It’s been a few months since i put out this weekly motivational. I decided to take some time away from writing these after what was, admittedly, an epically frustrating end to my 2019. Coming from what was supposed to finally be my big moment, professionally, 2019 went from all things pointing straight up and to the right, and resulted in a total collapse of everything i had poured myself into the past 3 years.
The purpose of this is not to talk about the past, but to focus on the future. But to summarize: the small but successful company i built for the family i work under got consolidated into a larger corporate entity, which was then captained by poor leadership, resulting in calamity. then, just days before a new product launch and in the middle of HUGE contract discussions with major retail companies around the country, an ignorant (and inaccurate) political news cycle affected my entire industry segment, which led to a premature shutdown of my product/project/division. Needless to say, i was incredibly discouraged the last 3 months of 2019.
“I understand that everyone goes disappearing
Into the greatest gray
That covers over everyday,
And hovers in the distance”
~counting crows, “up all night”
That lyric segment is from a song i really love called “up all night.” it’s a song about disillusionment and realization, and beginning to understand that eventually autopilot just doesn’t take you to new destinations. And that’s where i’ve been the last few months. In a sort of hazy gray. Not a deep, dark black. I’m stronger than that, and i’ve been through much worse in my life. But i’m not sure i ever really knew what this song was about until recently.
But the frustrating circumstances (i wouldn’t quite call them failures. Let’s call them “unsuccesses”) of the end of 2019 elucidated a few defects in my armor, which i may never have paid any mind if i had gotten everything i had wanted last year, and hit the home run that i was so close to hitting.
firstly, i had no specified discipline in my game. Just raw determination. I was often working 80 hour weeks, flying all over the country to deliver sales pitches, staying up all night in weird hotels, sometimes in airports, making phone calls at all times of the day and weekend, with little-to-no social life. I allowed personal relationships to deteriorate, i stopped participating in my favorite hobbies, and i buried myself in what seemed like the workload equivalent of 10 men. Some might look at that with admiration, but i can tell you it was foolish.
what it made me realize was actually something i’ve already written about in this very column, but clearly hadn’t realized i wasn’t doing enough of:
Passion without discipline is wasted.
the last 3 years, i burned with passion. But i eventually burned out. Sure, i could have been supported better by my organization, and perhaps that support would have fueled my passion a little longer. But i now realize that i would likely still have landed right where i am now. eventually.
second: much of what i was doing, wasn’t as much for myself as i thought, if i’m being honest with myself. It was also for others around me. and what i failed to account for is that much of that audience was not really receptive to my message (these emails, but also my general message & behavior/mentality/culture). Regardless of how altruistic i wanted it to be, the driver eventually became the accountability of “i have to get this motivational out this morning or people will wonder what happened,” instead of “i want to get this done, because I need it for myself” (and if i’m completely transparent, there was also an aspect of aspirational embodiment i was hoping for. Of speaking the version of myself i wanted to be into existence).
i wasn’t feeding myself. I was feeding ego. I thought my message could be a rallying point for the things my company lacked, so that became the focal point.
But i’m done with all that. I’m doing this for me now. and i’m going deeper. if you’re reading this, it’s likely because
- i know you were previously receptive to the message, or
- you’re a dynamic individual who inspires, encourages, or collaborates with me, and people like that enjoy messages like this.
So let me start 2020 with a hint of the new discipline. It comes from a book that was recommended to me (i’ll talk more about it in later writings) by a good friend named jonathan, who has been hounding me for months to start writing these things again (thanks jstein. your words picked me up and dusted me off a number of times last year, a few times very literally). Here it is:
control your perceptions
direct your actions properly
willingly accept what’s outside your control
I am learning to accept what’s outside my control. I am learning to control my perceptions. And i am now directing my actions properly. It’s monday, let’s go get it.