Recovery is key

Not only do most deliberate practitioners not spend all day at it, they also devote a lot of time to recuperation and recovery. They sleep as much as their bodies need. They nap if necessary. They take frequent, refreshing breaks. Most of us understand that rest is necessary after physical activity. But we can underestimate its importance after mental activity, too. Deliberate practice needs to be sustainable for the long term. How long a person keeps at a skill is often far more important than how many hours a day they spend on it.

~ Farnam Street from, https://fs.blog/2021/04/deliberate-practice-guide/

I’m going to trot out a rare: HOLY CRAP! Because that post is a small book on deliberate practice. If you’re only up for some skimming, click through and smash-scroll to the summary and book list at the bottom of that post.

Then I’m going to briefly stride over one of my fave soap boxes: Sleep.

…and settle onto pointing out that I make a deliberate practice out of working on writing these blog posts. I’ve been working, (off-and-on, one break involved some lawn mowing,) for four hours this morning from that one Farnam Street post. I’ve read it, blogged [this] about it, posted about it in another community, captured a few quotes, learned more about the Oddyssey, and wrote a blog post about a common Homer quote.

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Culture

The Halo Effect tells us that we will find a lot of false positives. The attributes we think are causal of success are the same ones we often deem causal of failure when company performance deteriorates. This is the strategy paradox.

~ Farnam Street from, https://fs.blog/2016/01/ken-iverson-nucor/

It’s an interesting post about culture. I’m interested in Iverson’s memoir— But to be honest, I don’t have time enough as it is to read the shelves of books already in my possession. (Let alone the hundred in the “wishlist” queue.) So ima let this one pass.

But culture does interest me. I’m apparently an inveterate systems builder. For better, but often for worse, I’m drawn to build processes and communities. Once— just once— I’d like to see something I create grow on its own. Not, “…and make me rich” nor “…and make me famous.” Just simply grow on its own. A great idea is not enough. Skill and knowledge are not enough. Timing is not enough. Vision and charisma are not enough. There’s something ineffable—because if I could describe it I’d go do it rather than write rambling blog posts casting about for something I think, despite my efforts to look around, is always just out of my field of view… There is something ineffable which I am missing.

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Lifelong learning

Your education shouldn’t end when your schooling does. If you want to get an edge in life, you must be constantly learning, not coasting along on what you already know. Lifelong learning requires the ability to reflect on your mistakes, a lot of reading, and testing what you know.

~ Farnam Street from, https://fs.blog/2015/11/lifelong-learning/

This is one of the too-rare times when, upon reading something, I want to leap to my feet knocking my chair over behind me while shouting, “Hear! Hear!”

It’s true that there is some learning which I prefer to observe, rather than directly experience. In such cases “conceptual” learning, rather than experiential learning, is just fine by me. (eg, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYtF0UlznC8 )

In general however, ain’t nothing finer than reading something, making a new connection, writing a blog post about that… or spending weeks figuring out how to bend some javascript-DOM-AJAX thing to do what I want… digging in the innards of an automobile to make a new stereo-unit work… digesting some tome from the anti-library… running a year-plus experiment just to see what happens… just generally being all like, “I’m wondering . . .” And then find out where that curiosity leads.

What’ve you been up to in the learning department lately?

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The challenge

The process isn’t overly complicated or hard. The challenge becomes moving through it at the right pace in a way that aligns with your principles.

~ Farnam Street from, https://fs.blog/2015/11/how-people-make-big-decision/

This is the exceedingly rare case where what I really want to quote is a small graphic from the site, and I simply don’t feel like copying the image and uploading it, just to include it here. (You’ll have to click over.)

I found myself thinking about the little graphic, which has an outer circle describing a process for change. Starting at the here-and-now called, “doing,” forward over a “Rubicon” and then full circle to a new here-and-now of “doing.” There are several ways to fail at changing, by short-circuiting through self-defeating statements. And that’s what I’m thinking about today.

What self-defeating stories am I telling myself? Why?

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It’s about sleep

The general sentiment here is that everyone else is sleeping so you’re not missing out on something important and you can spend time taking care of yourself, which generally leads to a positive impact on your productivity throughout the day.

