Seek Your Own Personal Zenith

How high can you soar in your lifetime? Accumulate your strength, power, and influence slowly– while also constantly pushing your limits.

## Better to Go Big and Fail than Go Small and Succeed

I was deadlifting at the gym today, and couldn’t lift a new maximum PR I was pushing. Thus, by not being able to lift the weight, I technically ‘failed’. But my ego wasn’t hurt at all. I just shrugged my shoulders, slightly lowered the weight, rested up a bit, hyped myself up a bit, and lifted that 405 barbell off the ground.

## 500 pound deadlift

One of my current life goals is to deadlift 500 pounds. It will take me a while. I lifted 410 pounds last week, and to add another 90 pounds to my maximum lift will take a while.

Biologically speaking, we grow slowly. Consider a newborn baby– how long does it take for it to reach full maturity? At least ~18 years of age. And at what age do we reach full mental maturity? Perhaps around 30 years of age.

Muscles grow slowly. Strength grows slowly, yet steadily.

## Slow growth in art

As artists, our skills also grow slowly. It takes us a long time for us to learn the technical skills of our art, and then the training we need to practice our art-craft, while also learning from the masters of the past.

I think about photography — and there are SO MANY things related with it. For example:

1. Technical understanding of how a camera works
2. Technical understanding of using *YOUR* camera (all cameras have different functions, dials, buttons, etc)
3. History of photography (knowing famous photographs from the past masters of photography)
4. Knowing *WHY* you shoot photos (your personal motivations for making images)
5. Building composition skills in photography (how to simplify a scene in your photos, and how to make strong compositions)
6. How to post-process your photos on a laptop, Lightroom, phone, etc.
7. Knowing your personal aesthetic: What types of photos look beautiful to you.
8. Technical expertise on sharing photos online, or printing them out.
9. How to market yourself as a photographer
10. How to stay inspired and motivated to keep shooting new photos

Photography is interesting, because it is super simple to start (iPhone). Yet it is infinitely complex– because there are SO MANY things in photography we must be able to master. And not only that, but the technology is constantly evolving in photography, which means:

> There is always something new to learn in photography.

## Why rush your growth?

We accumulate strength and grow slowly. From a biological perspective, you cannot rush the growth process.

You cannot force a redwood tree to grow taller faster. Of course, you can provide *favorable conditions* — like plenty of water, sunlight, and protection from pests.

The same applies to us as individuals — *we can create favorable conditions for our personal growth and development*, but there are certain limits to the speed and tempo of our personal growth and development.

## What are favorable conditions?

If you want to grow as a philosopher, artist, or individual– some things which help:

### 1. Not getting distracted by money:

> “Don’t stare at money too long, it’s Medusa.” – Kanye West

Of course money is important to buy our coffee, food, and pay rent. Yet– money is mostly a whack distraction.

The problem in modern society is that we use money as ‘experience points’ to quantify our progress in life, and our “successfulness” in life.

The ancient greeks (Homeric heroes) didn’t have money. How did they measure success in their life? They didn’t even really have a word for “success“. They just focused on being courageous, delighting in battle and war, and strength was prized above all.

I also found it interesting that in the movie John Wick, money isn’t that important. A few gold coins are traded for hotels and hit jobs, but besides that– money is irrelevant.

Or the Justin Timberlake movie, ‘In Time’ — wealth is measured by how much time you have.

If you want to focus on your own personal growth and development, don’t get distracted by money. Honestly, you will never have enough money. Even billionaires wish they had 25% more money than they currently have, in order to feel “secure”, or the feeling that they will have “enough”. I think it is a psychological bias– **enough is never enough**.

Thus my suggestion is this:

> REDUCE your expenses (easiest way to “increase” your money).

And then use your mental energy and human metabolism on your own personal development:

1. Develop your mind (reading philosophy, reflecting, thinking, consuming media which empowers you)
2. Develop your body (deadlift at the gym, walk for fun, and eliminate sugar and carbs from your diet)
3. Develop your artistry (keep making art, study art from the masters of the past, and keep innovating)

### 2. Not getting distracted by others

If you truly want to break new artistic ground, I believe strongly in ‘creative isolation‘. For myself, I made the biggest personal breakthroughs in my personal philosophy, life, and photography by the following:

1. Living abroad (outside of America) in Vietnam for a year
2. Not checking email for around 2 years
3. Self-employment (control over my schedule, mind)
4. Deleting Instagram (no comparison against others)
5. Indifference towards the photography or artwork of others

### 3. Not getting distracted by news

The news is toxic. Most of media is toxic.

The way the news works is through ‘fear feeds’ (Cindy Nguyen)– they want to create headlines which scare you. Most of us have ‘fear aversion’– which means:

> If I *don’t* read this news story, I might get hurt somehow.

Thus we end up reading these distracting news stories, which actually have nothing to do with us personally.

Furthermore, reading so much negative news (90% of news is negative) gives you a fucked up, pessimistic view of the world. You will never see in the news:


Most people are more likely to click on negative (fear-inducing) news, when compared to positive (feel good) news.

And because the media earns dollars from online advertising, the more clicks and traffic they drive, the more money they make. And how do they get more clicks and traffic? The more sensational the news, the better.

For the last 5 years, I haven’t looked at a Facebook news feed (I installed a ‘Facebook news feed blocker’ on my browser). I also try to block all internet advertising (I have around 5 ad-blockers on my browsers). I have no subscriptions to any magazines (which are around 80% advertising).

For around 2 years, I went on a 100% news fast (no reading any news), and it was pretty miraculous:

> My mood was elevated, and I felt more optimistic and positive in my everyday life.

A week ago, I accidentally read some news, and suddenly was put into a really shitty and negative mood. Which was insane, because:

> Even small exposures of the news can really fuck up your mood.

Try it out; a 100% media/news elimination diet for a year. This can possibly be one of the best things you can do for your mind.


1. Study more biology to understand more physical principles of nature. I think we can learn more about being human by studying other animals and life in general, instead of reading all these nonsense modern business books
2. Stop reading the news, social media, advertising. Delete your Instagram
3. Focus on producerism (making stuff, instead of just consuming). Share your personal learnings and artwork on your own photography website/blog.
4. Make insanely great goals for yourself in your life. Go big, go hard, and know that often you must be a ‘lone wolf’ in order to achieve your own life goals. Don’t let your life goals be dependent on others.
5. Grow steadily and slowly, moment by moment, instant by instant, day-by-day. **Seek your own personal zenith**.


eric kim melbourne benjamin thompson
ERIC KIM x LEICA MP + 35mm Summicron ASPH + SF 20 flash + HENRI NECK STRAP

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