The Optimal Amount of Hassle

Steven Pressfield wrote for 30 years before publishing The Legend of Bagger Vance. His career leading up to then was bleak, at one point living in a halfway house because it had cheap rent.

He once spoke about the people he met living there:

The people in this halfway house, we used to hang out in the kitchen and talk all night long, were among the smartest people that I ever met and the funniest and the most interesting.

And what I concluded from hanging out with them and from others in a similar situation was that they weren’t crazy at all. They were actually the smart people who had seen through the bullshit. And because of that, they couldn’t function in the world.

They couldn’t hold a job because they just couldn’t take the bullshit, and that was how they wound up in institutions. The greater society thought, “Well these people are absolute rejects. They can’t fit in.” But in fact they were actually the people that really saw through everything.

This may not have been Pressfield’s point, but it reminds of something I’ve long believed.

If you recognize that BS is ubiquitous, then the question is not “How can I avoid all of it?” but, “What is the optimal amount to put up with so I can still function in a messy and imperfect world?”

If your tolerance is zero – if you are allergic to differences in opinion, personal incentives, emotions, inefficiencies, miscommunication and such – (Read more...)