Letters For My Sons

Month: April 2015

The Only Excuse For Mediocrity

I am mediocre.  In my own mind.  To many of my friends, I am awesome, amazing, strong, fit, multi-talented.  To myself I am average, more unskilled than skilled, just a guy doing his thing, trying to get better.

My goal however, is excellence.

Perhaps that is what separates me from the crowd.  I desire more, and am willing to do better for that.

Steve Jobs’ father used to build electronic cabinets.  Steve could not understand why he put so much effort into making the back of the cabinets so neat.

“No-one is going to see that!” he would say.

“But son, I know it’s there.”

That is the mindset of excellence.  Seeking perfection even if it won’t be appreciated by anyone else.  But to get to that state one must travel the road of mediocrity and learn along the way.

I like to build things in my shed.  I failed woodwork at school, but since I’ve found my love for building I’ve had to improve at it.  And the stuff I’ve made has been shit.  But I know it’s going to get better.  So I keep making shit, with the knowledge that I am improving every time, and soon I will be making great stuff.

The only excuse for mediocrity is to be on your way to excellence.

Success For Unsuccessful Men

If it wasn’t already obvious, this blog is not for successful men.  Those people need no help.  They have made it.  They had the parenting, the genes, the drive to succeed, and the motivation necessary to kick ass and take names in whatever they do.

This blog is for those guys who are unsatisfied with their lot, but have little idea how to get from A to C.  It’s for men who know they can be better, but are stuck with a raft of psychological burdens through the luck that life brought them.  They want to succeed, and badly, but trip over their own oversized clown feet.  They read successful men’s blogs and try the methods, but don’t often reap the bounty promised.

What is the problem with using another person’s methods for success?  If they are successful already, they perhaps don’t remember the entire process for becoming successful.  They remember well the methods they used halfway through their journey, when success was just around a dark foreboding corner.  But what about those systems they formed early on, when they were just starting their way?

Methods for success are dependent on where you are in your journey.  The mental methods and training I use now would be of no use to a beginner.  If I tried to tell myself ten years ago to do the things I do now to improve my mental state, my motivation levels, and the pure amount of work performed, I would look at myself in disbelief.  I can only do the things I do now because I started at the beginning.

What is at the beginning?  Head games.  Preparing yourself for doing the things you don’t want to do because they make you a better person.  Success comes from work, and in my case, laziness, fear and guilt were the enormous monsters blocking my path.  They all had to be dealt with severely, but it took a lot of time, and seriously, it’s a never-ending battle.  When you think you have them smashed up in the corner ready to die, they reappear with wounds healed like a psychological three-day-dead Jesus.  But they have shrunk over the years, and are no longer the show-stoppers they once were.

Success is a function of practice.  Keep on trying to be successful, whatever that definition may be.  After you’ve failed, you must pick yourself up off the concrete, slaughter the guilt that’s on your back, and try again.  It might take you an hour to do this, it might take you a month, or even a year.  But you come back and try again, and again, and again.  It will get easier, eventually.

calm child

Breaking News: Proud Man Bettered By Asshole Serene Five-Year-Old

I had a win last night in the parenting game.  It came, however, at the expense of my own pride.

My boys had been shitting me to tears all afternoon.  As a parent, you tend to get used to your kids being selfish fuckers who can’t appreciate any of the myriad of things you do for them.  Yesterday though, I was on the edge of rage.  They were bickering about the tiniest things while we were working in the workshop.  I was building them a wooden crane that they had designed, and it was going reasonably well until I broke a critical piece by rushing.

SIDE NOTE about kids for those who don’t have them: they are incredibly well tuned to your lowest points, those times when even a mosquito bite of self control seems impossible to consider.  In those moments your child will: instantaneously turn up the volume on any complaints they may have; they will start fighting that little bit more annoyingly; or they will decide to use that most precious item of your household as a sledgehammer.  Science has tried to understand the telepathic powers of young children and use it for good instead of evil.  Unfortunately, science is not yet smart enough.

I was in a state of frustrated despair due to my inabilities at woodwork, and my boys jumped on it like ravenous hyenas.  They started fighting over a G-clamp, due to it being the nearest item at the time worth arguing over.

I lost my shit.

I ripped the clamp out of my eldest’s hands, and threw it to the ground, berating the pair of them for arguing over bullshit, and why couldn’t they cut it out, and why couldn’t they just help by being good, and ra ra ra.

After a moment of silence, my eldest looked at me directly in the eye, and said, calmly, “You just snatched that from me!”

I roared back at how he deserved it, and they shouldn’t be doing that, and they should be grateful I’m making something for them, and ra ra ra.

Again, with absolute calmness, the eldest said pointedly, “You shouldn’t have snatched that away.”

 

calm child

Fucking asshole children that keep their cool while I lose my shizzle

 

His unruffled bearing under pressure shook me out of my aggression.  I saw that his composure was pissing me off due to my own lack of self-control, and that I was trying to shake him out of it in order to have an argument.  His unperturbed stance impressed me, and I saw that the work we have been putting in to parenting well has had a profound influence.

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