Discipline – The Defining Skill

This is an essay to myself 🙂 

I have spent the past few years committed to becoming a better version of myself – relentlessly pursuing my curiosities across all disciplines of life (social, professional, cultural). I definitely could have done a better job of this, and have made many many mistakes along the way, but I really believe that I have been and am currently trying my best….

My best, though, evolves as I continuously redefine my context, goals, and ambitions. I am constantly reminded that most everything in life is bound by relative circumstance. This is most apparent in my life as I chase hopeless, really arbitrary external metrics. Your current external environment sets the tone – it sets the benchmark, it defines what “cool” is, and it takes personal growth and development for you to understand that the definition is meaningless out of context.

What is impressive to you is likely not impressive to your Grandma and will certainly not be impressive to you in 10 to 20 years. The point is not to condemn external metrics, which is a whole different conversation, but rather to show how silly it can be to “chase” other people’s definitions of what you want in life. 

I make this point clear – and emphasize it – as I reflect upon the past few years. I have made it a priority, especially say in the past 12 months, to unleash my personal curiosities, learn by doing, and throttle my existence. I aim for growth, not the fulfillment of some random’s criteria for success. 

In doing so, though, I try to spend time and energy on aspects of my life that I care about. What I care about, therefore, has changed drastically over the years. In some stages, I cared most about proving myself. In others I cared about developing skills. Etc. I ran after these ambitions – sprinted really – with the product being my now past experiences that sit on a website no on really cares about

I want to underscore this thought because it is really important to me: no one cares. It is not a dark thought, it is not a sad idea…it is the truth. 

No one that you really care about, that you really want to care about, will think twice about your long list of relative and really menial accomplishments. You can make lists, get ego validation, and the vanity metrics you want…but now…as a 21 year old (wow)…you have to realize that none of this is getting you closer to your goal.

I want to make a massive impact. I want to do something seriously. 

All of this…being a professional…takes one thing that I drastically lack. And that is focus. Immense discipline and focus unleashes compounding returns. Focus means saying no to long lists of boring. Focus means optimizing for the long term and working on one problem for an extended period of time. That is what I need to do…

I have known this for a long time, but I have let classes and school get in the way of “all-in” execution. I have spent years filling the time with 0 to 0.1 problems and avoided the existential hard question…”what problem do you want to solve?

So so many people get stuck where I am right now. They get stuck in mediocrity, doing little things for little people that no one cares about. 

To level up, to unlock a higher achievement, I must harness the power of no. 

That is my future…executing on that, though, is not easy given my current time circumstance. I have opted for what is convenient…digging lots of small holes and meeting people. That is my current status until I decide to get really serious. 

Inspired by a Twitter thread by Julien, the founder of Breather: