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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

The flaws of forecasting

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Predictability is a loose formula that describes how things usually go. What works today won’t necessarily work tomorrow.

But what may increase our chances of success is a little confidence.

“Be confident, not certain.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Confidence breeds success; overconfidence begets failure.

When we work hard, we instill a practicable faith in ourselves. But we also understand that diligence does not guarantee that we’ll get what we want.

Effort merely gives us a chance to retain our snag of the pellet.

The ways of achieving success are perpetually changing, with the urge to nail down a replicable formula, futile. Success means never settling for what worked in the past.

One can’t smell the wind of their success unless they’re willing to buy more lottery tickets in the work we choose to believe.

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Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Doubting our own self-doubt

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The only way to allay doubt is to do. We must face our biggest fears. Perhaps the only thing holding back J.K. Rowling from success was her fear of public speaking — she did it anyway.

It’s most often the thing we’re scared of is exactly the thing we should be doing. It takes courage to persist with tension that wants us to simply give up.

Accept doubt for what it is — it’s there to make you practice and force your confidence. It takes some getting used to.

The trick is not to get rid of uncertainty but rather to play with it, to feel its presence, to caper around as we relax into it. The approach is a bit delusional but no more faulty than suffering more in the imagination than in reality.

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Creativity Culture Psychology

The self promotion dilemma

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By all means, show your work. The internet is a great place to get feedback and build up your confidence. Just keep in mind, it’s all about you until it isn’t.

“It’s a total catch-22: if you don’t self-promote, you won’t be known to those who hold the keys to whatever kingdom you’re interested in unlocking. If you do self-promote, you might catch the gatekeepers’ attention, but pray they don’t read your self-promotion as needy or navel-gazing. Pray you don’t violate some unwritten code of class conduct or seem too eager. You have to appear to have a lot to offer without appearing to need anyone to take it. What a strange psychic and social predicament we’ve put ourselves in.”

Read The Case for Self-Promotion

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Life & Philosophy Photography Productivity & Work

Business (un)usual 

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Living on the edge is dangerous but that’s exactly why we pursue it: it makes us feel more alive.

Being a thrill-seeker goes beyond Nascar and rock climbing. Anything that fills you with both anxiety confidence can make you feel more alive, like delivering a public speech.

Sometimes it pays off to get our of your comfort zone, at least to remind us that we’re still awake, and can always do more than what we expected.

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Life & Philosophy

Obama’s final exit interview

President Obama talked with historian Kearns Goodwin at the White House for one of his last open-ended interviews before leaving office. The two discussed the president’s legacy, Lincoln, the importance of long-term thinking and Obama’s ‘writer’s sensibility.’ But the discussion over FDR’s ambitions and his struggle with polio is particularly interesting.

GOODWIN: For example, young F.D.R. seemed a pretty ordinary guy. At 28 he’s a clerk in a law firm. He hasn’t done anything particularly great in college or law school. He gets his first chance to run for the state legislature, and somehow, when he’s out there on the campaign trail, something clicks in. William James said, “At such moments, there is a voice inside which speaks and says, ‘This is the real me.’ ” And F.D.R. knew then that’s what he wanted to be.

OBAMA: I think F.D.R. is a great example of what I mean. If you look at his early life, it is ambition for ambition’s sake …

At some point in life, meaning trumps ambition. You still want to be successful but you want to do it with more authenticity, i.e. true passion. In FDR’s case, enduring life with polio only strengthened his resolve, an attitude he echoed in his first inaugural address: “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.”

As Steve Jobs would later say during his fight his cancer:

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Of course, death is not a pre-requisite for chasing meaning. Your fearlessness may depend on well you love yourself. Perhaps Bill Murray said it best:

So what’s it like to be me? You can ask yourself, What’s it like to be me? You know, the only way we’ll ever know what it’s like to be you is if you work your best at being you as often as you can, and keep reminding yourself: That’s where home is.”

In short, we all know what we’re born to do. It just takes time getting comfortable with ourselves while we figure out what our role is.

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Uncategorized

Faking Confidence

There’s a big difference between competence and confidence. Someone who talks a lot is not necessarily competent. A big mouth rarely equates to skills.

All we really just want to know how competent someone is. Confidence is a distractor.

Competence is true confidence. Humility > Arrogance.

Listen to this week’s HBR Podcast on “Confidence.”

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