All Suffering Is Desiring or Resisting Change Cover

All Suffering Is Desiring or Resisting Change

A man was gifted a plate by his wife. It had beautiful drawings. The man was an antique dealer. Every day at the market, he would eat lunch from his plate.

Soon, his wife passed away. The man was grieving, but he still ate from his favorite plate every day. One day, the plate fell down and broke into a thousand pieces. The man was devastated.

A fellow stall owner told him: “I know someone who can teach you how to fix it. But he lives far away.” The man went to seek the plate fixer. After one year of traveling, he found him. The plate fixer helped the man reassemble the pieces and the man returned home.

At first, he was happy. But the plate never felt quite the same. One day, it broke again and, again, the man was devastated.

Another stall owner told him: “I know someone who makes plates just like this one. But he lives far away.” The man went to seek the plate maker. After one year of traveling, he found him. The plate maker taught him how to make his own plate and, with it, the man went home.

At first, he was happy. But still, the plate never felt quite the same. One day, it broke again. Again, the man was devastated. But he was tired. He could not travel far anymore.

A fellow stall owner told him: “I know someone who sells plates just like this one. He has a new stall on the market.” Happy that he wouldn’t have to travel far, the man went and bought a plate just like his.

At first, he was happy. But that plate, too, never felt quite the same. One day, it broke again.

As the man looked at the broken pieces on the floor, a stranger passed by his stall. He said:

“You are lucky. It was just a plate.”

At that moment the man was enlightened.


The first of the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism is suffering. They call it ‘dukkha.’ It has many definitions, including pain, grief, sorrow, stress, unsatisfactoriness, and misery, but I think the simplest term that captures it in our modern times is ‘unhappiness.’

Our suffering isn’t physical, at least not most of the time. It’s emotional. One way or another, things don’t go how we want them to, and we face emotional pain because of it. This pain isn’t random. We inflict it upon ourselves. That’s the lesson of the above story.

All suffering is resisting or desiring change.

When change wants to affect us and we reject it, we suffer. When we wish for change and none occurs, we suffer.

Like the man in the story, we fight the current of events instead of floating in it, and each time it carries us away, we scream. We go on symbolic journeys to preserve what can’t be preserved — or to change what can’t be changed.

The man held on to his wife’s plate because it gave him a feeling of permanence in an impermanent world. He resisted change. When it broke, a change occurred without his consent, and he suffered from that too.

The great lengths he went to in order to fix and replace his plate are a series of escalating commitments in this fight. But each time he succeeded, he found permanence still wasn’t restored. Something always felt off. Only when he was too tired to continue fighting and a random stranger pointed out the vanity of his efforts could he see clearly: the only way is acceptance.

Everything in life is transient. Every human, every animal, every building, plant, and inanimate object. Every element, every atom, every speck of dust is a tiny traveler going a small distance in a long, universal journey that’s much larger than any of its individual parts.

Nothing lasts forever. Not just the material, the intangible too. Feelings change. Relationships end. Attitudes evolve. Our feelings, thoughts, opinions, they all meander through our lives and might end up opposite of where they began. Cities collapse. Conditions turn. People die.

All we have is impermanence and it’s depressing. We also rarely control when change occurs. We desperately want to, but all we can do is give our best and hope for the result we desire. As soon as we become attached, we’ve set the gears of suffering in motion. Instead, we should bend with the wind.

“Notice the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survive by bending with the wind.”

— Bruce Lee

The Buddhist life is a life of practicing acceptance. Acceptance is the only thing that works because change is the only constant of life. It comes when it comes, and you’ll meet it when it does. This applies to the trivial in life as much as it does to the substantial.

You slept poorly today? Okay, accept, move on. Your new job sucks? Okay, accept, move on. You missed the bus? Okay, accept, move on. Your grandfather died? Okay, accept, move on.

