On this island alone
Without a chance to escape
I silently roam
Quietly losing my faith
But when the sun blazes
I don’t look for the shade
And when the wind chases
I stare it square in the face
My discipline strengthens
With no reliance
I live with a vengeance
In pure defiance
But the temperature drops
My body cannot survive
I will not let my heart stop
Until it hardens to ice
I lay here in this final hour
Frozen, time still forever
No one will ever know of my power
But I… I will remember


Do it for yourself.

If nobody is looking, if nobody is aware of who you are or what you are doing, what exactly will you do? If nobody is there to give you accolades, or give you encouragement, or fire you up with criticism, or hand you a reward, with what resolve will you get it done? Every second you wait for recognition is a second wasted. Welcome it when it comes, but have a clear path going forward without it. The only person you ever have to prove something to is yourself.

Recognition comes in many forms: payment, victory, success, adoration. When these ends become your sole focus, you lose sight of what actually means something to you, what lasts. If I am given money I haven’t earned, I don’t want it. If I have to cheat to win, I don’t want it. If it is handed to me on a silver platter, I don’t want it. If I am offered credit for something I didn’t do, I don’t want it. If I have to choose between going up against the best and losing or going up against the worst and winning, I would rather lose because I know I will have pushed myself to the limit. The outcomes of these trials pale in comparison to our own understanding of what we went through to get there. We may not be able to convince others of this struggle, but in the end, it is our own knowledge that truly matters.

All of the end goals mentioned above come through in copious amounts when they are the least of your worries. It is specifically your own desire to achieve what you want, regardless of recognition, that will resonate with others. Conversely, if that desire is fake and obscures a more artificial purpose, the uncovered truth will transform the recognition into a negative one.

You may agree that many patterns in this book should be avoided (or followed, for the positive ones). You may take it a step further and come to the conclusion that it is in your best interest to be known for avoiding these patterns, to wear it as a badge of honor. Know that this behavior is a direct contradiction of the pattern described in this chapter. The will to master yourself so you do not fall victim to these patterns cannot be predicated on being recognized for it. Your personal sense of discipline must be a foundation on its own. The stool on which you stand to be seen from afar is a wobbly one, and will tumble easily. The bedrock you create for yourself, however, the one that no one will see, never shatters.


Situational Questions

  • How much weight do you put into how you are judged or ranked by someone else? If you are ranked lower than you expect, does it change what you know about yourself? Does it change the direction your choices take you?
  • Do you brag about doing things fast or in large quantity? Is the quality of the action secondary in your consideration? What is more important to you, doing something first (or many times over), or doing it well?
  • Do you go to great lengths to establish a legacy for yourself? Is the narrative with which you are remembered more important than the truth behind your accomplishments? If you were to cease trying to manipulate such perception, what new endeavors could your energy be applied to?


Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *