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Trying to Be Perfect Is a Waste of Time

“I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.”
— Charlie Munger

That quote opens Shane’s post on the work required to hold an opinion, which remains one of the mental models I use most often.

Which is why I had my ears and my mind open, when Shane began one of his latest posts with,

“Trying to be perfect is a waste of time.”

I’ve inherited dad’s sense of perfectionism, and I always thought that should be something I ought to aspire to, at every skill I attempted to learn.
And for someone to come and say it isn’t so makes me squirm in my head.

But like Anne Lamott writes in Bird by Bird,

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.
I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die.
The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

Shane too, using Taleb-ian ideas of optionality and antifragility makes a wonderful case for why good enough trumps perfect.

The post ends with a swift kick in the rear, to go forth and do …

Don’t be afraid of a challenge.
Don’t be afraid of not being the best.
When you routinely put yourself in situations where you aren’t the most skilled, you learn, you grow, and eventually you adapt.
You build your repertoire of traits and talents, so when change hits you have a wide array of skills.
This flexibility can also give you the confidence to seek change.
The mammal could explore and find new opportunities, but that bird was never going to leave the trees.

Read the whole post here. Will you be as convinced as I?

P.S. If you liked this, you will like more of what I share too :) Go subscribe!


Reasons to Write #1339

Derek Sivers on journaling daily.

Almost all the thoughts I have on any subject are the result of writing in my diary and journals, then questioning myself and working through alternate ways of thinking about it, and finally returning to the subject days or months later with a clear head and updated thoughts, seeing how they’ve changed or not over time.

Also on how writing helps him do the work required, to have an opinion.

I always write down my initial thought first, but then question it afterwards with slight detachment, and consider different perspectives.

Of course, as per Sivers usual, the whole post is detailed and helpful, and shows you his process. Go, have a look!

P.S. If you like what I share and write, share it with your friends too, and ask them to subscribe.


Supernova in the East

If you haven’t already heard me raving about Hardcore History and Dan Carlin then you’re about to :)

Hardcore History is the world’s slowest podcast. The Accidental Tech Podcast, a topical weekly Apple news podcast that i listen to, started in 2013 and as of today, 16th January, 2019 is now on episode 308. Hardcore History, on the other hand, began its run in 2005 and is now on episode 65. I just checked the feed and Dan averages a measly two episodes a year.

In truth however, it makes very little sense to look at them as podcast episodes. Think of them as books. Medium length audiobooks. And then it suddenly makes sense. A book a year. An engaging history book, a year. For free!

Not that you’ll want to just stick to free anyhoo. Dan is superengaging and like so many folks say he makes history come alive.

After a few episodes, you’ll be begging to give him your money. The man is that good. And if you are so inclined, the entire back catalogue is available for purchase. My favourite is the Wrath of the Khans. 1

And why all this raving now? Because it’s time for “Supernova in the East II”, the first Hardcore History episode of 2019. Find Supernova in the East I here.

From the episode’s description:

The Asia-Pacific War of 1937-1945 has deep roots. It also involves a Japanese society that’s been called one of the most distinctive on Earth. If there were a Japanese version of Captain America, this would be his origin story.

Intrigued? Then go listen. And subscribe to all future episodes in your podcast player of choice, using this link.

You can thank me later.

P.S. The pic below is a glimpse of the research that goes into one, single episode.



  1. This link goes to a seperate compilation download just for this series. 

The Final Word on Building Habits – Atomic Habits

If you want to build a habit, this is the definitive book on the topic. 1 You could read about habits in other books, to learn more, but if you actually want to be building them, look no further.

This was the first book in a long time that moved me to actually take action. Succint, pithy and packed with advice, there isn’t a wasted word in its 300 odd pages. And unlike other, it does not feel like three-hundred-pages. Moving from introduction to positing its arguments to tactical advice to conclusion, this feels more like a fast paced novel.

On we go to the things that moved me.

Read more…

How do we protect our work? How do we get paid for it?

How do we protect our work? How do we get paid for it?
(Or is that really the question we should be worried about when seeking to make our mark. And the importance of writing, of showing up, regularly.)

This is what I admire about Seth Godin. His unique ability to get to the heart of the question.

