I was thinking of all the things I’ve gotten better at, and how jumps in skill had to be preceded by overcoming an ego resistance.
Often, I had areas I was improving in, and I felt like I had a path of growth. Occasionally, I event felt like external circumstances were holding me back – not being attractive enough, or rich enough, or having enough free time, or having too much stress. But instead, most of the time I was totally blind sighted by my weaknesses in areas that I was not comfortable admitting to myself that I need improvement in.
I took for granted that I was good at certain underlying traits; improving meant admitting I was not, and then working really hard against my nature – or to change it, change who I am, or how I am. For certain problems, approaching them without ego was the skill: being curious, inquisitive, adapting rather than forcing pre-conceived notions and practiced approaches – are all elements of successful problem solving and engineering which are accomplished in large part by simply dropping your ego.
I’ve discovered many things to be skills, which I previously thought were mysterious black boxes, made out of many sub-components I could practice.
I also used to think that I’m simply bad at certain things, and will never be better. And have instead found that they are also skills, and also made out of small components I could practice.
I used to think being smart was something you were born with, and something I was good at – instead now I work to break it down, and improve on aspects of it. I used to think creative thinking was just some sort of unknown magical power some people have. I used to think memory was what you were given; that I was good at focus, or that I am naturally thorough. Or that I understand something when I first hear it, or that I’m good at conversation. I used to think I’m an introvert, not simply in need of better social skills.
I used to think I’d never dance, because that’s simply outside of the realm of possibility for me, and then came a time when I started to think I’m good at dance, and every sort of self-evaluation like that has always held me back – positive or negative.
It’s a harsh truth to accept – that someone is so much more popular than you because, while you’re incredible at certain things – they have a deeper truth about something that you’re exceptionally bad at. It’s not because they were born that way; it’s something you can have. And you are very far from having it, and you can certainly have it if you work on it. That feeling – is stepping over your ego. That moment – is when you can begin down the road to have whatever you desire.
One thing I thought I was always bad at is getting up early. I get really into whatever I’m doing, and am comfortable working late into the night.
In my situation, I need to work, and I need to work on side-projects, to get to where I want to go – have a business, have a green card. I don’t want to give up my hobbies, and I’m looking for a balance. And a friend told me I should live like in the military – come in at 9, and leave at 5, and work on my things 6-11, and repeat, repeat, repeat.
He said I’ll have to have discipline even if I quit. And that I won’t magically start living that way if all my time is free. I tend to be pretty productive in my free time, but what he said made sense. If I don’t project an aura of discipline and seriousness, and I try to employ people, they’ll happily take money, and not deliver, and my enterprise will never succeed.
Him and a few other people I respect maintain that it’s not something you just have. It’s a skill. I think incorporating that into my worldview – that for 29 years, I have not been “naturally bad at waking up early”, but rather “too lazy to be disciplined” – is a great opportunity to step over my ego, and try an approach that will salvage the best out of difficult circumstances, and perhaps lend me a tool that will propel my future goal towards success.