[This post is part of a series on “Mental models and beliefs: an exercise to identify yours.” If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Today I’m just copying what someone else said about mastering a complex skill or mode of creative expression, connecting
with, perhaps ironically to some, but without question to those who get it
- Discipline from within
As odd as it may seem for conformity and discipline to lead to personal freedom, I agree with the quotes below from Martha Graham, the best description on the foundation of personal freedom I know. By personal freedom, I mean being able to know and express yourself as you want.
She doesn’t just connect those things, she says freedom is based in conformity.
A model on freedom arising from discipline, drill, and conformity from Martha Graham
In her words:
The dancer is realistic. His craft teaches him to be. Either the foot is pointed or it is not. No amount of dreaming will point it for you. This requires discipline, not drill, not something imposed from without, but discipline imposed by you yourself upon yourself. … Your goal is freedom. But freedom may only be achieved through discipline. In the studio you learn to conform, to submit yourself to the demands of your craft, so that you may finally be free.
And when a dancer is at the peak of his power, he has two lovely, powerful, perishable things. One is spontaneity, but it is something arrived at over years and years of training. It is not a mere chance. The other is simplicity, but that also is a different simplicity. It’s the state of complete simplicity, costing no less than everything, of which Mr. T. S. Eliot speaks.
Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.
These quotes nail for me why it’s worth working so hard at something — why it’s worth getting past the cusp in the model of a few days ago. Because on the other side of it is freedom.
When I use this belief
I use this belief all the time. It helps set my long-term purpose and goals.
What this belief replaces
This belief replaces passivity in hoping for personal freedom to come my way. Personal freedom comes from diligent work.
Where this belief leads
This belief leads to working diligently to achieve what I want in life — mainly freedom — and embracing discipline and conformity to get it.
It also leads to trying things out even when I’m not good at them.
I believe personal freedom exists within a structure. Without a structure you have aimlessness and randomness, which I distinguish from personal freedom.
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