Two thousand nine hundred and six

Arbitrary milestones are just as useful as nice round numbers. This morning I decided I’d take some time to reflect on blogging.

I love grammar. I wonder if you thought that I meant this blog post would be my reflections on blogging? No, I took some time to reflect on my own. Today I’m yet again beating one of my favorite drums: It is life-critical to intentionally take time to reflect on the things one is doing.

What am I actually doing with my time? What is doing me benefit? What, harm? What things do I believe I must do? Why do I believe those are necessary? What promises have I made? …to myself, to others? What actually happens if I break one of those promises? …would anyone even notice? What could I do if I stopped everything and did some other thing with incredible focus? Why does that other some thing interest me? Could I more simply change what I’m doing to make a little room for it now? If I awoke to find all the things in my head, and on my lists, were done what would I do? …would I rush to add more things to do? …would I work on something new? …would I want to re-do something I’ve done before?

Discovery. Reflection. And then, go be efficacious.

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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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Embracing the obstacles

External things are not the problem. It’s your assessment of them. Which your can erase right now. If the problem is something in your own character, who’s stopping you from setting your mind straight? And if it’s that you’re not doing something you think you should be, why not just do it? —But here are insuperable obstacles. Then it’s not a problem. The cause of your inaction lies outside you. —But how can I go on living with that undone? Then depart, with a good conscience, as if you’d done it, embracing the obstacles too.

~ Marcus Aurelius

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The only way out is through

If it’s easy, you’re not growing.

It’s like lifting weights: if you can do it without trying, you’re not going to get any stronger.

The whole point—of life, of working out, of work—is to push yourself, and to grow as a result of pushing against and through that resistance.

~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/seek-challenge/

Nine years ago I was smack in the middle of my HVAC-installer apprenticeship. I lovingly refer to the roughly two-week period as, “that time I got really into attic-yoga.” The contractor installing our central HVAC had a young fellow working with him, and that guy hurt his knee. I spent days learning how to make and insulate hard duct work, HVAC line sets (the wiring and refrigerant piping), electrical, removed the ancient mouse-pee infused blown-in insulation and eventually put in new fiberglass insulation through the attic. It was hell. Hot. Sweaty. Ichy. Low roof. Things to climb in, over, around, through and under. Mostly while carefully stepping, squatting, leaning, and crawling on the long thing ceiling joists. And it was not something I was planning on doing. One day I was all like, “Benjamin is installing the HVAC!” [that’s a money reference] and the next day I was studying attic-yoga.

I bring this up because it’s too easy to think “I’m doing the hard work!” when you are simply going to the gym (or for the morning run, whatever.) Sure, you’re working hard, you’re sweating, and building muscle; you are literally doing hard work.

But that’s nothing compared to choosing to do the hard work, on the spot. Do I whinge and call AAA (road-side assistance club) or do I climb under the van to figure out how to get the spare tire out at Midnight after a long day? Do I take the time to split the portion of the firewood that would be a pain 8 months from now, or do I just stack it and hate my today-self in the dead of winter? Do I take the time to carefully explain something even though it’s not my responsibility or do I just “walk past” that person who needs a hand? Right now, on the spot, do you choose the hard path?

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Anything of consequence

Creating anything of consequence or magnitude requires deliberate, incremental and consistent work. At the beginning, these efforts might not look like they are amounting to much. But with time, they accumulate and then compound on each other. Whether it’s a book or a business or an anthill or a stalagmite, from humble beginnings come impressive outcomes.

~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/all-you-need-are-a-few-small-wins-every-day/

Sometimes I manage to remember that lesson.

…usually that my remembering happens during my morning routine. I won’t bore you with the specifics, but: I regularly read things which spur the sorts of thinking I’d like to do more of; I spend time writing in, and re-reading, my journals; time reading good-old printed-on-dead-trees books; time thinking about how to create some thing I’m building; lots of thinking and jotting in outlines.

Things take me vastly more time and work than it appears from the outside.

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Right or wrong

Then the only proper response for me to make is this: You are much mistaken, my friend, if you think that any man worth his salt cares about the risk of death and doesn’t concentrate on this alone: whether what he’s doing is right or wrong, and his behavior a good man’s or a bad one’s.

~ Marcus Aurelius

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