke the words ‘I think I am depressed’ for the first time. I didn’t quite understand it, I was very sad for long periods of time. It mostly had to do with school, I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t engaged with the course I was studying. Over time this feeling built up and two years later I had left and was never going back.
There was some euphoria, some utter terror and a lot of worry. I was the happiest I had been in years though, and I have been growing happier since. But I still cycle. Some days I’m good. Some days I’m bad. Since I have lived with this for a few years now, there are a couple of things I have learned from being possibly bipolar.
- It will pass. Whenever the dark cloud gathers and everything seems deary and the world feels like a terrible place. I remember…it will pass. Eventually I will be feeling normal again and life will go on.
- Something might be wrong. Often when I get depressed, especially for an extended period of time, it is a clear indication that some part of my life is not right. Perhaps there is a decision I’m putting off, or maybe I’m busy doing something I really should not be doing. In any case, it is a clear sign for me to pay attention and resolve the matter.
- An incredible amount of energy will probably be released when I come out of it. I find sometimes that after the dark cloud passes, I’m suddenly hit with epiphany after epiphany or I have a manic sense of creativity and productivity.
- Use the energy you have. I have learned to work with what I have. If I am dark and agsty, I would channel that energy into making some art, or making something cool. Or gather all that dark energy and focus it into work and being productive.
- Don’t take it too personally. I look at it like the weather. It is not something I have an incredible amount of control over. I wake up and realise am depressed. I don’t take it personally, I don’t feel bad about it. I sit with it, I let it be, I move about my life regardless.
The other week, I had just come off from a 6 week stretch of ups and downs. I had been depressed more than often. I felt myself getting depressed again and I got pissed and said to myself, ‘fuck that, I’m not going to be depressed anymore’. I seem to have been fine since. Its not a cake walk everyday, but I focus on what must get done and push on those. It seems to work.
Earlier this year I read a great book – Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown. And it clarified my thoughts on an idea that has been dancing around the edges of my mind.
I like to do many things. In varsity, I did so many different things…taught dance school, involved in church activities, led cell group, designed on the side, attended classes, had a social life, etc, etc.
I liked doing many things because I liked the rush of being busy and trying to cram a thousand things into an impossible space of time.
Over time, some things fell away and I became more focused. My life was centred around designing and trying to make a living from that. For the past few years, I have been very undisciplined with my work. I would take on as many jobs as came my way, while trying to work on my personal ideas and projects. The price of this indiscipline was I was always frantic and at the mercy of my clients, and email. I burned out regularly as evidenced by my blog posts around mid year, every year. I never had the chance to slow percolate ideas and projects the way I really wanted to.
Last year however, I had the experience of being able to work on one project for months, building it from the ground up and designing multiple collateral for the idea. It was a nice change of pace from trying to fit 10 things into a month of time. I liked it, the pace of work was both challenging and easier. Challenging because it takes discipline to work in this way…pushing past resistance and fighting distraction. Easier because I didn’t feel so frantic and rushed. Better because my quality of work was higher.
As the third month of the year begins and we continue to plow through, I want to make great impact this year. I recognize that that means working on the right things. But you can only know what the right things are if you know what you truly want and what is important to you. Then you can identify what paths of action would take you there. You can sacrifice short term gain for the long term goal, and move steadily towards your aims. But this way of doing things is not always natural and is something we must develop a discipline in. You have to decide where your greatest level of contribution is, and where the greatest need is and where the two intersect. Eventually, you can do less and achieve a lot more, because the essential few things have a great pay off.
Having many options and opportunities is a blessing and a curse. Its great to be able to explore all these possibilities, but at some point, you have to close off some doors and focus on the essential few. Otherwise, your energy will be scattered in too many directions and you will not make any impact.
Focus on the essential few.
In light of the just aired/released/bootlegged extremely emotional ‘what-the-fuckery’ episode 9 of the 3rd season of the medieval fantasy series ‘Game of Thrones’, I present you the second edition of ‘The Cool’ series.
- Ever wondered what would it look like if the houses in Game of Thrones were present day multi million dollar corporations? Shutterstock shows us.
- French graphic artist Mike Wrobel re-imagines Game of Thrones characters in the 80’s and 90’s
- A collection of 20 of the angriest reactions to Game of Thrones Season 3 episode 9
- The four types of Game of Thrones fans
- Some deep words from Joss Whedon’s 2013 Wesleyan commencement address
- Annoying comments by clients turned into posters
- Picture credit
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery — isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”