On Reinvention

The professional reinvents herself.

Someone emailed me a question after they had read, via a blog post this morning, that I was moving my family back to Austin. Here’s what they asked:

You are most welcome.

John. Just saw your post about the move back to Austin. Congrats, sounds like a great opportunity.

We’ve been thinking about a move as well but haven’t committed. You write a lot of big ideas, would love to get your thoughts on the decision making heuristic as applied to this.

As always, thanks for writing.

[underlined the part that I’d like to briefly touch on…]

I appreciated this a lot for a number of reasons, the first being that this person was bold enough to drop me a line and the second that they were asking a decent question that could provide some real value. I emailed a quick reply where I essentially shared this: There was no heuristic.

Rather, conversations with my partners, my spouse, an ample amount of time to think it over, and even a bit of prayer helped get us to a point where it actually seemed obvious in nature. The more I’ve thought about it today the more that truth seems to ring true.

At first, “big” decisions like these may feel foreign, dangerous, and riddled with anxiety and fear. Much, much later, often in hindsight, we see these things as obvious and not one of many options but rather the only option that actually made complete sense.

It’s rare, though, where the choice in the moment seems to have a large dose of clarity before the decision or action is made. This does not escape me in terms of how rare this feeling is and so I relish it and am quite thankful for it.

Steven Pressfield says that the professional “reinvents herself” – I feel like that has been the story of my life. I am under constant iteration, reformation, and evolution. There have been times where I have felt in control of this process but more often than not I have felt, instead, an unwilling subject to the unknown forces that propelled me forward (or backward… the difference is hard to determine).

It’s not comfortable and there is no strategy for this, no heuristic that can be of much help to anyone (so I’m sorry about that friend!). Rather, it is simply a combination of decisions, explicit and intentional decisions that are made in the context of trustworthy relationships with a sprinkling of faith and a seasoning of resolve.

Reinvention is not the goal because that would be masochistic; it’s far too painful of a process and experience to be desired straight-up. Rather, I think, doing and investing in things that matter with the very limited amount of time that I have is worth a bit of discomfort here and there.

Failure is always an option, always a possibility. Being courageous doesn’t mean these things disappear, of course; rather, it’s being able to confront them like a real professional:

The professional displays courage, not only in the roles she embraces (which invariably share the hell out of her) or the sacrifices she makes (of time, love, family) or even in the enduring of criticism, blame, envy, and lack of understanding, but above all in the confronting of her own doubts and demons.

Here’s to facing them and not running away.

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