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The Lean

Dennis Brotzky
December 30th, 2013 · 2 min read
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Imagine you’re walking down a long hallway with a group of people and suddenly a gust of wind comes blowing towards you. At first it’s bearable, pleasant even, but then it becomes so powerful that you have trouble standing up. People are going back the other way. Some of them are hiding in small doorways just holding on, and the worst of them are rolling on the ground like tumbleweeds. The sensible thing would be to turn around and go back the way you came. This is what most people would do, and therein lies their mistake.

You’re walking down this hallway for a reason. There’s something at the other end that was worth passing up all those other doors you could have walked through. So why give up and turn around now?

This is where you’re supposed to lean into it. The lean isn’t about some trite banality about “never giving up”. Actually, there are plenty of things you should quit, but I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about your dreams. The things you simultaneously desire and fear. Those you should definitely lean into.

Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, invest your life into it. Double the amount of resources. Triple the amount of time. Make mistakes. Make lots of mistakes, but don’t keep making the same ones over and over. Aim past the target and let momentum carry you through.

Resistance is a sign that you’re close to something important, something complex and rich. It’s your que to start leaning. Everyone else bails when things get too rough—when the water gets too choppy, when the hill gets too steep. It’s much easier and much more rational to go back to our routines of convenience and comfort and just ride this thing out.

1Do you think success looks rational? Do you think it’s rational to build gigantic pyramids in the middle of the fucking desert?!

The difficulty you’re experiencing isn’t attributed to any single task or project—it’s the comittment to the work itself and the fear of failure that’s hard. Most people don’t lean into what they’re doing because part of that work means having to confront all the ugly parts of ourselves we’d rather just forget. There’s no way to win without fundamentally changing who we are. It just doesn’t happen that way.

Success isn’t an achievement that happens external to our character. Rather, it’s the outward manifestation of our character’s evolution. The lean, more than anything, is a comittment to that journey.

So yes, it’s supposed to be hard. And at times you may feel embarassed or ashamed. You’ll probably want to quit. That’s just the truth of it. Hey, when you lean into things, you end up taking a lot of shit in the face. It’s a sign you’re finally taking responsibility for yourself. I can only think that’s a good thing.

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