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Be a winner, not a hero

It is much harder – and more boring – to succeed than it is to uphold the appearance of struggle. Recently, I have come to live with this innate sense that courage breeds catharsis. In other words: If you just heroically break through your emotional barriers and risk something, you will be rewarded automatically.

Yet that is far from the truth.

Live for success, not for stunts

I boldly asked a girl at the doctor’s office for sex. It was so far above what I normally do that I had to fight hard not to get carried away by my emotions. My delivery was sloppy, albeit I am certain I had that sparkle of a defiant lion’s heart in my eyes.

Having failed, I felt horrible, yet also enthusiastic about my courage. I congratulated myself about my boldness. The hero has faced the fucking dragon and spectacularly failed. An epos.

Yet I went home without sex.

I come from a single mother’s household and grew up with Hollywood movies where the loser gets the girl – just look at the trailer for Paper Towns with yo-go-brat Delevingne.

As a spoiled baby who became all sensitive to be approved of by elders, my earliest notions of getting something were to be nice and vulnerable and someone would take care of me.

Well, eventually I realized how stupid that was. The arrogant alpha hero who struggles and overcomes challenges suddenly seemed much more plausible.

So I did the opposite. I became cold. I started conflicts even with people I could not afford them with. I wanted to prove that I was not reliant on any sympathy from anybody and that I would risk everything and friendship, often for no apparent reason.

This pretty much got me to a point in life where I do not have a single friend and am arrogant enough to laugh at the fact.

Eventually, I figured, somebody will notice what a bad boy hero I am and if they realize the inhumane struggle I go through without even asking for sympathy, their respect for me will be so incredibly intense that they will probably explode and lie at my feet.

Noble emotions

But I am still a little boy playing theatre. I am now of course not an agent of weakness and victimhood, but one of aggression, anger and courage. I now crave to prove my resistance to pain, loneliness and humiliation, my cold focus and stoicism. Even smiling at another person feels almost like a defeat – for I should not need to make myself likable in such a way.

Yet for all the nobility of those emotions, they are still emotions. Sure, I no longer choose to blindly run away from them. But now I blindly pursue them. And it is so exhausting that – apart from those glorious moments – I get almost nothing done anymore. In the past year, I seldom felt truly happy. Glorious, yes. But conscious and happy? No.

No matter how noble your emotions, they are no guarantee for success.

Fighting fear

Courage in and of itself brings you nowhere. What, let us say you have a date with a cutie. You are afraid to admit that you are shy. So, being the hero, it is obviously the first thing you must do. Because you fear it.

But your fear is not an indicator of whether you should or should not do something. The question is: Does it need to be done?

There is a million things you can fear. You can fear being bold as much as you can fear showing too much weakness. You can fear two contradictory things at the same time. How do you choose? Being brave in one way makes you then a coward in the opposite.

Chasing after fear is as stupid as chasing after comfort. Firstly, you create a negative feedback loop for ineffective behavior. Secondly, you are still a brainwashed little idiot who thinks that his emotions lead him anywhere.

Always fighting your fear is as stupid as always obeying it.

Some fears do not have to be fought and other fears are not to be fought in a particular situation, considering the outcome.

Be a cold bastard

To be a rational man, you must focus on the process, not on the way it makes you feel. On the goal. Hell, sometimes you may be presented with a harsh deadline and extreme demands that you will effortlessly meet with joy. Another time, you may grow desperate over a small issue.

Sometimes the challenge is actually to not confront your fear. It all depends on your goal.

Seeking to be a hero who always defies fear is just another form of seeking approval. Someone must see that defiant spark in your eyes, someday. It also makes you manipulatable. All someone needs to do to make you do something is to make you afraid of doing it.

In real life, it is all about the puzzle. How to get where you want to be in the short or long term?

And if that involves courage, you will use it. If it does not, you will have to live with boredom. For a day.

Sometimes, focusing on your goal will make you look and feel like a coward. Boring. Like a guy who does not understand excitement. Because you will not let irrelevant fights distract you from your path.

But it will be self-respect, discipline and a cold and ruthless focus that you will develop as a central theme of your life. You will no longer be a dog chasing cars.

Know or decide what you want.

Then go there.

I would not go as far as saying that you should not crave adventure for it’s own sake at all anymore. I want to go hunt an alligator someday. But aside from adventure, real life often requires a consistent and boring dedication over the long term to succeed – instead of scattering your energy into a hundred directions that make you feel heroic.

The hero lives to struggle. The winner only struggles to live.

The hero does what is hard to do. The winner does what needs to be done.

The hero likes to be the underdog. The winner likes to win.

Be a winner.

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