On Positioning and a Life’s Pursuit
Every few weeks I wake up to something that makes me grin from ear to ear. Like ten thousand uniques overnight, a job offer, an email from an author I read, the front page of Digg, or a reminder of how good I have it. I get so excited that I don’t know what to do. That’s when I remember: “This is why I’m doing this. And I’m doing pretty well too.”
I’ve pointed myself towards a position that allows as many positive life-changing experiences to happen as possible. This is what Taleb talks about in The Black Swan. Is it more likely that an utterly unexpected event will wipe you out completely or put you on top of the world? If it all went to shit, at the absolute worst, I go back to school and start over. I did alright there. I’ll be fine. And no one can ever take away what happened, what I was able to do. The best case is almost too good to quantify.
I keep saying this but it is not easy. Most mornings you wake up and nothing happened. You get The Fear. You hold onto your principles, your faith in yourself contrary to all posted evidence. Sometimes you break down and have turn to some to someone and completely open up: “What the fuck am I supposed to do?” You see people and wonder what obliviousness feels like and maybe wish for it a little. The stress of knowing there is always something left undone, that you’re letting people down, that you got in over your head. The little twinge of accomplishment you feel at people’s jealousy–and the counterbalance of its loneliness. And of course, the Damoclean notion of knowing that others were here too and failed and got fucked. You worry about stuff that a 20 year old isn’t supposed to worry about. Like getting cornered, selling out, or being over exposed. Making sure you don’t spin off the planet.
We can sit here and talk about the strength it takes to push through. No question it is a requirement. Still, it is unrepresentatively glamorous. There is also the numbness. A internalized hardness that keeps the stresses from cracking the core. You need that. But it doesn’t translate well to the rest of your life. Nor is it a particularly pleasant state, to feel cold and apathetic.
Is it worth it? That’s not a question that I can really answer. See, I don’t have another choice. I can’t be anyone else. You’re only fucking fooling yourself if think you do either. Can you find yourself and be happy? Everyday, do you check a few things off that list? Homo faber. Have you positioned yourself for good gains and manageable losses? And then also understand that you still stand the risk of being totally fucked? If you still want to do it then you’re probably onto to something good. As Godin says, the Dip creates scarcity and scarcity creates value. There’s a reason this stuff is hard, it weeds out the weak. And unfortunately, sometimes the sane.
You are doing a wonderful job, bro! You are inspiring the next generation of change-makers and risk-takers, but ones who thrive on vision and passion and are stoically self defined.
Juggling it all is hard, and knocked the wind out of me over winter break so hard I couldn’t even finish a book. But, to be able to come on here and read someone going through the same things (https://ryanholiday.net/archives/or_maybe_it_isnt_that_easy.phtml) helps A LOT.
Tucker had saved a site on del.icio.us about 2 days ago by this guy called Jay Morrissey. It was called “The Art of Verbal Intimidation”.
I scrolled around on the guys site for a bit and he had this blog up about confidence. He states that most people have little confidence in themselves because their expectations of themselves are too high. Ultimately by putting to much pressure on ourselves to succeed we set ourselves up to fail.
For someone who is goal oriented how do you set realistic expectations of yourself ,without putting to much pressure yourself, and at the same time have such high goals?
If you’ve answered this before I apologize for asking.
That’s an interesting question, I’m going to have to think about it. Confidence doesn’t come from achieving your big goals, at least not for me. It comes from doing the little things well. Which is very easy to do every day.
Ryan. Sometimes, while reading your posts, I do think you are going to spin off the planet. Just kidding. I just thought you carrying your road rage about slow drivers into an actual post was pretty entertaining. You write a lot of good stuff. It’s as if you allow us to watch your thought processes and evolution, which is very interesting. I appreciate your honesty and uncensored thought streams. It takes boldness to write these kinds of posts and I admire you for it. I am also revisiting Meditations because of you.
I’ve been starting an international business over the last year and a half. Im 28. It’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had to tackle. I can identify with much of what you wrote in this last post–almost the whole thing. It’s a scary f’n thing. It’s a rollercoaster. People, who remain on the sidelines, will say “I knew you had it in you” if you make it. Or, they will say “I knew that was a bad idea”, if you fail. But your point about not having a choice in being yourself and doing what you believe is right on. In the end, my biggest fear isn’t failure. It’s looking back as an old man and asking “what if…?”. Of course, in the day to day roller coaster ride, that’s hard to remember sometimes.
Thanks for posting and look forward to more.
After reading a handful of your blogs I can already declare that your blog is my new obsession of the week. I’d love to know how you got to where you are and where you see yourself in five years. Also, how do you define success?
Below is my newest attempt at a blog. A little lighter than yours but semi similar too:
Have a positive day.