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Productivity & Work Writing

How to persist after hitting rock-bottom

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We can toil in obscurity for years before we get a lucky break. We can also give up and accept that it isn’t meant to be.

But something happens when we feel like a complete failure. We start to simplify everything — what we own, where what we do — and get back to basics.

Defeat offers its own beneficial limitations. It pushes us to play with what he have and stick to the belief in our art.

When JK Rowling hit her lowest point — divorced as a single mother on child welfare with no published books — the only thing she knew was to keep writing. As she said in her Harvard commencement speech:

“I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.

JK Rowling

Even when the publishers rejected her, she kept on and wrote even more. She leaned in on the process of showing up every day at the cafe and getting to work.

Failure can either be deemed temporary or definitive, depending on how we frame it. “Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo,” poet Jon Sinclair once put it.

With the right mentality, we can leverage the foundation of rock-bottom to help us limit our choices and persist.

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Photography Quotes

Teju Cole: ‘Three thousand photographs and three thousand doubts.’

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“Three thousand photographs and three thousand doubts.”

Teju Cole, Known and Strange Things: Essays

The more photos you take, the more words you write, the most shots you take, the more you have to play with. Quantity translates into quality over time, but it takes a lot of trial and error and a lot of time. Seeking reassurance is mostly time wasted.

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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Corrupted by careerism

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Everybody is saying the same thing about finding their passion. They’re just using different words to express it.

“The best philosophers were not academics, but had another job, so their philosophy was not corrupted by careerism.” – Nassim Taleb

“Be regular and orderly in your life like a Bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work.” – Gustave Flaubert

”The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the assignment covers both bases, but not often.” – Hugh MacLeod

In short, there are two types of work:

  • Work that you do for fun
  • Work that pays the bills

You rarely get both.

PS. There’s more on finding your passion in this week’s Philosophy/Productivity section of my newsletter.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

When lost is really found

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  • Lost in translation or lost in transition?
  • Lost in the jungle or lost at sea?
  • Lost identity or lost Smartphone?
  • Lost mind or lost medication?

Lostness dampens the mood. But ‘lost’ is not the same as losing, and at least it keeps us from the dullness of a decaying existence.

When we come to view lostness differently, all that is lost is eventually refound. It just takes time to recover.

The only thing we can’t afford to lose is progress.

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Uncategorized

Hits x Misses

Hits keep you motivated. Success reinforces positive thinking and propels action. But so too does a good whiff.

You can’t hit a home run every time. That stuff only exists in video games on cheat mode.

Failure teaches perspective. Perspective expands awareness and makes it ok to slip up every once in a while.

What really makes the difference is your attitude. How do you stay focused when all you do is miss?

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Uncategorized

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour.

Truman Capote
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