Sep 29, 2021

3 min read

Getting Prolific, Day 12: Slow, Smooth & Fast

Are you prioritizing connection just as much as creation?

Results are overrated and virtually impossible to control.

The real dividends of our work are paid out in the process. We triumph through the experience we gain, the growth we incur, and the wisdom we earn.

I did not understand this principle as a young writer. I viewed success conditionally, for example, if my income was high, my audiences were vast, my peer group was elite, my client list was long.

Now, those ended up being useful motivators for a while. But the problem with relying on foreign oil is, it doesn’t burn clean. Eventually, all four of those results began to wane, despite my best efforts.

Each year, revenues declined, books sold fewer copies, friends and mentors came and went, and live engagements became more erratic. These trends made me confused, depressed and scared. And they were showing no signs of abating. What the fuck?

How can I be doing all these right things and still not be getting where I want to be?

This awakening challenged me in many ways, one of which was softening and simplifying my own definition of success. One that favored process over results. One that evaluated the value of my work with metrics that were not dictated by eternal cues, but internal ones.

My new questions became:

Are you trying hard and taking risks?
Are you chipping away at your comfort zone?
Are you prioritizing connection just as much as creation?
Are you doing amazing things you couldn’t do a year ago?
And are you having compassion for yourself every step of the way?

Clearly, this inner monologue is about as unsexy as you can get. There’s nothing glamorous about incremental growth. Nobody posts pictures of themselves standing shirtless in front of a mirror with the caption, just lost a third of a pound, humble brag!

Western capitalistic culture is too results oriented for that. We’ve been trained since the industrial revolution not to waste our time with tasks that can’t quickly prove themselves of their own efficacy. We will be evaluated against our outcomes, not our effort.

The irony, of course, is that once we stop counting, we start contenting. And once we starting contenting, we start contributing. I know this because once I stopped worrying about selling copies, my writing got better and more prolific.

Once I stopped counting followers, my impact got stronger and deeper.

Once I stopped chasing money, my income got larger and more consistent.

Funny how that works. It’s like my yoga teacher used to say about doing the postures:

Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

She said that triumphing through the process, that is your result. Keeping the game going, that is your win.

If you’re still dictating your success by external cues, this is an opportunity to start asking yourself new questions. And to view things through the lens of inner fulfillment, not outer results.

Nobody will congratulate, promote, reward or praise you for doing so.

But if you can learn to live without relying on that kind of foreign oil, your engine will burn clean.

What if you stopped counting and starting contenting?

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