The 40% Rule : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 004

Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.


There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without preestablished harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.”


 

Again… it’s all about trusting in your own uniqueness, and that expressing your uniqueness is important. It’s vital that you be you. There is not, and never will be, another you. Please don’t rob us of you.

“Imitation is suicide.”

Literally. When you imitate another for the sake of acceptance, you are killing the one thing that you can offer the world.

“…toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.”

But it won’t be easy. We are programmed by evolution to be like the others in our group. Being ostracized by one’s tribe meant certain death. Not so much nowadays, but the fear of it is still very much a part of our brains. Accept the fear and anxiety as a gift from your mind; it’s just trying to protect you. Then take action toward adding the value that only you can add to the universe.

“The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”

You’ll sometimes hear personal development gurus talk about your “infinite potential.” That’s a load of horseshit. We all have our limits.

But…

You have no idea what your limits are. David Goggins talks about us feeling like we are at our limit when we are at 40%. Yes, that’s an arbitrary number, but the concept is sound. When we feel like we have reached the end of our rope, once again our mind is trying to protect us. You have more, and you won’t know how much more until you try.

Don’t worry about going from 40% to 100% all day, every day. A 1% improvement, compounded over time, is more than enough.

“This sculpture in the memory is not without preestablished harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray.”

No one but you perceives the world like you do. Use that.

“God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.”

I’m not sure who first said it, but remember: Courage is not the absence of fear – it’s taking action despite your fear. Usually, just taking action will alleviate the fear, but don’t count on that. Have courage, take action, and you’ll begin to live the life that only you can.

“It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.”

This supposed deliverance? It’s the television, it’s the cigarette, it’s the alcohol, it’s the sex, it’s the imitation of others, it’s whatever you use to escape the pain of taking action and being you. It may kill the pain for a while, but there is no long term solution other than seeing clearly and taking the action only you can take.


 

What are your thoughts on this? I’d like to hear what only you can say.

 

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