Let’s start with forever. Regardless of what history may try and teach me or other people may tell me, the only existence I’ve known comes from inside my own mind. And inside my own mind it’s hard to do things. According to my brain, all of humanity is painfully passive and paralyzed by procrastination and always has been. This is the long and short of my experience.
Now I know objectively that my mind is not representative of the whole of mankind. This is a very good thing. There are men and women that are more driven than sled dogs in the Iditarod. Another very good thing. And maybe many of you are like that. I applaud you! Don’t run yourselves too ragged making the world a better place one project at a time. My wife is one of those people and her dedication and proactive mindset challenge me every day.
Then there are others of you that are more like me. I can subsist quite happily, thank you, on abstract possibilities. I can converse ad nauseum on the goings and doings of great people and spout urbane paraphrases of classic truisms. I have potential. I can do anything to which I set my mind. I’m infinitely intellectual and capable. Or…
I’m frozen in fear of failures that would harm my self-worth far more than I’d like to admit.
I’m hazy with comfort; resting on a future aglow with my inevitable success.
Those latter three resound more clearly than I wish they did. But they resound. I’m starting to see myself for who I really am. And I’m starting to see a few things much more clearly.
First, possible achievements are no more real than Monopoly money. My dreams can’t be exchanged for influence and they sure can’t be exchanged for that nice espresso machine on my Amazon wish list.
Second, talking about concepts of greatness and change does not lead to greatness and change. A couple of beers and some willing ears around a circle makes me the greatest man alive in my own mind. But it makes me a hypocrite when I spend year after year pursuing better ways of talking about things rather than becoming less bad at doing them.
And third, the people that affect change in this world have always shared one quality regardless of their other talents and visions: diligence.
There’s nothing wrong with knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with dreams. And all good things come from some sort of potential goodness. But if you’re like me, and some of you are, that can so easily feel like it’s enough. But it’s not. Potential alone leads to poverty, financial or otherwise.
Success demands action. Victory necessitates battle. Change requires investment.
Becoming aware of all of this is painful. But it makes stagnancy a choice. And I will no longer choose it. I now see my “potential” for the smothering force it is. I now see diligence as the excruciating rehabilitation of my engagement with the things I love.
This blog will chronicle my progress in pursuing real change, real victory, and real success. In fact, blogging is in itself a discipline. I hope to learn a great deal from writing and I hope that some of you will be able to learn and grow with me. It won’t always be this heavy, I promise.
We’ve had potential forever. But our flawed perception of forever only stretches backwards. Looking forward there is a clear end for each of us. Let’s not get there with only potential to show for our lives. As my former university’s fight song says, I’ve decided to fight like hell. I hope you'll join me.