The Story Economy Blog

The Stuff That Doesn’t Stop

Weeds don’t stop. And since I’m not into weed killer, it’s me against them—all season long, year after year. I pull 150 of them, and the next week, 200 grow back. Just as I’m yanking one by the root, the wind is scattering the seeds for more.

Weeds have perfectly evolved to not stop. Similarly, you have systems within yourself that have perfectly evolved to not stop—and that’s what I’m writing about today: the stuff that doesn’t stop and won’t ever stop. The stuff you just have to manage, day after day.

Basically, vigilance.

To accomplish anything remarkable, you have to be vigilant about tending to the weeds—because they are as much a part of the garden as the pretty stuff. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just a thing that requires effort.

There’s Only One Way to Pull a Weed

Some weeds require a lot of effort; some very little. For example, I’m wordy: I over-explain; I over-transition (this sentence used to be twice as long). But it’s a weak vine: a little tug and the whole thing lifts right out.

And then I have insecurity, which is more like a dandelion: it’s stubborn stuff with strong roots and it gets unwieldy really quickly. Not only that, it has foliage that grows so close and tight to the ground, I have to search hard for what it is I’m supposed to yank. And still, it doesn’t want to come out.

My garden will never stop being fertile for dandelions, and I will never stop being fertile for insecurity. For me, insecurity isn’t usually about the final thing I deliver not being good enough. It’s about the process of getting there, and all of the thoughts that distract. (This won’t work. It’s too much to figure out. I can’t get it right. I don’t have the right skills. I will say something stupid. Why did they choose me for this?)

I can’t will it, think it, or pretend it away. I might be able to smother it with newspapers, mulch, meditation, and visualization. But it’s coming back.

I might be able to hide it with a weed whacker and a drink at a networking event. Effective stuff, and I’m not above it. But it’s coming back.

There might be better techniques or devices to help me pull the weeds. It will make the work easier. But it won’t stop the weeds.

For me, there is really no other sustainable way to be vigilant than to get down on my hands and knees and pull out the weeds, one at a time, year after year.

The only way to pull weeds is to pull them.

It will always be a focused effort in the same way that it will always be a focused effort to do the stuff that’s sort of scary, to start the stuff I don’t know how to finish, and to say the things that might be stupid. It’s an effort to answer each objection my little ego lobs at me. But if I pretend that I’m not really thinking the stuff I’m thinking, I might as well just order a truckload of dandelion seeds myself.

I look at it like this: these are my weeds. And if I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t get to spend nearly as much time in the garden. I wouldn’t feel connected to it. And I definitely wouldn’t know what remarkable was.

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