2-2-1: On Why Seeking to Impress Others Makes You Miserable, Discipline Is Dumb, and You Are Complicit in Your Suffering
Wisdom Wednesday #29
Here's 2 ideas from me, 2 quotes from others, and 1 question for you to mull over this week.
2 Ideas From Me:
Seek to inspire, not to impress.
Seeking to impress others is a mediocre strategy for feeling good about yourself because:
It requires external feedback to win. You only succeed when others praise you. Meaning the majority of the time others are impressed you will never know. Very inefficient.
It is zero sum. Seeking to impress generally takes the self worth of others and transfers it to you. You only "succeed" by eliciting envy and jealously, boosting your self worth at the expense of theirs. Win lose.
It attracts and increases the power of detractors. Strategies that put you on a pedestal and invoke jealousy or envy in others will attract critics and detractors who wish to knock you down. Sometimes because you made them feel insecure but also because humans feel a moral duty to equalize. Thus, in your quest to seek praise you actually beget criticism. Since criticism is 10x more powerful than praise, this strategy can actually reduce your self worth more than had you done nothing at all.
Seeking to inspire others is a far better strategy because:
It requires only your action to win. You succeed simply by speaking (or publishing or building) regardless of whether others acknowledge it. Others will be inspired whether they want to be or not, unlike praising you which requires conscious effort.
It is positive sum. Seeking to inspire boosts your self worth and others at the same time. When you succeed, so do they. Win win.
Shields from and reduces the power of detractors. Strategies that lift others up will elicit far less detractors. There will be near zero retaliation (because you made them feel good, not bad) and the desire to equalize will actually be in your favor—most feeling they owe you for making them feel good, becoming promoters. The few detractors you do get will clearly be seen as jerks and your promoters will fight them for you. Also, detractor criticisms won't hurt nearly as much because you already got your self worth from taking action rather than being stuck waiting for praise.
Without discipline, you won't be able to follow through. But without inspiration, it's probably not worth following through.
The self improvement community is torn on which strategy is right—Some say "follow your passion" others say "discipline equals freedom".
I have personally oscillated between these over the years—starting with discipline for most of my journey and transitioning to inspiration for the last two.
But recently, I've realized that we are limited until we can maximize both.
Discipline is critical to get you to follow through with commitments you've made and to persevere through tough times. This is important because time has a compounding, rather than a linear, effect on effort.
2xing how long you persevere will 10x, not 2x, your output. Thus pivoting too soon could have you getting one tenth the results of others despite putting in twice the amount of effort.
However, inspiration is critical to ensuring that following through to the results is even worth it at all.
Many of us persevere through procrastination, anxiety, disinterest, and avoidance for years, expecting some pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, only to find that the destination is actually just more of the same.
If you hate the journey, you’ll find the destination is never good enough.
This is why it's critical to pay attention to what gets you inspired, and follow it as much as possible.
If you find that your inspiration is often in conflict with your commitments—where the things you want to do are constantly at odds with the things you have to do—this is a huge red flag that you are climbing the wrong mountain.
You'll find the right mountain by letting inspiration lead the way.
When in doubt, as long as it won't ruin you: choose pursuing a dream or a fit of inspiration over maintaining a discipline based commitment.
You’ll know you’ve found the right mountain when you are excited by, not dreading, becoming more disciplined.
When you find yourself seeking out reading Jocko Willink not because you'll fall off if you don't, but because you are loving the climb and would love it even more if you were climbing faster, only then will you know you’re where you’re supposed to be.
2 Quotes From Others:
Some dude on twitter that I like:
"Visit poor areas to refuel gratitude and rich areas to refuel ambition."
Source: Ascendant Power
Tim Ferris with his own question to ponder this week:
“How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?”
Source: Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers
1 Question For You:
And finally, here’s (my) one question to ponder this week:
What is the smallest possible change you could make (that would still make a difference) to move you toward solving this problem?
That's all for today!
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Catch you next time,