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fools rarely recognize their own reflection
I spent the majority of the last 20 years trying to prove myself:
How much I knew
What I’m capable of
In fact, when I was very young, I would often respond to words of caution and instruction by saying, “I know.”
Whether I actually knew what I was talking about or not, my response would be the same: “I know.”
It happened enough that adults started calling me out on it, because they could see clearly through my facade.
Turns out it was just the beginning of a behavior that ended up sticking with me for decades.
As I grew older, I developed a deep desire to be admired, so I sought out leadership positions and continually tried to paint myself as interesting, powerful, and successful.
Nothing worked. No matter what I did, there was always someone who wasn’t impressed.
It drove me crazy.
I just wanted to be liked.
Is that really so much to ask?
Here’s the problem: I was so determined to “prove my worth” that I wasn’t willing to do anything to improve.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a decent baseline of creative talents. Everyone does.
As a child, that was enough.
I could play popular songs on saxophone by ear, I was a pretty reliable improvisational drummer, and I had a natural flair for language which manifested in a high reading level and solid writing skills.
Unfortunately, my talents became more of an obstacle than an asset.
Because, I let those meager talents supplied to me by nature go straight to my head, and then I wasted decades trying to prove I was talented instead of trying to master my craft.
Finally — rather recently — I realized that there’s a big difference between talent and mastery.
And that’s when I finally began making real progress toward mastery.
I used to reject the idea of taking courses, watching educational videos, reading content for beginners, and practicing fundamental skills.
This was all rooted in that same childish belief and behavior: “I know.”
I’d somehow convinced myself that I knew everything I needed to know:
And so, for years, I kept trying to achieve success on the foundation of my own knowledge.
I just wanted to do things my way.
I wanted to be original.
And that’s why I kept failing.
Because, while other people had spent years educating themselves and developing mastery under the tutelage of others, I’d gotten stuck in a loop of trying to prove I knew something.
I murdered my curiosity in its crib all because of a few early childhood wins, a little bit of luck, and an iota of natural talent.
I didn’t realize this fundamental truth:
While the wise can learn anything, fools think they know everything.
Thankfully, though, Wisdom didn’t give up on me.
She lifted my eyes to help me see just how much further I’d have to climb if I wanted to truly know anything worth knowing — and if I wanted to accomplish anything worth doing.
At first glance, the revelation was shocking and humiliating, because it revealed that, despite years of experience — and what I had previous believed had been a valiant effort — I really hadn’t done shit.
So I wallowed for a while.
My creativity dried up.
I wondered if life was even worth living.
But, slowly, Wisdom cracked the hard shell of my ego and allowed the light to start flowing in. I began to get excited about all that was possible — and all the work it would require.
That’s when I finally found purpose.
All my life, I wanted to be something.
But I’ve found that true joy is found not in being, but in becoming.
Wisdom, mastery, or whatever you want to call it isn’t a destination. It’s a journey with no end.
The goal isn’t to arrive. It’s simply to climb.
What’s your mountain? 👇
“Though all the world is full of fools, there is none that thinks himself one, or even suspects the fact.” — Baltasar Gracian
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