On Being a “Writer” (part 9: Commitment)

I’ve heard all the excuses before. I know them because I used to be great at making excuses seem like explanations. What have I learned (besides that I needed a huge kick the in rear)? Discipline conquers most of the BS we tell ourselves and others in order to mitigate the fear factor I spoke of in my last post. We all get up in the morning and arm ourselves against Resistance. The more successful people I know, instead of wielding excuses in the arena, buffer themselves with discipline.

A major component of this discipline is Commitment. Bel Pesce, a brilliant Brazilian entrepreneur and writer gave a Ted Talk entitled, “5 Ways to Kill Your Dream” (also featured below). Here they are:

1) Believe in overnight success.

2) Believe someone else has the answers for you.

3) Decide to settle when growth is guaranteed.

4) Believe the fault is someone else’s.

5) Believe that the only things that matter are the dreams themselves.

Great. This was a cute talk and it’s undeniable that Pesce is bright, certainly charming, and poses good points, fundamentally. However, I’d like to challenge her on two things: (1) What is the core of all of this advice and (2) rhetorically speaking, how effective is it to hear what you’re not supposed to do?

I believe strongly that the element that ties all of Pesce’s points together is commitment. Commitment to the Self comes first. Who are you? What is it that you truly desire? I can’t stress this more: be brutally honest with yourself. Only then can you answer the question: How are you going to see your dreams/projects through? I think about it this way: if you were sat down in an room of mirrors for the rest of infinity, what would you see? Could you live with that? If not, I suggest you figure out what you need to change and then put a lot of your energy into doing so, immediately. Honestly, no book will be written, nor venture launched, effectively and successfully if you don’t tack this down.

Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Mirrored Room’ at David Zwirner Gallery

Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Mirrored Room’ at David Zwirner Gallery (click through image for NYTimes review)

Now, if you have that settled with yourself, I won’t lie and say the rest is easy, but at least you have built a solid foundation so that, if something doesn’t go as planned, you’ve got a suitable safety net. Additionally, I most certainly don’t claim that anybody in this world feels this confident every day (if you meet someone who does, please introduce me). But, again, the more successful people I know, in any industry, value commitment first over confidence. Commitment, actually, is what produces true confidence.

This commitment also drives that hard work factor, the nose to the grindstone attitude that most successful people possess. Hard work in it of itself isn’t enough, though. There are people who put in 15 hours a day, 365 days a year, and don’t see results. Another soapbox on which I stand is that of maximizing your time. I could preach this all day. This is where commitment is a compass. When you really know yourself–when commitment is reflex and your soul schedule is relatively set–you do better by yourself by not wasting your time or anyone else’s.

This brings me to my second point. I’m a student of Positive Communication. Don’t get me wrong, I am not always “nice.” I certainly don’t coddle anyone; to the contrary, I can sometimes be ruthless and unrelenting. However, I believe strongly in the power of communicating positivity, whether you are having an argument with a friend or acting as the CEO of a company.

I don’t mean, by the way, that Pesce was any less than lovely in delivering her talk. What I mean by negative communication is the presence of “don’t” rather than “do.” Instinctively, people brace when they hear “don’t.” Psychological studies have shown that in the presence of negative communication, we are more likely to feel immediately and reflexively defensive. When we are defensive, we are not as effective. We cannot receive or put out information or work as successfully.

All in all, the talk is still worth the 6-minutes, and Pesce’s body of work is quite interesting. I salute her for pioneering the young generation of #womenintech.

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