What to be vs. what not to be

It is fairly easy to come up with a list of things you don’t want to be. It feels like you have done the hard work of attempting to define who you would like to be in the process. But, really, you haven’t.

“I don’t want to be a flake” is fundamentally different from “I will always keep my commitments.” The former has enough fudge built in for you to keep 7 out of every 10 promises and still be able to rationalize your behavior. The latter, on the other hand, is a commitment to integrity. It swears by the idea of 100% or none. There are no excuses and no easy way outs – you are forced to make real trade-offs.

As a result, there are only so many things you can be. The chances that you’ll pull off research that wins a Nobel prize while being a party animal who paints the city red 3 days every week are minimal. If you want to be a Nobel prize winner, you will need to make some very real sacrifices. Prioritization is essential.

That is precisely why very few choose to take a stand. It is just much easier not to.

But, of course, there is a real trade-off there too – character isn’t built that way.