Ideas can consume you

Do you ever get into _that mode_ where your brain—at least the part you are aware of—is FULLY consumed by a single idea?

How often are you in that mode? What does it feel like to you? How would you describe it to a friend?

Call it whatever you want, perhaps a neighbor or parallel to the widely talked about “Flow State,” this period where YOU ARE FULLY CONSUMED BY A SINGLE IDEA is _crazy powerful_. I find that these MOODS are one of the few times in life where I can experience complete presence. Where all my brain is thinking about it is THE VIBE of that idea. I am nowhere but there, right there, in that moment. No FOMO (fear of missing out). Not even JOMO (joy of missing out). Just presence. Just present while navigating the idea maze. Like signing up for a big race and getting on the track and all you can do is BE THERE because you are so focused on winning the race. It is almost like entering the state is like going on a rollercoaster of sorts, where all you are able to think about in that moment is the ups and downs and twists and turns of the coaster. And for those few moments, you get the high of the adrenaline rush.

There is nothing better. Truly, nothing better, than BEING IN THAT ARENA. Ready to fight. Ready to battle. Ready to win. Oof, I am addicted to that feeling. It is especially fun when you are _doing it_ with your friends. You look to your right and left and see other “soldiers” headed to war. War, together. Now, this is not real war. This is late stage capitalism intellectual war most of the time. But honestly, it can be anything that gets this type of energy going. It can be we are all going to run a race together. Or we are all going to go river rafting together. Or we are all going to solve this problem together. Or write an essay together. Anything that tells the brain—hey, there is this THING ahead of us we are going to untangle in some capacity, likely using both our cognitive skills and our emotional abilities—be ready.

That is the moment, THE FEELING, where my blood starts flowing. I am opening the cage to the monkey brain. And I know. I know that the monkey is about to DELIVER energy and momentum and excitement.

All I can think about in those moments, even the moment now, as I untangle this messy idea in my head, is BEING THERE.

There is a bit of irony here. Because once I leave the “present state” and say go do something else, like take a shower, my brain longs to return. I long to get back to the excitement—the energy behind—the state of BEING PRESENT AND CONSUMED BY A SINGLE IDEA.

I sometimes enter slumps of sorts where I cannot get back to this state. This generally happens when I find my brain “too distracted” to read books or write essays or go for a run. This rarely happens, especially when I have good infrastructure behind me. This happens more when I get sloppy. When I eat unhealthy and hangout with bad people.

But when I am CLEAN—both physically and mentally—I find I am slipping into this state more often.

And in this state, if I can enter it for at least a few hours a day, I find I can be wildly productive. I can get a lot of things DONE. This is both motion AND progress. I can literally write a ton or email a ton or create a ton or build a ton or etc. AND I can produce extremely high quality work. And I do it all in a very compressed amount of time. And sometimes I wonder…how? How is it that I can get more done in 1 hour than I would in an entire day? And the honest but a bit blunt version of me would say: “how is it than I can get more done in 1 hour than someone else would take a week to do?” This may sound like a big delta—it is! Now, you do not _have_ to believe my claim (believe whatever you want) but I find it to be true.

So I ask myself…how is this the case?

The answer cannot be that I have 1000x “more IQ points” than the person getting far less done.

I think the answer is a combination of:

  • Caring more
  • Processing speed

The caring more bit is obvious but also underrated. I think most people are not taking most things in life that seriously. This is a longer topic, a very long topic, but I think the reality is most people are playing on coast mode. They do not want to win. They do not want sport mode. They may say they want to win, but that is not the reality. They want to feel important but that is not what it takes to be great. Great takes the desire to be great AND the pursuit of being great. The pursuit is not easy, and most people would admit that. Beyond not easy though, the pursuit is not attractive to most people. Most people, the way they are wired, would never want to actually pursue greatness as their priority. Now, I sound terribly conceited here—fine, but I think it’s the reality that A) most people do not care that much about this category of stuff (which again is fine the world is quite big) and B) to explain my thought around processing speed.

I think that most people do not process things particularly quickly relative to me. Fine. Again, there is no award for this. But one thing I realized that when I sit down to the compressed 1-2 hour power hour where I get ridiculous amounts of things done relative to my average self or the average person—is that most of the thoughts and ideas have actually been marinating in my head for a period of time, sometimes years, before I actually sit down to execute on them. They have been processing. They have been cooking.

When I sit down to do the thing, the way my brain works at least and I would be curious how others work but often I do not see this from other people, I am really just NAVIGATING THE LIBRARY THAT IS MY BRAIN and finding the _already written books_ to copy paste the information from. I am just doing a VLOOKUP for ideas.

Most people, at least the way I see it, most of the time are needing to EXTERNALLY PROCESS before actually executing on their work. If you are in a conversation with them, you can tell this is happening: when you ask them a question, they will spend the first 1-30 minutes EMOTIONALLY RESPONDING and getting their thoughts out in some capacity only to circle back to their true logical answer maybe at the end of the set of sentences. I do this sometimes too. But for a lot of topics or ideas, I have already thought and/or written about them for thousands of hours (yes literally). As a result, I can definitely improve my answers still and I am a changing person with changing answers BUT for a lot of things, I have thoughts and a lot of those thoughts have references and linkages and footnotes and the activity of me PROCESSING THEM and translating them into “work.”

In reading back these past few paragraphs, you can tell that I am _still_ processing this overall notion of the title of this essay on “getting consumed by the ideas.” Because, as you can tell, YES I am getting consumed.

I imagine that there are times where I have blockers up PREVENTING ME FROM BEING CONSUMED. Once I put those down, once I lean into the ideas in front of me—then the flow state starts to enter. Putting down does not mean being overly optimistic or not cynical. It simply means entering the arena. Finding a way to make things work. Lubricating the vessel such that you know the ideas will take off at some point. It does not have to be instant. But at some point—you know that, with enough FOCUS in the flow state, you will get there.

I want more flow state.

I think burnout comes from not being able to enter the flow state. It is not about overworking. It is about overworking NOT in the flow state.

Being not in the flow state and trying to get things done is like living on a planet with SLOW MOTION turned on. Oof that is a big idea for me. Not being in the flow state sucks. It sucks most when you are trying to get something done and you know, you just know that you could turn on your ironman suit somehow—your flow state—you could just knock all this stuff out. But no. No. You are confined to the version of the world where everything takes longer and your receptors are blocked from being able to fire.

I am not in the flow state often when I am dealing with people, broadly, and especially people problems. If you find yourself in this situation, where your job at work has morphed into this category of ~stuff, then do not make the excuse that there is no place for you to get into the flow state. Start reading, writing, and running. It will change your life.

This is a helpful reminder to myself. To always have some ideas floating around that have the ability to consume me. So I can turn on that mode and get energy. Find people who share that energy. That is life. Burnout comes when you are starved of that energy. It hurts most when you have tasted it before.


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