The obstacle of my obsession
I will have satisfaction, sir.
One of the major blockades I have regarding productivity, is the way I handle obstacles. In the work I do, I am constantly experimenting and learning and hacking away. Most of the time I move from challenge to challenges without issue. Sometimes though, a challenge turns into an obstacle. This is when it transforms into my mortal enemy.
“I could not rest, Watson, I could not sit quiet in my chair, if I thought that such a man as Professor Moriarty were walking the streets of London unchallenged.”
— Arthur Conan Doyle
It’s all very dramatic. Except it isn’t. It’s basically me, stuck in a feedback loop in my head. I can’t make my idea work, so I try harder. The challenge isn’t the obstacle, the solution is. It’s the solution, that doesn’t work. It’s the solution that I can’t let go.
Sober reflection allows that a better strategy would be to retreat — to abandon the route and try another. In the heat of battle though, that idea feels like failure. Because, basically, it is. It is the admission that my solution doesn’t solve the problem. Even though I know that on the other side of that admission is the freedom to abandon the incorrect solution, the fear of the pain of failure prevents me from making it.
Maybe I need to cultivate the capacity to approach an obstacle more clear-headed — dispassionately. To evaluate the goal and see if there is a more effective route.
For me this is a difficult task. I have a hard time processing my emotions. I’ve never gotten the hang of feeling my feelings and thinking my thoughts. To me it’s all the same — information.
Plus, I love challenges. I love learning. I love a hard-won victory. I love to crush [my] enemies, see them driven before [me], and to hear the lamentations of their women. All Conan aside though, I get a lot out of taking these challenges on and taking them personally. Right up to the point that I don’t.
The energy I put in gets reflected back to me exponentially, driving me, feeding me and supporting me. I don’t know if I want to throw it all away. It’s a double-edged sword that I live by and must die by. And, to be honest, I don’t think I could change myself that drastically even if I wanted to.
So, I guess the real task set for me is to figure out how to throw myself mentally and emotionally at a challenge, but be able to take the long view when I start expending good effort after bad.