Monday, January 03, 2005

Get out of Your Way

For much of my life I seem to have had some sort of mental constipation that stops me from functioning at my peak capacity. I have never figured out how to cure myself of it. I can overcome it for short periods of time, the longest of which got me back into school through a B.A. and a Ph.D., but it has long since faded. I had a coherent driving goal at that point in my life, but that's gone, and I'd like one back.

The title of this post is a statement I came up with in my last year of grad school as advice to a first year student in our research group. He was (and I assume still is) pretty smart, but was having some difficulty understanding some stuff. I knew he could get it, but his biggest problem was that he was convinced that it was supposed to be difficult. As a result, he was making the material much harder than it really was.

Essentially that's what I need to do - to get out of my own way. I'm pretty sure that I'm what's holding me back. When I was teaching highschool students a couple years ago, one of the things I told them was that "Most human failure is not a failure of ability, but of the will."

Funny how the person who gives advice is frequently the one who needs it most.


Rich said...

I always have this interesting feeling when someone captures so clearly my own feelings about this "failure of the will," as you call it. First, I'm elated that someone's defined it more closely, so I may better understand the nature of my enemy, even if he is myself. Misery shared is lessened.

Second, I'm invariably disappointed when I look for the cure and it is not helpfully provided next to the disease.

Aaron F Stanton said...

Hi Rich -

Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry I don't have the answer you're looking for. If I had it, I wouldn't be stuck in this malaise myself. One place I've found to be useful online is Steve Pavlina's website - - as he has some really great essays there. Poke around on it, and be sure to follow the links to his software company as well. There's good stuff on both sites. Good luck.