Relentlessly Prune Bullshit — 7 Takeaways No. 89

Poop/Life Balance

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1. “Chewbacca Defense”

Top 25 Interesting Ideas and Concepts Everyone Should Know – Chris Meyer – (The Mind Collection blog)

I’ve mentioned before I’m a sucker for lists like this. This has several well-known ideas, but a few I hadn’t heard before, or — as in the case of the takeaway — a couple that got my attention simply because of their name.

Renowned legal strategy that intends to confuse the jury with an elaborate argument that makes no sense whatsoever. It features unnecessary repetitions, is full of logical fallacies and is rife with conclusions that are irrelevant to the case at hand.

That one derives from an interesting combination of the OJ Simpson trial, and South Park‘s take on it.

Do this: It’s a fun list to familiarize yourself with.

2. “Don’t let your brain ask your brain rhetorical questions”

Who the crap am I to be ______? – Mike Crittenden – (Blog)

The more I interact with more people the more I realize that we all suffer “imposter syndrome” to degrees we would never expect. Seriously, that super-successful whomever you admire? Yeah, in the back of their mind they’re asking themselves, “Who the crap am I to be …” doing whatever it is they do. It’s rampant.

The complete quote is:

Don’t let your brain ask your brain rhetorical questions without forcing your brain to answer your brain.

It’s a technique for coming to terms with your innate abilities and why you’re exactly the person you need to be to do the thing you do.

Do this: Ask the question, like we all do. Then answer it.

3. “That messy middle is where growth happens”

My Annual Birthday Check-In: 13 Lessons I Learned in the Last Year – Polina Pompliano – (The Profile)

Another list style that almost always gets my attention: birthday lists. Pompliano’s the (now 31 year old) force behind the The Profile newsletter. The list isn’t about the newsletter as much as it is about life, and lessons learned over the last 12 months. Among other things, she had her first child, so you know there was learning to happen.

One very difficult (but very important) lesson I learned this year is to embrace the messy middle. How many times do we look forward to something only to have our plans derailed and our expectations shattered?

There’s much more wisdom in this list.

Do this: “There is no ‘right time.’ Just do the damn thing.”

4. “The art of memory is the art of attention”

Stop drinking, keep reading, look after your hearing: a neurologist’s tips for fighting memory loss and Alzheimer’s – Gaby Hinsliff – (The Guardian)

My comment to the person who shared this with me was:

Thanks for this one. Interesting. I definitely find myself at that point in life where every new pain is certainly a sign of something that will now kill me, and every forgotten anything is a sign of impending dementia.

The steps in the article are practical advice that we can all follow to varying degrees. The biggest item for me is my takeaway above: in situations where I’ve forgotten something it’s often because I simply wasn’t paying enough attention to begin with. And we definitely live in a world that trains us to have short attention spans.

Do this: Pay attention, among other things.

5. “Relentlessly prune bullshit”

Life is Short – Paul Graham – (Blog)

That might be worth a daily reminder.

I just finished reading Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life. I found it an intolerable read. It’s supposed to be an incredibly important work, but I really struggled. My guess is that it was the translation. (The one linked in my reading list is a different one.)

I mention that because I got much more out of this shorter and approachable essay by Paul Graham. It’s relatable, and practical.

Cultivate a habit of impatience about the things you most want to do. Don’t wait before climbing that mountain or writing that book or visiting your mother.

The essay is well worth the read and re-read.

Do this: Focus on what really matters and prune as much of everything else as you can.

6. “People fight desires all day long”

Deep Work – Cal Newport – (Audio book)

I’m re-listening to this book. It’s a great reminder of the incredible value of training yourself to be able to do deep work. I’ve touched often here on how our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and are being trained by much of the information we consume and how we consume it. Deep Work is all about overcoming that to be able to produce significant work.

The takeaway is the result of a study where individuals were given beepers and when they went off were told to record what they were doing and thinking at the time. The fight against distractions and desire is constant, and ubiquitous. More so that was expected.

Do this: Remember that you’re not alone in this struggle.

7. “Spend more time laughing”

We all know people who seem to attract fun — here’s how you can do it too – Catherine Price – (

You don’t have to be the class clown. There are simple ways that, if you can make them a habit — even if just to remember — can lead to a funner life.

The primary thing that separates people who attract fun from their peers is their attitude. They approach life in general with what I call a “fun mindset” …

Life is short enough and hard enough. Fun makes the journey more enjoyable.

Do this: Have fun!

8. “It seems a miracle the species survives”

On Communication – Leo A. Notenboom – (blog)

This week’s highlight from my 65 Thoughts project tackles just how difficult communication can be.

It’s scary how frequently interpersonal communication — the ability to communicate a simple idea from one person to another — fails.

The most obvious cases are when we see someone say X, mean Y, and the other person hears Z. It can be quite amazing to witness.

It underscores the fact that communication — even between two people who generally agree or perhaps are on the same side of a contentious issue — is really, really hard.

The classic reason is that we listen not to understand but rather to respond. We hear just enough to form a half-baked idea about what the other is saying, and then our brain is off to the races, formulating a response.

Do this: Listen.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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1 thought on “Relentlessly Prune Bullshit — 7 Takeaways No. 89”

  1. Thank you Leo for adding to my life through the wonderfully usable THINK inspiration. Today I got some from each thing in your list. I’m old enough now, and lost enough hearing, Yes, I wear hearing aids, well, most of the time. Anyhow I’ve learned that I wasn’t listening. Ach! Sorry.
    Thanks for the elevating and sometimes aggravating points.

    I realize this goes against some things some people will believe, anyhow: May God bless you.


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