0516 – hello 2016: mindset (zero to one + pursue responsibility)

In the previous vomit I thought about my goals– I’ve learned that it’s important to have concrete, measurable goals, so I laid out a few. In this one I want to think about mindset, which I think might actually be more important.

My mindset has been a work-in-progress. It’s always going to be a work-in-progress, obviously, and we’re always going to underestimate how much these things actually change over time. But I think the past 3-4 years or so have been incredibly transformative, transitional. When I look back over them, and the 3-4 years preceding that, it’s very clear that I knew that I wanted to grow out of who I was then. I knew that I was “destined” for greater things, that I could do more, be more, but I didn’t exactly know how it was going to play out. That statement will, again, probably always be true.

But the point is that I think there’s a very specific threshold that I crossed, a
“zero to one” type transition. Zero to one can seem relatively trivial when you’re doing one to ten or ten to hundred and so on in the future, but really zero to one is the most critical. It’s the most “dangerous”, or the most fragile, the most volatile. It’s okay to check out at ten, hundred, etc if you know that you’ve done your best.

But at zero, you don’t really know anything. You don’t know what your best even is. You don’t know who you are. You don’t know what you’re capable of. You don’t know what the world is. You don’t know what is possible, what is out there. Again, these statements will remain technically true every stem of the way – everything is vague to a degree you do not realize until you attempt to make them precise. So each time you level up, you find that there are things about yourself you were not clear about, things about the world you were not clear about, and so on. This will never go away.

(At this point I realize I should probably get my hands on a copy of Peter Thiel’s Zero to One to see what that book actually is about. I haven’t read it. Should I look for a summary right now? Let’s just finish this vomit first.)

So yeah. I feel like I’m at one now. I somehow miraculously made the transition from zero to one. And now the challenge is to get from one to ten. It’s simpler in some ways and harder in other ways. And I feel like I need a clearer sense of what’s happened.

Let’s start over from a different origin point. It feels like a lot of what I was doing until fairly recently was to try and prepare myself for something. I tried to get some background knowledge, I tried to get good at arguing, I tried to think more clearly, I tried to expand my mind. And I think I did a pretty good job of those things. But what’s funny now is– all of that was to hopefully prepare me for a role that I would then be able to fulfill. And I knew that of course no amount of preparation would ever be enough– at most it gets you your foot in the door, it gets you noticed.

But once you start in your new role– as husband, as employee, as working adult, and so on, it’s an entirely new set of skills that you need. It’s an entirely new set of perspectives. And that’s part of the fun of life, how everything can change in almost an instant. And I’d like to pride myself on being good at making these transitions. I’m not so good at accumulating decades worth of knowledge and know-how of some highly established craft– I’m never going to be a chess grandmaster or a poker champion or anything like that. I get bored of those things. What’s more interesting to me is being fast and good at adapting to change when the entire game changes.

But if I’m honest with myself, I’m not nearly as good at it as I want to be. The difference though is this: while the idea of becoming a chess grandmaster kinda intimidates me, I like the idea of getting good at this. At learning fast at a new game when everyone else is still stuck playing the old game. I see this as a core competency of the new information age, where technological revolutions are going to keep happening faster and faster and faster.

But so what does this mean? How do I get better at that?

First of all I’m going to have to relegate a lot of old and unfinished readings and pursuits. I have to cut and cauterize a lot of old threads of thought because they’re distractions now. I know in my heart that those things will always come in useful or handy when I least expect it, and I don’t need to try so hard to hold on to them. I can let them go and trust my subconscious to surface them as necessary.

Second, I’m going to have to be a lot more strong-minded about prioritizing things. That’s the big mindset shift I need for 2016. I’ve been trying it on as training wheels for 2014 and 2015, and this year I want to kick it into overdrive. I am directly intertwined with my environment, and I am constantly affecting it + being affected by it. I am opting out of allowing chance and randomness and external circumstances and cues dictate my fate.

Why was I like that in the first place? I think it’s because I guess I felt naive, ignorant, incompetent, uncertain to make plans… the mistaken belief was something along the lines of “if I don’t plan things, then if things don’t work out it’s not my fault”. But once you sit through “things not working out” over and over again, it starts to get grating. The fear of being responsible and accountable becomes smaller than the frustration of shitty outcomes.

So the mindset goal is to transition into loving and desiring more accountablility, more responsibility. Recognizing it’s not something to be afraid of, to shirk, to avoid. This is probably one of the most central threads of my life. I am the adult now. I am in charge of my own life, my own fate, my own destiny. I am responsible for how I’m feeling. I’m responsible for what I choose to focus on. If I want to do great things, I have to personally undertake MORE responsibility. And that only seems scary because I haven’t gotten stronger yet. But the squat rack has revealed to me that I can get much, much stronger than I think I can.

So let’s get stronger. Let’s go from one to ten.

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