You learn who is invested

You learn who is invested.

You learn what they want.

~ Steven Pressfield from, https://stevenpressfield.com/2018/05/mistakes-are-opportunities/

Recently I’ve been trying to do some fresh self-evaluation. I happened to be thinking about, and talking to others about, how I handle mistakes. I was thinking about it from the obvious point of view of self-perception. What is my behavior? Is that good? Can I make a change that would be better? How does my behavior affect others? (All in the context of when I make mistakes.)

…and then I fell over this great post by Pressfield from 2018. (My “website serialize” tool is the second-most useful piece of software I have ever written. It is an endless source for me of terrific things.)

Woa. I hadn’t thought about using my own mistakes as a way to gather information about other people. “How do others react?” is a pretty clear line of investigation. But the idea that who notices a mistake, and how they react, tells you that they are in some way invested in whatever it is… ok, that’s pretty light-bulb. Who’s invested? Why are they invested? What’s their interest? …and so on.

Exercise for the reader: All of the above, plus, what types of mistakes does one make?

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Note from future self

In a weekly team discussion, where we start with someone leading with a prompt, we were asked what we’d like to tell our past self if we could pass a note. My response was…

I think I’ll go with a short note intended to shake my foundations, rather than convey particular information. Presuming I’d be certain to believe the note was from future-me, please pass this note to ~18-year-old me:

There are no perfectly correct answers.
There are, however, perfectly wrong answers.

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Responsibility

In an increasingly interconnected world, finding focus and enabling time to do work is becoming harder and harder. Demands are outstripping our capacity at an alarming rate. It’s time to start thinking about how we work.

~ From https://fs.blog/2013/05/the-single-most-important-change-you-can-make-in-your-working-habits/

It’s not “time,” it’s far past time. But the key point of the article, (which is itself simply a pull-quote hyper-summary of a book I’ve not read,) is:

Personal responsibility.

That’s it. That’s the magic sauce. Where I’ve found success has only ever been where I took personal responsibility. And I’ve chosen my language carefully in that sentence. There are places where I took personal responsibility and still did not find success; in some cases I’ve found outright failure. But in absolutely no case was I ever successful without taking personal responsibility.

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No no no no no

The power of saying no is not a new concept. In addition to Ric Elias, Jason Fried and Ryan Holiday have also spoken eloquently about it on the podcast. Most of us struggle with saying no. Saying no is simple, but it’s not easy. 

~ Pete Attia from, https://peterattiamd.com/the-power-of-no/

Over-Accepters Anonymous should be a thing. I would totally attend those meetings. …wait, did I just say yes to a hypothetical commitment? …omg I really do need OAA meetings!

The first phase of getting myself under control was to learn to say the easier no’s. Those were the things that I didn’t actually want to do or accept, but which I used to say yes to out of habit or from a sense of obligation. I’m not perfect with that yet, but I’m getting close. (Go ahead, ask me to commit to something.)

But the second phase is far harder. (Who said, “the first 90% of a project is far easier than the second 90%?“) It’s difficult to say no to things I would in fact like to do! Curiously, years ago I made flossing twice a day into a habit—I know, right? Flossing is supposed to be really hard to make a habit, but some how I pulled it off. Meanwhile, I still say yes to far too many things that I want to do.

Yes! …another blog post written.

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Know when to punt

25 days ago I started a wee challenge: Trying to train every day for 100 days straight. I’d done this challenge in 2017 to mixed results. Physically it was mixed; training every day is too much and I ended up defining some recovery days as “training.” Mentally it was also mixed; I wasn’t trying to build a new habit, so the “daily” part didn’t work towards that, and it became a serious drag forcing myself to train every day.

When I finished the 2017 challenge I knew it sucked and definitely didn’t want to make that a thing I did often, nor even yearly. When 2020 rolled around—my physical activity was exactly as usual, with me outside doing various things just as much as 2019—but I started thinking about doing some more rock climbing (outdoors, on real mountains.) That prompted me to think about getting into better shape. For me, that’s primarily removing fat. For the first couple months I concentrated on diet, which means focusing on when and how much I’m eating.

After I peeled off 10 pounds of blubber, that’s when I had the idea to take on a fresh 100-days-of-training challenge. It was exactly what I remembered it was like: It sucks. In years past I would have just embraced the suck and pushed through the thing. Note that I would have constantly considered myself to be failing. Entirely missing a day here and there, realizing I need a rest day and defining recovery as training, and just generally nagging myself with, “I should go train.” Instead I simply punted on the whole thing and deleted it entirely.

…aaah, yes, the power of “no” when you have a bigger “why” burning inside you.

When’s the last time you punted on something?

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Being present

When we work out while listening to a podcast or checking messages, we lose out on being present with our bodies, feeling the experience of moving, exerting ourselves, being in nature.

~ Leo Babauta from, https://zenhabits.net/meticulous/

I try to walk as much as I can. Usually I make it out to walk every day for about an hour. For years I was simply walking in nature with myself and my thoughts. A few years ago, when I got really into podcasts as a listener, I started listening while walking.

But about a year ago—after noticing I’d stopped writing things down about my walks—I realized that I had lost something valuable: My time alone with my thoughts. So I cut back to listening to podcasts for about half the walk.

I’m often asked if I meditate. Yes, particularly in the past year, and it looks a lot like walking.

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Willful ignorance

Now when I pass the sign, I try and think of at least one thing I do myself that willfully ignores truths I’d rather not accept. Things I know I should change about myself that I choose not to.

~ Steven Pressfield from, https://stevenpressfield.com/2015/01/willful-ignorance/

On one hand, I disagree: The sign’s purpose is to save ducks; it was not created “for everyone.” In that sense, the bad grammar of the sign makes it work better. But, the ducks sign is simply an example. Pressfield’s point about willful ignorance is clear and—at least for me—on target.

A question I like to reflect on periodically in my journalling is: What habit did I curb [today or yesterday]? Also, reflecting on what parts of my behavior I dislike—which was a huge part of my initial journey rediscovering movement 10 years ago—gives me specific things to work on. I think it’s a deeply useful practice to ask oneself difficult questions and to reflect on the answers, (or lack of answers as the case may be.)

Are there any questions you ask yourself on a regular basis?

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