The friction zone

“Instead of dedicating your life to actualize a concept of what you should be like, ACTUALIZE YOURSELF.” ~ Bruce Lee

So I was perusing the web one day and jumped down a rabbit hole, as frequently happens.  I am sure we have all been there when surfing the Internet. We honestly set about searching for something like a definition or further information on a particular subject, then get sidetracked by an interesting article.  So begins the research on that subject and the original intention is right out the window.

Down this particular rabbit hole, the idea of self-actualization popped up.  I had read about it before, in Maslows Hierarchy of needs.  This went hand-in-glove with my recent blog series of “New You”, becoming the best version of yourself.  So I thought this may be a good time to study it more closely.  Basically the hierarchy is five stages shaped in a pyramid.  Once the basic, lower pyramid levels such as air, food, shelter, safety, love and belongingness, friendship, esteem needs like independence and self-respect are met there is self-actualization as the pinnacle.  It occurred to me how fortunate we are to live in a society where the lower part of the pyramid is generally met.  How many people struggle without having their basic needs met such as proper food, shelter, safety, love, support?

When looking into the meaning or definition of self-actualization there are several components:

  • Realistic perception of themselves and the world (IMHO this one is up for debate as dreamers dream big and nothing is impossible)
  • Motivated for problem-solving, helping others usually by a sense of personal or ethical responsibility.
  • Spontaneous in thoughts and outward behavior, open and unconventional in approach – though able to conform to societal norms when appropriate.
  • The enjoy independence, solitude, and privacy. We are all creative in some respect and generally like alone or down-time to inspire, or enrich ourselves.
  • They enjoy the journey, appreciate the moment as it is.  Everyone is thrilled that you climbed Mt. Everest, but usually they are more interested in the climb up and how you got there.

Onward to friction.  I know it sounds totally unrelated huh?  But actually it is very pertinent.  Friction is what happens when we meet an obstacle or roadblock.  Perhaps we cannot figure out the answer or solution to a problem. Perhaps we are in a position where we don’t have our basic needs met. We struggle with just daily existence. It has been said that struggles or friction can bring out the best in people.  We rise to the occasion. One article in particular that I read pertained to web design and friction.  The author, Dina Chaiffetz, stated that most people think of friction as a bad thing when it can be a positive. In the article she states, “When you’re thinking about acquiring users, it’s easy to assume that friction is the enemy of traction. That’s why many products make signing up so simple – the fewer the fields, the better.”  However, part of self-actualization and part of user satisfaction depends upon being engaged and feelings of mastery for accomplishing tasks that are not to difficult nor too easy.  Authors utilize this friction also.  Stephen King always seems to have some “friction” in his novels – keeping us guessing.   I don’t care much for a story or mystery novel that is very easy to figure out.

The feelings of mastery or understanding, learning to overcome is very fulfilling to us. Think back to an accomplishment of your own that perhaps at first was thought of as too difficult or too hard to obtain.  Think of how you felt in that moment when you overcame or succeeded. It is your journey to the top of the mountain that makes it matter. It takes the grain of sand, the friction, as with the oyster, to irritate and bring out the pearls.

Self-actualization requires some friction and irritation. In motorcycling the friction zone is not something anyone can show you, you have to feel it and experience it.   The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) defines the friction zone as “the area of clutch lever movement that begins where the clutch starts to transmit power to the rear wheel and ends just prior to full clutch engagement.”  Being in the zone of friction means you are getting ready to transfer power, to engage, to get going.  It is in this moment that we self actualize, turning the friction into our power to become our best self.

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