The thing I care the most about: what do you do when no one is looking, what do you make when it’s not an immediate part of your job… how many push ups do you do, just because you can?
~ Seth Godin
Stumbled over this 8-year-old post from Seth. It’s suprisingly apropos—confirmation bias in action I suppose—of a conversation I just had.
There are two ways I can go with my thoughts on this: It turns out that I do a lot push-ups, (and other things, “Hello, Art du Déplacement,”) just because I can. But I think there’s a more interesting thread I can pull from this serendipity.
I don’t trust inspiration. I don’t trust it to show up, let alone motivate me. If something inspires me, I channel that energy to envision the path which could make the inspiring idea into some reality. I use moments of inspiration to propel me into doing the hard work of figuring out the next possible step. …and the step after that. …and after that.
The rest of the time—most of the time in fact—all I’m doing is working my systems. A bit of this, a bit of that, some of this, and some of that.
Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you don’t make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow-line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.
~ Hugh MacLeod
I am way above the snow line. I believe my toes have succumbed to frost-bite. It has not escaped me that people die on Mount Everest. It has not escaped me that no one cares about your ascent unless you come back with a great story.
Unfortunately for my well-being, the sun is out, the sky is blue, and there’s no one left to tell me to stop climbing.
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.
When people in the workplace confront shift, rift, zooming, and all of the other challenges that make up business life, there is one thread that runs through all of the choices that they make: Either they’re torchbearers, or they’re not.
~ Seth Godin
Something I talk often about is goal visualization. I’m a firm believer in the idea that “close” and “almost” do not pass muster. When I’m working, and when I’m helping others work, I visualize the goal: We need a door in this wall. It has to be this high, and wide enough for furniture to pass through. And the more specific the goal, the better. The door itself need not be insulated, but it should match the decor of the rooms on either side. It needs an easy to use, single-handle latch/door knob combination. When work begins, I then use the goal as a decision razor: For every choice—every choice, no exceptions—does this option or solution move me towards the goal? Is this a detour that moves me farther from the goal, but then makes it much easier later. [Otherwise known as front-loading work.] Along the way I visualize the state of the world at each step; We’ll knock a hole in the wall on Tuesday—wait, we have a dinner party on Friday… can we be done by Friday?
I’m not only imagining the goal. I’m imagining every single step along the way. What can go wrong? What can go better-than-expected, and what if anything should we do with that gain? And why did we choose this path? …maybe we should re-assess that decision and go this other way, now that we have this new intel having come this far? How important is this goal? …is this a goal to reach at all costs? …can we move the goal now that we have new knowledge? Can we shift some of the work into a next segment of work, shifting our current goal onto an intermediate point along the way to the ultimate goal.
Those of us accustomed to making life livable by superimposing over its inherent chaos various control mechanisms — habit, routine, structure, discipline — are always haunted by the disquieting awareness that something essential is lost in the clutch of control, some effervescent liveliness and loveliness elemental to what makes life not merely livable but worth living.
~ Maria Popova
I spend significant time swerving between the two extremes of schedule-and-organize “all the things,” and running around like a dog fascinated by everything. New item #1 on my list of 42 things (all numbered “1”)…
Along with the pathologies there were the ill-advised adventures. “I’m going to be a great person by…um…exercising an hour a day, from now on, all the time, and eventually becoming really buff.” Lasted a month. Then “I’m going to be a great person by…um…learning to speak ten languages, one at a time.” Lasted until first encounter with the Finnish case system. “I’m going to become a great person by…” The problem with all of these were that none of these were things I actually wanted to do (cf Randall Munroe, “Never trust anyone who’s more excited about success than about doing the thing they want to be successful at.”)
~ Scott Alexander
I’ve said before that this year  will be a year of “Hell yes!”, or “no” for me.
Life goes by in a blur. The older I get — I won’t dare say “wiser” anywhere in this post — the more it seems to me, that maybe, just possibly, you know maybe I should consider that the problem could just possibly MAYBE be that I’m the IDIOT WHO TOOK ON ALL THIS CRAP THAT’S STRESSING ME OUT.