Inner Work with Steli Efti

103: My Fear of Stagnation: What if I Stop Changing and Evolving?

Inner Work with Steli Efti
103: My Fear of Stagnation: What if I Stop Changing and Evolving?
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Every year I want to change, evolve, level up. I hate stagnation, fear it. There's nothing more terrifying to me than the thought that I could have peaked already, that it's never going to be more than what is now. I still think that the wish to evolve and grow is fine. But being terrified of the possibility that this won't happen? What good does that do? So in this episode, I ponder the question whether I should try to make peace with the possibility that maybe there won't be any next levels for me.

I also want to be the kind of person that has something to offer: whether that's entertaining stories, enlightening conversation, or valuable advice. When I meet friends, I feel a desire to give them something—even if it's just a good time. But sometimes being with friends is just about that: spending time together, without feeling responsible for making it a great time.

Shownotes: 

Connect with me:

https://steliefti.com 

https://twitter.com/steli 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/steliefti/ 

 

Transcript:   

[00:00:00] One interesting conversation that I had with Basti in Greece was a conversation about the urge or need to be valuable for me. It's such as that. I mean, there's certain themes in my life, right? I always want it to be worthy and valuable and significant. And I also want it to always be impressive. Like impressing people was important, living a significant life. 

[00:00:27] Was always important feeling like my life is valuable that I'm using this gift and doing things with it, that it seemed worthwhile. That always, as far as I can remember, was very important to me. And for the past, maybe 20 years, I have talked and shared this theme and we talked about this the very first time we talked about doing an old. 

[00:00:49] The project was in Thailand in the car and we're debating who the fuck is, Steli FD and where's the journey going next and what do I have to offer to the world? And what do I care about? What makes me special? [00:01:00] And I remember us talking a lot about this drive that I have for growth and change. And I've always talked about this theme that if I look back at the last year, And I don't think Steli a year ago was an idiot and didn't know shit. 

[00:01:14] It makes me afraid. It brings a certain type of panic to me because it makes me feel like, well, I guess I've wasted. I, nothing has happened. Like I still think the stuff that I thought a year ago. Well two years ago is right. And a more or less the same person that terrifies me. That means nothing really of significance has happened in my evolution. 

[00:01:34] I mean, we talked about me being a bit more self aware sometimes of some of the funnier versions of this, right? Some of the things that seem less valuable, like being in the pool, playing with my children, but then staying long in the pool so that other people see how amazing of a dad I am like that kind of. 

[00:01:49] And I've noticed it more, more present. So more often than not, I could tell sometimes these little moments where I would consider how I would be [00:02:00] perceived by others an hour from now or tomorrow morning or something else. And then I would have to tell myself, well, who gives a fuck? Just relax. Right. Just relax. 

[00:02:09] So Boston comes to visit me and Sophia and the day busty showed up. His flight was arriving at like 6:00 PM in Greece. And my mother was visiting in the morning to spend a day with me in the city in Greece. And I woke up and instantly I could tell that I was super nervous in the morning. It's another feeling that it's so funny. 

[00:02:29] I felt this feeling so much in my life in so crazy now to me, that I never realized that I was feeling nervous now. Feel it. I also remember how I related to it before and it almost breaks my mind. It always makes me go, how did I feel this? And did not know it? Like, how is that even possible? It breaks my mind. 

[00:02:54] It is also like a, it's both a blessing and a curse, right? It's always a curse where you don't know what to do [00:03:00] with the feeling when you are afraid of it, when you run away from it, when it scares you overwhelms you, it's always a curse. It's sucks. It's much better not to feel it. If you want to be operationally functioning, you could like go out on a stage and bring an amazing talk that excites, you know, thousands of people. 

[00:03:17] Because he didn't feel it. No, no, no, no, no, no. I don't buy that. We will see next time I have to go on stage, but I don't think that that was it. I think that I always intuitively utilize my nervousness on stage in the right way and I would do it. Like, I don't think that that was the thing, you know, what, what not quote unquote feeling nervous. 

[00:03:34] What it gave me is unfortunately, Much less of a present it's bit. You would say in German. It's sort of like not pitiful, but it's just, it's not awesome. Right? It's not like that great of a thing. Do you know what it gave me? What he gave me was that an hour of five minutes before going on stage, when people would approach. 

