I have always been really inspired by the movie The Nutty Professor with Eddie Murphy. “Really?” you may wonder, “How?” I thought you’d never ask.
There is one scene where the obese professor Sherman doesn’t want to take his skinny serum anymore so he destroys it. What he doesn’t know is that his skinny alter ego, Buddy, has hidden more of it in his diet shakes and he is tricked into drinking it again.
I’ve always thought that was curious. Could I trick myself into doing something that I don’t want to do? I’ve developed something over the years that I think does just that.
When I was working on Wall Street, I sat at my desk for twelve hours a day. After work each day, I inevitably went out to dinner or drinks. In the two years I worked, I rarely ever worked out. I didn’t even belong to a gym. I had worked out my whole life, I argued, and I was tired of it. Other people in the office would go to the gym before work but that wasn’t for me. I had always trained hard for wrestling, but there was an end goal. I could never just work out for its own sake.
One day I was chatting with my friend Dan and we had a flash of inspiration. “We should run a marathon,” he said. Minutes later I went online and booked my entrance for the New Jersey Marathon. Dan and I trained together for a few months. I told everyone I knew that I was going to run it. How humiliating would it be, I thought, if I didn’t even finish this thing after all my talk? Eventually Dan and I went down to Long Branch, NJ and finished the marathon in 3:54:35.
The things is that every one of us has multiple personalities. Sometimes we are tough, sometimes we are weak. Sometimes we are motivated, sometimes lazy. Good or bad. Business or party. Jekyll or Hyde. At different times, we feel different things.
When I spoke with Dan, I was feeling inspired. This happens to everyone on January 1st every year and then promptly leaves them on January 31st. Whether you know it or not these forces are constantly battling inside you. While we can’t always control the forces within, we can choose which ones we allow to empower us. We can, in a way, hide the serum in the diet shake for our other, less noble, self.
When I was contemplating moving to Peru, I was still only 80% convinced I would do it. I went online that day and booked a one-way flight to Lima for an arbitrary date in the future (my friend Matt’s wedding date as it turned out, sorry buddy). I figured, in the worst case, I would lose out on a few hundred dollars and I could live with that. If I waited, however, I may come up with excuses and allow myself to vacillate. And I couldn’t live with that.
I then confided in some friends that I know and respect, people who I knew would be really excited about my adventure. I told them how I had bought the flight and was committed. I was fine losing a few hundred dollars, like I said, but over the next few months whenever I had my doubts, I thought of these people who had gotten fired up about my story. I would be disappointing them if I backed out now. I didn’t want to be one of those people who is all talk, I wanted to be a man of action. Now they were there to hold me accountable.
I literally can’t emphasize enough how much I do this. In fact, at the beginning of this week, I realized that I wasn’t writing enough blog posts. I always have excuses, so I decided to hide the serum in the shake. I posted this on Facebook:
After a hiatus of blog posts, I am back with a vengeance. I am going to try to write one every day this week so if you have any ideas or anything you wanna hear about, comment below.
Right now, I am sitting in Starbucks pounding away at the keyboard and regretting those words. Damn my other self. But hey, I wouldn’t be here talking to you otherwise. I tricked myself.
In fact, I am feeling inspired right now and I am going to show you this technique in action. The real reason I haven’t been writing blog posts recently is something that I haven’t told many people: I am writing a book. It is a novel loosely based on some adventures I’ve had down here. I try to write 1,000 words every single morning after practice. I have a spreadsheet that tracks my daily progress (old habits die hard). I have 46,742 words so far. That’s around 100 pages, depending on font and page size.
The few people that I have told, I just joke around about it humbly. It’s just something I am doing for fun when I am bored in my free time, I say. Who knows? Nothing will ever probably come of it. That kind of stuff. I am scared to identify myself as a writer. I was a Finance major, what do I know about the craft? If I lose interest in the project, people might think I’m just another try-hard.
But here we go: I want to publish this book. Now that it is out there in the ether for the universe to see and judge, I can’t hide anymore. Hopefully it happens, but if not, well then at least I’m not being a pussy about my aspirations.
And that is how you hide the serum on yourself.