Standing desk

Long story short: I was given a very nice standing desk. I’ve been a long-time ignorer of these things. After a few weeks now, I am officially converting to team standing-desks. Yes, all the reasons you hear are true about them, but there’s one reason I’ve never heard mentioned which is the real reason I’m on board: Convenience.

From a chair, with my obviously finite reach, I am forever rearranging what is within reach. …now I simply half-step to the right—and all my books are at hand. …half-step left—all that office-supply and notes and note-taking stuff is in reach. Start writing—walk to something—walk back and finish writing my paragraph. Walk up, pick off a small task (answer an email)—walk back to mowing my lawn. I never realized how often I was sitting down and standing up, and how often I sat down only to get up to get something.

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Systematic abandonment

To that end, Drucker recommends that executives routinely take part in “systematic abandonment.” Every few months, an executive should do a reevaluation of all the organization’s practices, looking at everything the organization is doing and deciding anew if the organization should stop or continue it.

~ Brett McKay from, https://www.artofmanliness.com/character/behavior/peter-druckers-question-for-eliminating-practices-that-no-longer-serve-you/

Drucker was writing explicitly in the context of business executives. McKay does a nice job of showing how those principles which serve executives so well, work equally well in one’s personal life. I didn’t have this process—this guiding principle from Drucker’s work—identified clearly in my head. But I have it firmly implanted into how I instinctively do things.

I’ve had more than one person make the joke, “Craig, how many clones do you have?!” (I like to jokingly reply, “Yes, I have several clones, but none of us can get the others to do anything we don’t want to do ourselves.”) I accomplish a lot. While I have a number of clear advantages—such as where I was lucky enough to start in the game of life, luck in biology, and luck in opportunities I was shown—those aren’t the truly magic ingredient. The magic ingredient is what I don’t do. It doesn’t matter what specifically it is that I don’t do; Each of us has to make those decisions for oneself. What does matter is that I am willing to regularly and often spend a prodigious amount of time examining what I am doing, and how I am doing it. And then ruthlessly cutting away things that I should stop doing.

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Physical it’s not

This phenomenon—winning or losing something in your mind before you win or lose it in reality—is what tennis player and coach W. Timothy Gallwey first called “the Inner Game” in his book The Inner Game of Tennis. Gallwey wrote the book in the 1970s when people viewed sport as a purely physical matter. Athletes focused on their muscles, not their mindsets. Today, we know that psychology is in fact of the utmost importance.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/2020/01/inner-game-of-tennis/

Somewhere I saw a great interview with Gallwey. (Try TouYube?) Some of the insights from his work—for example, that psychology is critical to success in sports—now seem obvious. But 50 years ago, this was not only “not obvious” but was literally unheard of. (Insert my peewee-baseball story from the late 70s. *shudder*) There’s a lot more worth gleaning from Gallwey’s work. Positive thinking doesn’t work! Worse, it’s a hinderance as bad as negative thinking. *gasp* This insight is also 50-years old, but from my conversations with athletes, it doesn’t appear that it’s percolated as thoroughly.

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Not self-made

[…] it is not true that I am self-made. Like everyone, to get to where I am, I stood on the shoulders of giants. My life was built on a foundation of parents, coaches, and teachers; of kind souls who lent couches or gym back rooms where I could sleep; of mentors who shared wisdom and advice; of idols who motivated me from the pages of magazines (and, as my life grew, from personal interaction).

~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Radical creative choices

There are no radical creative choices that do not carry with them an inherent risk of equally radical failure. You cannot do anything great without aggressively courting your own limits and the limits of your ideas. […] There is nothing more powerful than failure to reveal to you what you are truly capable of. Avoiding risk of failure means avoiding transcendent creative leaps forward. You can’t have one without the other.

~ Aisha Tyler

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Sometimes it’s a single word that makes me pull a quote. In this case it was that “aggressively”.

There are times, in certain situations, where aggression is what’s called for. I’m often reflecting and journaling about how I need to temper my, well, everything. Moderate my ego. Moderate my thoughts. (“The snow globe that is my mind,” as I often put it.) Moderate my activity. Moderate my assault on grammar, even. But there are times when the right course of action is to start getting shit done, taking down names, and delivering letters to Garcia. (And, yes, I’m aware that the whole thing about delivery of a letter from President McKinley to Gernal Garcia is false, but the point of the essay is still patently clear and useful.)

Until I’d read that quote from Tyler, I’d never really thought about “aggressively” courting my own limits. Courting them, sure. But not aggressively.

So, yeah… come at me ‘bro!

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Creative choices

There are no radical creative choices that do not carry with them an inherent risk of equally radical failure. You cannot do anything great without aggressively courting your own limits and the limits of your ideas. […] There is nothing more powerful than failure to reveal to you what you are truly capable of. Avoiding risk of failure means avoiding transcendent creative leaps forward. You can’t have one without the other.

~ Aisha Tyler

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Greatness

I wake up each day with the firm conviction that I am nowhere near my full potential. ‘Greatness’ is a verb. I have miles to go before I sleep, and so I will spend my remaining years desperately looking to improve who I am from year to year. Greatness is not a final destination, but a series of small acts done daily in order to constantly rejuvenate and refresh our skills in a daily effort to become a better version of ourselves.

~ Maurice Ashley

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Fools rush in

Often I play the fool when I rush in to help. My bias to action, combines with my curiosity-driven desire to resolve problems—or at least understand what went wrong—and in I rush. “Don’t just stand there. Do something!” If unchecked, I’ll be found, still lecturing on obscure tech and sharing crazy stories, and hour later.

I’m always trying to rein in that behavior. “Don’t just do something! Stand there.”

What’s the simplest thing that could possibly work? Is a solution actually being asked for, or am I simply imagining I could be useful?

There are endless problems I will never even know about. What, actually, is wrong with leaving alone a few problems I do know about?

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