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Dissatisfaction.

Glass makes a good point – in fact he makes a lot of them. Here they are, taken apart and put back together.

Number one: our dissatisfaction is recognition of the gap between our taste and the fruits of our labor; between our potential, and what we are currently actualizing. It is not, as we are apt to interpret, a sign that ‘we can’t’, that ‘we were wrong’, that ‘we are incapable – and stupid for ever thinking we might be able to x in the first place.’ In fact, just as much as it communicates that we are not getting it right presently, it also betrays our potential. You are disappointed because of your taste, and your taste gives away your potential – i.e. the possibility that presently exists of what you might in time become. What you have it inside you to become.

You weren’t an idiot for thinking you could, you were simply aware of your potential. You tried, but did not succeed in actualizing it. You are dissatisfied because you are aware that you didn’t actualize it. But your recognition of the gap between what you wanted to produce and what you actually produced itself means there is more to you than that. The ability for you to recognize your failure, that the creation is not that good, is proof of your good taste. Proof that there is another possibility, that there is more than what you are actualizing in the present. There is, still, un-actualized potential. And yes, that is frustrating; especially when you’ve been trying to ‘actualize’ it for awhile. In fact, it sucks. – But this is precisely what Glass is telling us we have to push through, because:

Number two: this continual frustration and dissatisfaction we feel when confronted with our work before we have transformed the potential into the actual is normal. In fact the gap – there being a gap – between our taste and the fruits of our labor is normal. It is not a sign that you shouldn’t be doing x, or that you should never even have tried. Quite the opposite: it is a phase in the process of actualizing potential; it is a normal part of the process. We have to be vigilant against depression and dejection – i.e. taking the failure personally, deeply personally.  It isn’t s always our desperate or inflated egos that cajole us into thinking we could succeed at x; sometimes it is our potential. And so Glass is tells us what he wishes someone would have told him: that this gap between our taste and our creations is normal, and that having to take time and iterations is simply what it means to transform potential into actual. We all go through this, it isn’t personal. It is just part of the process.

Number three: unfortunately, what is not so normal is pushing past the period of dissatisfaction and disappointment. What normally happens after a person confronts the gap too many times is that they quit. This Glass warns us, is where the real battle lies. Don’t use all your energy fighting to ‘actualize’, and certainly don’t add to the battle the weight of your self-esteem. Just fight to stay in the game. To simply continue to the process. To weather the phase. Closing the gap takes time – and it is normal for it to take time, real time, not a token two minutes. Fight to take the time.

Number four: Fight for iterations – your iterations will close the gap. It takes a volume of work, of iterations, of tries, to close the gap; so if you really want to get there faster do more work – create more. Shorten the amount of time by increasing the density of output/production/creations in time. Keep producing.

Number five: when you close the gap, your work is as good as your ambition. Ambition has a bad rep – much like money: it’s okay to want it, and you should definitely have it – but not really. That’s unfortunate, because ambition is a good thing, (as is money). Ambition engages your potential. It is nature’s call inspiring you towards your potential. It is calling it out in you – and that is a good thing. (No doubt you, and everyone one around you, would be happier and better off for your potential being actualized.) Stepping on everyone to fulfill your potential is not ambition. It is egocentric, short-sighted, small-minded, and/or a plethora of other things including, often, not highly intelligent – but it is not ambitious, unless your ambition is to step on as many people (or as hard) as possible.

And long story short again: Because of our potential, and because of our ambition calling us towards it, we will be dissatisfied in our work, in the fruits of our efforts and labor, until we close the gap between our potential and our present, between our taste and our creations, between our ambition and the current state of our work. We will feel this way until our work is as good as our taste. It is normal for us to feel this way until our work is as good as our taste. The fact that we did not actualize our potential, or close the gap, in the present iteration does not mean that we don’t – or didn’t – have the potential. More likely than not, we still have the potential – especially if we’re disappointed, because we’re aware of the gap. Be pissed off that it’s still in ‘potential’ instead of ‘actual’ form if you need to, but watch that you don’t just fall into taking swipes at your self-esteem, and doing so as if you’re just drawing logical, reasonable and rational conclusions. And, if you really want to persevere, don’t take it personally. You can’t afford to take it personally, you have to get to work.