This isn’t to say you’ll always accept easily and move on quickly. It’s to say you can learn to always do both eventually. Accept life’s permanent impermanence and odd timing of uncomfortable change, and suffering disappears.

At the end of the day, remember you are lucky. For you’re still here, and it was just a plate.

Why We'll Never Know the Origins of Success Cover

Why We’ll Never Know the Origins of Success

You can do anything. I know because I have no idea what you can’t do. You might, but in my book, anything is possible for you.

The funny thing is most people think that way about other people — it’s just us who do the self-limiting. We choose to focus on our shortcomings. But the truth is, as long as you keep doing things, anything could happen.

Take Andreas Illiger, for example. In 2011, he released a game on the iTunes App Store. It was called Tiny Wings. Helping a chirpy bird fly through an endless landscape with upbeat music was fun — so much fun that it generated millions of downloads and dominated the charts for weeks. At 28, Illiger became an overnight millionaire.

You can do anything.

Mark Cuban shared a 3-bedroom apartment with five friends when he was 25. All of his clothes were in one big pile on the floor. He was working as a bartender and living off beer and happy hour food. Then, he started selling software for PCs. He was fired after less than a year. But he stuck with selling software. He started his own company. He sold it a few years later for $6 million. He used the money to fund a company that broadcasted college basketball, which he loved. That company grew. He stuck with it. Eventually, that company sold to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion right before the dot-com crash.

You can do anything.

In 2016, I started a website called Four Minute Books. I further condensed 365 existing book summaries in a year. It was a stupid, harebrained idea. I made about $5/hr doing it. After that first year, I spent less time on it, but it kept growing. Now, I have someone helping me, and it makes a full-time income with about one hour of my work each week.

Do you see a pattern emerge here? No? Well, neither do I. And that’s why you can do anything. Life is random. All you can do is to keep trying your best. Some things will work out. Others won’t. It is only in hindsight that you’ll get to attach the label “success.”

We define success by outcomes. We see those outcomes — a fancy house, a cool car, a big company — and they feel like a specific result, created with fixed inputs over a fixed period of time. But they’re not. They’re the result of an entire person’s life, meshed with luck, timing, and other people’s lives.

Outcomes may happen suddenly, like for Andreas, or gradually, like for me, or first one and then the other, like for Mark Cuban. But there’s no such thing as fixed inputs or fixed periods of time.

All there is is your life and everything that’s in it.

Everything matters. And because it does, you can do anything.

Andreas made everything in his game himself. The graphics. The music. The mechanisms. The code. He’d been a developer and designer for ten years, dabbling in all these different fields beyond app development. It just so happened that, in this one game, at a time when everyone was looking for fun little distractions, it all came together.

Mark took a series of steps, constantly choosing to follow one path and abandon another. Was it his knack for trends? His gut? Coincidence? Whatever it was, he stuck with the right path at the right time several times and, in a historic moment of technology breakthrough, ended up winning big. He rode a huge wave all the way to the top, and then he picked up his board and went home right before it crashed. What all went into it? Who knows. Mark just kept doing things.

So did Harrison Ford, by the way. You know, the carpenter we all know as Han Solo. And Elton John. Henry Ford. Rihanna. Jackie Chan. J. K. Rowling. There is no straight line to success.

You can do anything.

Tolkien published Lord of the Rings at age 63. Ray Kroc franchised McDonald’s in his 50s. Judi Dench first showed up in a Bond movie in her 60s.

Success can only be measured and felt after it’s done, but it can never be judged in its entirety, because we never have a complete picture of any single human’s life.

Whether it happens suddenly or gradually, one day, someone will say something, and you’ll realize: “Oh. Yeah, I guess that did work out for me.”

You won’t know how you got there or why you got there or why you hadn’t seen it before. All you’ll know is that you kept doing things and that, yes, this is success.

You had never imagined it, but now you know it’s true:

You can do anything.

