You want to live a great story. A narrative in which you thrive outside of your comfort zone. A tale in which your time is owed to no one but you. An epic that is passion-fueled and purpose driven.
Roman philosopher Seneca meditates, “But man who spends all his time on his own needs, who organizes everyday as though it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the next day. For what new pleasures can any hour now bring him? He has tried everything, and enjoyed everything to repletion.”
Regrettably, you are a prisoner. A convict of an inter-subjective narrative which persuades, that you must follow your heart.
Author Yuval Noah Harari notes,“Friends giving advice often tell each other, “Follow your heart.” But the heart is a double agent that usually takes its instructions from the dominant myths of the day, and the very recommendation to “Follow your heart” was implanted in our minds by a combination of nineteenth-century romantic myths and twentieth century consumerist myths.”
When I followed my heart I found myself caught in a brutal uphill marathon. I was chasing the finish line, for me, that meant becoming a corporate lawyer or an NYC police officer. Why, because those were romantic and consumerist myths that were implanted in my mind, by friends and family.
As I got closer to the finish line, my feet got heavier, and my breathing became labored. Each step closer was agony but the myths kept pushing me not to fail. The pain became unbearable I surrendered. Exhausted, I fell to my knees and accepted failure.
What I have learned over time is that failure is not final, it’s life’s way of teaching you a valuable lesson. Robert of Wanderlust Worker writes, “In fact, failure is life’s great teacher; it’s nature’s chisel that chips away at all the excess, stripping down egos as it molds and shapes us through divine intentions.”
I began to understand that follow your heart was an epically terrible plan.
I needed to follow my effort. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban explains, “Because when you look at where you put in your time, where you put in your effort, that tends to be the things that you are good at. And if you put in enough time, you tend to get really good at it.”
Where are you placing your time, your energy? When I began to analyze what I enjoyed working on, the pain disappeared. That is not to say there is no struggle or that I am no longer in a brutal uphill marathon. I struggle everyday. I fail repeatedly.
What is different, primarily when you work on something you are good at, is that every failure is fuel.
Will you follow your heart or will you follow your effort? You have a limited amount of time in this life, live it so you can die without regret.