No. 490 — September 18th, 2022
Brain Food is a weekly newsletter full of timeless insights.
Herbert Simon on the difference between the expert and the novice:
“A large part of the difference between the experienced decision maker and the novice in these situations is not any particular intangible like “judgment” or “intuition.” If one could open the lid, so to speak, and see what was in the head of the experienced decision maker, one would find that he had at his disposal repertoires of possible actions; that he had checklists of things to think about before he acted; and that he had mechanisms in his mind to evoke these, and bring these to his conscious attention when the situations for decisions arose.”
Anne Lamott on the act of writing:
“Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do—the actual act of writing—turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”
Thinking in decades avoids a lot of bad behavior.
If you think about relationships lasting decades, you’ll often handle the current moment differently. This works for co-workers, partners, suppliers, customers, friends, etc.
Think twice before you interrupt time.
Brie Wolfson on what she misses about working at Stripe.
“… it’s really, really cool to devote yourself fully to your work. And to expect that from your colleagues in a way that makes you feel that “we’re all really, really, really in this together” kind of way.
I have encountered many people who talk, write, and tweet about that kind of all-consuming culture from a place of dissatisfaction, mistrust, skepticism, exhaustion, and restlessness. I know some people are working hard. I know others aren’t. I know people aren’t feeling seen or recognized or like they’re doing work that matters. Maybe you’re one of them. I get it. I feel that way too sometimes. And I don’t think people should cry or feel like impostors or skip their vacations regularly.
But I do think work can be a source of real meaning in life. But, we’ll only ever get out what we put in. And in the case of work life, it is kind of a collective decision. Once your neighbor starts signing off Slack at 3:30 consistently, it’s hard not to do the same. If your closest collaborators don’t turn stuff around quickly, why would you? If there’s no one in the room agitating for doing that extra copy pass to punch up that blog post, why not just ship the meh version and use the extra time for a jog or a drink with friends? The path of least resistance is right in front of us, and we are taking it.
I’m all for creating healthy boundaries that keep us satisfied and emotionally healthy—inside and outside of work. And of course I believe you can love something without it having to hurt. But I’ve never truly loved anything that didn’t move me to my core. I can’t help but wonder if all this effort we’re putting into keeping work at arm’s length is actually holding us back from being our best selves.”
Robert Greene on how he remembers what he reads.
“I read the book fairly carefully. If it’s a bad book, I skim like hell, but if it’s a good book, I dig, and I read carefully, and as I’m reading it, I make little notes in the margins to come back to this section. If it’s a great book, practically every paragraph is marked up, but I try not to do that. And then I go through the whole book, and then later, maybe a couple of weeks later, I go back to the book and put it onto note cards. So I start from the beginning on the pages where I’ve made little notes, and I create themes.”
P.S. Neckties will never be the same.