The 22 Best Yoda Quotes Cover

The 22 Best Yoda Quotes: How to Master the Art of the Perspective Shift

If you don’t know, Yoda is one of the strongest characters in one of the strongest stories of all time: Star Wars.

Yoda is a tiny, green creature of an unknown species, over 800 years old, and Grand Master of the Jedi Order. The best of the good guys, if you will. He has an incredible ability to wield the Force — the invisible power all Jedi rely on — and is a brilliant fighter with a lightsaber, their weapon of choice. He’s also the head teacher of all young Jedi and the first person everyone turns to when they need advice.

Despite his strength, Yoda’s true power lies in his wisdom. He speaks a little backwards and often in riddles, but every word he chooses is placed exactly where it’s meant to be. He says little, but what he says hits hard.

Yoda is not just a Jedi Master, he’s also a master of the perspective shift.

Most of the time, what he tells us completely flips the angle from which we were trying to approach a problem. Often, he shows us we’ve been focusing on the wrong problem altogether. This is incredibly valuable.

Perspective shifts elevate our thinking. They allow us to overcome seemingly insurmountable barriers, move a lot faster, and see the world more clearly. They also help us lift others by sharing what we’ve learned with them.

Since he’s a quiet character, there aren’t that many Yoda quotes to draw from, but I’ve assembled his best ones to show you how he architects perspective shifts. He frequently talks about teacher-student relationships, fighting, and what it means to be a good person. To give you enough context and get the most out of these quotes, I’ve structured them into one coherent narrative.

May they teach you to change your own mind and that of others.


When Luke Skywalker is first sent to Yoda’s planet to learn from him, he bumps right into the Master, not knowing who he is. He tells him he’s looking for someone, to which Yoda only says:

“Looking? Found someone you have, eh?”

Picasso supposedly said, “I don’t seek. I find.” In a 1923 book called The Arts, he gave an explanation of what he meant:

“I can hardly understand the importance given to the word research in connection with modern painting. In my opinion, to search means nothing in painting. To find is the thing. Nobody is interested in following a man who, with his eyes fixed on the ground, spends his life looking for the purse that fortune should put in his path. The one who finds something, no matter what it might be, even if his intention were not to search for it, at least arouses our curiosity, if not our admiration.”

In the same vein, Yoda trusts the Force to guide our path in life. You can call it God, the universe, karma, or whatever you like — the point is to have faith. Keep your eyes open, stay present, and look, rather than obsessing over an idea in your head.

The next thing Luke says is that he’s “looking for a great warrior.” Once again, Yoda flips the notion on its head immediately:

“Ohh. Great warrior. Wars not make one great.”

There’s a saying that is often credited to US president Herbert Hoover in various forms:

“Wars are always started by men too old to fight in them.”

It depends on the country, but many have a culture of decorating their war heroes. It serves us well to honor these men and women, but it makes it easy to forget that the most honorable thing would have been to never send them into battle in the first place.

As Grand Master of the Jedi Order, Yoda also holds a position similar to a general. Most of his power in that position is spent trying to maintain peace and avoid fighting, because he knows wars only create losers on both sides:

“No longer certain, that one ever does win a war, I am. For in fighting the battles, the bloodshed, already lost we have.”

In that same spirit, being a Jedi is much like learning Kung Fu, Yoda explains:

“A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”

I can’t think of a more humbling thing than to learn how to fight in hopes of never having to use it. Rigorous physical training has many benefits, like discipline, fitness, and patience. But in order to attain them, you don’t ever have to raise your fist against another human being. The training is enough.

Of course, sometimes, war is inevitable. In case of the Jedi, they are usually hopelessly outnumbered by the vast armies of the Galactic Empire. But again, Yoda knows there’s more to life than physical strength:

“Smaller in number are we, but larger in mind.”

There are countless examples from history of small groups outwitting large enemies. The 300 Spartans. The Trojan Horse. Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps. A great strategy can make up for a big lack in firepower.

