Orin Hahn, on finding long term motivation in an instant gratification world.
This post originally appeared at Spirituality for the Sarcastic
I’m sitting at a conference for ultralight startups surrounded by a dozen people looking to pitch their ideas, their apps, their business plans to a panel of VC’s, investors and money men. Everyone is hustling to network and exchange cards before it starts.
Strangers are spouting sentences, loudly, that start off with phrases like “You know what you NEED to do to stand out…blah blah blah”
Part of the extra pop to the usual sizzle that goes on at these things is this event is taking place a week or so after the recent announcement that Instagram just got bought for a billion dollars. Everyone wants to be the next one, and they want it tonight.
A guy next to me, who has the look of a man who has seen many incarnations of this, says to his friend, who’s wide eyed and curious “what these investors today are looking for is can you offer them a 10x return within the next year”.
Another time, a place removed. I’m sitting with a friend in a coffee shop in Union Square. He’s a bit worn and down looking and we start to talk.
“I want to find that girl, I want a real partner but every time there’s always something keeping it from being right” he sighs “I don’t know if it’s that I’ve never found The One or if I just don’t have it in me, I’d like to but the whole things frustrating.”
I think about these moments. They go back and forth in my head among a million similar ones. There’s a frenzy and belief in the game changing POP that shifts your whole life.
Simultaneously there is despondency over the long term.
I fight it myself often. The constant news of what expectation to give up now; housing being attainable, retirement, divorce rates. 24/7 streams saying that the finish line is gone. And all the while there’s no shortage of “Quick tips to blah blah blah…”
So why bother? Why invest, develop or believe in anything? That’s the question to sit with. If all there is left is short term candy and long term failure why not be good at short sweet and outta here?
I’ll tell you why with one of my favorite quotes from Warren Buffett.
“After all, you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.”
He may have said this in regards to investing in companies but I think of it beyond that as how I want to invest in my life and who I am.
It’s easy to fit in, to be enviable when you’re covered by the appearance and proximity of something external, especially when it’s going well regardless of you. To know who you are, what you bring to the table, to have an inkling on why you even exist you need only to look at yourself when there is nothing but blank slates.
What do you believe in? What will you dream up? How will you fill the canvas for another to see the world? These are some of the most terrifying and exciting questions to play with, and they carry that POP in the short and long term.
Too often we see commitment as this static thing, staying with a partner, a job, a career, a business forever. We look at this externality and forget it’s just a reception point for what we bring to it. When you flip the relationship to commitment to yourself as the only constant, when you look at how do I bring something to what’s around me and what does that let me know about myself, then things loose the power to make or break you.
Every interaction becomes a game and commitment is never about failure again.
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