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Be Inconsistent With Your Past Self
Get comfortable constantly recreating yourself in order to fulfill your potential.
I apologize for the lengthy amount of time since my last post. For those that don’t know, I work for a fantasy sports/sports betting content site, and the football season is a grind. I wanted to keep up with this substack during the season, but it didn’t happen.
I figured as soon as the season ended, I’d be right back to it. But like any habit, once you shelve it for a while, it becomes harder and harder to return to. Finally, I’ve written a little bit and hope to write a couple of times a month over the course of the NFL offseason.
Quite often when I am writing these posts, I feel the need to over-explain or caveat the post so I don’t come off as hypocritical or preachy or as if I’m projecting. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of confidence or fear of being misunderstood, but I do worry to some extent that I’ll come off as a fraud to myself and others. Much of what I am writing is dealing with stuff I am actively working on, and there’s also a gap between the pursuit of discovery and putting that into action routinely.
In short, writing about a thing, even if I sound like I have conviction, is not equivalent to me having actually solved the thing in practice, or close to it. For example, I’m working on a post called ‘You Don’t Have to Have an Opinion’. Some people who know me well may get a chuckle out of that or even feel some level of incredulity. Ever since I’ve been little, forming opinions on any topic and defending said opinions fervently has been second nature for me. I also work in an industry where I am quite literally paid to have opinions, and the bolder those opinions, the more marketable they are.
There’s nothing wrong with that. The point of this Substack is to work my way through ways I and those reading can hopefully discover and implement some small improvements and head in the right direction. The point isn’t to display that I or anyone has solved anything.
So, this post serves as a caveat for all future posts. It also serves as a reminder to myself that I need to be more confident. If someone misunderstands one of my posts or interprets a post as me being hypocritical, that’s okay.
I recently listened to Patrick O'shaughnessy’s Invest Like the Best podcast episode with Daryl Morey in which Daryl shared a mantra that has helped me in this regard: “You can become inconsistent to your past.”
Sometimes we’re held back out of fear of looking foolish (see above) or fear of stepping outside of a comfort zone because we’re so tied to the person we’ve previously been. It’s a natural defense mechanism, but we really short ourselves in this deal and in any situation where we feel the need to act in line with other people’s expectations of ourselves.
We need to move past that fear to become the best versions of our current selves, even if it means recognizing past versions of ourselves have been flat out wrong about some things or that we’ll have to deal with the uncertainty of trying/being something new.
Moving forward, this post will serve as my “caveat” to all future posts where it may seem my writing is inconsistent with who I am. I’ll try not to fall back into the habit of over-explaining and clarifying in introductions of posts, and instead, I’ll move forward confidently, knowing that many of the ideas I write about aren’t going to be consistent with every action taken or word spoken previously, and that’s okay. It’s also okay if that’s not understood by everyone reading.
Here’s the full context of Morey’s quote:
“Patrick: [00:45:32] I'd love to ask you about the advice you might have for the management of one's career. You've had a really interesting career with a pretty clear through line. You're sort of applying the same curious filter on lots of different domains, maybe basketball most dominantly.
What would you tell people that have that spark of curiosity that are beginning a career or switching a career or something that you think has been a productive thing or things that you think you've done wrong, things not to do when just managing oneself and managing one's own career?
Daryl: [00:46:01] The number one thing that I'd tell, especially younger folks now, and that's to not accept the operating system that you've been handed. So of course, I have to think about it in a computer science way. I happen to, in my opinion, be born without a lot of the basic instincts that other people were born with, for whatever reason that might be.
I wasn't very natural getting to know other kids. I wasn't very good as a child. Just again, common sense type stuff, weren't common to me. And so I learned at a young age that I had to like learn all these things on my own. I was always constantly replacing the thing I was doing with something better. It became very natural to me and it took me a while to realize other people maybe don't do this. So this is why it's become maybe a reasonable advice for people.
They tend to do things when they're younger, where they're like, this is the way I do things. When I go to parties, I'm not the one who's obsequious to go talk to there because that's what other people do. I'm not that person. They develop their own brand image in their head, and I'm sure there's better psychology terms for these things.
And the thing I try to help young people realize is that you don't have to keep that same script. You can become inconsistent to your past. So just because you are always the guy who did x and that's become part of your brand and you feel like that's almost part of your ego, not ego in the negative sense, but like the thing that you are as a person, you can replace those things over time.
The reason I started with that is that I'm constantly -- and generally the people I like to hire, they're constantly saying, here's how I operate. Here's my mental model for how this business works or how this works. But as soon as I hear something that could be [indiscernible] either I'm looking for how to adopt it.
I'm looking for just like in an operating system, there's a file system away -- files are managed that are away, that you can retrieve data using your data structures. As soon as I hear a better one, I'm going to see maybe that one I can replace with the one that I'm using now. You'd be surprised people don't even realize that they can take a step back and change the personal brand or their personal way that they're operating.”
Editor’s Note (added after initial publishing): Of course at first it's natural to only think about this from the prism of "How can I be better by being inconsistent with my past self", but after reflecting on it a little bit, it's equally important to be supportive and excited when those around us are willing to deviate and evolve, rather than be skeptical and cynical because they aren't acting how we expected them to or are used to them acting.