What happens after you accomplish something great? Pride happens. You smile, pat yourself on the back and run up and down the street shooting radioactive rainbows out of your ass because you made something of yourself. Tangible evidence that you aren’t the loser your 8th grade shop teacher said you were.
Pride and accomplishment are great feelings that should be enjoyed, but only for a hot minute. Dwell too long on that trophy you’ve framed so perfectly next to your quarter scale Han Solo doll and effectively kill your next opportunity to do something great. Let’s talk about Shaq’s dad.
Shaq’s dad didn’t let Shaq have tropies when he was a young athlete (and he earned plenty). “Oh, what’s that Shaq? You won an award for best athlete in middle school ever on earth? Trash!”
His accomplishments were nothing more than a reminder that he was already good enough. But he wasn’t. 5 rings and a decade and a half of professional basketball dominance at his back and I’ll bet my bottom dollar Shaq still thinks he has work to do.
And that’s because he does. He’s figured out (with help of his mean old dad) that there is always work left to do. Not only is this the key to being successful, it’s vital to finding purpose in you life.
Enough about Shaq. Let’s talk about someone important: me.
In practice, I suck at reflecting pride. After I finish writing an article I edit it. I read it 25-30 times until it’s a crisp, taught representation of the idea. Yeah! Good job me! Hit ‘publish.’
Then I do something that destroys my ability to gain momentum. I keep reading it. I read it at work and on the jon. I read it when my girlfriend vents to me about the restaurant industry and when we’re making sex (just kidding). The back-patting and junk fluffing begins as I bask in the four to five Facebook likes my masterpiece has garnered. On to the next nugget of blogosphere gold!
Enter stage left: anxiety.
What if I can’t do this again?
My next piece has to be better.
What if a jet engine falls out of the sky like in Donnie Darko and lands on my laptop destroying any chance I have at being successful in this life or the next?
Second-guessing and self-depreciation overpowers my ability to write anything meaningful for months before I build up the courage to sit my ass back in that seat again. It’s debilitating, It’s exhausting. It’s a cycle that has me spinning wheels in a sizable bed of mud, tears, and disappointment.
So I tried something.
Every time I publish an article it might as well be dead. It didn’t happen. It disappeared like a fart in the wind. I take what I’ve learned and apply it to the next thing. Does it work? Kind of. Writing is still hard but can be made easier by way of snowball. You know…snowball rolls down the hill getting bigger and bigger as it collects more snow along the way? The most common physical metaphor for momentum? You get it.
Don’t have a ‘Shaq’s dad?’ Big whoop. Make your own motivation. You don’t have to keep trophying yourself into mediocrity. Do something awesome tonight and forget about it tomorrow. If you can do this without a pint of whisky and a baby’s hand full of Vicodin, my applauses. The first time is always the toughest.
Just remember: there’s nothing wrong with feeling good about a job well done so long as you know the next job doesn’t give a shit.