Edification is about improving your capacity to be good. Not just do good, but to capable of doing good constantly enough it’s inseparable from your character. If you’re ever trying to fake it, or if you’re putting on a show or in any way not in it for the authentic long hall, than you’re very likely going to lack the internal qualities required to ‘keep up’ with the image over the long run. To be capable, as a permanent state, requires we build and that we build from the inside out. It just doesn’t work when outside-in is the primary methodology.
An excellent example is professional athletes. What they’re building is themselves. Their capacity to be great. Not just periodically do great, but to be capable of repeating greatness as often as is required. They have to put their whole system through extremely serious and rigorous tests. Strength, stamina, flexibility, reflexes, speed, focus. These and countless other ‘variables’ in the formula for their success are independently mastered and maximised to make the most of their being, optimising their physical form. That’s 99.9% of the formula, behind the scenes. That 99.9% then goes on to add the 0.1%, being their professional gear. We all know that the jersey, the racket, the club, the gloves, the ball etc. aren’t what make them pro, because handing the same gear to any unqualified becomes extremely self-evident the moment they’re competing with other professionals, despite having the same quality gear, they’re not the same quality athlete.
When we’re trying to increase our capacity to be good, it’s exactly the same. It’s 99.9% behind the scenes work and anybody who tries to get ahead in life by being seen in the 0.1% lime-light activity, just won’t be able to cut it permanently. It’s only a matter of time before fake frames reveal themselves. It’s unavoidable.
Here’s some really great news though, for those who are honest about doing whatever it takes, those who are completely fine doing all of the work behind the scenes, those who aren’t looking for the quick-fix but the authentic, permanent one, it’s all a much brighter and more hopeful image than many expect. We all so often live life even knowingly choosing gratification over edification because we’re after the low cost option. We engrain that idea into ourselves so heavily that we also too often expect that the edifying choice, or the best option, is going to not only cost an enormously larger amount from us but also take an enormously larger amount of time before we start seeing the benefits.
The rewards we expect to receive from our idea of a successful life, being genuine happiness, empowering hope, stress relief, energising drive and an authentic love of life itself, are all much more obtainable than most realise. Their primary provider isn’t actually goal accomplishment, it’s merely honest progress. And all you need for progress is to genuinely start moving towards the goal. We can do that using the smallest, most basic, most central gear we have, and as we slowly start to wind up it, we can begin getting the biggest gears going. Some people depend on these rewards to motivate them to accomplish the very goals they expect to provide those rewards, so get stuck on loop. To begin feeling these amazing motivators is more achievable than many realise. Start now and use the rewards as they come, to fuel yourself enough to keep going. Do it the right way, sort out the inside first, outside second.
If I’ve not already sufficiently clarified that false idea, let me do so again now: The best choice is the best for many reasons, including returns on investment. When we agree to work from the inside out, we agree to be completely honest. Doing so allows us full access to the whole system which includes the most internal, core areas. Working in such places provides returns in magnitudes greater than working merely on the more external areas and factors. Imagine a horse breeder who wants the world’s fastest horses but spends most of his energy on getting the horse shoes right. Imagine a company who brings in business consultants to maximise profits but says that leadership/management adjustments are off limits.
The reality is that spending 100x the resources on things that are responsible for <1% of the result, is stupid. Be it business or person, think of the more internal issues, the more core areas, the things that are more central to the system, what is heart of the matter? The more we’re able to focus our efforts on improving things at the core, the more dramatic the improvements. This is one very significant reason gratification is the inferior choice. Gratification is only ever surface level, ignoring the most valuable and beneficial areas to focus on. The more external or the more removed from the centre we focus our ‘improvement efforts’, the less benefit we’re going to gain/see as a result of our work. The pareto principle evidences this concept well, or the 80/20 rule, as it’s often called.
I argue that the 20% of ‘work’ that’s responsible for 80% of the result, is going to be those ‘more core’ areas, having greater influence or control over the most central issues related to producing the end result. A gate hinge is another overly simplistic example: small movements at the hinge equating to much greater distances travelled at the other end of the gate. It’s a matter of finding life’s ‘hinges’ or the turning points that everything else stems from. Again, I argue that those points are going to be ‘within’ us, with the biggest issues stemming from the deepest roots.
In this section, I want to spend some time addressing at least a few specific ways we can look at the ‘core’ of our beings. The core driving forces of our day, of what we do and the things we want to be. The more we delve into these things I hope it becomes increasingly obvious that whatever happens in our life will always matter less when compared to how we respond to what’s happening. That’s because we are less responsible for those external influencing factors in our lives, being largely outside of our control, while we are extremely/nearly solely responsible for those more internal ‘response’ factors because they’re nearly entirely within our control. We can’t waste our lives getting hung up on what happens to us, but in each instance of experiencing some negative or any external influence, we would be wise to focus first on what’s going on within us, how we’re reacting and how we want to be reacting and responding.
With this understanding we can quickly come to realise that everything that happens to us in life is really just fuel, and we choose what tank we’ll put it in, or we choose how we’ll use that fuel to move either closer to edification or closer to gratification. Perhaps of all the things I learned working with Russell Van Homrigh, this might be the shared concept that I liked best: “Everything is a reason to both do or not do something”. Some people use a specific life event a reason to move towards a particular end while other people seemingly use the exact same even as the driving factor to move away from the exact same end.
Interesting behaviour to say the least, but I definitely agree that it occurs. Even the bad things in life are opportunities to edify and the worse things might be the best opportunities. Similarly those who are committed to gratification, ignoring their more internal issues and constantly just feeding their present hungers with whatever first comes to mind/their way, these people can find a way to gratify themselves even with the most edifying of opportunities.
Whatever comes our way, let’s use it as a chance to edify ourselves and do so by working from the inside-out. When our priorities are in order, we optimise our own progress and output just like aligning our bike gears properly: allowing maximum efficiency in building momentum.