If you’re not clear on what you’re doing, it’s hard to be motivated. Which is why seemingly easy tasks, like sending a fax, could end up taking months. There’s a lack of clarity on how to do it, so you don’t — until either you have to or it’s too late.
As any debate club veteran knows, if you can’t make your opponent’s point for them, you don’t truly grasp the issue. We can bemoan political gridlock and a divisive media all we want. But we won’t truly progress as individuals until we make an honest effort to understand those that are not like us. And you won’t convince anyone to feel the way you do if you don’t respect their position and opinions.
I still read that postcard from time to time, in moments of nostalgic reflection, and I am always amused at the wise words I penned at age 17 (which, really is more of a reflection of having wiser mentors and books). I think sometimes youth has its own intrinsic wisdom, since personal growth is really less about learning new lessons, but more about unlearning the bad habits like cynicism we pick up along life’s path. Perhaps ‘growth’ is actually a positive regression — returning to our childlike sense of wonder and regaining the ability to find the joy in the simplest of things.
However, I also had enough psychological insight to realize what my mind was doing. This mission I created for myself was a defense mechanism to protect me from the pain of failure. But even so, I made a conscious decision to delve into the fantasy, because it would help me find positive meaning from a difficult situation. I had learned this lesson from working with some cancer patients, who concluded that getting cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them, because it forced them to prioritize the important things they had been ignoring in their lives. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that few beliefs are inherently right or wrong, it is more important whether they are effective.
I hate those articles that promise to tell you the One Single Reason X Was Successful — those are always bullshit, because there’s never a single reason for anything. When you try and find one, you’re trying to tell a story rather than state the facts.