In this week’s newsletter:
- Love the effort, love the inputs.
- Operating from identity and strength
- Beware of the fun work
- Ideas from others (quotes & content)
Also, just published a 25 min video with raw thoughts/advice on solopreneurship. A bit different from the usual personal development/productivity stuff.
Ideas I’m Thinking About
Love the effort, love the inputs
“Dreaming alone is seductive, even a little sweet, since it lacks the pain of trying. So it feels proper to prize attempts more than dreams. You should have ideals, but you cannot only love an idealized future, you must cultivate a love of effort, too.”— Simon Sarris, Effort and Goals and Joy
Some people love the dream more than the effort required to achieve the dream. And they get lapped by those who love the effort.
Almost all world-class athletes, entrepreneurs and artists have cultivated this love of effort. They have a dream, sure. But they’ve fallen in love with the daily practice. The inputs.
If you want be a writer, then write. 2 hours per day without distraction.
If you want to build your own business, don’t spend all your time dreaming up ideas. Talk to potential customers. Validate. Sell.
The staircase you need to build to reach your dream goal is no small project. It doesn’t get built through endless wondering and wandering. It gets built step-by-step.
And when you love the inputs, your metric for success is not whether the staircase is finished or not. It’s whether you built another step that day.
When you love the inputs, you get better at them every day. It takes you less time to build a step. You develop a sense of mastery, confidence and momentum.
When you love the inputs, you get rewarded not by external results (at least not right away), but by the deeply satisfying tiredness that comes from a hard day’s work. At night, your head hits the pillow and you think to yourself, “Today was a good day. I did what needed to be done.”
First, ask yourself: “What are the inputs that matter?”
Then: “How can I ruthlessly focus on those inputs every day?”
Operating from identity & strength
I’ve made many decisions from a stance of avoidance and weakness. Fear of discomfort, pain, or what others thought of me got the upper hand.
It’s not easy to admit that you’re making a decision from this stance. In fact, it’s almost impossible. No one consciously thinks, “I’m making this decision that I know is the wrong decision but I want to stay comfortable so I’ll make it anyway.”
You come up with a different narrative to justify it.
For example, many years ago I’d decided to launch a high ticket coaching program for music producers. I’d booked a bunch of sales calls, got through a number of them, and then cancelled the rest. The narrative I formed was that “it just wasn’t the right time to be launching this.” But the painful truth is that I just found the calls uncomfortable, because it was the first time doing them and I was learning a new skill. The decision to cancel the calls was made out of avoidance.
Today, I try my best to make decisions from a place of identity and strength. To lean in to the discomfort.
Part of my identity is that I embrace challenge. Whenever I’ve made decisions to avoid challenge—all else being equal—I’ve regretted it. When faced with a decision, acting from a place of identity and strength means choosing the more challenging option.
Acting from a place of strength is a “vibe” thing. You know when you’re doing it and when you’re not. When you make a decision from a weak stance, it feels disempowering, even if it gives you instant relief in the moment. When I cancelled the sales calls, I felt good immediately. Two weeks later, I didn’t, because I knew I’d acted from a disempowering stance. Conversely, deciding not to sell my business a year ago was done from a place of strength. It’s a decision I’m still proud of today.
Beware of the fun work
Part of the reason Pareto’s Principle is true—that 20% of the work you do garners 80% of the results—is that much of the remaining work you do is fun but not useful.
I’ve spent countless hours tweaking website and landing page designs only for it to have zero effect on conversion rate. It was work that I enjoyed and could get lost in, but it didn’t move the needle in any way.
I did a great job of convincing myself this work was important. “Well, if I just change the design to look nicer then maybe our conversion rate will go up and the business will make more money.” (Narrator: it didn’t).
The needle-moving work can be difficult, new, uncomfortable, uncertain. That’s why it’s tempting to engage in other work that feels enjoyable but doesn’t do anything. But it’s the work that needs to be done. Aggressively seek it out and engage in it.
And then, in your free time, if you want to spend hours adjusting the padding between sections on your landing page—go at it. Just realize that as enjoyable as that is, there are even more enjoyable activities like going to the beach and hanging out with friends, etc.
Ideas From Others
Productive mediocrity requires discipline of an ordinary kind. It is safe and threatens no one. Nothing will be changed by mediocrity… But genius is uncontrolled and uncontrollable. You cannot produce a work of genius according to a schedule or outline.”—William Pannapacker, quoted in Originals by Adam Grant
This bolsters the idea that you shouldn’t optimize for optimization’s sake. Good work comes from the soul, not from biohacking or intricate routines.
“A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest form of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal in satisfying his vices. And it all comes from lying — to others and to yourself.”—Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Great quote, great book. No further commentary needed.
I’ve been a fan of Dalio’s books for some time. Reading this shed a different, critical light on the man. I finished it in a few days. Couldn’t put it down.
“Real wisdom on human flourishing is now more likely to come from the humanities, philosophy, creative and artistic spheres, and the spiritual realm, rather than technocrats and politicians. By destroying these disciplines, we actually reduce our chances at genuine advancement.”
This is high signal. I took a bunch of notes. Will likely re-watch this week.