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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#56)

Book excerpt I loved:

“The professional tackles the project that will make him stretch. He takes on the assignment that will bear him into uncharted waters, compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself.” (Steven Pressfield, The War of Art)


Some thoughts about what being the best means.


The 2019 reading re-cap from Tim Ferriss: I am a subscriber and still missed a lot of these. I enjoyed the discussion of his process (of course) at the outset.


I need to try Copic markers: I’ve seen these on the shelf and have never tried them. This illustraion looks amazing though, and made me put them on my wish list.


Some modern inspiration from a well-executed idea about un-modern tech: Primitive technology is a YouTube + WordPress site about primitive technology. From the About page:

Primitive technology is a hobby where you make things in the wild completely from scratch using no modern tools or materials. This is the strict rule. If you want a fire- use fire sticks, an axe- pick up a stone and shape it, a hut- build one from trees, mud, rocks etc. The challenge is seeing how far you can go without modern technology. If this hobby interests you then this blog might be what you are looking for.

He has millions of views on YouTube and, ironically, a really low-tech simple site.

https://primitivetechnology.wordpress.com/


Two great places to find free images: There are so many great resources for art in the public domain. Here are two more that I could peruse for hours:

  1. Art Institute of Chicago: https://www.artic.edu/collection?is_public_domain=1
  2. Paris Museums: http://parismuseescollections.paris.fr/en

We’re nearing the end of the open internet:

​At some point in the next decade, the Chinese government, with the support of Russia and other authoritarian regimes, will move forward with plans to establish a separate root system for their share of the internet. When the split happens, we will mark it as the end of the global internet era. When the history of that event is written, we will identify a series of seminal events in 2019 that were harbingers of what was to come.​

-from News Items.

https://www.cfr.org/blog/2019-beginning-end-open-internet-era


New tool for calendar scheduling: Calendly is great for not only scheduling meetings, but if you run a business that requires your customers to make appointments, you can embed it on your site, take payments for meetings via PayPal and automatically create online meeting links.

https://calendly.com/


Having the right materials at the right time is important: Rainy days are no match against the well-prepared art project.


What Will Happen In The 2020s: A short but sweet set of predications about the next decade.


What I was grateful for last week:

  • The feeling at end of the day after a good days work. The good type of empty.
  • The brief bit of sunshine makes all the difference on a afternoon run. It changes everything.
  • The sunrise on a weekend morning.

Lastly, check out what we’re up to now.

Categories
Work

Being the best

Ok, thought experiment for you: If you had a few wishes to burn, would you want to use one of them to become the best in the world at something?

Twelve-year-old me would have taken that wish in a heartbeat to become the greatest basketball player in the world (I was, and still am, a maniacal fan of Michael Jordan). I would like to think that later-in-life me would also take it to be something a little more practical and altruistic, but, if I was honest, it would probably be something similarly grandiose and not all that useful to solving world problems.

Anyway, most people think that if my wish was granted I would be given near superhuman jumping capabilities and a near flawless ability to shoot over any outstretched arm (which, being one of the shortest and least fit kids in my school at the time, would have been a sight).

But what if, instead of me gaining basketball superpowers, everyone else lost theirs? If everyone had their abilities stripped away to below my level, the wish is still granted, technically I’m the best! Of course, there would be no more dunking and barely anything but long range jumpers and layups (right-handed only of course) would take place in a given game. It would be ugly, and everyone might think that, gee that’s pretty cool that guy can do a perfect (right-handed) layup every time, because we can’t, but how boring is this?

It feels like a lot of people who want to be the best at something would be totally fine with this type of outcome. It’s not about raising the baseline or “the love of the game”, but about making other people feel that they are less by showing them how much better they are.

Sports are an easy analogy but you can see it politics, business, your workplace and even your local school parent group or club. It’s easy to spot. Look for the loudest ones, the ones that always seem to be critical of others, seemingly unwilling to admit a mistake or be open to changing their mind.

The trouble is that in many cases we’re incentivized not to make the sport, a company, or a group of people better, but to show that we are better than someone else. This is all too common in the typical performance review/bonus allocation process in place at many big companies that encourage competition, but you can also simply observe it in siblings who want to earn favor with their parents. My daughter could teach a master class. In the end though, this type of behavior just ends with crying (adults and kids alike).

What if, instead of wanting to be the best player, you wanted to create the best game? Or the best product? Or even just the best family dinner?

By working on raising the baseline for everyone you will become better, and maybe the best, because being the best requires that you make everyone better.