Long-term, we must begin to build our internal strengths. It isn’t just skills like computer technology. It’s the old-fashioned basics of self-reliance, self-motivation, self-reinforcement, self-discipline, self-command. – Steven Pressfield
I’ll be up front with you, I’m a little tired. So tired that I didn’t realise that my previous post was my 1,000th. A nice round number, a little bit of a milestone that should be a cause for celebration. Then again, I have a cultural background that doesn’t really go in for celebrations. But we don’t go in for misery either. It’s more the Kipling lines, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same;”
I was listening to a very experienced person talk about what they would suggest younger people do – and it really didn’t come down to waiting for someone else to sort out your life for you. If you expect your politicians or your employers or the state to make life better, you’ll be waiting a long time. You need to get off your behind and sort yourself out. And that comes down to learning – training yourself, getting up to speed in the skills that are needed for the world of now. It’s not even really about tomorrow or the day after. Most of the stuff we learned is obsolete – we can’t even use it to cope with the world around us today.
I think of myself as fairly technical but my kids run rings around me when it comes to mobile technology and the games they play on there. Part of me is grumpy and doesn’t really want to learn what this is all about. And part of me hopes that what I know will be relevant when they grow up so that I will still know something. But the chances of that are slim. On the other hand, the technology might change but people will remain the same. If you can understand them and work with them, you’ll have a chance of still being relevant.
Now, to address the question in the picture above – I drew it before I’d realised that I got to the 1,000 post mark – but it’s still relevant. Why spend that time, do all that writing when one could be doing anything else? I’m sure you could think of many more interesting alternatives to sitting at a desk and tapping away at keys. The answer to that is I enjoy doing this. I enjoy learning and writing and reflecting and I write because it’s one way to get these ideas out of my head and into a form that helps me see them for myself. I’m sometimes asked what’s the point, or how you could monetize this. The practice, however, has no point and doesn’t need to make any money. It only needs me to want to do it.
That said, the practice has value for me. How do I know that, you ask? This is an academic question I’m going to have to face in the years to come. How do you know a method works – that something you do has value? It may have intrinsic value – you might enjoy doing it and think that you’re doing it well but how do you really know? The academic answer is that you get feedback – you ask people. But of course, people can’t always be trusted so you analyse what they do and try and get insights from that. You can do a lot of study to see if people value what you do.
Or you can look at the money.
Here’s the thing with an academic definition of value – it’s probably not worth the paper it’s written on. Human beings have figured out how to exchange things of value a while back and they did it my attaching a price to it. As Buffett writes, the price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
This is not a particularly appealing thought but it’s a hard one to ignore. You should do things because you want to. Well – legal things anyway. But if what you do has value a byproduct is that it will also create wealth. But it’s a byproduct, a side effect and you shouldn’t take it seriously because once you start thinking of what you do as a job it will probably take away much of the fun of doing it.
Anyway – to end with the main point from that experienced person again. Keep learning. That’s valuable.