~ Farnam Street from, https://fs.blog/2014/01/what-the-most-successful-people-do-before-breakfast/

The reason successful people are found doing their important work in the morning—working out, reading, writing, … whatever it is that is important to them—is because it’s right after when they have rested.

I’ll repeat: Sleep is the most important thing. Good sleep. Learn about sleep. Your life is already arranged around sleep, although you may wrongly think you’re consciously in control—you’re not… your body is in control. Fix your sleep.

Then use the time just after resting—that’s probably “morning”—to do what you want to actually get done. All the things that you think interrupt you from doing your real work? …you’re enabling that, and you can change that too.

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The last lecture

The Last Lecture is a summary of all Pausch had learned and all he wanted to pass along to his children. The lecture, entitled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” wasn’t about dying rather just the opposite. It was about dreams, moments and overcoming obstacles because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think.”

~ Farnam Street from, https://fs.blog/2014/01/randy-pausch-the-last-lecture/

Perhaps you’ve already heard of this book? I had not. Tidy little article from Farnam Street makes me want to run—not walk—out and buy this book.

On the other hand: I really have a problem with books. There’s already a few hundred in the anti-library. My wishlist of books contains 410— err, correction, 411 books.

This is such a delightful problem, yes?

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Second order effects

In short, stop optimizing for today or tomorrow and start playing the long game. That means being less efficient in the short term but more effective in the long term. [… I]f you play the long game you stop optimizing and start thinking ahead to the second-order consequences of your decisions.

~ Farnam Street from, https://fs.blog/2014/10/an-antifragile-way-of-life/

Fundamentally, we humans and our lives are not mathematically tidy.

Aside: I had a math course once—I can’t even remember the material—and the professor said, “it’s a very subtle point that mathematics should model and predict reality.” …or something to that effect. It was mind-bending; but math is part of reality so why wouldn’t reality model itself? *smoke-emits-from-my-ears* The scene, the room, the lighting, everything are burned into my brain.

Heuristics are always and in all cases true but sort of false, because they are imperfect. But the purpose of heuristics is to enable us to wrap our meager brains around the vastly complicated universe. Maths, as in compound interest, exponential growth, 1/r^2 forces, and Fourier transformations, provide models of reality. The comment about second order consequences challenges us to dig deeper into our heuristics, (which are otherwise known more generally as “models.”)

I’ve said this before, here on the blog and out loud: Have you intentionally created the models you have of the world?

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Scarcity

Cognitive load matters. Mullainathan and Shafir believe that scarcity imposes a similar mental tax, impairing our ability to perform well, and exercise self-control.

~ Farnam Street from, https://fs.blog/2013/12/scarcity-why-having-too-little-means-so-much/

Short of food: starving. Short of water: dehydration. Short of money: in debt. Short of time: over-committed. Short of attention: distracted, mindless. But also, short of outlets for creativity? Short of satisfaction? Short of peace? Short of meaning?

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Questions

The main difference between innovators and the rest of us is that innovators ask more and better questions “and they are more driven to find answers and embrace them, even if the answers are first not what they wanted or expected to find,” Lang writes. “They have less in common with Einstein, frankly, than with young children.”

~ Farnam Street, https://fs.blog/2013/12/7-innovation-myths/

It’s common to talk about, (write about, read about,) how questions are the key to pretty much everything. But, I agree with this article. It’s not just about the questions, it’s about the curiosity, drive, tenacity, and possession to find answers to the questions. What makes someone an innovator, a rising star, is their ability—or if they’re really exceptional, their affliction of being unable to stop searching for the answers—to dig and dig and dig and learn and learn and learn. For innovators, all the hard work is front-loaded while the part that looks like the innovation is simply the obvious last step.

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Philosophy

Philosophers became insignificant when philosophy became a separate academic discipline, distinct from science and history and literature and religion.

~ From https://fs.blog/2012/10/freeman-dyson-on-philosophy-what-can-you-really-know/

Which is worth sharing just because it’s Freeman Dyson—I’m quoting a quote—in all his zany glory.

…but also, yeah. Why isn’t STEM today thought of as a branch of philosophy, (“love of truth” after all)? STEM degrees remain Ph.D.s, but beyond that vestigially appendix . . .

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