That is the question:

April 15, 2007 — 4 Comments

Does this make you seem younger or older?

As I get more comfortable in situations, I tend to shed some of the restraint that got me to that level of comfort in the first place. In some cases this is beneficial, I loosen up and am no longer plagued by nervousness. I become the real me. The only problem is that the real me also happens to be 19 years old. What’s funny to my friends, or even appropriate decorum tends to fall flat. Even worse, that sort of childish energy is self-perpetuating and I grow exponentially more and more out of touch with what I personally find to be reasonable.

So normally when I sense these things coming, I create some aphorism or question to pose to myself in regards to each action I take. For a while–when I first started interning at Rudius–it was “Tone it Down, Too Much Noise.” I realized that my job to be seen, not heard. Although I’m always ready to go at full speed, I had to accept that it was my duty to first prove that I was deserving of that responsibility. With this I always had an answer to the question: “Should I say or do this?” It was normally NO. But when it was YES, due to my policy of caution, it was definitely YES.

Today I got that same sense and instituted a new question: “Does this make you seem older or younger?” If it doesn’t project an image of maturity, then I don’t want to do it. I’m not going to let my own enthusiasm ruin the restraint I aim to cultivate.

Which is why I’ve mentioned so many times the messages I have taped above my computer. I’m a big believe in normative explanations. You become how you repeatedly act. And so when you envision how you want to be, the process of getting there is fairly simple. Envision. Act. Act. Are.

Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

4 responses to That is the question:

  1. This is the most insightful thing Ive read in a long time. I think it also helps to explain why the cliche that “perception is reality” holds true.

  2. I think this is a really interesting post and I’d love it if you’d elaborate.

    Why exactly do you feel like you need to change who you are? I mean, you’re saying “I become the real me”, but then it seems like you resent that and try to go in the opposite direction of what you’re instincts tell you to do. I guess I can understand how that would be a useful strategy in your particular position at Rudius, but is that how you generally live your life, too?

  3. Reminds me of something I once heard. Bruce lee talked about learning of martial arts. Lots of people admired him until one day a grand master of a different martial art asked him to teach him Bruce’s way. Bruce replied with two cups full of water. He poured out the first cup, and filled it with the second. “In order to accept what I offer you must first empty your cup”

    I always understood this as always keeping an semi-open cup to accept new ideas and possibilities. Old outdated things could be easily poured out allowing new and probably more correct to enter.

    A lot of the arguments and ideas you are going through I am going through. I do not know if I am right or wrong, but I always try to continue to fill my cup

  4. No these are great comments. I’ll do a new post elaborating on it, but I have to wait. I need to keep that Virginia post at the top–I did 3x my normal traffic yesterday from Google searches for Ryan Clark.

    The last thing these people need to to hear my thoughts on life after finding out their friend is dead.

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