Learning to say no


This is a two-chapter excerpt from a book, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown, a book about being an essentialist.

At the beginning of 2018 I latched onto the idea that by saying, “yes” to something, I am cutting off a nearly infinite number of opportunities. Whereas by saying, “no,” I am cuttong off just one opportunity and leaving space for a nearly infinite number of other opportunities. That makes, “no,” the obviously better default answer, yes?


Forgotten super-powers


Today we use tools without even thinking about it. Without a doubt, you are at this moment surrounded by (and draped in) all sorts of tools, equipment and technology. There are probably at least a dozen items in operation right now that are making your moment much better than it would otherwise be: clothing, writing utensils, computers, chairs, clocks, desks and eyeglasses for starters.

~ David Cain

This is definitely an aspect of my Art du Déplacement, and self-improvement journey. I regularly—almost automatically now—run the train of thought he’s describing and it invariably serves me well.

In early 2018 I attended a winter retreat. On one morning, we all went out to hiking trails along a stream and water falls. It was snowy, cold, icy and sunny. I intentionally went in wool socks and my usual, minimalist running sneakers—with the insoles removed so there’s 2mm of rubber and nothing else between my socks and the world. I intentionally set out expecting wet feet (knee-deep snow in places), and my goal was to manage frost-nip and to enjoy the day. Result: Insane amounts of fun; New friends; Lessons learned; No injury; and I experienced a true winter-wonderland in a way I had never before.


On passion


There is a tremendous disparity between the passion and effort that goes into a work of art and the amount a person is likely to pay for it. Some areas pay better than others, and your passion may very well not create much in the way of salable value for anyone else.

~ David Cain

This is such a critical point! Even if my passion, “comes through,” in what I create, that doesn’t necessarily mean others will value my work.

Worse, there’s always some amount of capriciousness to the valuation made by others. Even if I’m making something clearly of value, if that isn’t aligned with other people’s values, I’m still screwed. Passion is critical, but has little to do with success.


Courage and leadership


Somewhere along the way, marketers stopped acting like real people. We substituted a new set of ethics, one built around “buyer beware” and the letter of the law. Marketers, in order to succeed in a competitive marketplace, decided to see what they could get away with instead of what they could deliver.

~ Seth Godin

This dovetails perfectly with my personal directive of respect for others’ time. I’m sure there’s nothing else useful I can add here, other than to write: ‘Read this.’




I talked to Kelsey about some of the research for her article, and independently came to the same conclusion: despite the earlier studies of achievement being accurate, preschools (including the much-maligned Head Start) do seem to help children in subtler ways that only show up years later. Children who have been to preschool seem to stay in school longer, get better jobs, commit less crime, and require less welfare. The thing most of the early studies were looking for – academic ability – is one of the only things it doesn’t affect.

~ Scott Alexander

Presented without comment. Except of course for this comment where I confess that—for the umpteenth time—I’ve read something written by Scott Alexander and had my mind broadened (in a good way.)




We tend to think of home as a specific location — a defined physical space where we feel safe and entitled to be ourselves. But home, like so many other things that profess to be something more concrete, is really just an emotion. “Home” is the emotion of belonging you get from very familiar places.

~ David Cain

—not always, not often. I’m still a deeply flawed human being who is happy to be a work in progress.

But sometimes people tell me I’m “different” or “intense” because I move more slowly than most people, or I seem [they think I “seem”; I actually “am”] to be paying attention, or I seem [again, actually “am”] to be particularly considerate or thoughtful. Sometimes people find this really unsettling; I’ve had people physically twitch in the process of avoiding my glance. To those people, I’m sorry that a heartfelt glance was too much for you at that moment. (Not sarcasm.) But sometimes, a heartfelt “Hello! How are you today?” is just the thing people need.

—again here with the caveats.

But often I’m wondering why everyone seems to be in such a hurry. I believe I understand why they are; I’m assuming their reasons are the same as my reasons were. Often I sit down and feel perfectly at home. Often after a bit of post-just-sat-down day dreaming, I’ll have a brief moment of a sort of fully immersed realization that I’m not anywhere remotely near my geographic home. And that just makes it all the more enjoyable to feel at home.

Slow down. Relax.
If things are going badly, relax for they will not last.
If things are going well, relax for they will not last.


Nature’s dominant creature


A further unpleasant fact of life: biologists have discovered that the more complex a life form is, the quicker it goes extinct. That hapless cream-puff of the animal kingdom, the jellyfish, rather uncomplicated in form and function, has been around for 500 million years and counting. The average kick at the can, for a complex species, lasts four million years, which happens to be about how long we’ve been around.

~ David Cain

This is such a wonderful kick in the complacency.

It’s taken me so much effort just to wrap my brain around the reality of the place of a human life [my life!] in the scale of things. In that effort, one thing I was tempted to fall back on was the crutch that at least a human life is part of the Grand Arc of Human History. Meanwhile, we still appear to be alone in the universe, day by day adding weight to the idea that there’s some sort of hard wall faced by intelligence during its evolution.


Time to take action?


The thing is, we still live in a world that’s filled with opportunity. In fact, we have more than an opportunity — we have an obligation. An obligation to spend our time doing great things. To find ideas that matter and to share them. To push ourselves and the people around us to demonstrate gratitude, insight, and inspiration. To take risks and to make the world better by being amazing.

~ Seth Godin

Someone recently asked me about Movers Mindset. “Why is craig doing this?” and my first thought was, “Isnt this obviously a great thing?” But perhaps he wasn’t asking about the thing but rather about me. I had focused on the, “…doing this” when I perhaps I should have focused on, “…Craig doing.”

It’s simple: Movers Mindset is the community I wish I could join. To find inspiration. To find like-minded persons. To find a high-fidelity space where my ideas can be exposed to the Marketplace of Ideas.


Entirely too much


There is entirely too much human judging, too much flippant criticism of the acts of others. Suspicion is permitted to displace evidence, cheap shrewdness to banish charity, prejudice to masquerade as judgment. We imagine, we guess, we speculate—then pass on through the medium of indiscreet speech and idle gossip what may bring bitterness, sorrow, heartache, and injustice to others. The very ones we condemn may be battling nobly under a hail of trial and temptation where we might fall faint in the trenches or, lowering our colors, drop back in hopeless surrender.

~ William George Jordan

Written ~1909, this is 100 years old and still pitch-perfect today. The more things change the more they stay the same.