Hiding the Skinny Serum

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 morbidly obese professor Sherman doesn’t want to keep taking 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.

Nutty Professor

I’ve always thought that was fascinating. 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 my two years on the job, I rarely ever exercised. 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 the sake of it.

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 thing is, 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 change my mind. And I couldn’t live with that.

Then, I confided in some friends 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 inspired by 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 based on my adventures 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 about 100 pages.

I have only told a few people and I just joke around about it humbly. It’s just something I am doing for fun 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.

6 thoughts on “Hiding the Skinny Serum”

  1. Personally, the logic of inducing yourself to do something via fear of public shame makes a lot of sense. I believe Tim Ferris talks about how, if you throw your proverbial backpack over the wall, you thereby commit yourself to getting over the wall itself. On the other hand, there are some people / studies that purport to demonstrate that talking about something actually makes you less likely to follow through and do it. See http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_keep_your_goals_to_yourself?language=en

    Net-net I’m inclined to agree that publicly committing to doing something is a useful strategy for ensuring you follow through.

    1. That is an interesting point. I do think that this applies to some people. I think we all know the guy who has crazy lofty goals and talks about them all the time but has no follow through. I think there is another element to goal setting that I maybe should have gone into a little more: that they should be a stretch, but do-able. If you run around saying you’re going to win the Nobel Prize someday, people don’t take you seriously. And when people don’t take you seriously, it dilutes some of that “public shame” that you speak of.

  2. Such a great philosophy! I have heard such techniques called mast-strapping strategies after Odysseus’ approach to the passage of the Sirens where he desired to hear the beautiful voices of the Sirens, but obviously did not want to throw himself overboard to his death once overwhelmed with the beautiful song. I find these techniques very useful, public shame is a great motivator. Really enjoyed this post Rollie. Looking forward to reading your book!

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