October 10, 2021
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First-order thinking is fast and easy. It happens when we look for something that only solves the immediate problem without considering the consequences. Second-order thinking is more deliberate.
“Near the end of his life, I asked (Steve Jobs) about the meaning of all this. He said that he’d learned … that life is like a river. At first, you think that if you’re successful, you get to take many things out of the river, products people have made or ideas they’ve come up with. But he said, “Eventually in life, you realize that it’s not what you get to take out of the river, it’s what you get to put into the river.””
— Walter Isaacson came on The Knowledge Project ( YouTube | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Transcript)
Explore Your Curiosity
“Excellence is mundane. Superlative performance is really a confluence of dozens of small skills or activities, each one learned or stumbled upon, which have been carefully drilled into habit and then are fitted together in a synthesized whole. There is nothing extraordinary or superhuman in any one of those actions; only the fact that they are done consistently and correctly, and all together, produce excellence.”
“The risks are deceptive. There is a temptation to go deeper before one is ready, which means that even the world’s best tend to bite off only incremental gains in depth. There are no shortcuts in freediving; no cheat codes to water pressure, buoyancy, and gravity.”
— The World’s Greatest Freediver
“If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes.”— Vincent Van Gogh
There is nothing that gets in the way of success more than avoidance. We avoid hard conversations. We avoid certain people. We avoid hard decisions. We avoid evidence that contradicts what we think. We avoid starting a project until we’re certain of the outcome.
To justify our avoidance, we lie to ourselves. We tell ourselves that we’re noble — we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. We tell ourselves we don’t want to offend others. We tell ourselves that things will get better. We tell ourselves that things will get easier. We tell ourselves that we can avoid the real issue without any impact. We tell ourselves we’ll start when the time is right.
Sometimes we muster up half the courage. We have half the conversation we wanted to have. We do half the hard thing. We acknowledge the evidence but convince ourselves this time is different. We see the person we’re avoiding but don’t really talk to them. We start but don’t commit to the project.
And here’s the interesting thing. Half-efforts tend to make things worse, not better. When things don’t get better, it only reinforces that we shouldn’t have said anything in the first place. Avoiding isn’t better, it’s just easier.
Not only does avoiding today make the future harder, but it also almost always makes the present harder. Avoiding puts you on a hair-trigger, anything will set you off. We all do this. Who hasn’t entirely avoided a hard conversation with their partner about something only to find themselves in an insignificant argument over something trivial? Of course, the petty fight isn’t about the trivial thing, it’s about avoidance of the hard thing.
Everything becomes harder until we stop avoiding what’s getting in the way. The longer you wait the higher the cost.
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P.S. The best drone photography.