“ God blessed me with a happy spirit and many other gifts. What I was not blessed with I went out and got. Sometimes the price was too high, but I’ve never been much of a bargain hunter.”
Are you going to succeed because you return emails a few minutes faster, tweet a bit more often and stay at work an hour longer than anyone else?
I think that’s unlikely. When you push to turn intellectual work into factory work (which means more showing up and more following instructions) you’re racing to the bottom.
It seems to me that you will succeed because you confronted and overcame anxiety and the lizard brain better than anyone else. Perhaps because you overcame inertia and actually got significantly better at your craft, even when it was uncomfortable because you were risking failure. When you increase your discernment, maximize your awareness of the available options and then go ahead and ship work that scares others… that’s when you succeed.
More time on the problem isn’t the way. More guts is. When you expose yourself to the opportunities that scare you, you create something scarce, something others won’t do.
Steve Jobs was interviewed about working with Paul Rand, and said:
“I asked him if he would come up with a few options, and he said, ‘No, I will solve your problem for you and you will pay me. You don’t have to use the solution. If you want options go talk to other people.’”
“ No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
— Steve Jobs
Run your own race
The rear view mirror is one of the most effective motivational tools ever created. There’s no doubt that many people speed up in the face of competition. We ask, “how’d the rest of the class do?” We listen for someone breathing down our necks. And we discover that competition sometimes brings out our best. There’s a downside, though. Years ago, during my last long-distance swim (across Long Island Sound… cold water, jellyfish, the whole nine yards), the competitiveness was pretty thick. On the boat to the starting line, there were hundreds of swimmers, stretching, bragging, prancing and working themselves up. By the time we hit the water, everyone was swimming someone else’s race. The start was an explosion of ego and adrenaline. Twenty minutes later, half the field was exhausted, with three hours left to go. If you’re going to count on the competition to bring out your best work, you’ve surrendered control over your most important asset. Real achievement comes from racing ahead when no one else sees a path—and holding back when the rush isn’t going where you want to go. If you’re dependent on competition then you’re counting on the quality of those that show up to determine how well you’ll do. Worse, you’ve signed up for a career of faux death matches as the only way to do your best work. Self motivation is and always will be the most important form of motivation. Driving with your eyes on the rear view mirror is exhausting. It’s easier than ever to measure your performance against others, but if it’s not helping you with your mission, stop.
“ Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”