[00:03:55] And I would talk to them if they would be impressed that I seem to not [00:04:00] care. And then they would ask me, do you never get nervous? And I would go, nah, not really in their mind. They'd be like, wow, this guy is better than me. Wow. This guy's coolness. That's really all I got out of it. So nobody saw that I was nervous and people were impressed by how cool. 

[00:04:19] You know, bougie. I was like, I was just like, ah, a minute before going on stage, I could be doing something else because I can't be bothered. And then it's like stage time and everybody knows Steli the moment his feet touch. The stage magic happens is on, is more than impressing people before and after then it helped be on stage. 

[00:04:36] It really didn't do that much on stage for me, I think. We will see that that's true, but it was more that it was more, you know, even friends, family, employees, like employees would hang out with me team members before I would go on stage and they would get nervous and then they would be impressed that I wouldn't be nervous. 

[00:04:55] That was the benefit I was collecting from. It is not showing people. I'm just a fucking. [00:05:00] I want it to be above that feeling. I'm not nervous. I don't give a fuck. And part of it is true. I mean, I do give a lot of a fuck, but part of me also doesn't give a fuck. Say it's a bit of a mixed soup. There's lots of ingredients in there. 

[00:05:12] One of it is that I do not care and there's lots of ingredients in there that are, that I care a lot. Right. There's a beautiful contradiction in there, but I never wanted any. To look at me and go, ah, look, he's shitting in his pants because he's about to go on stage. That to me, seemed to week. And so I never gave anybody that satisfaction and I never gave myself the shame that I would've felt back then by somebody coming up to me and me having to go, I can't talk to you right now. 

[00:05:38] I'm too nervous. Sometimes somebody would give a talk and they would say something like this to somebody else. Or they would very obviously be nervous walking up and down reading their paper. And I would just go. Amateur, you know, I was just like, huh? I would never say anything. The grading I've always been very encouraging and nice outwardly, but in my mind, I'd be like, I can't believe this. 

[00:05:58] Person's still nervous. She's done it a [00:06:00] hundred times. Why is she so nervous? It was like childish. The way I saw nervousness is like, we can childish. And so I was like, I never going to have anybody see me in that state. I mean, I started this very young. I didn't know I was doing this. I really didn't know. 

[00:06:15] I didn't think I'm going to hide my nervousness. I just didn't feel. The nervousness. So I was like, oh, I guess I don't have it. I'm not sure if it helped me be brilliant on stage. I think it helped me more protect my ego before and afterwards, because I would have felt ashamed if people knew that I'm nervous. 

[00:06:31] I thought that I care too much or that like, I couldn't go to the bathroom this morning because I have a talk at 3:00 PM that kind of like, I'm so nervous. I like these warning signs. You know, go take a shit the day that I would give a talk, but I wouldn't notice that that's kind of out of the ordinary. 

[00:06:48] Maybe this relates to some tension in my body, you know, holding on, you know, being afraid to let go that was blind and deaf to all these sides. I did not know. And then afterwards we talked about [00:07:00] this, even before I realized to some degree what was going on, that I would get off stage, get showered in love and praise, not accept any. 

[00:07:06] Run back to the hotel room and I would emotionally like collapse. I would just energetically being exhausted. I would think I didn't do this much today. I woke up check the email. I went to the venue. I had a coffee. I went on stage for 30 minutes and I came back to the. Like I didn't do this much. Why am I this exhausted? 

[00:07:25] And now I think, well, I carried a lot of nervousness and a lot of excitement, a lot of energy in me. And then I released it very violently on stage to the crowd and I had to hide all this other stuff that was going on in front of me and in front of the world. It's a shit ton of work, but in my mind, it was a cool, calm as a cucumber. 

[00:07:44] And then work this morning. I just walked to the venue, drink a coffee, went on stage. Okay. The stage thing I had, I'll admit 30 minutes. I give a talk that took energy of 40 minutes to an hour, but why am I this done for the rest of the day? It's like, yeah. Well, [00:08:00] coming back to nervous. I thought, why am I nervous? 

