Whatever the flaws of my upbringing, one gift it gave me was high self-esteem and an almost limitless faith in my ability to be anything, learn anything, accomplish anything that I set my mind to. I’ve realized that there’s a dark side to that level of self-confidence, that people don’t often talk about.
If you really believe in yourself, and if you have a lot of experiences which confirm your confidence, it’s easy to become inflexible. You start to believe that absolutely any obstacle is the universe challenging you to square your shoulders and push back harder.
There are lots of stories in the business and self-help press of people doing exactly this, and winning. Which only feeds the confidence.
But when life throws you a curveball that you simply can’t dodge or deflect, it becomes hard to accept modifications to your dreams and ideals. You can’t construct new, different dreams. You try to find ways to force your reality into your original plans, and hurt people in the process. You’re a system that has only two modes: 100% and crashed. No degraded availability modes in between.
Eventually, you become the guy who tries to force his kids to accomplish whatever goal life prevented him from achieving.
I don’t want to be that guy. I’m trying not to be that guy. It’s hard to know what to accept, and what to fight. I have no models for this kind of nuance.