(Note: This post was initially published as part of my newsletter. )
Hey there! I just got to Italy to visit family after 7 months and it’s been awesome to finally see everybody. I hope things are getting back to as normal as possible for you too.
One thing that’s not normal for me is that I’ve had to take a week and a half off from working out. It sucks.
For the past 3 months taking an hour out of the day for some burpees and pushups was my only distraction from the reality of lockdown. On one hand it’s been great because I’ve built the habit. On the other hand, now that I can’t do it because I somehow pulled a muscle in my upper back, I realize how I’ve become dependent on it.
It’s something else I cannot cling to. Another craving.
Craving can be draining. It can drain you of your will power and of the ability to make sound decisions. It sucks you into a spiral where it gets amplified at every turn.
Fighting a craving takes diligence
Refraining from working out is taking me a ton of diligence. Pushing it could mean waiting a couple of months to recover instead of a few weeks if I keep resting.
It’s interesting that we call it “due diligence” when we are making sure we’re not getting screwed before jumping into an agreement. In business this carefulness is a pretty common way of operating.
Why is it not the same in all areas of life? Why don’t we go into due diligence when we both build a habit and when we have to refrain from it?
A habit is an agreement with yourself.
You agree to go out and run 6km or workout every day. You agree to avoid sugar. You agree to wake up at 6am. You agree to skip breakfast.
I have to agree to stay put and let my body recover.
Diligence is like white space
I like how Ryan Holiday puts it:
What is rare is not raw talent, skill, or even confidence, but humility, diligence, and self-awareness.
Diligence is a rare and tough trait to build because it’s not really something you do.
It’s like white space in design. You don’t see it and you don’t really think about it as a design element, but it’s there and it’s super important nonetheless. You normally don’t do diligence, you are diligent. But it definitely takes energy, time and patience to build. Like any other skill.
In a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat you sit for an hour, 3 times a day without moving (the remaining 7 hours while you meditate, you can adjust your posture) to build your diligence. It’s seen as persistent effort.
It’s a good way of understanding diligence as a skill. Persistently fighting your cravings. Effort after effort.
It’s why I’m sitting here at 10pm finishing up this newsletter when I was telling my self not to bother. I agreed with myself (and you) that I would send one out every Sunday and that’s what I plan to keep on doing.
It might be hard to see how it all amounts to results, but it builds up. Time after time.
Where can you practice some diligence in your life?
Here are this week’s top finds:
- Great tips on how to communicate effectively in the workplace and at home. If more people knew this, we’d all be 10x more productive.
- Great episode. They dive into a ton of interesting stuff like systems thinking, creativity, ideas and how to sell them, and they talk about why we are actually only one warm introduction away from someone helping us succeed.
- I just got his book “Understanding comics”. In this TED talk, Sott McCloud explains the main concepts behind it. It’ super interesting to learn what such a different and unique communication tool like comics can teach us about communication and storytelling.
Not doing takes energy. Refraining from a daily habit takes the same amount of energy that took to build it. It’s a different kind of energy. Building the habit can feel like pulling, abstaining is more like pushing. Inhaling vs exhaling.
Have an amazing week!