There’s a great scene in Batman begins where the dark knight, just before plunging into the hell that awaits him as the burning slums of Gotham, turns to Rachel, his long time friend and secret love and says:
It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.
That’s exactly what Rachel said to him in a previous scene, where he as Bruce Wayne, was hanging out and splurging money with models at a fancy gala.
In the end Bruce showed her (and the world) the real human behind the mask. And he did it through his actions.
I usually think of myself as pretty disciplined, even if a lot of times I slack, snooze my alarm or spend more time than it’s conceivable daydreaming without actually doing anything.
Whenever I set a goal though, I try my best to achieve it. And I love seeing people follow my example or get inspired by it. Even if it’s something as simple as going out for a walk instead of vegetating on the couch all day.
In the past I tried advising friends and family on stuff that helped me. I wanted to see them succeed, be happier. But every time, like clockwork, I saw my advice enter one ear and exit the other.
I’ve learned that it’s pointless to tell people what’s working for you. If you want to help them, it’s 10x more effective to simply do stuff.
To show them instead.
One thing I realized and that’s pretty frustrating when I hear people compliment my work ethic or my willingness to do what’s normally considered “the hard thing”, is that it seems they think it the other way around.
They think that “I am so disciplined and so organized, SO THAT’S WHY I do what you do”. That’s why I meditate every day, I workout every day (even during the pandemic) and I read or learn every day.
What if we started reversing the process?
What if “I was so disciplined and so organized, BECAUSE I do what I do”?
As you see in my super complex diagram, when you let your accomplishments define who you are, you create an identity that as a consequence allows you to do more of what you’ve been doing, naturally and (almost) effortlessly.
This doesn’t happen when you start from defining yourself. It goes like this:
- I’m disciplined, SO I meditate every day. But wait If I’m already disciplined why do I have to keep meditating? It’s boring, Goodbye.
- I’m disciplined BECAUSE I meditate every day. So I have to keep grinding at it or I’ll fucking lose the gainz!!
You see the difference?
People refuse to do “the hard thing” because they don’t see themselves as the person who does that. They don’t know that if they started doing it, they would inevitably become that person.
It might take months, years, god knows.
I’m so lucky and grateful to have been brought up playing a shit ton of sports and music, which probably gave me something to pursue on a daily basis.
It provided me with an organic trigger – action – reward process that I just needed to follow.
A lot of people don’t get that chance in life, and doing the hard thing, whatever that is, might seem impossible for them. That’s an even tougher position to be in.
I’m not perfect by any means, but I know that if I trust the process, if I head out for a workout or a basketball game, if I sit for a meditation, on the drums or at my desk to work, then I’m gonna kill it. I’ll at least give it my best effort.
Most will think I’m special, that I cheat, or that I’m just a weirdo. But I know, behind the mask, the secret is simpler than it seems.