Maybe you want to write a novel. Maybe you want to date a model. Maybe you want to be a film director, a fashion designer, an entrepreneur, a womanizer, a cage fighter, a screenwriter, a millionaire, a billionaire, an Olympian, a chef, an artist or a poet. Maybe you just want to do something extraordinary; change your life, find out who you are, or just fall in love.
Maybe you just want to do anything – but there’s something in the way.
Maybe it’s motivation – we could all use more of that. Maybe it’s fear – we could all use less of that. Maybe it’s courage, maybe it’s self-respect, maybe it’s discipline, maybe it’s virtue and goodness, maybe it’s less shame, maybe it’s more acceptance. Maybe it’s just a feeling of anxiety that won’t go away.
No matter what it is – the problem is always the same. You want to do something, but there’s something stopping you; there’s something in the way.
And it sucks.
Humans are goal-seeking animals. We’re hardwired to pick something out and pursue it. But when we have a goal hardwired in our heads which we’re prevented from achieving – our happiness suffers. We start to feel worthless – like we don’t measure up, and in many cases, can fall into depression.
When there’s something stopping you from achieving what it is that you desire, life starts to take a pessimistic dip.
But the reality is that for many of us, the obstacle isn’t anything tangible – it isn’t slavery, oppression, poverty or starvation. No, for many of us, the obstacle is ourselves.
We’re in our own way, and we don’t even know it. We’re waiting for something that isn’t going to occur.
You don’t wait for the motivation to start; you get the motivation after you start. You don’t wait for some self-respect to start fixing your life; you get self-respect by fixing your life. You don’t wait for manliness to arrive by some genetic grace; you cultivate it by developing decisiveness, courage, integrity, and ambition.
The principle is always the same:
You don’t wait, you just start.
GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY
Once referred to as ‘The master’ or ‘The philosopher’, Aristotle is now known as one of the greatest thinkers of all time. He invented rhetoric, jumped into the ring with Plato and was the tutor to a young boy named Alexander. Y’know, the one who went on the conquer the known world. His ideas influenced Western culture for thousands of years and are still relevant today – ranging from topics such as debate, art, and politics to more personal ones, like character.
In his masterpiece, The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argued that there were specific virtues, that when cultivated, nourished Eudaimonia (happiness). He believed that moral virtue was the outcome of habit, and that said habits would ensure the cultivation of the good life that the individual desired. For the source of all these virtues, Aristotle chose courage.
“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” – Aristotle
When it comes to achieving our goals in life, courage is the engine that determines how those goals flourish. When it comes to getting out of our own way; courage is everything.
Courage is what stops you waiting. When you’re waiting for motivation or inspiration or self-respect – you’re hanging on to an illusion. Courage is what gets you started. You can start self-generating motivation, self-respect, virtue, and discipline if you just embrace the courage to start. Courage ensures you begin, and in doing so ensures everything else.
Now, this is where you reply – ‘but Visko, I’m not courageous.’
Here’s the thing – you don’t need to be.
Courage follows the same rules as everything else: You don’t wait, you just start.
Courage begins with nothing. It emerges when you know there are two options: do nothing, or do something. When you pick the latter, that’s courage. That’s why it’s the source of everything else. Courage will generate the qualities you need, but nothing will generate courage except courage itself.
This may sound like a paradox, but it’s really quite simple. It’s a binary choice – act, or don’t act. The more you choose to act, the easier it becomes.
The more courageous you become.
When you develop this habit of bold decisiveness, of courage – you are going to get out of your own way. You aren’t going to be stopping yourself from starting. That’s what courage is. Courage isn’t fearlessness – courage is when you feel the fear, and do it anyway. It’s when you feel afraid, or lacking motivation, or bankrupt in self-respect – but you get started anyway. Because you know that when you do, the feeling of lack fades away, and the things you were waiting for start to arrive on their own.
You don’t wait, you just start.