The Danger in Loving What You Do
It's not all sunshine and roses in self-actualization land.
Finding the type of work for you that stops feeling like work is an incredible opportunity, but it also comes with a unique type of challenge that comes from total emotional commitment.
I’ve spent most of my professional life doing things I’ve found interesting. I’ve been extremely fortunate in this regard. Sure, there’s been times of boredom, there’s been times that sucked, but the quantity of the times of excitement and the sheer depth of the fascinating nature of the problems I’ve faced has more than made up for it.
These interesting things have regularly required deep intellectual reflection, a focus on teamwork, and a commitment to excellence in execution to really figure out the best way to solve the problems at hand. They’ve been challenging and I appreciated the challenge in them even as I got frustrated. Indeed, there’s often been times where massive pivots were needed to move forward and there’s also been plenty of times where I’ve had to scrap all my work and start over from scratch.
This obviously sucked, but the cool logic of my problem solving brain demanded it so I would eventually do what needed to be done and worked with my teams to salvage and thrive in those situations.
I realized recently that when I reflect on all of those interesting, deep, complex problems that I have had the pleasure of working on, I need to acknowledge there has always been an element of distance. Of intellectualization. A gulf between me, meaning my core self-identity, and the problems at hand.
I realized the gap has always been there because I’ve never loved the things working on those things.
That’s not derogatory at all.
I enjoyed my work. I received validation and self-actualization from the work. I felt proud to accomplish things and proud of (and grateful for) the people I’ve had the good fortune with which to work.
It’s just my work has never truly felt deeply aligned with the things I care about, the things I want to see grow and perpetuate in the world, and the things I want to bring into existence.
And now I get to do that in Web3, which is weird.
I’ve felt the weird urge to not share my Legos in a way I’ve never felt before.
I’ve always wanted to get feedback from other people and hear how to improve my ideas and learn how to better solve the problems I’m dealing with, but it’s harder in Crypto for some reason.
I think it’s because the more you care about something, the more of yourself you put into it. I’ve never been in a position where I’ve actually put a part of myself into the thing I’m doing. It’s always been a sterilized, professionalized, idealized version of my quality output. No human connection needed.
But this time is different. I’ve been working pretty hard on a few things and even though it’s been a relatively short amount of time, I really care about growing and shaping them into something cool and useful and good. Specifically, I care about doing things my personal best to grow and shape this into something cool and useful and good.
This is a great foundational motivation that let’s me dig deep (most days). But it’s also not how to really win.
Individuals can have big ideas, but only Teams build big things.
It takes too long (or is impossible) to learn everything and is too inefficient for one person (in this case me) to be the bottleneck in the process of building.
So I’m calling myself out with this essay.
Individual passion is great, but putting the mission before myself is more important.
Honestly, I think I get why some founders get replaced sometimes in a company’s life cycle because I can easily see how a lack of self reflection can lead to an ego driven negative performance cycle.
Irrational desire for control trumps the good of the org if you’re not careful.
I’ll keep you posted on how I grow through this moving forward.
I hope this added value to your day.
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