foundations

Serious-ness is a term I have thought a lot about lately. I feel like a lot of people are not that serious about their work. And their lives. Like they are just skating by. I think 6 months ago the term I was using to describe this phenomenon was “intensity.” I wrote about it somewhere on this blog. I felt like bringing intensity to the table was not always met by appreciation or admiration or agreement. I found it often meant with the opposite. With fear. And lying. And basically people being uncomfortable. People are often intimidated by intensity. Now part of that statement is maybe me rationalizing times when I’m being intense and it being ineffective and saying it as well these other people just can’t handle it. I don’t fully believe that either. I just think that the trait I look for in people – perhaps one I actually like and care about – is whether they are approaching their craft with intensity. Another word is care. I think you can do achieve success one off, by a product of luck and perhaps a stroke of natural genius. But it’s not clear to me – and not a hot take perhaps many others agree – that you can accidentally achieve greatness. I think seriousness is a pre-requisite. Now when I say greatness I am not referring to like winning one nba championship. I am talking about building a dynasty. Over many years. Over many iterations. Over many failures and random events happening. The good and the bad. I think if you get a full cycle in, well the randomness washes out, and then you can see if you are really achieving excellence / greatness or if instead you are getting one off lucky. This matters only rarely. Like on the longer time scale. There are plenty of people on shorter time scales who are capable of getting things done and achieving relative benchmarks of success. But is that what we really care about? Perhaps some of us. Not really me. I struggle in those environments. They are boring to me. But who am I?

The above dialogue is just a dialogue. It makes me uncomfortable to see myself think like the above when in reality what matters is actually getting things done. Not talking about getting things done. That’s a big insecurity I have perhaps. Like I am worried that I’m not getting enough done. Basically always. In reality, I am getting some stuff done. But I don’t feel like I’m swinging for home runs and batting as often as possible. I do more talking than working sometimes. And I feel like…well I project that via my critical-ness of others. I think maybe its okay if you are aware of it and not lying to yourself and/or others about the reality. But many sheep out there are dressing themselves like wolves but like…come on…they know they are sheep. They know they are not doing real work. Certainly not sustained over a long period of time.

That’s at least one reason why I am motivated to get involved in working on something really hard. Working on something that will actually force me to get really hard things done. You can’t fake it nearly as much in those environments.

Now when I say real work, I mean starting with the inputs I just want to be taking this really seriously. Like not letting bs seep into the foundation. Not letting the infection ruin the roots too early.

I think that’s maybe the failure mode of a lot of people. Ambitious people. Young ambitious people perhaps most specifically. I feel like they rush the beginning. They want to skip school. They want to get going. I did.

But why? Or I understand why. Why because well it feels like things will get more and more exciting. And perhaps they will.

But if your foundation is meh. Well, then, it can crumble.

The counter is that Facebook’s foundation was meh. Like they did not start with this master vision of taking over the world.

My response is maybe. When I say foundation, it’s not just about the business idea. I think they got really serious quite quickly by the way. When they realized the scope. And they really went for it. Like they committed in a real ambitious way and hired really smart people who helped them execute on the vision.

The foundation I care more about is actually more internal to the people. Like Mark in that case or pick any other founder of any company that has achieved true levels of sustained greatness (btw tbd if facebook/meta actually will be around in 50 years).

I think that the foundation I’m talking about is as them as human beings. How stable is that foundation. Instability and insecurity by the way are typically talked about as bad things. I don’t view them as such. They are just qualities. I don’t think having insecurities is bad. They can motivate you to do things. I think we try to stamp out insecurities really early. I prefer to think of them as opportunities to be aware as to what may be motivating you or biasing you and simply being aware can help you decide whether or not or rather how to use them effectively.

So when I say foundation, I think it’s really a question of how can the person at the core of things actually be the person that they need to be. Not in some prescriptive way. Moreso, like that person has the opportunity to self actualize. And that requires trusting their gut and being themselves and being capable of making decisions and context switching etc. And often what happens I think in life is people becomes leaves in the wind. They have no great foundation.

That’s what I think leads to collapse.

I think what is helpful is when people are serious about their lives.

I know this is not coming out as clear as I would like. I’m going to think about how to reframe in a more productive way.


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