This lesson also applies at an individual level, and it’s one of the first Yoda teaches Luke when he becomes his apprentice. He tells Luke to use the Force to telekinetically lift his spaceship from a swamp. When Luke fails, claiming it’s too big, Yoda retorts:

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.”

At first, Luke dismisses Yoda and walks away. But when he sees Yoda single-handedly lift the ship on his own and hover it to safety, he can barely trust his own eyes. He tells Yoda he can’t believe what he just did, to which Yoda says:

“That is why you fail.”

This is Yoda reiterating the very first thing he told Luke: it’s about believing before you can see. Not the other way around. This ties into what might be Yoda’s most famous quote of all:

“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”

Yoda combines immense faith with a strong sense of realism, of grounding. Those two might seem like opposites, but they’re not.

If you surrender to life and are fully in sync with what the universe wants to tell you, you’ll rarely attempt anything that’s not already meant to become a reality. This is why Yoda spends so much time thinking and meditating. He needs to listen; tune in to the Force. Once he emerges, the path of action is so clear to him, it might as well be done already. This is Yoda’s job much more so than charging headfirst into every battle:

“Secret, shall I tell you? Grand Master of Jedi Order am I. Won this job in a raffle I did, think you? ‘How did you know, how did you know, Master Yoda?’ Master Yoda knows these things. His job it is.”

This job of knowing is what unites all of Yoda’s roles. Be it as a politician, general, or teacher. It would take Luke many years to finally understand this. In a conversation decades later, after Luke has become a Jedi Master himself, Yoda still needs to remind him that passing on his knowledge is his job. One of the best ways to do so is through failure:

“Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery, hmm… but weakness, folly, failure, also. Yes, failure, most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is.”

There’s a quote by Tom Bodett about the difference between life and school:

“In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

Great teachers know this, which is why they don’t lecture as much as they pose challenges to their students, then let them figure out the answers on their own. If they fail, they fail, but either way, they’ll truly learn something rather than just parrot the master’s words or follow instructions.

For example, when Yoda sends Luke into a dark cave to confront his fears, Luke asks him what he can expect in there. Yoda says:

“Only what you take with you.”

Luke is utterly confused and feels abandoned at first, but after he faces his demons, he realizes the only way for him to succeed was to rely on his own mind. Yoda couldn’t help him, just point the way. This theme ripples through every great teacher-student relationship until its very end:

“Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.”

Failure is not just the way great teachers teach — it’s the master’s own, ultimate goal. If their disciple surpasses them, it means they’ve raised them well. Besides the rigorous training, the number one way Master Yoda aims to accomplish this is through ethics. What he’s most concerned with, even more so than their skill level, is that his students become good people.

That’s why many of his lessons revolve around the subject of not succumbing to the dark side of the Force — the evil path some Jedi choose and thus become corrupted. These lessons always have a Buddhist flair to them:

“Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is.”

In order to practice his combination of faith and presence and dedicate most of his time to thinking, Yoda lives a very minimalist life. He can’t afford to be distracted or pulled around by every impulse and desire rising in his heart. Therefore, letting go is the most important skill each Jedi must master:

“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

Yoda knows fear is the true enemy of all Jedi. Fear is what pulls our minds to the past or the future. It is what creates attachment, and attachment leads to the emotions that, in turn, cause us to make dark choices.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

The way we deal with our fears and return to the present is to face them and hold out as they try to penetrate our minds. We don’t fight them as much as we resist giving in to them. This is exactly what Yoda had Luke do in that cave:

“Named must your fear be, before banish it you can.”

Of course, this isn’t a one-time event. We must face many fears in our lifetimes and no one is immune to them. Not even Yoda. He, too, admits being afraid:

“Yes, afraid. Hmm, surprised are you? A challenge lifelong it is, not to bend fear into anger.”

