Thanks for the piece. As always, I’m humbled by your ability to succinctly write what I’m always feeling, but can’t seem to aptly explain in words through a computer screen.
I do know what this grit and perseverance and effort that Carol Dweck, Angela Duckworth, and Tim Grover speak of, because all battles start in the “battle of the mind.”
The mind is the ignition switch, yet I know so many pro athletes even lose this battle. I know I did, and typically, that’s all I am able to talk about because I’m failure in almost every other civilian manner life has to offer me (ps. on a good note, I have written and published 170 pieces after speaking to you thus far, so at least my effort is there for writing, albeit, Medium has payed me like $40 every month, but hey, nobody paid me to play hoops when I was infantile either).
Grit, perseverance, and effort are like pieces of mental sandpaper, the more you care about something, the more friction you create between you and letting that goal get away from you. The lower the grit, the better. As you get closer to your goal, well, you can start to use 120 if you like.
Because let’s be honest, we are chasing goals or are we aren’t. We are chasing something or we aren’t. We are either improving at something or we aren’t. It’s a race and even when you get to where you think you want to be, when you stop and smell the roses, you suddenly realize you either start becoming complacent, or unhappy, or too relaxed, or too lazy, and then you need to race towards something you care about again.
Or maybe that’s just me and my small failure and success stories.
I know what a ton of small and huge wins and losses or successes and failures feels like, mostly because basketball was my obsession from the time I was 14. This craving you have inside you is something you can’t touch, define, or even always explain. Playing, training, and competing to be good in basketball was a goddamn furnace of jet fuel and coal and gasoline and nuclear waste for me. I wanted to win so fucking bad, I could taste the metallic flavor in my mouth.
How do you win when you aren’t the most talented? The smartest? The most intelligent? How do you persevere when you lose? When you go broke? When you break up? When someone you love dies? How do you become the best at something and master something you are passionate about?
Well, Tim Grover’s title of the book summed it up: you start acting relentless (even if you don’t feel like it).
You wake up. You take a step. You run a mile. A half mile. 100 feet. You put up fliers on every street corner. You write 100, then 1000, then 3000 words every day (even if those words suck ass). You call your lover, your partner, your wife and you tell her about the guy that sucked noodles into his noggin like a fucking upside down baby.
Just keep going, even when you don’t think you are getting anywhere. Then after you think you’ve tried everything, you try some more. You keep trying. You find your best effort, you dissemble it, and then you put it back together again like an Army Ranger packing a single suitcase for war.
You make best effort part of your system of habits that are relative to your goals.
Specifically, your soul (sole) purpose is that thing you keep dissembling and putting back together. You put all your eggs in that basket, and then you take them out and put them back in with one more egg next time.
I like to make a mind map of my life. I made systems and habits for those pro basketball goals. If it is to become a professional basketball player, or a millionaire, or a writer, or a better father, or a better startup, then your system is admittedly obsessive about becoming a fucking better.
When I quit, when I cheated, when I don’t do what my system asks of me, the guilty voice rears it’s ugly head like a two-faced dragon spitting fire at my face and bare feet telling me to get fucking moving (sprinting) again.
This is the beauty of inspiration. It doesn’t always feel good. It hurts. It pains. It sullies. It’s sloppy. And it feels different every day — sometimes cloaked in guilt, shame, sometimes in victory, and most of the time in that small voice that is telling you do it (to try), but you don’t listen.
Yes, you should walk the dog more.
Yes, you should set down the rice krispy treats.
Yes, you can do more than you think you can, and you are closer to success than you think you are.
The reason most people quit is because the dip hits them, that spot where their voice overpowers their effort. That point when working out seems pointless because you don’t see any results. Seth Godin calls it “The Dip.” Steven Pressfield calls it “Resistance.”
I call it being human.
Listen to your goddamn soul (sorry, I’m not actually swearing at you) when it speaks to you about what you should be doing next. There is no goddamn time to wait. You could be gone tomorrow. I could be. Hell, with Trump’s EPA, we all could be.
I think waiting is human nature, just getting complacent when you win is.
If you truly want to start being successful at something, you must start now and keep starting something until it happens. Thanks Kris Gage for the motivation (she told me to stop being an amateur and write like a pro).