My favorite song from the past two years was Chris Stapleton's Starting Over, the second verse of which goes like this:
This might not be an easy time
There's rivers to cross and hills to climb
Some days we might fall apart
And some nights might feel cold and dark
But nobody wins, afraid of losing
And the hard roads are the ones worth choosing
Someday we'll look back and smile
And know it was worth every mile
This verse always stands out to me. Particularly "nobody wins, afraid of losing". It reminds me of the old adage that goes something like: if you want to drive down the road but are afraid of crashing, don't look at the trees.
I've been thinking about this general dynamic lately, because it seems like there's a lot to be afraid of these days. AI, climate, wars (physical & cultural), economic uncertainty, etc etc. And it's easy to focus on the "tree" through all of it, rather than the potential "win".
On a more micro level, I've been watching my son wrestle with a tough slump in the middle of his baseball season. He plays on a very serious club team with a lot of great players, and there's a lot of focus on performance and stats. He got into a bit of a slump for a few weeks, and was feeling really down. He was working his butt off to improve, but it felt to me like something was missing. It seemed to me that he was motivating more from a fear of failure ("what if I don't make the team next year") vs a love of the game ("wow, it feels so good to hit the ball").
Both kinds of motivation can be helpful, for sure. Especially if they get you moving in the direction you need to move in. In my son's case he was able to break the slump, and -- I think -- re-gained some excitement for hitting. But motivating out of fear is really not very fun.
I'm a natural procrastinator, and so I'm very familiar with motivating out of fear. It's the worst. Part of my own working through that is to try and constantly remind myself of the vision and the excitement, as a way of breaking through the fear. Part of which is writing this post :-)
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