Cultural Evolution

Physical evolution is slow. Cultural evolution is much faster and is constant.

As the context, the tools, and even values around us change, we evolve to adapt to it. The way we work, the things we value, the actions that we do.

For example, today everyone uses a computer (your phone is one) whereas even as little as 20 years back, it was a choice.

The Plus

As the world moves, it sweeps everyone with it. That's how a cultural revolution happens.

With the Internet and the technological advances that we've made, paradigm shifts in thinking, in working, and in play have become regular.

One of the many interesting advances has been the ability for anyone to create. Before, only if you were a made musician, you could make and distribute music. Now, you can make music and share it with the world. Likewise with any art, app, or writing.

Photo by KAL VISUALS / Unsplash

If you are good enough, you will be found.

That's fuckin' awesome.

The Minus

And therein comes the complication. Because there's always a but.

Other parts of this cultural evolution aren't much different. One part of the lack of evolution, or rather going backwards, is work culture. The always-on. Hustle.

Note: Yes, the world is going backwards or rightwards. But that's a topic I am not an expert on. I am going to stick to work culture and work-life balance, of which I see a lot of and interact with my students about.

Thousand years ago, the farmer and the weaver and all manual labourers and pretty much everyone except the nobility did back-breaking work. They were spent after a day's work.

And this has continued. In every day and age, the privileged class sat on their ass while most of the people were working crazy hours.

With technology, with tractors and farming equipment, with computers and the Internet, with advances in every direction, the expectation was a lot more idle time for the populace. That we'd get done with our work quicker and with greater efficiency, and have the time and energy to spend doing other things.

But while our tools and our tech has undergone significant revolutions, most of us are still chained to our jobs for unreasonable amounts of time.

And while previously the job itself was backbreaking and took a toll, today's desk jobs make one weak and tight, mentally sap you and take a comparative toll on your health.

Training = Sandbox

Expecting a revolution to happen from technological means is probably not the way. Instead, this has to happen as a culture. As a way of thinking.

From freedom, as a choice, we need to learn to move away from "always on". Because it is our choice, isn't it?

In the beginning, I did what my coach told me to do. I'd go in and there'd be a clear plan for the day and the week. This is how many miles we are gonna run on Monday and Thursday. On Tuesday, this is the track work we are gonna do. And on Saturday, here's the long run.

Photo by Victor Freitas / Unsplash

And at CrossFit, until the coach wrote the workout on the board, I had no thoughts. And once they wrote it, I had no thoughts or opinions.

As I learned more and more and became a coach myself, I went through a long idiot phase. Where I coached myself and wrote my own training plan. This would involve me doing 75 different things and then jumping to 75 new things in 6-8 weeks. The more I knew, the fewer results I saw.

Two simple things have changed on the training front. One, not writing my training plan and instead doing one of Pavel's. And two, doing them for at least a year, rather than a quarter. And three, which is actually due to #1, is minimising the number of things I am doing.

With too much knowledge and freedom, I became unhinged and rudderless.

How this relates to the larger "always on" and poor work-life split - here's my opinion. We are not the masters of our thoughts and feelings at all. With the amount of information and success stories and advice and hacks we hear from around us, we are attempting to sculpt our Frankenstein's monster of a method out of them all. If the people on Insta/Twitter with 100k followers are speaking about hustle culture, we are hustling. If they are talking about playing hard and working hard, we know we need to do that too. And when everyone around you is putting in that kinda hours, it becomes impossible to break away from that and do things your way.

You are a mirror of everyone around you.

beauty saloon
Photo by Guilherme Petri / Unsplash

And so, we are all stuck in a fucktarded trap. Where we all think we will find salvation by doing more of this and we'll get out of here where we can start doing less of this, once we get there.

Or, we can start doing less of this. and more of what we want and need to do as well.

But unless we take the time to know what that is, we won't have the courage to.

What's next?

Personally, this is the battle. to quieten the noise in my head and to hear and feel what it is that I want and need for myself. To snip away at what are reflections and echoes of everyone else. and to get at the heart of what drives me.

It has been an uphill battle. it will continue to be, at least for the time being.

But it is fun and challenging. there are times when I throw the baby out with the bath water. there are times when I get swept with the popular opinion. and then I learn to catch myself, thanks to conversations with mentors - in books and in real life.

As always, learning from my training is how I keep things simple. What is working for me are

  • not coaching myself.
  • being minimalistic.
  • having a long-term plan.
  • ensuring there's the right level of discomfort along the way.
  • ensuring that there's a lot of learning along the way.
  • learning the difference between obsessing vs being interested in mastery.

Adapting that to the larger scheme is the journey I am on.

While the specifics will not be relevant to you. A lot of us are in the same boat. Anything of use will need contemplation from your end. It will require you to apply things in your context, and see what happens. If some part of this post resonated with you, I urge you to set aside an hour today and do some thinking.