Heyo zealots, zerglings and marines!
I’m sitting at my dining table on a sunny Tuesday afternoon as I write this. The fires in my state have been mostly extinguished and the rich blue of the clear summer sky is a welcome sight after months of haze and smoke. I’ve been thinking a lot about many things recently and tossing back and forth on what I’d like to write to you about today. I’ve worked many new habits into my daily routine; waking and sleeping earlier, swapping to a low carb diet, getting back into jogging longer distances and sharing my favourite clips on social media every few days. These have all been productive changes, but none of them are something that really sparks the fire of excitement. They were small optimisations, like getting my reaper out 2 seconds earlier by adjusting my depot placement and microing my gas workers better. Nice changes, but in terms of the big picture, not so exciting.
But there has been one small, daily habit that has had a massively transformative effect on my mindset and focus in recent weeks. It is both the hardest and most satisfying thing for me to do each day. It is also part of a larger paradigm shift in my mentality. So what is the big secret? What is this force multiplier? It’s something so god-damned mundane you won’t believe it. I have started forcing myself to watch my own stream for at least 15 minutes each day and make a mental note of something I did well and should repeat, as well as something that could be improved.
It’s the most fundamental review of my performance that day. Viewed on my chromecast or phone screen whilst eating lunch I watch myself. I cringe at stupid jokes I make, I make notes on how to improve in the matchup I’m focusing on and I make a note to turn my ingame audio up or down 15%, or to move my mic closer to my mouth. It’s such a small practice that anyone should always do with their work … There's a reason most companies do employee reviews every few months! It’s because it’s important to check the execution of your work, hone in on the important areas, find areas of weakness and overall make sure you’re on course to do a kickass job.
Yet this is the complete opposite of what I naturally do. Usually I work really frigging hard at something I want to get good at. I devote all my energy to this one thing. Aiming to outstrip the competition, to leave my past self in the dust and ascend to a new level of success. To hit that shiny golden target where I consider myself “good” - and having attained my goal, sit back and revel in my success. Of course, this exact same mindset led to my last reflections post. I considered myself “done” with focused improvement at SC - I didn’t need to work to maintain my level. I didn’t need to review and go back to basics with builds. I had hit X level and hence should automatically remain there. Yet that’s not how life works. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Whether from your own muscles atrophying, the competition outstripping you, or simply by losing focus and no longer having “it” anymore… you will fall behind and no longer hold that idealised status of being “good” or “successful” in that area.
And so in the last months I keep coming back to one quote that I stumbled across. “The struggle is what it’s all about. People ask me about success. Success is a word I almost never use. Success sounds like you’ve achieved something, it’s done. But to be corny, though not inaccurate, success is a journey and not a destination. You don’t say, ‘I’ve arrived, I’m here.’ You say, ‘I’ll try to do a little better tomorrow, and all the tomorrows after that.’ ” - John C Bogle. (Vanguard Founder) - https://www.inquirer.com/business/vanguard-john-bogle-fathers-day-happiness-20190612.html
I find this viewpoint incredibly inspirational… and have realised that in fact, the complete opposite view is DEEPLY ingrained in my core. From when I was a kid I always thought I would only work as much as I needed to get enough money that I could eat and play video games for the rest of my life. As I grew older it always felt like I was pushing for success in university, in progaming, in casting and streaming. In the pursuit of hitting a point where I was “successful” and would implicitly no longer have to try. I didn’t really think about the not trying part, but I’ve realised it was in the back of my head. A sense that when I hit a certain point I could take my foot off the pedal a little, and then a little more, and then slowly take my foot off it completely.
Yet now whenever I take my foot off the pedal, I don’t find more happiness. I don’t find more joy - in fact, I find less. I find myself listless and directionless. I find that the less I apply myself, the less meaning I find in each day. That in fact, I am happiest when I find things I truly passionately care about and devote myself to them. I used to follow my old view of hitting a certain point, saying “Yay I’m successful!”, and would promptly throw in the towel, scrapping performance reviews and giving up the pursuit of improvement. At that point of giving up on the pursuit of improvement, so would my interest start to wane. That thing I passionately devoted myself to and found such satisfaction and meaning in - it becomes worth nothing the moment I stop devoting myself to it.
And so I’ve found this happen, time and again. And I keep coming back to that quote. I’ve slowly realised that I have this simplistic view of success that has coloured my view of every pursuit I’ve ever had. And so I’ve slowly started to work to shift this paradigm, wedged deep in my mentality. To turn it upside-down and instead embrace the idea that success is not static. It’s not something you can possess or somehow come into control of. It’s something you always pursue and only can find for a fleeting moment, within that very pursuit. It’s only in that daily devotion to the things you care about that you can find success. As long as you care about something and commit some part of yourself to bettering that thing, you are on some level successful. Whether it’s trying to be a better husband, sister or friend. When you’re working every day to kick ass at your job, or to hit a personal best at the gym. Whether you’re trying to get from bronze to silver, plat to diamond or trying to finally get that championship that keeps slipping away from you. It’s not like getting one of those goals suddenly means you’re done. If you truly care about this thing you’ve got to love the process. If you hit one goal, and still care about the thing - just throw up another set of goals in front of you and keep walking in the right direction.
Part of me thinks changing my viewpoint to fully embrace this should be easy. On a logical level, and based on my experience I know it to be a solid concept. And yet erasing a lifetime of living in one paradigm can’t be changed overnight. It’s something where the urge after a good performance to eat some junk food and watch some netflix, to screw around on some video games or to go down a tunnel of youtube recommended videos is still there. The conditioned reaction to say “You kicked ass! You don’t need to work anymore” is still my automatic response to any good results.
And so changing this starts, like any other great personal shift, with a small daily habit. 15 minutes watching my own video back and taking notes. Uncomfortably listening to my own voice and reminding myself I’m far from perfect and have near infinite room to improve. It’s a humbling experience and one which is the anchor for this slow about-face in my thinking. I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other, and slowly shifting into this new way of thinking.
As always I hope sharing this has in some way enriched your day, and not been too arduous a read.
I had a great discussion with Poland’s very own Mana recently in episode #6 of The PiG Show, check it out before he competes in front of his home-crowd at IEM Katowice this weekend! https://youtu.be/5JIZSZYkn4g
Podcast format for all episodes will be live within the next few weeks!
See you in the next Reflections Newsletter!