[00:08:05] And then I thought, well, my mommy's coming to the city and I want to show her an amazing day. Like she's not just coming and visiting me at home. She's visiting me at this really beautiful apartment. And I want to give her a great date, show her a little bit of my world. Like we'll go to beautiful coffees and restaurants and eat really well and show a little bit of the good life that my. 

[00:08:25] It's not as exposed to as I am. So is okay. There's some nervousness because I really want it to be a beautiful day for her. And then I thought in shit, buses coming. And he's going to arrive. And typically I would want to have something great planned for tonight and I would want to be like sinking up and chatting. 

[00:08:43] And now I'll have to tell him, Hey, my mom is here all day, come to the apartment. I'll give you keys. But tonight you're on your own. I'm going to dinner with my mom again, mentally. It was totally cool with that. I was like, I know him. He's totally cool to be on his own. Like there's no problem there whatsoever, but there was a part of me that's [00:09:00] still. 

[00:09:00] Nervous about it, nervous about having a guest come and not attend to the guest felt kind of weird. And then when my mom showed up, finding enough on the drive, her friend was driving her to the city and I could tell on the phone that my mom was super stressed out. Can't find the street. Where should we stop that? 

[00:09:18] A dad? And I'm like, mom. Relax. Do you know, there's a white tower in this aisle? Nicky is a very kind of known landmark. I'm like, just let him get out there. I'll go and pick you up there. And I can just tell she's like, okay, but can we stop the car there? And th and she's just like stressed. If she's, she's like escaping some refugee camp or something, but it's just like coming to hang out with me. 

[00:09:41] I go to pick her up on the way back. Old Steli was in my head and was saying, why is he always so stressed about these little things? Like, she's just here to hang out with our sunlight. I could tell she didn't sleep at night. She was like, so nervous and stressed about the whole thing. And then I thought, well, motherfucker, you right. 

[00:09:57] You're nervous. You're nervous about the same [00:10:00] thing. Why are you? And then I thought shit all these times that I judged her overreacting to things I might've overreacted. Hidden that from myself. And so I didn't know, it didn't show. And so I go pick her up and I hug her and I go, how are you doing? And she's like, I'm doing well. 

[00:10:14] And then she started telling me how her friend was too nervous and too stressed about little things in the drive here and everything. And I'm like, mom, I think you also sounded a bit stressed to me. She's like me. No, I'm totally calm. I'm not stressed. I'm not nervous that dah, dah, dah, dah. I'm like, okay. 

[00:10:26] And then as we walked, I told her mom, you know, what's funny this morning I was nervous. And she's like, you really? And I said, yeah, And she asked, well, why. I said, because you are coming today, I realized it's really important to me to spend this day with you and make sure that it's a beautiful day for you. 

[00:10:46] And so I got nervous because you said, ah, you don't have to be nervous. You know, I was also very nervous for today. And then she's like, and then like, it's like five minutes ago, she was like, I'm not nervous. I'm not stressed. And she said, oh, you don't have to be nervous. And then she start. [00:11:00] Just like a waterfall. 

[00:11:01] Just tell me all these stories and just talking to me. And we ended up having a beautiful day together, a really, really beautiful day that I'll treasure forever. And the next morning I go to get my new tattoo and my next friend is showing up and I go, what is it that I. Appointments, any time a friend is arriving, a guest is arriving and I can't attend to them. 

[00:11:21] And my mind has to say, it's totally fine, but you know, I can tell that I'm a little stressed about it. And so I paid attention to this and over the next two or three days, multiple times, I had this nervous voice in my head that was saying, you're not. Well enough as a guest, like this is not an impressive enough visit for these people. 

[00:11:40] For the guests as a host, this is not an impressive enough visit. Look, Sophia really wants to party and go wild and you don't feel like it. And you went out one night and did a bit of that. He would want to do that for four nights and you didn't. And I had a bit of a anxiety around that all, should I go out tonight? 

[00:11:57] Should I create something crazy tomorrow for him? [00:12:00] And then I thought about Boston, like, oh, busty. He always wants these types of experiences. And I didn't give him any of that. Maybe I should do this and that. And then I thought, huh. This is not Disneyland. I didn't promise a specific, I just promised some time with me. 