The question lies in the q & a after this really awesome episode at around the 22.45 mark. (The episode is a replay of this awesome talk. If you haven’t seen or heard it yet, do me (and yourself) a favour and do so.)

Hey Seth, it’s Ben from New York.
I was intrigued by the recent episode about copyright.
My question is … maybe more posing a paradox, because with copyright, there is this corporate ability for greed and control … at the same time for an individual producer or artist or maker of things, it does allow you survival.
And I do agree that the best way to change the culture and to share ideas is to make something you’ve made, widely available. At the same time the concept of copyright does allow you to say to somebody, “Hey, I made this! You’re giving it away for free!”
And in this digital age, where people expect to just click on something and have it, which is sort of like your bakery analogy, except people can now, because of the anonymity and the ease of the digital platforms, walk into a bakery, grab a loaf of bread and walk out, is how to allow ideas to spread in a wide and inexpensive or free way and still be able to make a living at it, without saying, here is a physical thing that you’re taking from me.
Please pay me for it.

And this is what I think, copyright allows an individual or an artist or an entrepreneur like myself to use as leverage so that our stuff like … you mentioned your audiobook being illegally uploaded to youtube … keeping that sort of thing from happening.

Anyway thanks so much for the book, the podcast, the blog. It’s been a great inspiration for me trying to find a way in this new age. Thanks.

Seth answers,

You’re getting at something powerful with this question, which is back to Tim O’Reilly’s comment that the enemy is not piracy. It’s obscurity.
That if you are a nascent artist, designer, writer, video producer, musician, does it pay to give your stuff away?
to give it away? give it away? give it away?
Hoping, that one day you’ll get paid for your work.
So the copyright laws are sort of secondary here, in the sense that, it is voluntary on your part, that as someone who is publishing your own work in a digital format, which means it does not cost you anything to give away one more copy, the question is, when does it end?
Does it mean that everything that is digital, will sooner or later be free?
Well, we’ve seen twenty or thirty years of this unfolding, and here’s what I think we found.
One, Ideas that spread, win.
If your idea reaches more people, you do better than if it doesn’t, and it turns out that ideas that are free spread further and faster, than ideas that arent.
So radio, it was so powerful on radio, that the record labels paid money, payola, bribes, to the radio stations to play the songs for free, because they understood, that being a hit, being popular, was the way for an artist to make money going forward.
The thing is, that doesn’t pay the bills.

So how is it that someone who creates digital items is ever going to get paid?
Well, let me give you a couple of ways this could happen.
The first one is, the souvenir edition. The souvenir, concrete, limited edition of the thing you make, so that the true fan, the superfan will happily and eagerly pay for it.
We keep seeing this thing happening. It’s not going away.
People want to pay for something, others can’t have.
They want to pay for something that gives them status.

Number two is the idea that we can sell the specific.
So we can go to people and say, “Yea, if you want the traditional version of this song, or this digital artifact, that’s free. It’s in the world because it’s popular, but, if you want it to be specific to you, if you want us to play it live for you, that, that’s gonna cost money.”
And we certainly see that in the world of consulting.
So that you can give away a 300 page or 200 page or 20 word BIG idea, just give it away constantly, but if someone wants your specific advice, that, that’s going to cost money.

And the third way, that I’m going to propose that we can charge for the work we do, is that it can be now. That if you want it now, if you want it live, if you want it first, that costs money.
People will wait in line, because again they get status, from going first.

So it’s not really the answer to your question. I’m not proposing that copyright go away, but I do think that individual creators have a huge unfair advantage over institutions that need to pay big bills.
And that advantage is that we can give ideas away.
A blog post a day.
A podcast a week.
We can give them away, because the digital environment makes that a powerful way to spread our ideas, but then we can sell the other thing to people who want to pay for it.

P.S. If you enjoy reading my posts, share them with your friends. And tell them to subscribe!


Reasons to Write #339

Reasons to Write #339

From Eric Barker’s, “The 3-Step Evening Ritual That Will Make You Happy
Writing helped people suffering from depression, anxiety or PTSD.
It helped their relationships too. But that wasn’t all …

Their physical health improved as well.

