What’s the trick to get rich quick if you dig dig dig with a shovel or a pick?

Dear Rusty,

The story of my work-life is basically me moving into ever more competitive/fancy environments and performing less and less impressively in each new environment.  So now I am in a very fancy place where my performance is exactly adequate.

This isn’t a problem, of course, on its face. Adequacy is adequacy because it’s adequacy. And it’s not a problem insofar as I’ve been able to get interesting work, anticipate putting food on my family for many years to come, etc. etc. It IS a problem because I got used to feeling special early on when my book report on Of Mice and Men was better than everyone else’s. So I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about what it is that sets me apart from the people who are fancy even in my fancy environment. Welcome to internalized capitalism.

Now, I spend so much time worrying about this that it becomes – how you say – depressing? And I have a special doctor I talk to about these sad feelings (the kind of special doctor who makes you do homework, not the kind of special doctor who cares about your parents).  And discussing my work process with her, it becomes apparent that I think I don’t have one and I imagine everyone else there has some amazing superefficient method of extracting meaning from data. Meanwhile, I am like the underpants gnome of knowledge production:

1)Gather data



So what I’m wondering, how do you describe that middle step? Do you trust your process or is it anxiety-provoking every time?  It’s some combination of review and intuition for me, and that’s not really working out.


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