Proper training

What, then, is the proper training for this? Firstly, the highest and principal form of training, and one that stands, so to speak, right at the entrance way to the enterprise, is, that when you become attached to something, let it not be as though it were to something that cannot be taken away, but rather, as though it were to something like an earthenware pot or crystal goblet, so that if it happens to be broken, you may remember, what kind of thing it was, and not be distressed.

~ Epictetus

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The roller coaster

Life is not ever going to be content. Life is never going to be normal. For the rest of your life you’re on a journey that has ups and downs and ups and downs, it is a roller coaster that never ends. Until one day you close your eyes and you’re off the roller coaster. And I think for me, I just want to be on as many different journey’s as possible, so at least if I’m on a roller coaster, there’s a new zigzag and a turn that I didn’t know about before.

~ Scooter Braun

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What room for an abject mind?

When you have acquired a contempt for things that are external and lie outside the sphere of choice, and have come to regard none of them as your own, but only this as your own, to judge and think aright, and exercise your impulses, desires and aversions aright, what further room is there after that for flattery, what room for an abject mind?

~ Epictetus

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And sometimes panic sets in

Inspired by a reader’s question to me, I thought I’d ask our followers on Facebook and Twitter for an answer to the question: What books would you recommend someone read to improve their general knowledge of the world.

I must say the number and quality of the responses overwhelmed me. The box Amazon just delivered reminds me that I ordered 9 books off this list.

~ Farnam Street from, https://fs.blog/2016/09/books-recommend-someone-read-improve-general-knowledge-world/

I know there are too many books—old books, new books, red books, blue books … A friend of mine just published a book, and Jiminy Cricket I’d love to read it— I hovered on the add-to-cart button. But I paused, managing to trigger my habit-change “wedge” of repeating: “simplfiy. simplify. simplify.” I digress.

I skimmed that list of books from Farnam Street and felt I should probably read every one of them. Instead, (“simplify. simplify. simplify.”,) I noted I’ve read several, have several more in my possession, and several others on the wishlist. With a life-is-short shrug, I’m passing it along to you and moving on with my morning.

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Men who are mortal

But what if my friends there should die? What else could that signify except that men who are mortal have died? Do you at once wish to live to be old, and yet not to see the death of any one you love? Do you not know that, in a long course of time, many and various events must necessarily happen? That a fever must get the better of one person, a highwayman of another, a tyrant of a third?

~ Epictetus

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Mastery, purpose, and autonomy

A highly influential book for me in designing Automattic was Daniel Pink’s Drive, where he eloquently introduces the three things that really matter in motivating people: mastery, purpose, and autonomy. Mastery is the urge to get better skills. Purpose is the desire to do something that has meaning, that’s bigger than yourself. These first two principles physically co-located companies can be great at. But the third, autonomy, is where even the best in-office company can never match a Level 4 or above distributed company.

~ Matt Mullenweg from, https://ma.tt/2020/04/five-levels-of-autonomy/

I’ve read and listened to a bunch of stuff from Mullenweg and he’s consistently someone with his head on straight and his priorities—particularly those related to the many people working for his company—in order. If you just went, “Matt who?” definitely read that little post, and then, perhaps, dip into his podcast, Distributed. (Maybe try the episode, Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg on building a fully distributed company, to get a good taste.)

Also, yes, more autonomy for everyone.

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The modern struggle

The modern struggle — Lone individuals summoning inhuman willpower, fasting, meditating, and exercising, up against armies of scientists and statisticians weaponizing abundant food, screens, and medicine into junk food, clickbait news, infinite porn, endless games and addictive drugs.

~ Naval Ravikant

Silent majority

The great biographer Robert Caro once said, “Power doesn’t always corrupt, but power always reveals.” Perhaps the same is true of the most powerful networks in human history.

Social media has not corrupted us, it’s merely revealed who we always were.

~ Mark Manson from, https://markmanson.net/social-media-isnt-the-problem

There’s a lot of good—writing, concepts, anecdote, data—in this article. But the thing that leapt out at me was something I’d already known, but seem to have forgotten… or, if not fully forgotten, I’d failed to connect it to other things in my model of the world: The idea of the silent majority.

About 90% of the people participating on social networks, are not even participating. They’re simply observing. It turns out that the other 10% are the people with extreme views; not “blow stuff up” extreme, but simply more towards the opposing ends of whatever spectrum of views you care to consider.

Two things to consider: First, boy howdy guilty as charged! I’m on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn— but the only content I post is related to my projects. I don’t engage with anything, reshare… or even, really, participate unless it’s related to a project. *face palm* Woa! I’m literally a member of the silent majority. Perhaps you are to? If 10 of you are reading, then 9 of you are just like me.

Second, because math! If you look at the stream we all like to say, “it’s endless!” Right. There must be thousands of posts, right? I’ll pause while you do math… right. If there are only thousands of posts for me to see, I’m clearly not seeing all the activity from the millions of people. Sure, some of that is the platform filtering, but I have the feeling that the numbers hold true: If everyone posted a lot we’d have thousands of times more stuff flying around.

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