Women with breast cancer reported fewer symptoms and required fewer cancer-related doctor visits. People with asthma and arthritis “reported meaningful improvements in quality of life similar to benefits that would be expected by a successful new drug treatment.”

They landed jobs.

Within three months, 27 percent of the experimental participants landed jobs compared with less than 5 percent of those in the time management and no-writing comparison groups.

They gained insight.

what’s the biggest benefit people report after a few evenings of expressive writing? “Insight.” Most people said they understood themselves better. They felt more meaning in life. To my knowledge, nobody has ever reported effects like that from buying a ShamWow or a Foreman Grill.

Want to know how all this writing sorcery works?

Read the whole article over at Eric’s blog.


Are You Learning Something New This Year? This Course Will Help.

Learning a new skill this year?
Putting your mind to learn programming?
Looking to wow folks with your newly acquired French?
A professional exam, you want to ace?

And yet, as you look back over years of broken resolutions, you think it might not be worth it?
That you aren’t cut out for learning physics on your own if you wanted to?
That you are “slow”?

Maybe that’s just because you haven’t realised that learning itself is a skill?
That you need to learn, how to learn?

Barbara Oakley has been teaching this critical skill for a few years now.
Her course on Learning How to Learn is the most popular course in the world.

How do you beat procrastination?
Do we still need to memorise?
How important is sleep?
What is learning?

Barbara takes you through all these and dives deeper into brain chemistry and modes of learning and a whole lot more!
At the end, you get prepared to learn anything.
Barbara’s story also serves as tremendous inspiration. A girl who flunked Maths & Science as a kid is now a distinguished professor of engineering.

The course is spread over 4 weeks
And it’s free!
The only thing that is needed of you is to commit.
And even that is not too much. 12-15 hours spread over 4 weeks.

You can go enroll in the course here.
If you are pressed for time or are a student, you can go enroll in the youth oriented version of the course here.

And hurry! Today is the last day to enroll.

Imagine spending 15 measly hours to learn a skill that will then enable you to learn and master anything that you set your mind to!
Here’s to a Happy New Year full of learning!
Jason

P.S. As a Happy New Year to me, you could do me a favor and forward this mail to folks and asking them to subcribe to the list here.
https://janusworx.com/subscribe-mail.html


Looking for Something to Read in the New Year?

As the year draws to an end, here’s what the folks I follow read this year.

Vishal Khandelwal, has a couple of short, sweet posts on “The Books That Made Me.” Here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2.

If you’ve already read (and reread) Taleb’s books, here’s a list of books he loves (and hates).

Here is Ryan Holiday’s evergreen list and here’s what he was unto in 2018.

Patrick Collison has a whole antilbrary. (via this ttfs episode).

James Clear wins most organised list.

I follow this not a blog and this tumblr, because these giants who I have grown up on, always have something to recommend.

Not an annual list per se, but Brett McKay’s recommendations have always been awesome!

And finally the big daddy of them all, the annual Farnam Street reading list. While Shane Parrish changed my life in more ways than one, by teaching me how to read and focus, it was his opinions on the books he read that made me follow him all those years ago.

My own eccentric list of books is here.

And there you have it. My little gift to you.

I have about a hundred of you awesome folk on this list. And no matter how infrequent or erratic I am, more than half of you always read every mail I send.
And you always have an encouraging word for me.

For your time, and your attention, and your little acts of kindness, I am truly humbled and thankful.

Merry Christmas to you all! And a Happy New Year!

Gratefully, Jason

P.S. And if you haven’t already, you can always subscribe here.


How to Think Better

Scott H Young on writing as a tool to sharpen your thinking.

From the article …

First, by jotting down your thoughts on paper, you can hold more ideas than you could in your limited working memory. This means you can more easily work through thoughts that have several parts which are difficult to keep in mind simultaneously.

Second, writing allows editing. If I write down an idea, then later notice a contradiction further down the page, I can go back and edit it. Editing mentally quickly becomes exhausting as, like in the n-back task, the old information interferes with the new.

Third, writing allows for longer thoughts. Have you ever had a conversation where, as you were listening, you forgot the point you were eager to make? Ideas bubble up and pop all the time in our minds, it’s only with writing that you can capture it.

Now that you know why to write, maybe you’re wondering how?

Go on, read the entire post here, to find out.