It takes a little crazy to be an excellent athlete. Actually, a lot of crazy. In addition to having indomitable will, putting in the hours in practice and all that, you have to have a little ego-trip to you. When you walk up to the mound, the people that do the best are the ones that believe “I am the greatest fucking thing to ever pick up a baseball bat”. It’s weird. But when they stop thinking like this and start thinking “realistically”, they fall off. They don’t have quite the same confidence that you once had. They start to overthink things. Fernando Torres is an excellent example of an athlete that just fell off the cliff into the deep, deep ocean of mediocrity.
ou have to lie to yourself. Especially at the beginning, because at the beginning there is the biggest disparity between what you are actually doing and “capable of” and what you are telling yourself. You have to take it upon yourself to pump yourself up. And when you start believing in yourself, almost believing the lies that you tell yourself, you do get better. Confidence breeds success, which breeds more confidence. It’s the fake it till you make it rule. You might need to start with a little bit of something, talent, ability, intelligence, whatever (maybe you don’t even have to start with it), but incomprehensible confidence is real and has real effects on the outside world.
It’s called the Reality Distortion Field. I’m not sure if Walter Isaacson actually came up with it as a term in his book on Steve Jobs, but the point was that Steve had it. He had it to an insane degree. The Reality Distortion Field allows you to control the reality around you, to lie to yourself to the point where you believe it and start actually doing the things that you are saying you can do. It can be contagious too. If you start holding other people to seemingly ridiculous expectations but truly and sincerely vocalize your beliefs and urge them on, people can do incredible things. And I mean incredible things. It’s what made Apple the company that it is today. It’s what made Michael Jordan the best basketball player of all time. Martin Luther King Jr. had it. Really, any legendary person in human history has probably possessed a little Reality Distortion Field in them. It’s what is required to create monumental change, outward or inward. And if you can start getting other people to believe that what you’re doing or saying is right and real, then, shit. You are the dynamic force of some cultural phenomenon that people will probably write and speak and make movies about.
It might be bad to lie to yourself. It can definitely damage your relationships with people, lead you into denial about various aspects of your health (like it did with Steve Jobs), and especially alienate you. It means being a little crazy. It means believing in doing some highly improbable things. It means getting your way in situations where it doesn’t even make sense for you to try to get your way. It might even mean hurting other people around you. If you lie to yourself and believe it, that lie becomes a fundamental part of how you view yourself. It becomes part of your identity. If you start focusing so much on the lie, it may get to the point where it starts alienating other important things in your life.
But this is rarely the problem that we have as a society. Most of us don’t think big enough or wide enough or aspire to things that we think are out of our reach. We’re too realistic. We’re not going to lie to ourselves. Why would we? That’s how people get hurt.
One big reason that the RDF works is that it creates a seemingly insane goal that gives you the space to create drastic change in your habits and the habits of those around you. If you know you are going to completely change the world in some way – that it’s inevitable – then of course you will be able to work like crazy. It’s not even a question. It won’t even be that hard. Of course you’ll be able to change your habits. Of course you will be able to convince everyone around you that what you and they are doing is possible. Having a Reality Distortion Field allows you not to be bothered by the things that are holding you back. Getting through them is a formality. An inevitability. You are unstoppable. You are a force of nature.
What having the RDF does do, though, is make a lot of people assholes. If you are ignoring the “reality” of the impossibility of trying to change the world in some way, then you are more likely to ignore the reality that you might be alienating some people around you. You might forget to take people’s emotions into consideration when doing things because, hey, you’re changing the world.
As a whole, not enough of us fall in the category of having a Reality Distortion Field to wholly warrant this warning, though. We’re too afraid to step on people’s toes. We get caught up in wondering what people think of us.
In the beginning, it’s hard. It probably feels unnatural. “I’m telling myself I can do what?” But as you do it more and more you start to gain momentum. You start to become a force of nature. You start doing the things that you’re telling yourself to do and you can get other people to do things that they didn’t think they could do either. You literally forget to think about what other people think about what you are doing because you’re already wrapped up in what you’re doing. Having a Reality Distortion Field means being visionary cool (link piece). It means lying to yourself initially and to a point that it stops being a lie. It starts becoming your reality. And eventually, after awhile, it is your objective reality. But you don’t notice that change – the one between your Reality Distortion reality and “objective” reality – because this whole time it was real to you, and other people only just started noticing.