Do Your Tools Need An Upgrade or Are You Not Ready?

Thoughts + Opinion

Reading is one of the single most powerful activities in how it compounds over time. It can increase your ability to focus, expand your understanding of concepts and the world around you, and inspire your mind to become more creative and see the world in new ways. There are 2 key aspects of pizza making from which I draw a parallel to reading:

· Quality of ingredients into the oven equals the quality of the product that comes out (RIP Burt)
· Honesty in reviewing the quality of the finished pizza

When making a pizza at home, I promise you with the right commitment and guidance, you will be able to quickly make a pizza that rivals the upper percentiles of most pizza you have had (pickup Pizza Camp by Joe Beddia). In a brief Chicago’s Best clip, a pizza maker named Burt walks through how he makes pizza (his shop before he passed was called Burt’s Place). In an old world way, Burt simply states how it’s not rocket science – “if you put shit into the oven shit comes out, if you put good stuff in, good stuff comes out”. Then once it’s ready to eat, to improve it next time, you have to be honest in the review – the salinity, the cheese blend, sauce profile – the whole collection of the experience. It can’t simply be good because you made it, it has to simply be good.

A book is not good simply because it exists. Beyond ensuring the messaging is well-intended and authentic, you need to determine what is valuable for you to take away and carry with you. I used to make the mistake that if a book was written by a qualified or successful person, their intended message was correct and any divergence in my mindset was an issue I had to deal with (this does not apply to scientific/data driven concepts). So when seeing something written by an expert, instead of evaluating information and seeing how I would apply it to my current life, or use it to improve my current life, I thought the baseline next step was me adapting to the new concepts with no regard for what may have been already working for me and what I already liked about how I was living.

In all the resources and books I scoured for answers, discipline was one of the most prevalent topics. The idea that the key difference between your current life and your boldest aspirations was discipline and consistency. And in that isolated statement, that is absolutely true. That is timeless advice and a sound mindset – doing things when you don’t want to do them, consistently, is maybe the strongest action anyone can take in their life. However, there was an added layer that popped up from time to time that stuck with me. It was the idea that if there were goals you had, but were not acting on, that you “didn’t really want to achieve that goal”. That anything short of making time to work on it was an excuse. And a key example was always people putting off working until they got some sort of tool or piece of equipment to “allow” them to start.

In concept I appreciate the mindset. If you’re not willing to take time now what makes you think spending x more dollars would make it viable? This is an example of something I had to figure out for myself. I now find that binary outlook on discipline and the relationship to goals too draconian. Previously it actually discouraged me from doing things that I had never tried because I figured if I hadn’t done it by now, why bother starting. My interpretation was the real issue, but that concept simply did not resonate with me in an effective way. I think you need to sit down and find what is truly important to you. Then if you have the means? Make an investment. It’s always good to start with more introductory programs and equipment in case you decide it’s not for you, but it’s not a shameful thing to buy a nicer piece of gear for your given project if you have the means and desire to do so. And from experience, that investment can even propel you into deeper commitment to your hobby.

Grit and Dynamite has been an idea on paper for years. The critical gap of getting started was my own discipline and self-confidence. But there was technology gap too – I had an old laptop that even when it was released, it was the baseline model. 4 years later, it struggles to run Zoom and Spotify simultaneously. Could it have done what I needed to? Absolutely – what I’m working on isn’t complicated. But the hiccups on an old machine, the idea of starting something fresh, wanting to invest in myself, all of it was pointing to a new computer. So instead of shelling out top of the market price tags on a new MacBook, I built a solid desktop computer. It was a challenge to myself to do something I always saw as too intimidating and technical for me, it gave me the new hardware I felt I “needed” (wanted), and it made me earn that new tech in several ways. And now? I write every single day. I work on other projects every day. I clean and respect my PC and my desktop workspace. There is a lot more pride and commitment to everything surrounding that computer. Could I have done all that without it? Absolutely. But I didn’t. And that’s what matters.

Another example – I am trying to learn the guitar. I like to feel connected to things I’m working with (even inanimate objects). I like to visualize myself doing great things in the future once I have put the time in. I had an introductory Squire Stratocaster – candy red with a black pick guard. It just wasn’t me. I didn’t get excited to play it, I couldn’t picture myself playing the music I wanted on it. It was a well-intended purchase that didn’t pan out. So I sold that guitar and bought a J Mascis Squire Jazzmaster. I’ve practiced every single day since I got it.

I didn’t need either of those things but they both helped me gain proper momentum on goals that I previously determined were materially important to me. A cynic would say that I just wanted new toys and to burn some cash – and maybe they’re right, I did do those things after all. But since the PC was built and the new guitar arrived, not a day has gone by that I worked on my goals. If I had bought a 6k super computer or a ’67 Rickenbacker…yeah, then there’s probably something wrong there. But investing in yourself to start projects that matter to you? Be reasonable and pragmatic, spend within your means – otherwise don’t let people discourage you and invest in yourself.

Like anything else, you have to find what works for you. The ideas surrounding discipline are invaluable, nothing is more important than consistent action. But outside of the concepts that serve as guideposts, it’s really up to you to determine what works for you. And you should always be willing to invest in yourself.

See you tomorrow.
Nick

Inspirations: Pizza Camp / Pizza Making, Tame Impala, PC Build YouTubers
Quote: Burt of Burt’s Place

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