Two takeaways from a James Altucher podcast interview with Dan Harris. Altucher has been getting some good guests recently and while he sometimes drives the conversation towards his idea of Choose Yourself, the interviews are always conversational.
Harris was the episode twelve guest and he shared two good ideas that I often forget about.
Idea 1: We only control the input.
Dan was talking letting go and letting “the universe decide.” While I don’t know about a cosmic force that serves as evaluator of this, I do like the idea of thinking in terms of inputs rather than outputs.
Last summer I ran in five road races, ranging from three to thirteen miles. I ran most days last summer, peaking out at ninety miles in the month of August. In one of those races I finished first, in another third, and in another eight-seventh. In each of these races I did my best but the outcome of finishing place varied based on how large the race was. If I was worried about the output of race place then last summer would have been a disappointment, rather it was a success because I enjoyed the running and appreciated the input.
I know this is true too in my relationships, work, and writing. This blog doesn’t get much traffic, but that doesn’t bother me, because I enjoy writing it rather than seeing more visitors.
Idea 2: Compare yourself to others to move forward
In television news, Harris said it can be competitive to find an anchor seat like he has. For a while he viewed his peers as competitors, each trying to get a bigger job, bigger check, and maybe his seat. Now he views them as collaborator, people to synergize with to create something great.
Our house has a long drive to the road and in the winter I looked out the drive and imagined an army walking by. Not a real army, but more like a cross between fictional armies and soldiers and everything between. Men on horses, women in suits, young professionals carrying large packs, old masters walking with only a staff and their wisdom. I imagined that they were on the march of life, moving forward on the path in their own way at their own pace, but all moving.
I imagined that they were waving for me to join them, to join the march. They wanted to see me come and move forward to join their ranks of people who are moving through life, not waiting for life to move through them.
I felt this with running too, especially when I was younger I would get shoulder to shoulder with someone and we would beat down the path like a pair of young bucks. We let our young legs carry us and push the other. These shoulder to shoulder moments were magnified at the finish line with parents and friends cheering. While their vocal chants spurred you, so did the guy next to you. At the end of each battle we extended ourselves over the finish line and every time we shook hands. Sometimes I was on the winning end, sometimes the losing end, but always knowing that I was able to go further thanks to this opponent.
Find the right inputs and work with people. Two good things to keep in mind.