The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Double Your Confidence...(just close your eyes!)

"The confidence of amateurs is the envy of professionals" G.J. Nathan.

My seven year old son thinks he is a professional soccer player. My non-writer friends think that I should just be able to write whenever and whatever and from wherever I want, and that they can call me in the middle of my work-day and it won't matter.

People mocked Jack LaLane for growing old. People who have never had a healthy relationship offer unsolicited advice on how to find love or "score."

And people who have never run a business are filled with opinions about how Apple or Microsoft should operated. People on both sides of the abortion debate "know" when life begins, while scientists can't even agree on the line between "living" and "non-living" objects.

From the outside of any discipline, it is easy to have opinions about what is true, how it works, what we should do. Without a means to TEST those opinions, it is just hot air. The reason I love the Scientific Method so much is that if you can actually observe a phenomenon, formulate a hypothesis, create an experiment to test your hypothesis and then publish your results...the feedback you get from people who attempt to duplicate your experiment is awesomely valuable to help you make your way through life's amazingly subjective minefield.

The deeper you go into any field, the more your former certainty dissolves away. I used to love listening to armchair boxing fans criticize Ali's performance: "dammit, man doesn't even know how to keep his hands up!" I notice that these people never place themselves in an arena where their ideas can be disproven.

This is why I say that you need to have goals in multiple, measurable arenas of your life: relationship, physical health and fitness, mental clarity (career skill), and finances. Set up standards that allow you to actually succeed or fail. Objective measures, not "feelings". How many pages did you write? How much did you sell? How many times did you meditate this week? How much time did you spend with your children? Do you have a healthy romantic/sexual relationship? Did you eat consciously?

By actually measuring, actually stepping into the arena in which your theories about life can be proven or disproven, you stop being an "amateur" human being and start being a "professional"--your job is to be the best, healthiest, happiest, most honest, loving, and successful version of "you" you can be. It will be a process of testing your assumptions one at a time, examining your beliefs, clearing away the fog. It can be frightening to realize that there is a cliff RIGHT OVER THERE! But knowing it is there, and dealing with the fear, is hellaciously better than blindly going right over the edge with eyes closed and a confident, cocky smile on your face.

Especially if your kids are in the back seat.


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