oops. it’s all articles this go round. sorry about that, y’all!Continue reading
Ultimately, we come to self-reliance by forgetting ourselves. It’s the kind of self-trust many new parents feel because they finally have this thing outside themselves that matters much more than themselves. We can access it by caring about anything properly (a project, a movement, an idea, a person, etc.).
Milton Mayeroff describes this dynamic in On Caring:
“Direction that comes from the growth of the other should not be confused with being ‘other directed,’ where this refers to the kind of conformity in which I lose touch with both myself and the other. Rather, by following the growth of the other, I am more responsive to myself, just as the musician is more in touch with himself when he is absorbed in the needs of the music.”
Ironically, no matter how physically self-reliant we become, if we never truly care for something outside of ourselves we’ll never become self-reliant.
What do you care most about? As in, what do you give yourself to most freely? How could you care for it a little more perfectly? How does caring for this thing outside yourself actually help you trust yourself more?Continue reading
“These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world.”― Emerson
Self-reliance often means following our quiet, inner voice more faithfully. It means not just listening to what we say, or even to what we think, but paying more attention to what usually lies beneath our consciousness. Picasso himself knew that what he wanted to express wasn’t his own idea.
“To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing. . . . When I find myself facing a blank page, that’s always going through my head. What I capture in spite of myself interests me more than my own ideas.”― Picasso
Picasso wasn’t aiming to express his ideas but ideas that seemed to be beyond him. He understood that self-reliance wasn’t about absolute control and knowing the answer ahead of time, but diving into the unknown and trusting himself to navigate.
Write about a time you listened to that inner voice, then a time you ignored it. How did each turn out? How did the conversations with your inner voice differ? How can you become better attuned to those subtle nudgings?Continue reading
“All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.”― Peter Thiel
“The dynamic [of competition] is not unlike a popularity contest in which everyone tries to win by being equal parts friendly, happy, active, and fun. Or an election campaign in which all the candidates try to be charming, serious, humble, and strong. Once everyone starts doing it, no one stands out.”― Youngme Moon
To compete is to choose to play somebody else’s game. This can be a massive source of energy, but it’s also a dangerous game. The billionaire investor and founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, said that the fierce competition in his college career nearly kept him from doing what he actually was meant to do. He later wrote in Zero to One, “All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.”
When we’re locked in competition we tend to obsess on doing the same thing but faster, bigger, or cheaper. Competition can blind us to opportunities to truly distinguish ourselves.
In fact, the fiercer the competition, the more similar things get. Harvard Professor Youngme Moon writes in her book Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd that, “The dynamic [of competition] is not unlike a popularity contest in which everyone tries to win by being equal parts friendly, happy, active, and fun. Or an election campaign in which all the candidates try to be charming, serious, humble, and strong. Once everyone starts doing it, no one stands out.”
Put simply, Moon has found that, “The more diligently firms compete with each other, the less differentiated they can become.”
Even more often than businesses, individual lives are ruined by being too preoccupied with competition to look around. Where are you competing in your life that you don’t actually want to be (e.g., money, audience, position, possessions, looks, awards, travel, experiences etc.)? If you weren’t worried about winning that, what would you focus on?Continue reading
“I would write on the lintels of the doorpost, Whim. I hope it is somewhat better than whim at last, but we cannot spend the day in explanation.”― Emerson
If we don’t trust our whims to guide our exploration of possibilities for our lives, we’ll quickly find ourselves relying on others for answers.
What areas of your life have you shut off to whims? Are there any you’ve written off? How might you try following them responsibly? (Is it writing an outline for a ridiculous-sounding blog post? Picking up that book that feels “unproductive”? Joining the boxing gym you pass daily? Asking that girl out you’ve had your eye on? Booking the trip you’ve been thinking about?)Continue reading
“ The virtue in most request is conformity. ”― Emerson
“ People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. ”― Joseph Campbell
Where do you find the most meaning in life and feel the most fully alive? Is there something you’d love to do but don’t because the world thinks it’s silly or worthless or wrong? Is there anything you do that you consider virtuous yet the world looks down on? How do you handle the tension?Continue reading
I attempted to start a post series back in April of 2018, based on a 31-day journaling prompt collection from the Art of Manliness (AoM). I managed to get only one day pumped out.
I’m trying again. but this time, with success! and you can follow below.
James’s Musings on Self-Reliance
Day 01: Wed 04/03/2019
Day 02: Sat 04/06/2019
Day 03: Wed 04/10/2019
Day 04: Wed 04/17/2019
Day 05: Sat 04/20/2019
Day 06: Tue 05/28/2019
Day 07: Sat 06/02/2019
if you’ve forgotten what exactly it was about, feel free to keep reading for the introductory excerpt from the AoM piece itself.Continue reading