Eric Karjaluoto

Never Surrender

I’m a sneaky dad. For example, a few weeks back, I tricked my kids into exercise. I had them race one another across a field. Ari (who’s 7) is almost as fast as his brother, Oscar (who’s 9). For a good while, it was fun for both of them.

That said, Oscar still has an edge over his younger brother. Albeit tiny, it was enough to unnerve Ari. Once he fell a step behind, Ari threw himself to the ground. In histrionics typical to my boy, he turned red, made a horrible expression, and then wailed about how unfair the race was.

I don’t like playing into these sorts of outbursts. I could be mistaken, but I think doing so takes something away from my kids. Instead, I (sort of) gave him shit. “Why are you acting this way?” I asked. Then I explained that he had only been a step behind. Should he have kept going, his brother might have slowed or tripped. Ari could have won that race, but in thinking he might lose, he lost.

Ari will beat his brother in a running contest, at some point. He’s a fast kid. In fact, I bet he could win such a contest right now, if he decided he wanted to—and just didn’t stop. I can remind him of this, but that’s as far as my influence extends. The rest is up to him. He’ll have an opportunity to win, once he decides to take it.

Not long after, I had a tough day. You know the kind… when no matter what you do, it feels like you can’t gain any ground. It’s on those days that I imagine myself as Shelley Levene, in Glengarry Glen Ross: that washed-up old coot whose time has passed. I wonder if what I’m doing is worthwhile, and ask myself why I even bother. I’m a joke. A fake. An imposter.

Sometimes I give in to such thoughts, This time, though, I gave myself shit—like I did to Ari, out on that field: “Why are you acting this way? You might only be a step behind. If you keep going you might make it, but if you believe you’ll lose, you’ve already lost.”

If you make things, you know how easy it is to quit. You encounter a lot of resistance when you build something new—and even more when you try to build an audience for it. Hans and I talk about this in our two most recent episodes of The Kerfuffle: The Idea Machine and Bringing Home the Bacon (which we released today).

If you’ve read my blog before, this article might sound familiar territory. At this point, I’ve likely written a half-dozen variations of this same post. I keep writing it, though, because I know that as a maker, you’ve felt the same way at some point. And some days, you’re probably not equipped to give yourself shit, when you need to be reminded to not give up.

So, I’ll do it for you:

Keep going… You just need to keep going. The world needs what you’re making. And if you stumble, you can start over. But whatever you do, don’t let your doubt stop you.

And now, because I can’t resist:

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