January 12, 2024

A hungry tiger shark emerges from the depths


How much difficulty is normal?

Is it realistic to think that things should be easier for us, or is our current level of resistance par for the course?

Tough question. Because struggle is relative and subjective. We all have respective strengths, weaknesses and circumstances. Some difficulties are minor and easily overcome, while others require substantial effort and resilience.

One man’s marathon is another man’s warmup.

While struggle is relative and subjective, growth is democratic. We all have a capacity to improve ourselves, irrespective of our starting point. In fact, it doesn’t matter where we start. Doesn’t matter where we end either. Only the delta counts.

Wow, now there’s a word I never used to use. It’s only when I had coworkers from the finance and consulting industries that I fully understood this triangular symbol.

Delta represents any changeable quantity. It’s the difference between two values.

Everyone from physicists to economists to stockbrokers to computer engineers use delta in various ways, but the basic principle is the same. Delta equals change. Once we embrace the power of delta, a few things happen in our brains.

First, we accept that circumstances and conditions at the beginning of our growth journey not the sole determinant of success. We start where we are and use what we have, and that’s good enough.

Next, we focus less on the final destination and more on the path. Achieving specific outcomes isn’t the significant metric. Our positive change along the way is.

Finally, embracing delta encourages us to keep trying, learning, and growing. It helps us see that even when we encounter resistance, we can still make progress and become better at things over time.

When I was editing my gothic western film, I made the decision to work on one chapter a week, every week, until it was done. That gave me approximately four months to ship the first cut.

This seemed reasonable, given my level of skill at the time. See, I’d done plenty of video editing in my day, but only for short films. I never edited a full length feature production where I personally shot every single frame.

This time it was different. I knew the editing process would taxing on my eyes, brain and heart. In fact, the first few weeks gave me vertigo, nausea and headaches, as the process was so foreign to me creatively.

But that was a positive thing. Because I gave myself a real opportunity for incremental growth. Each chapter became a sort of time capsule. An artifact of my evolving talent.

Every week that went by, I learned one or two new editing skills that made the movie better. Like how to use slow motion, color correction, graphic effects or time lapse features. Sometimes I would get so excited about a new visual nuance, that I’d go back to previous scenes from earlier chapters and update them with my newfound knowledge.

Editing was an exhilarating process spanning four months, and once the first cut was done, I celebrated by watching the move in its entirety. And all I could think to myself was:

Wow, this project is like a delta artifact.

Every five minutes, I can see my own skills as a filmmaker improving, right there, on the screen. Chapter one is pretty good, chapter five is even better, and chapter thirteen is fucking awesome.

Now that’s growth.

Look, I don’t know how much difficulty was normal during all of this, and I don’t care. Whatever resistance showed up, I dealt with it. My struggle was relative and subjective, and I embraced all of it. And the movie came out spectacularly.

You should do the same. Whatever respective strengths, weaknesses and circumstances you have, trust that they’re right for who and where you are.

Some difficulties will be minor and easily overcome, while others will require substantial effort and resilience.

Just keep riding that delta wave. Ignore what the other surfers are doing, and focus on your own rate of positive change.

Also watch out for tiger sharks.

Is it realistic to think that things should be easier for you, or is your current level of resistance par for the course?