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#058 Sticking With It
Common Discourse is a project designed to help others (and ourselves) think through creativity, focus, and intentional work—from Alex Tan & Alice Otieno.
Every Tuesday we share words from a journal, a few ideas, a quote from somebody else, and links worth sharing. On Fridays we invite a guest to share images from their camera roll and a sound that resonates with them.
I have flashbacks every now and then to a conversation with my father on a humid summer evening in the Midwest. He was doing dad shit that day: Cleaning up the garage, changing the oil on the car, listening to Nirvana through an FM radio that must have been twice as old as he was. Now the O’Riley Auto Parts jingle is burned into my brain.
It was the summer of 2011 and I was less than a year away from earning the highest ranking in Boy Scouts, an achievement that only 4% of all 110 million participants have earned since 1910. I walked out into the garage that night and let it on him that I was ready to leave the childhood fun and games behind. Tying knots and starting fires was not cool according to my soccer teammates, girls I had interest in, and my friends who grew up doing the program with me but quit before we got into high school.
15 year old me was ready to be taken seriously, so I let him know.
He rolled out from underneath the car and asked me something that I’ll forget.
“Are you going to move through the rest of your life giving up when things get difficult? People will always have something to say and things will only get more complex as you get older. You always have the choice to do whatever you want, but know that the choices you make now are the ones that affect the way you make choices in the future. If you can get through it now, you can get through it later.”
I stuck with it. And I’ve found ways to stick through all the other things he told me I’d face “later.”
Working through conflict, having uncomfortable conversations, taking risks, fighting for ideas, starting a company in a pandemic, working with friends, trusting my intuition.
The choice to become resilient starts before you even realize it.
A few ideas
I. UP TO YOU
The more days you take off in a row, the harder it is to get back into it.
The more days you show up in a row, the more difficult it is to imagine a day without it.
Habits are created one way or another. Whether they are positive or negative is up to you.
II. ONE WORD
The smallest shift in word choice can make all the difference.
“I’m here with you” versus “I’m here for you” is a promise and commitment.
“Can we fix this?” versus “Can you fix this?” means nobody wins until we all win.
Karl Malone spent 19 years in the NBA smashing records. On paper, some might argue his career was more fruitful that competitors that were often placed before him, one being named Michael Jordan. Malone scored more career points, grabbed more rebounds, took his team to more playoffs, and made more NBA All First-Team appearances than Jordan.
Ultimately, we remember Jordan because he finished his career with 6 NBA Championships. Malone: 0.
Completing the job is part of what it means to deliver high quality work. It’s what separates a distant memory from unforgettable legacy.
Anyone can start. A lot of people will make it far. But only few will finish.
Go until there is nowhere left to go.
A quote from somebody else
“Everything always needs new language. We constantly have to renew the language of any mode of inquiry. Some of the tools for that are in art history and some are in other places. If you’ve really got to do something, and it’s really important, you don’t give a shit where the tools come from. You get the tools wherever you can find them and then you deal with the consequences that attend those tools as you work with them. You don’t reject tools out of hand just because they come from this or that place. To me, that means you aren’t serious about getting the job done—you’re serious about something else, maybe about some bullshit notion of purity, but you're not serious about getting the job done.”
— Fred Moten
Links worth sharing
♬ whatnot to the music, by Fred Moten
🧠 Remember to Forget is an ongoing series by Faris Kassim that archives film images taken over the past 10 years. Using an algorithm, the images demonstrate the relationship between the act of remembering and how this affects our memories.
🖼 Jill Risberg writes on the divide between art and content, and everything that falls in-between.
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