[00:12:12] I didn't not my job. Just let go. And funny enough, just a few hours later, and busty brought this up the day before at breakfast, he asked me a question and part of me didn't want to answer it because I thought if I answer, I have to answer fully. Fully, this is going to take a lot of energy for me. It's going to be a very vulnerable story and something that's very important to me. 

[00:12:34] So I'm going to exhaust a lot of energy and I kind of just want to sit. Eat my breakfast. And I had this back and forth for just a split second in my mind, and I decided to share. And so I went into like sharing that story and sharing these insights and we had a big conversation about it. It was all great. 

[00:12:50] But afterwards I was depleted. So the next day, as I'm having these thoughts, busty starts talking about, and he said, you know, what I've noticed about you Steli is that [00:13:00] it's incredibly important for you. To create value and to be valuable. And he's like yesterday at breakfast, I could tell that you didn't want to tell the story and then you still went ahead and did it. 

[00:13:13] And I feel like you did it because you felt a responsibility to share that with me, to give me what I wanted. And I just want you to know. It doesn't matter. I don't need you to do anything. I love you. And you don't have to do something for that. Like you could just, you could just chill. You don't have to give me your wisdom. 

[00:13:29] You don't have to advise me. You have to do all these things. I just love you for who you are, which was both beautiful as a statement from him as a friend. But I could tell. Internally, I am at odds with that statement. And I could tell that part of me was thinking, yeah, sure. Like this weekend, I really don't have to do something crazy. 

[00:13:46] We had a good time. I don't need to create things for people. And I've gotten better at reining that urge back or calming it down at times. But on the flip side also have another voice of me that says bull shit. If I never [00:14:00] advised you, if I never helped you out all these times that you needed help. If I that. 

[00:14:05] Shared wisdom with you. If I wasn't who I am, if I hadn't done all these things that you found attractive and valuable, and that have helped you and benefited your life and created some type of enjoyment, who would I be? And how would you relate to me? Right? Like, of course we all are worthwhile creatures by birthright. 

[00:14:26] Every baby's as lovable as the next one, but there's also a part of me. That's like, well, but if you grow up to be a, an adult, that's not doing anything for anybody, including themselves, how are all these people are going to be? You know, what is driving that love then? And that admiration based on what you just breathe. 

[00:14:45] Is that it out a part of me thought, well, maybe it's not an all in all out, right? Maybe it's you create value to do nice things, but you are not a slave of that. You don't have to do that all the time obligated to do that. You could create a ton of [00:15:00] value. And then the next couple of times we will meet you. 

[00:15:02] You don't do anything for them. Right. And you don't have to, and you don't tell any impressive stories and you don't share any crazy wisdom. You just hang out and laugh or relax. Or be tired of be sad. And that's that, that's how you are these days. And then he brought up the question and we'll have to discuss this another time of, well, what would happen if in the next 10 years, nothing significant happened. 

[00:15:26] Like you didn't learn anything, great new wisdom nuggets. You didn't change to this complete new person. You didn't develop totally new hotbeds. You didn't experience completely new things. What have been the next thing. You all who you are today, you know, the things you know today, you look like you look today, you live the kind of life that you live today. 

[00:15:44] You know, why would that be that bad? Like, you're a pretty dope person. Like why, why would you have to change? And I told him, I completely agree now, as I think about it, This should not terrify me, but in reality it deeply, deeply [00:16:00] terrifies me. Right. It terrifies the, I fucking, you know, shit in my pants. If I think even in five years, I'm the same person as I am today, not intent. 

[00:16:10] And I think there's something interesting there to explore for me a bit further. Again, that drive makes me who I am. It's not about like crushing it or letting it go, but it's about understanding. That drives some times is also in the way of me just being right and like being too stressed about having a week where nothing has happened or a month, or having somebody visit me and not creating an amazing experience for them, that creates stress. 

[00:16:36] So it was interesting to hear him challenge me on one of the things that I've taken away is that. Pride in, you know, one of the things I'm most proud of is that the last two years ago, Steli and today's tele were very different people. I fucking love that. I'm so happy about that. It gives me pride and joy. 

[00:16:53] So maybe it wouldn't be that bad if that didn't happen in the next two years is challenging thought experiment.[00:17:00] 


Brought to you by Steli Efti of Inner Work with Steli Efti