In his famous inauguration speech, US president Franklin D. Roosevelt said:

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

This principle is a maxim of Yoda’s teachings, as he personally witnessed the terrible consequences of allowing fear to fill a Jedi’s heart.

Once upon a time, a young boy named Anakin was brought before the Jedi Council. He had great potential, but Yoda sensed much fear in him, and so he didn’t want the boy to be trained in the Jedi arts. Yet one of the other Council members said he would train the boy anyway, and Yoda let it pass. Over time, the boy’s fear of losing those he loved only grew. In Yoda’s words:

“When you look at the dark side, careful you must be. For the dark side looks back.”

Eventually, Anakin’s fear had such a strong grip on him that the only path he saw was that of the dark side of the Force. In the same way Anakin was pulled over one day at a time, so do our fear-induced choices cause a vicious cycle. We take a shortcut to get out of one jam which only leads us into a bigger one, which, of course, requires an even more extreme, even less ethical shortcut. Sooner or later, the person we once strived to be feels like our own worst enemy. Anakin literally became this enemy, and it is with great sorrow and anguish that Yoda reveals to Anakin’s former teacher:

“The boy you trained, gone he is. Consumed by Darth Vader.”

Of course, we’re not the only ones facing this danger. Others are affected by it too. And sometimes, we still chase after them. Still hoping, wishing we could get them back. But the person we once felt connected to is long gone.

This brings us back to the war the Jedi were about to lose. They didn’t see that one of the politicians among their own ranks had gone through a similar transformation, and when they relied on his help, they found out he double-crossed them. After retreating and meditating, Yoda once again emerges with a perspective shift that has the power to turn a hopeless situation around:

“Yet, open to us a path remains. That unknown to the Sith is. Through this path, victory we may yet find. Not victory in the Clone Wars, but victory for all time.”

By simply changing the timeline from “how can we win this war?” to “how can we achieve lasting peace for everyone?” Yoda has elevated everyone’s thinking. A more generally applicable version of this idea is this:

“If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are, a different game you should play.”

Focusing on a different aspect of the bigger picture is another very common move in both war and politics. A group on the defense might try to go around the enemy and attack their flank, and an old adage in strategic thinking is:

“When everybody’s playing checkers, play chess.”

But this extends to many more aspects of our lives than the conflict-driven ones. When you fail to get promoted time and again, maybe it’s time to look for a new job. When discussing a problem with your spouse doesn’t work, maybe it’s time to talk about how you talk to each other. And if writing two posts per week won’t cut it, you could try publishing daily or not at all for a while.

The point is — and this is the biggest lesson we can learn from Yoda’s way of thinking — there’s always something different you can do. Something else you haven’t tried. Learning how to shift your perspective is one thing, but, like Yoda’s reliance on the Force, it first requires having faith in new perspectives in the first place. That’s why I can’t think of a better line to end on, a quote that more encapsulates Yoda’s spirit than this:

“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.”

You're Still Here Cover

You’re Still Here

You were born as an accident. Or during an accident. Or with an accident. You were definitely born through great pain and suffering. But you’re still here.

You were raised in a poor home. A dysfunctional home. A home that clipped your wings and left you with deep scars you had to mend much later. But you’re still here.

You had a tough childhood. You were the runt of the litter. The middle child. The big brother with all the pressure. Maybe, you were all alone. But you’re still here.

You didn’t always get what you wanted. The other kids in school were mean. The boys never called back. The teachers had it in for you. But you’re still here.

You wasted a lot of time growing up. You couldn’t figure out what you really wanted. You dealt with disease, disadvantage, depression. But you’re still here.

Your body never gave you an easy time. It didn’t gain weight when it should have or lost any when it shouldn’t. It doesn’t want you to be fit and lean and healthy. It craves junk food and ice cream and popcorn. But you’re still here.

You were rejected when you put yourself out there. You showed vulnerability and honesty and compassion, and someone else spat in your face. But you’re still here.

