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Productivity & Work

The paradox of proximity

So close yet so far. It appears that the closer we are to something: the gym, the pool, a loved one even, we are less likely to invest our time with them.

We avoid what’s closest to us because proximity obviates the need for effort. When it’s too easy, we have a propensity to get stuck in inertia.

Our motivational sweet-spot lies somewhere between opportunity and effort.

Why do anything?

Procrastination is the purest form of idleness. Trading in long-term value for short-term convenience is a lazy compromise.

We shouldn’t need a crisis to wake us up out of our stupor.

We all inherent the same amount of time. Those who get off their ass and jump into the world with aliveness tend to do things that matter.

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Creativity Productivity & Work

It’s never too late to do something incredible

Everything good takes time.

We have to get comfortable with the idea that the work worth doing almost always never comes to fruition immediately.

Our craft is also likely to be misunderstood for long periods. There will be periods of self-doubt and chapters of confusion, all signals that the muse wants us to keep going.

If we’re 100% certain about where we’re headed, then we need a little more nuance and complexity in our life.

Being vulnerable and taking on challenges fuel aliveness, preventing one from getting too satisfied with results.

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

If we work on something long enough, it should look just as simple and confounding as when we first found it.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

A wave of inspiration 

Waves come in all shapes and sizes, propelled by the energy of the wind. But they keep coming, in the rhythm of a ripple, breaking in the morning after the swell.

Inspiration comes and goes like a wave. If you only worked when you felt a spark, you might work fifty days out of the year.

But if you want to keep creating, you’ll need to grind out every day, motivated or not.

Gif of wave Photography by Ray Collins
Photography by Ray Collins

The consistency of waves

Waves show up on shores regardless of wind power. They do their work, rain or shine, ebbing and flowing with the sunlight, undulating up and down or side to side with the slightest of gusts.

Doing all your work at once will lead to a tidal wave of burnout. Instead, what you want to build up is a consistent motion.

You’ll be ill-prepared to ride the wave of opportunity if you rarely show up. Inspiration is fickle; hit the shores with commitment.

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Books Productivity & Work Quotes Writing

‘The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it’

'The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it'

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. The more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no resistance.”

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
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Productivity & Work

Doing more begets more productivity

Busy people get more done. Having multiple priorities creates a state of flow.

Hesitation is a preventative form of worry. The chronic overthinker pays the toll of inertia and then frets about the lack of time to get things done.

The most productive days are those in which we go immediately into action, en medias res, with a to-do list baked in our head.

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

Bruce Lee 

Of course, busyness is not a badge to wear either.

If we’re going to chase something, it better be something we enjoy. Passion helps empower the grit and absolve the grind.

Doing meaningful work centers us. But for that, we must also take responsibility and choose to do the work every day.

The doing starts before we’re ready. After all, the doing is why there’s knowing.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Guilted into trying

Things are never perfect the first time around, a bit better the second, and mind a few tweaks, they seem to be just about right in the third and fourth efforts.

The fear of failure is good quality control. It ensures that in the process of disrupting ourselves, we appreciate the challenge of ascendancy.

Riding the wave of uncertainty

The attempt to blaze our own trail is never easy. Being misunderstood for long periods of time dampens the mood. But there will always be more guilt in not trying.

Dreams require a ceaseless imperative of movement, the confidence to tread into unknown territory regardless of faith and doubt.

Categories
Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy

Chaos and structure

There’s beauty in chaos — when the outcome is limitless, ripe with multiple interpretations. Thus is nature.

It is structure that intends to display meaning. The mind stops guessing at identification, shielded with the brain’s umbrella from the books of rain.

Certain things require definition

Stairs need to be intuitive enough to walk and up and down. However, silly putty asks to be flexed and misunderstood. Both are pieces of art, finished or unfinished.

Art requires mixing materials. The end product just needs to work, perfect or carefully disorganized.

The freedom to create is also the freedom to appear unfinished, spaces left vacant for the curious mind to fill in. “One must have chaos within oneself to give birth to a dancing star,” said Nietzsche.

One never overcomes the chaos — they merely live in it.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

The flaws of forecasting

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.

Categories
Productivity & Work Psychology

Thinking less to do more

Rhythm builds thoughtlessness. Work can become more natural out of mechanical motion, a kind of doing without thinking.

Employees can’t make one hundred sandwiches in a couple hours without silencing the monkey mind. The process of unthinking begets a chorus of action.

Similarly, we can’t dribble a basketball nor soccer ball effectively while focusing on the mechanics of the perfect touch. The gears of cognition get in the way of flow. Continued practice helps numb the disease of crippling doubt.

Habits are bicep curls for the brain

Good habits strengthen human software, primarily if we aim to do something consistently.

Like brushing our teeth, it’s the repetitive locomotion that undermines inertia and compels one to keep connecting the chain.

We can get used to being productive if we choose to make practice non-negotiable. All such preparation helps plow the field.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

How to turn a handicap into an advantage

“A lot of what is beautiful and powerful in the world arises out of adversity. We benefit from those kind of things, but we wouldn’t wish them on each other.”

Malcolm Gladwell

Some people have no choice but to try harder than others because they’re handicapped.

So the shorter basketball player develops quickness and anticipation in order to compensate for a lack of height.

A dyslexic student practices harder than anyone else to read and write — in doing so, they unlock a new way to play with prose. Maybe they even become a poet or build a media empire, like Richard Branson.

A disability can be a gift in disguise

In working harder to overcompensate for these perceived disadvantages, one begins to see that what makes them successful is exactly the thing that causes them so much struggle.

As the author Bernard Malamud once said, “if you haven’t struggled you haven’t yet lived.”

Embracing the dialectic of a beautiful struggle is what underdogs do. They have no choice but to cope with their weaknesses and find other ways to win.

The following formula helps explain the phenomenon of beating adversity:

Handicap + Struggles + Diligence + Overcompensation + Creativity + Innovation = Success

With the right mindset and effort, a handicap can outweigh its inherent limitations.