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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

‘The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now’

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“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now,” goes the old saying.

Waiting to start almost always means never.

The work in the head of a perfectionist will never match the reality it takes to get there, a path fraught with failure and mistakes.

But you have permission to error. In fact, your best work is simply an accumulation of trials. Time melts the mess.

Play the long game

Behind every tree is a seed that kickstarts it all. What you do today, right now, sets you up for a chance of bloom tomorrow.

I’ll leave you with this from Teena Selig’s book What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20.

There was once a man named Goldberg who wanted nothing more than to be rich. So each day he went the synagogue and prayed to God to win the lottery. This went on for days, weeks, months, and years, but Goldberg never won. Eventually, Goldberg was at his wit’s end. Praying to God, he said, “You have really let me down.” Suddenly the silence was broken and God responded in a booming voice, “Goldberg, you’ve got to help me out here. You could at least buy a ticket!”

Teena Selig

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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Quotes

The emotional journey of creating anything great

The emotional journey of creating anything great #persistence #courage
via Bill Gross

Why is it that every new idea begins with excitement but ends in the ‘dark swamp of despair?’

Writes Angela Duckworth in her book Grit

“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”

Angela Duckworth

The key to achieving anything is not necessarily maintaining that excitement but pushing through all the CRAP (criticism, rejection, assholes, and pressure) and maintaining a beginner’s mindset.

Of course, you’re likely to lose interest, energy, and emotional support from family and friends along the way. That’s why it’s equally important to have a vision of where you want to go and what you’d like to accomplish. Developing habits, a daily practice, also help fight the resistance.

Good things are supposed to take time. Progress ebbs and flows. It’s beneficial, almost necessary, to step away from the work and plan unscheduled time. Even when you’re not thinking, you’re thinking; the brain never turns off.

If innovation were easy, anybody would do it.

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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Psychology

Pursue the irrational mind to get what you want

You have to be a little irrational to get what you want. If you’re too practical, you may curb your chances from the start.

The whole point is to at least give the moon at least a shot, not because you’ll achieve exactly to your wishes but because you’ll be motivated to keep pushing forward.

Playing in the NBA is a pipe dream for most of us. But by playing basketball you may acquire the leadership and motivation to move on to coaching or take what you learned and apply it to something else like another sport, job, or side project.

The whole point is to build up enough confidence to take action, to persist a little bit, but also to identify your strengths and see new opportunities. Your job is to find the gaps and build up the courage to fill them in.

You have to be somewhat unrealistic to give anything a go; otherwise, you’ll hesitate and hold back. You’re just shooting to make a point to yourself that anything is possible if you believe in the unbelievable.

It pays to be ignorant.

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Creativity Productivity & Work

It’s never too late to do something incredible

As the Japanese artist Hokusai said:

“Until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice. At 110, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive.”

Hokusai

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Creativity Productivity & Work

The problem with maths

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Image via Roman Mager
You have three options when you get stuck: keep going, give it a break, or quit.

Being stuck is part of making progress. The real problem though is that we often interpret stuckness as a failure. Having a bad experience undermines the enjoyment of doing. It convinces us to switch subjects to something newer and achievable.

Mathematics is one of those discouraging topics that gets left behind as we age. We lose patience with math’s rules and exactitude–the answer is either right or wrong. But it’s not as rote as it seems. Says famed mathematician Andrew Wiles: “it’s extremely creative. We’re coming up with some completely unexpected patterns, either in our reasoning or in the results.”

Math, just as playing sports, writing and other crafts, takes persistence. Maintaining excitement and having faith in the process are the keys to sticking it out.

“Yes, you don’t understand [something at the moment] but you have faith that over time you will understand — you have to go through this. It’s like training in sport. If you want to run fast, you have to train. Anything where you’re trying to do something new, you have to go through this difficult period. It’s not something to be frightened of. Everybody goes through it.” — Andrew Wiles

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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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