You’ve inherited your dad’s gambling problem. Or your mom’s excessive spending habits. You struggle to make rent, to save money, to keep your dollar bills together. But you’re still here.

Your company failed. So did the big event at work, the 5th grade dance recital, and the opening of your art gallery. But you’re still here.

You made a mistake. You know you messed up, and you know it’s your fault. You don’t even know how to fix it. You just know you feel like you have to. But you’re still here.

You don’t know how to be happy. Life is confusing. It’s big and complicated and there are way too many options for everything. But you’re still here.

Life is and sometimes it isn’t. But it’s short for all of us. It’s a unique and crazy experience, and there are no do-overs, no second season, no late-night rerun tickets.

Every day is special. A once-in-a-lifetime chance. Another reason to be grateful. And you’re still here. So today is a good day.

How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything Cover

How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

There are only two ways to look at the world: One is that nothing matters, the other is that everything does. Both are true.

On the one hand, you’ll quickly be forgotten after you’re gone. On the other, it’s impossible to know how your actions will add up. In the end, they might make a huge difference for the world.

Which of these world views you choose to focus on is up to you, but only one affords you with a real chance to find meaning and happiness. I’d choose optimism any time.

But there’s a catch: If everything matters, you can never weasel out of responsibility. Ever.

Consequences have consequences. Everything you do is a domino, kicking off a long chain of infinitely perpetuating events — and so how you do even the smallest of things will determine how that sequence unfolds. In other words:

How you do anything is how you do everything.

There’s a new study room at my school. One of the doors is heavy. It takes a proper grip to shut. I’ve watched dozens of people enter and leave that room — and I’ve yet to see a single one after which it won’t swing wide open.

It’s as if an entire generation was never taught how to manually close a door with care. With care. That’s the point. How you do anything is how you do everything.

The only way to write a book is to start with one page, one paragraph, one sentence. The only way to make a million is to make a dollar. And the only way to be loved is to start to be loving.

Life is big, but it consists of many small moments. The only way to do great things is to chain together those moments into one, brilliant, shiny sequence. Keep tipping the dominos.

It makes no sense to do the small things wrong just because they’re small. Especially if the opposite leads to greatness. How you do anything is how you do everything.

So close the door. Do it right. And remember that everything matters.

What If? Cover

What If?

What if I slept too long? What if I forget my keys? What if I won’t get everything done today? What if I run out of time?

What if my investments are down? What if I suddenly need money? What if I picked all the wrong stocks? What if my bank freezes my assets? What if I can’t make rent? What if no one will lend me any money?

What if I can’t think of anything good today? What if I have a creative block? What if I’m slow or sick? What if I fail to meet the deadline? What if I disappoint my boss? What if the report sucks? What if we run out of funding? What if our project tanks?

What if my date cancels at the last second? What if I do the same to my friend? What if she’ll never talk to me again? What if my son becomes a slacker at school? What if my daughter is bullied? What if I’m a bad parent?

What if I skip the gym today? What if I miss the last practice before the game? What if I tear a ligament? What if I can never play again? What if the coach keeps me on the bench all season? What if I lose my favorite hobby?

What if, what if, what if. But what if I don’t?

What if I ignore the clock in the morning? What if I don’t rush to get ready? What if I brush my teeth carefully? What if I don’t break a sweat right after I shower?

What if I don’t let the traffic get to me? What if I have compassion for my fellow commuters? What if they’re just having a bad day? What if they’re plagued by “what if?”

What if I said “hi” to everyone at the office? What if I asked them how they really felt? What if my boss is more scared of failing than I am? What if we won’t?

What if I leave my phone at the office when I go to lunch? What if I don’t miss anything? What if I order her favorite dish for both of us? What if we hit it off? What if I listen? What if she tells me something amazing?

What if I never make more money than now? What if that’s all I need? What if I never retire? What if I don’t want to? What if I find something that’s too much fun to quit? What if people are happy with what I’m doing now?

