• Category: Letter
  • Date: Apr 07, 2022
By Shope Delano
  • Written from: London, UK
  • Keywords: happiness , struggle , success

Does struggle have to beget success?

Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy. Apparently.

After a mid-week check in with myself last week, I realised that what was meant to be A Great Week wasn't quite going to plan. And that it was probably going to be downhill from that point onwards. The next few days were filled with IRL meetings and a full day conference. There was a mutant flu knocking on my sinuses that I suppressing by ignoring the ‘dosage’ instructions on Sainsbury's Cold and Flu tablets. There would be no time for deep work.
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A selection of the incomplete tasks from last week (which excludes consultancy work)
Shame was the first emotion that came up. “You should be able to get everything done, Shope. Get it together.” Closely followed by anxiety. “Why did Shope Of Last Week think it was a good idea to publicise something that is so early stage?”
I went for a walk to try and put the brakes on this impending spiral, and found myself thinking about a statement one of my favourite thinkers made.
Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want. (Naval) Desiring X, is an active decision to defer peace until you reach a certain goal. The most successful people are those that are doggedly focused. They can't eat/sleep/function until the world looks how they envisioned it looking. 
I was feeling pretty unhappy in that exact moment, so maybe I was doing it right. When I'm at my most anxious, I'm (unfortunately) also my most productive. This is contract I made with myself when I decided to try and do A Hard Thing. I'm reminded of the Lebron James documentary on Netflix. I didn't get the impression he was particularly happy. But he was an absolute machine. One of the greatest. 
The tortured artist trope also came to mind. 
As did rags to riches stories from successful people. The story arc is always very predictable. “When I was building, I was miserable the whole time. Now that I've built - and have the associated status, and power - I'm investing in my happiness because I understand what truly matters.” 
(Yes. I'd also rather cry in Ferrari with the best therapist in Europe on speed dial.)
Everything I read suggests I can't be happy (fulfilled/peaceful/contented - choose your fighter) whilst in the trenches. That state of being comes after you win the war. The challenge for me, is that I have a real intolerance for unhappiness. I'm not very good at it. When I feel it, I re-organise my life quite intentionally to get rid of it. I believe whilst I'm not in total control of what happens, I am in control of how I perceive and process external events. The stories I tell myself are mine to make up! What utility is there in telling myself stories that make me feel bad about myself?
We'll see how I get on. But a huge part of defining work on my own terms is leaning into my personal power - I may not control what happens, but I can control how I perceive them - to stay in good spirits. I don't subscribe to the idea of struggle begetting success. Unfortunately, I'll need to hit some marker of conventional success before there's a verdict on whether this approach ‘works’. The 30-minute walk ended with this instagram post.

Building out a team is still, my main priority. It's the thing that keeps me up at night at the moment. I documented milestones for our journey to launch last week, which gave me a lot of clarity. This week, amongst lots of calls, I'm scoping out a studio that'll hopefully become the home for all of our video production.


I've wanted to participate in the knee-high-boots-and-floaty-dress silhouette for a long time. It's a real power look. And the only pair of boots that I have eyes for, are these. (Aeyde, £495). They've been on my wishlist for about 18 months now. Narrow through the ankle, with a subtle square toe, and mid height heel. Divine.
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