The Only Thing Worse Than This…

In the introduction to The Art of Impossible, Steven Kotler describes the struggles we all face when trying to pursue the impossible. 

He divides “impossible” into two categories – lowercase “i” impossible and capital “I” Impossible. 

The lowercase impossible goals are things with no clear path that we feel like would be impossible to accomplish for ourselves — getting out of debt, starting a business, landing our dream job, etc.

The capital “I” Impossible goals are shifts that change the world. Pursuing enough of the lowercase impossibilities is what eventually leads us to the capital Impossible — sometimes. But it’s a very, very rough path to follow.

Kotler goes on to explain just how rough it is — there’s a price to pay for excellence, for pursuing the impossible. 

As a matter of fact, we’ve probably lied to you at some point by describing flow states and promises of satisfaction with your creative calling. It wasn’t meant to be a real lie, though — it was a white lie of omission.

Here’s the dark side of that coin — it sucks a lot to pursue something worthwhile and to strive for excellence. 

You’re in a constant competition with yourself to be better than you were yesterday. 

You have setbacks and roadblocks that can frustrate you to no end. 

If your calling is something a bit more active, you’ll have injuries that cause physical on their own, then compound with psychological pain and frustration while you’re healing and NOT GETTING BETTER AT YOUR CRAFT.

It doesn’t sound great, does it? But here’s the thing — it’s worth it. Kotler said it incredibly well with the following quote:

“As far as I can tell, the only thing more difficult than the emotional toil of pursuing true excellence is the emotional toil of not pursuing true excellence. […] More meaningful does not typically mean more pleasant.”

As much as it sucks to strive for excellence, to reach for the impossible…the only thing that’s worse for someone as driven as you and I would be not trying.

Knowing that you have the potential to do something better, then settling for less…that’s hell.

Plus, there are those things that we’ve promised in the past to look forward to — flow states, satisfaction, and the feeling of accomplishment when you finish your daily practice. 

Financial success is never guaranteed, but reaching for excellence always results in you being better today than you were yesterday.

What’s a lowercase impossible that you’re ready to start working for? Get to it.

Josh Johnson

I'm a husband and a father to three beautiful kiddos. I'm obsessed with philosophy, creativity, learning, and teaching. I want to make the world a more beautiful place by teaching others to embrace creativity.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *