You should read this book if you’re feeling disorganized and unmotivated, or like your goals are on the other side of an intangible barrier (like they’re going to happen someday but you don’t what the signal will be that someday has arrived).
If that’s all the takeaway you need (that I recommend this book to people who feel that certain way) then go in peace, otherwise I’ve got 7 dog ears and let’s get started:
Page 18. He’s talking about his narrow world view during his time as an ideal student; You find out what the person at the head of the class (a teacher or any kind of authority) and you give it to them. Preferably better than anyone else in class.
This touches on two things for me. One is that it reminded me my work so often resembles an elementary school and a number of people prefer it that way and model that behaviour.
And two, I’ve seen this kind of small-pond syndrome a lot. Some people want to get ahead in life and some people just want to get ahead in the group their in. Whatever group it is. You can make anyone a judge (like a hot guy or girl) and then ‘beat’ your friends for their approval (by flirting with them). Like it doesn’t matter how much they can lift objectively, as long as they can lift more than someone else.
The problem with that is when you reach the top of whatever little heap you’re in, you don’t want to go be middle of the pack somewhere else. You stop growing and you try to stop your peers from moving on as well because if they leave there’s no one under you to hold your ego skyward.
It’s a sign of emptiness. Of not truly being oneself, only oneself in relation to others. I’ve seen it in myself when I feel like I have nothing special going on. Someone’s putting out their first graphic novel and suddenly, deeply, I want to put out a graphic novel. Then I remind myself that no, I have literally never wanted that, and I need to stay on my own course and find accomplishments of my own.
Dudley learns that same lesson, he spent so much time being the perfect student he didn’t grow into the ability to be his own master. Til later of course and wrote this book.
Page 74. Confidence versus Courage. Confidence can be faked, says Dudley, whereas courage can only be displayed through action.
This barely needs explanation as to why I’d write about it, it’s obviously good. I’ve written in the past about how I’m annoyed with people who project themselves, confidently, into tough situations and assume they’d handle it glowingly meanwhile they never practice their courage day to day. How can you expect to muster up a skill you’ve never had before when you need? People picture all the game-winning free throws and foiled bank robbers because it feels good to imagine them but they don’t do the first thing, the little things, that are between here and there.
Confidence can be faked, it can be a lie, but real confidence can be just as dangerous. If you’re confident an event is going to go well then you don’t look for how it might not, you blindside yourself. Rather than be confident, be humble – acknowledge the skills you have and how you’ve worked for them without thinking they are you, and you’ve somehow become infallible.
This will get rantier and rantier, movin’ on.
Page 91. Still on courage, this is about how a lot of people are terrified of public speaking. I’m not, I thrive.
And I think of it just like writing, people say I’m good at it (public performance and writing) and always say they can’t do it. When you look back you’ll see that’s two different things. It’s not you’re good and I’m bad or you can and I can’t it’s you’re good because I can’t.
I may or may not be good, everyone’s feelings including my own may change on that periodically, but I am able. I’ve worked through whatever the thing is that stops people entirely. And I think that thing is people talk themselves out of it, thinking they’re being careful. But the danger one feels with public speaking or writing isn’t real. All nervousness isn’t danger.
158. Dudley was so overweight during a trip to an amusement park he was told ‘the ride cannot accommodate your dimensions, sir’
First of all my heart breaks for everyone in that situation. I’d have counselors on hand for both people, imagine being told that or having to tell somebody…
But Dudley’s point is that he had, once again, let his weight get out of control. And the once again part is crucial. I said to a friend once that having quit smoking before makes it less likely you’ll stay quit, not more. When you’ve done the hard part of something once you don’t want to do it again, you feel like you’ve earned the outcome. But you tell yourself you could. You’re certain you could. Drop of a hat you could reconstitute that discipline. And you will. Tomorrow.
I see my drinking friends trying to rack up 30 days of sobriety and every day they break off the start day and tack it on at the end. Instead of starting today and the goal being 30 days away, they’ll drink today and start tomorrow and the goal is only 31 days away, that’s no big deal. And they do this, one day at a time, for weeks or months. It’s always Day Zero, never Day One. But they feel close enough to the work and the goal that they don’t feel bad either. The feeling that one is going to change is enough to take away the feeling that one has to change.
We’re nearing a thousand words so I’ll do a part two…