Don’t Devalue The Mistakes
Level 4: Serious Player
"whoooAH." ... "hauh" ... "Daarruuuuaa"
He crawls over and stops. Looking right down at the floor by his hands.
It's a little folded up paper bag.
He regards it. Then grabs it.
Plops back down.
I watch him fiddle with the paper. He curiously runs his thumbnail against the paper.
scckkkaaaachhh skacch skacch
He turns it over in his hands. He sees the wire clip folding it shut. Tries to undo the fold.
He pauses. Regarding the bag.
"AHHHHH HA HA GHAAAA"
He wildly flaps his arms and flings the bag over his head.
On to the next inspection.
I love watching my 8 month old son explore and experience the world around him. Every little thing is curiously new. Every little thing must be inspected, touched, experienced.
It's how we grow.
How we discover what we like and don't like. How we discover who we are. How we discover who we can be.
Literal contact with reality.
And yet as with many of the lessons we can learn from our own selves growing up, we lose them in the tumult of the world and life.
The Shortcut They Want You to Take
"The biggest mistake I made was not starting this 5 years ago."
I read this recently from a highly skilled and entertaining email copywriter (unsurprisingly, in the context of trying to sell a course about doing what he does).
I couldn't help but think ...
"Really? Are you sure? Because 5 years ago you sure as heck weren't who you are now, and who you are now is why what you do is so damn good."
There are many forces at work that want you to think the reason you aren't doing something, or aren't succeeding, is because you are afraid, or you don't know the right things to do. They want you to believe you can have it all without making the same mistakes they made over the last 10 years.
But why does no one consider this? The reason they have all this "success" now is precisely because they took 10 years and made all those mistakes.
The Reality of Life
The reality of life is that we operate from inside our own box.
Not only can we not see ourselves (and thus need A Mirror) but the way we see the world is bound entirely by our nurtured perception.
Ideas become truth once you've heard them from enough people enough times with enough authority.
Truth becomes our perceived principle and reality when we accept it as such.
All through high school I thought the path I had to take was to go to college, go to grad school, get some degrees, get a career, get a family, house with the picket fence, etc.
That was the truth of the world. That's what you did.
So that's the path I walked.
But that was a truth fed to me. That was a truth I digested through limited lenses of experience.
"That's just what you do in life."
Turns out, you can do any damn thing you well please and imagine in life.
Funnily enough, even with that understanding, every new sphere of expertise I've stepped into I've fallen back into the perspective of "That's just what you do." After all, when you're new to something you often seek guidance in that thing, and it's highly alluring to learn "how to win without the pain."
We think we need to do things a certain way, because that's what successful people say. Because we grew up in a culture and society that is based on being valid over being useful.
What matters is getting the correct answer on the test.
What matters is having the right score.
What matters is being approved by everyone else who is also seeking the same level of approval. All of this validity seeking pools into a circle of mediocrity. Everyone following this path is melting into the same average "person."
But we might internally rebel against this idea that you must do things a certain way, because it doesn't feel natural. And it isn't natural.
So then we get sucked in by people giving us "the answer" to do things not a certain way, yet all the while we're still falling for the same trap. Even the maxim "do the opposite of what everyone else is doing" binds you to the same reality.
It's scary to just take what you believe, take your experience, ignore everyone else, and make the next best step1 right in front of you. To put into action what you know about yourself and what you believe to be correct.
Because you could be wrong.
And to a certain degree, you probably WILL be wrong.
So to avoid being wrong, to avoid failing, to avoid looking like an idiot and an asshole in front of people we know and especially in front of people we don't know, we look for the answer elsewhere.
We seek that shortcut.
We avoid doing the work and instead try to snatch the answer out of the ether.
But there is no shortcut, no matter what other people try to claim.
There is no right answer, no matter what anyone says.
There is no right or wrong.
There's ONLY you, who you are, and what you can do.
Through all this we are submerged in a sea of our own pride, fear, shame, hope, expectation, and all the rich emotional landscape that makes us human and is rigged to make sure we survive in a world where a shadow behind a rock could be a lion about to eat you ...
Fortunately we don't live in a world where we have to worry about the shadows being lions about to eat us.
And unfortunately, we NEED to be able to be wrong in order to learn and change and grow. Our world is far more complex than the world where the shadow could be a lion. We aren't spending our days gathering food and just fending for our survival (not in the "could-be-a-lion-over-there" kind of sense).
But succumbing to the base human survival fears, seeking the shortcut, avoiding the work, NOT having contact with reality, trying to avoid making mistakes, means you will NOT learn.
You will not learn what it is you need to know in order to understand how to play your game.
You will not learn what it is you need to know in order to take that understanding and apply it to your solvable problem in order to get the life you really want.
The ONLY path is The Earned Path.2