On Clicks

One day, it all clicks. Everything you’ve been working on, all the reading, everything you’ve been wrestling with mentally, falls into a coherent place and it starts makes sense. And these are the moments we strive for.

I had this teacher my junior year of high school who told us not to worry about the Vietnam War. He said to take down the facts and listen to the lectures but realize that we just weren’t capable of grasping it. But that one day in the future, we’d be doing something and suddenly it’d all be clear. I still don’t really understand the Vietnam War as much as I’d like to, but the phenomena he was talking about is real, nonetheless.

I feel like I’ve recently had one of these moments. For the first time I actually understand the difference between tactics and strategy. Of course I knew academically–I could have given you the same answer today as I could have 6 months ago–but now I feel it. One day it just happened. It is a more comprehensive knowing, the one that changes how you act instead of speak. Being able to think strategically–to plan, endure, adjust, to know and make the gamble. Being able to think in the future, being comfortable waiting, of being strong enough to truly ignore all the noise and stick to what you think will be best.

When you talk to people that are older than you, you can tell when they have it. They just ooze the effortless understanding that comes only from experience of whatever it is that they’ve mastered. It used to make me jealous. Now it makes me hungry.

Which is why not “getting” a book isn’t a reason to quit. You might not be able to recall every name of every character, but that’s not what it’s about. All of it should be part of a larger vision–one that might not be totally clear just yet. It’s ok to sit there and listen to someone, even if it all goes over your head. Because it’s about pooling together as much material as you possible can and then slowly putting the pieces together every day–until eventually, you have something to show for it.

The key–if you’d like to ever really accomplish something–is to appreciate such moments as the gifts of solace that they are. Appreciate its rarity, but only for a minute. You can’t expect much relief if you’ve truly dedicated yourself to a life of pursuit and curiosity and ambition. Then dive back into the confusion and bombard yourself with new material until it happens again. And again and again.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.