Work. We all know what we need to do. The price of not doing what we know we must do is of course living a life of denial, a life of quiet desperation as Henry David Thoreau said. We do not do our work for several reasons but the main reason I believe is fear of success and greatness.
Greatness can seem like a majestic and unreachable deed. It’s hard to think about Marcus Aurelius and Socrates or Alexander the great and not feel minuscule. But these men walked the earth and lived the same 24 hours as we do today. To think of them as extraterrestrial is an enormous mistake because you no longer view them as what they are, fellow human beings.
Work must be done in silence. It’s very easy to talk about what we are going to do but it’s extremely difficult to walk the talk. We love to preach our plans to parents, girlfriends and friends but we forget that to work, we must work in silence. We dream too about the day when our plans are accomplished and done but when it comes to sit down and actually do the work, we open netflix instead hoping that someday some future me will be inspired to do something(needless to say, that time never comes).
We must not wait for inspiration. Work is painful and hard. It is warzone, we must think hard and put the hours and sometimes it doesn’t seem that we have achieved anything. This is the great wall that not many can or want to climb.
They say it’s very lonely at the top. Nobody wants to suffer. We treat our dark feelings as burdens. They are not burdens, they are heavenly angels telling you what you need to do to be great. If you feel like shit, good, it means something needs to be changed. If you feel restless, good, it means that you need to sit down and write what can be done in order to gain peace again. No feeling is to be discarded, every feeling tells us something and so we cannot aim to be happy all the time nor we want to.
John F. Kennedy kept this poem in his wallet:
Bullfight critics ranked in rows.
Crowd the enormous plaza full.
But only one is there who knows,
and he’s the man that fights the bull.
I remember when I was younger, my boxing days. I wasn’t to old, around 14 to 15. I had a fight with a tough kid from a tough neighborhood and precisely that day I caught a cold. I was very, very sick. My father nevertheless, took me to the fight, as I couldn’t say I felt extremely bad for fear of being called a coward. When boxing, you have to be not only courageous, but really smart as well. Raw courage won’t help without brains to know when to punch and when to save energy.
I was really sick so I asked my father for advice as well as my coach. They bought told me: give everything you’ve got.
So I did exactly that, I gave everything I had but not very intelligently. I thought that giving everything would help me, but deep inside I knew I needed to trust my brains and fight slowly and defenselvy but instead I just threw punches as fast and often as I could so I tired myself in the first round. The other kid just played defensively and waited for the next round in which he beated the crap out of me. After the fight ended, I knew I should have listened to myself, I mean I was the one fighting. If I had listened to myself maybe I would have won, (or lose, just not so horribly).
Nobody can fight your fights for you. Only you know what your work is. Ask for advice but remember that at the end of the day, it’s your call the only one that counts. Trust your instincts.
When it comes to work, we need to focus on the process. First trust ourselves to do what is necessary and then be quiet, be very quiet and attend to our work. Let your work, be your worth.