The boy Peter Pan knew this.
Adulthood, responsibility, accountability, informed courage, these are traits of a mature individual, on the hook and ready to show up and perform.
The modern conception of “adulting” represents the overall continuation of long-term, troubling, cultural abandonments of the hooks that serve to create deeper meaning in life.
But the thing is, the number hooks that require us to show up and perform, day in and day out hasn’t decreased but instead has increased exponentially.
The 90’s pop band Blues Traveler knew this.
Performance is not the thing, though it used to be. Increasingly, the problem is not that people can’t engage or perform once then engage; the problem is now that too many people choose not to show up in the first place.
If you don’t show up, then you’re not on the hook if anything goes wrong.
And if you’re not on the hook when something does go wrong, blame is easy to cast (“Mistakes were made…but not by me…”) and credit is easy to take (“Oh yeah, I was physically here. That’s all that counts. Right?”).
Paying attention, engaging with content and situations that are uncomfortable, responding to ambiguity with heart and courage, dealing with others with empathy, actively listening for a core idea rather than figuring that you know it already.
These are the parts of a performance that matter as much as showing up, and that can put you on the hook when you show up.
Accepting this reality is the difference between an amateur (or a dilettante) and the practicing professional.
The average marketer knows this.
What brings you back, time after time, is the dopamine hit based feeling of success that comes from accomplishing what no one else believed you could.
Many contemporary organizations, distractions, and entertainments, are built around manipulating the feeling of success, without providing the expected (or necessary) commensurate material, psychological, emotional, and spiritual outcomes.
The hook brings you back.
Marketers, fictional characters, popular music bands and even social networks, rely on the biological power of getting you hooked into a habit—without accepting the hard emotional stuff that should go along with it.
In environments and situations such as these, avoiding conflict as a baseline becomes the hook that is the easiest to get you to come back repeatedly.
But the thing is, conflict is the only hook worth getting caught on, to attain deeper success, lasting outcomes, and faithful engagement.