An Erstwhile Reckoning
It can be quite uncomfortable to open journals you wrote in 7 years ago.
“What the hell was I thinking?”
“That conclusion doesn’t even make sense.”
“How long did I spend even writing this sentence about this insignificant thing?”
I’ve recently cleaned up a lot of my junk. Old paperwork. Random tools. Strange website domains I bought. Odds and ends I hung on to thinking they may someday be just the thing I needed to make some “final” push to somewhere, maybe Valhalla.
It’s just so hard to read that crap I wrote and thought about! But it is important. I thought about it once, and I may very well be just as screwed up now as I was then.
I have to be able to scrutinize my choices today and evaluate whether I am still just as screwed up as I was then, because…. I thought I was right when I wrote and thought those things, and I was quite wrong. That was a big lightbulb or me. How certain I felt about being correct had nothing to do with actually having correct knowledge. That meant my process for feeling confident was screwed up or based on the wrong conditions. There was a problem with my thinking process.
I mean beyond the writing, just the way I thought. The importance I placed on things. How I arrived at conclusions. What I was trying to create and achieve in the first place. Reading it and knowing I thought it and wrote it is so embarrassingly painful that I had to create this piece.
And here’s the thing… I kinda know that what I’m creating now will be just as hard to look at in a few years as what I just dug up from 7 years ago.
I’ll know more things. I’ll have crossed off a lot more dead ends. I’ll understand what is good, true and important to a much greater degree than I do now. That is the point of me sharing this. It’s about progress and perspective of building a process. Not so much how much you know, but making damned sure that you have a reliable process for understanding what is true.
-Figuring out how to know what is true
-using that method regularly is the only “secret” of success
-growing and avoiding the dead ends and contradictions
It’s not always about building a better mousetrap. Sometimes it is about understanding that you don’t really want to catch the mouse in the first place. Meaning that catching the mouse isn’t really going to make your life much better. I know I’ve spent countless hours on things that led nowhere. This helped me realize I didn’t really have a good process for understanding what is important.
Getting screwed up in what you are pursuing is a major problem I’ve encountered and created in life. I wound up achievment and quite bad at figuring out what to achieve. In a very head-scratching circumstance, it turned out I was pretty good at creating situations I set my mind to… It seems a lot of us are good at accomplishing goals.
David Mills, a mentor of mine used a great illustration of this in one of his trainings. I think most of us are familiar with with the “Three Wishes” scenario, where you find a lamp, rub it and a djinii pops out and grants you three wishes. I remember playing this when I was younger with friends as a way to day dream about things I wanted in life.
Wish 1: “I want a million dollars.”
Wish 2: “I want a castle.”
Wish 3: “I want…. MORE WISHES!”
This is where you’d have to adjust the rules somewhat, or it wouldn’t work as a game any more. “You can’t wish for more wishes”. At this point, looking at this game now, I realize it is critical to understand what is important. You’ve got limited resources and you’d better get things right about what to spend your wishes on…
In David’s example he pointed out a fundamental problem that we all have, which is over-confidence in our ability to think properly. He posed a interesting wish that I have never heard anyone say when playing this game as his number 1 wish. “Why not wish to get the other 2 wishes “right”, meaning wishing for the correct things to make your life ultimately good and happy?”. Further, why not wish for a perfect method of thinking to always be able to get the correct answer? I mean if you have a reliable method for always getting the right answer, then your only issue is asking the right question! And… you can ask the question, “what is the right question to be working on?”. If you had a way to get those answers, your life is just pretty much completely set at that point. Abundance, peace, calm, growth. Anything you came up with as important. This scenario pretty much sums up most people’s lives of struggle, complacency, redirection, ups and downs. We don’t know what our three wishes should be, even though we’ve all been playing this game our whole lives.
Now back to more examples of how screwed up my thinking used to be, but how powerful the mind is in getting what we want… I’ve taken actions based on a goal to be righteously justified in some argument, I wound up exactly where a righteously justified person would wind up; alone.
Most of the world seems focused on helping you get what you want. The marketing world at least. Manifesting some vision. Achieving some goal. Living some dream. The really huge Problem is, at least for me, I wasn’t all that good at choosing what to want!
I started noticing that I wanted things I’d seen in a commercial. I started thinking of myself as some character in a book or movie. I started trying to fit myself into a model that story tellers, advertisers, writers and preachers have created. I wanted to be like Han Solo, like the Terminator, Like Harrison Bergeron or like the biblical character Joshua.
We don’t have a very good in-borne method for figuring out what we should be trying to create. We aren’t all that inherently good at figuring out what is important. I came to realize that primary to having a life that was good, I needed to understand good-ness. I also figured out that instead of memorizing more and more facts and building random frameworks, I needed a method and process for knowing what is true, and I needed to let go of thinking that I already had mastered that method.
