What do you mean I’m not trying hard enough?Posted: January 28, 2013
I’ve noticed that there are quite a number of people who claim to want things; for instance, I know people who claim to want to become multi-billionaire CEOs, or that they want to get rich, or invent something, or become the president/prime minister of somewhere. Or you might want to win a Nobel Prize, or perhaps end poverty and save the world. This might even be you. These are people who claim to want something more than anything else in the world.
And then after saying that, they go home and play video games or watch TV.
It’s not about the fact that your dream is overly-ambitious. I’ve been far more ambitious, and respect many more who want to achieve things far harder than the above stated examples.
It bugs me because it lacks the essence of a desperate attempt.
It’s a lack of respect to those who genuinely try to do the impossible.
What I mean by a desperate attempt is that you must actually go, be optimal, and go freaking do it. Claiming to try is not enough. I’m talking about living your life in accordance with this one goal, to stake the chips of your life on it. I’m talking about sacrificing your pride, emotions, and sense of self to do it.
Extraordinary things require a desperate effort.
Is your extraordinary wish to get rich off the stock market?
Then fight for it. Download all the books talking about the stock market that you can find, sacrifice all other activities to read through all of it. Get in touch with people you know have succeeded. Ask, pester, and harrass them for advice and help. Find allies. Do you have social anxiety? Bad Luck, cut off the mental part of you that causes you to hesitate, and just freaking do it. Keep brainstorming and thinking of ideas to achieve your goal. Test all of them. Constantly ask yourself how this can be done. Become a person that can achieve it. You have to fight for it.
Is your extraordinary wish to end poverty?
Then fight for it. Find every plausible method of attack, and keep working at them. Study Economics, Science, Population dynamics, political science, psychology, sociology, mathematics, and every field that might be relevant. Sacrifice the years of your life, your childhood, and your social life to get it done. Dedicate every aspect of your life to it. You have to make a desperate attempt.
I say all this not because this exact sequence of actions matter, but in order to convey a very particular emotional tone (an emotional tone is a modular component of the emotional symphonies we have English words for – common to sorrow, despair, and frustration). This tone feels like a calm anger. Yes, that’s an oxymoron, but that’s the best way I can describe it. It’s a clenched fist at the back of your head, showing you the way. It’s a combination of dedication, desperation, and desire.
Because what makes you think your extraordinary wish will come true if you give it anything less than an extraordinary, desperate, effort?
Most of all, putting fourth a desperate effort is to engage in an eternal battle with your instinctive self.
Tuxedage: I need to study.
Tuxedage: I must study!
Brain: Hell No!
Tuxedage: You can go screw yourself! I’m going to do this whether you like it or not!
I’m talking about fighting an eternal internal conflict against the evolutionary instincts that keeps you away from your goal. You want to be lazy. You don’t want to put in effort. You’d rather get a small slice of hedonism now than some far off abstract goal.
But this is not about you. You know you have something you want to do more important than yourself. Desperate attempts are never pleasant; they are meant to hurt.
Now, don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong living a hedonistic lifestyle. There’s a reason it’s called an extraordinary effort, and an extraordinary goal. Not everyone should do it.
But if you know you have something you want more than anything else in the world…
On the hardware side, I’m a ridiculously lazy person. Work is not merely unpleasant, it’s actually physically painful for me — and usually a lot more painful than any physical injury. It hurts so much that I used to cut myself repeatedly just so I can distract my mind from the pain of work. (And I still have the scars to prove it).
And I really do think that if anyone else were put into my brain, they’d rather commit suicide than expend the amount of mental energy that I do.
But because I’ve fought my inner self for such a long time, I’ve compensated by developing an incredible amount of willpower on the software side. You know the sudden burst of energy you get when you’re really angry at something? I’ve managed to harness that and maintain that emotional tone for weeks. I’ve stopped doing that ever since my transhumanist coming-of-age, since it’s detrimental to my ability to empathize with people. But my point is still valid.
All that comes from fighting myself every single day. It comes from declaring yourself as your greatest enemy, and making a desperate attempt to defeat it. And suffice to say, because I do, there’s only one person in the world that I currently hate — and that is myself.
If you don’t utterly despise yourself as a result of constant internal battle, then your effort isn’t desperate enough.
Because it’s easy to claim you’re putting in a desperate effort. It’s easy to delude yourself into thinking that you’re already trying your best, even though you really aren’t. Some people are even born with advantageous hardware, and high conscientiousness — they can function on a level that appears desperate, without actually being desperate. But that isn’t true desperation.
And it’s also equally easy to say “I hate myself — because I’m putting fourth a desperate effort” using words alone. But only when you truly feel anger at yourself, when you look yourself in the mirror with disgust; and when you wish you could rid yourself of your body and kill your inner self, you don’t really hate yourself.
And look; I’m not saying that every single successful person in the world does this. I’m quite aware that this level of dedication is not normal.
But if there’s anything you want something even more than your own life, if you have a “dream” that must come true, then you should not expect anything less.
Because an extraordinary wish requires a desperate effort.