What if my hobbies are just hobbies? What if I take off the pressure? What if some things are meant to stay small? What if I allowed this to fail? What if it turns into a good story?

What if I call my oldest friend? What if he picks up the phone? What if I took out that old album? What if I spent the afternoon looking at pictures? What if that’s all I need to not feel alone?

What if, what if, what if. But what if I don’t?

What if I don’t think about any of these things? What if I’m not in the wrong time, not the wrong place? What if humans aren’t meant to be? What if we can travel through time, but shouldn’t?

What if I took a deep breath? What if I embraced the moment? What if all that exists is right in front of me? What if ‘alive’ is just a synonym of ‘now?’

What if I’m everything I need to be? What if nothing’s missing?

What if life doesn’t care about what-ifs? What if I stopped asking?

What if?

Your Gut Knows What You Need Cover

Your Gut Knows What You Need

“The man is obviously crazy. Are we just here to watch him die?”

That’s what his friends asked themselves. The man is Philippe Petit.

On August 7th, 1974, he and his crew raised a steel cable between the two towers of the World Trade Center and then…he walked on it. For 45 minutes, 1,300 feet in the air. It was extremely dangerous and highly illegal.

But today, he is a legend. An idol. An inspiration to millions.

Uncertainty sucks. Big time. We hate it. Hate it. But we also know it’s what stands between us and the things that make life worth living. That’s why we celebrate those who conquer it. Who persist in the face of uncertainty.

Philippe withstood an incomprehensible amount of uncertainty, compressed into 45 minutes of life or death. That’s why he’s a hero. But most of us aren’t meant for such crazy dares — and it’s a good thing we aren’t. Yet, the same principle applies.

What about his friends, for example? What about their uncertainty? For months, they helped him plan the coup, not knowing if he’d survive. That’s terrifying too, and equally worth commending.

The longer uncertainty is drawn out, the harder each next day becomes.

Maybe you’ve been waiting for important test results for months. Approaching the birth of a child, not knowing if it’ll go okay. Working towards an important deadline, unsure whether the judges will like the result.

When the mountain is high, every day is a new chance to let it get to you. You look up, see the peak and think, “My god, how am I supposed to move this?” Of course, our only job is to carry away small stones. But it’s easy to forget.

To focus on the smallness of the true task — the first date, the first case, the first page — it helps to trust your gut. But you have to take time to listen to it.

Let the clock run. Allow other matters to fly by. Direct your attention to what’s in front of you. And let your gut figure out the rest. If you feel tired, sleep. If a coffee sounds refreshing, go get one. And if you crave air, take a walk outside.

Sometimes, it takes a while to know what’s what. To tell what’s necessary from what’s ego and desire. So tune in to your gut. Don’t rush. Listen. Separate duty and surrender. Hack away the inessential. And keep doing it every day.

For each impulse, ask: “Will this help me return to the mountain? Is it the next step to carry away another stone? Or just a distraction? Am I shielding my eyes because I glanced at the peak?”

It is better to sit with these questions than to choose a path in haste. Wait. Let the answers trickle in. Don’t act before you feel strong enough to lift the weight. All of this is training. Learning to remain calm despite instability.

You won’t always nail this balancing act. Some days, you’ll fall. But you can get better. And before you know it, the mountain shrinks. A glacier turns into a peak. A pike becomes a hill. A hill turns into a plateau and, eventually, you’ll be walking through a valley, surrounded by creeks and meadows.

Sooner or later, the deadline comes, the test is returned, the man walks on the wire — and balance is restored. The uncertainty fades away.

Philippe Petit had an incredibly strong gut. Deep down, he always knew he had to walk up there. There was no alternative. So he learned to deal with the unease. Until it faded away.

Your gut may not point you to such lofty feats, but it still knows what you need. Whatever mountain you’ve set out to climb, it can help you reach the highest heights. But only if you take the time to let it speak.