Another huge problem, nobody is even talking about this either… there are all these messages everywhere about how to get the results you want in 90 days… Whatever results you may want.
The implicit idea cooked into this is that we know what we want. Whether it’s based on your environment growing up. What television shows you watch. What your best friend’s household was like… Not about figuring out the “one thing” that would completely change your life if you get it right…. Sorting out “Importance”, is very important, and leads to very different pursuits. Our brains notice something, a question gets assumed which is “if I noticed this, it is important” and then the brain works on trying to achieve that mini-goal to get the results in the advertisement.
It kinda turned out that I was better at creating things, than I was at deciding what I should create. A lot of the people I have come to know and gotten close to, fit into that same description. It was a fundamental shift and awakening in my life when I realized this. At first I noticed a contradiction, which I’ve talked about here. This experience was really un-nerving and dis-concerting. “Oh wait… I can create nearly anything I want… so the real question I have is what should I want in the first place….?” I don’t have a good method of figuring that out reliably, but at the same time I am spending all the time in my life on other things than figuring this out.” I certainly didn’t have a way of sorting that out that isn’t heavily influence by what pump-me-up movie or book I had just read.
I found myself wanting to take action and then asking myself, “is this really going to make things better?” Charging in to battle, fully capable of conquest, and asking myself, “is this even the right battle to fight?; that’s where I found myself.
Like the paraphrased scene in Swingers with Mikey and Trent. “You’ve got these big claws baby, you can just take what you want…” Yeah, but do I really want this….?
Knowing I could win, but not knowing what fight I should fight…. That was a question worth figuring out.
You may be able to see the problems cooked into this. A heckuva lot of folks I talk to aren’t overly concerned with their ability when it comes down to it. Think about that in your life. Are you really worried about your ability to do something? It seems a lot more like what we are all concerned with is figuring out how to get committed to something that is going to be worth it. Let that sink in…
If you are considering the validity of this concept, then you are confident in your ability to discern. Consider where that confidence can lead.
Our main problems seem to involve CHOOSING the right problems to work on more than how to resolve those problems. But even in that, it means we don’t have a good method in figuring stuff out, but… we tend to be damned confident in our ability to make it work if we can sink our teeth into it. A lot of us have many of the things we think we want, but our lives still stink in tons of ways. We somehow aren’t very good at knowing what things we should want.
In that question, I really want to try to draw attention to how much we achieve and how much we hold on to, fully based on a belief about who we are. Not an ideal life, but how we turned out. Our identity. About how the “deck was stacked” to create “us”. About “how we are” versus how we really think we want things to be. That difference in your day to day and what things should or could be.
We all have some silly concept of potential. That’s all potential really is. Realizing that we didn’t get our priorities right in where we spend our efforts and what that error might actually mean. Your car, your lifestyle, your income and job, your happiness; your “in the mirror naked” look.
Those are the kind of things I’m talking about. We tend to be good at getting what we see clearly. Our brains are so wicked powerful in achieving the visions we place before them without contradiction. The successful people we see in media who won’t even consider that they are wrong, who won’t consider they poured effort and focus and years into something potentially conflicted. Those folks guide people to not resolve conflicts. To follow blindly. To not think or know how to think. They have built frameworks of success that are so cooked into our society that elements of them are taken for granted.
It’s based on certain people like this doing well, and apparently succeeding, so we follow along assuming they know what they are talking about. To believe we should just put our head down and act instead of understanding. Maybe you were born in the right time, at the right place with the right personality and connections to just let it ride… Maybe not though, and… I’d sure rather guarantee that I’m not screwing up huge by driving even faster off the huge cliff just around the corner. Doubling down on your current whim isn’t the secret to success, no matter how good that meme sounds in the moment.
It’s likely you can connect visions you have of your life with what you actually experience on a daily basis. I thought I’d be a husband and a parent. I thought I’d have a good relationship with my folks and family. I thought I’d do something important someday. The problem is that our visions aren’t created by us and those visions aren’t created by people who have our best interests in mind. We don’t have a great method of filtering visions out that are dangerous. We accept them as ideologic based on popularity and a whole host of triangulation our brains do to make sense of the world.
The problem is, we hold visions in our mind that aren’t good, true and important. The problem is that we have contradiction in our beliefs that aren’t resolved and we have no method to even tell us we need to start looking. We pour effort and intention into connecting with out vision and we don’t dissolve the things holding us back or understand the things that are pointing us in the wrong direction. Getting that vision right is so critical. Getting rid of blocks is equally important. It’s time to sort out both of those blocks.