No Longer Floating in Darkness — 7 Takeaways No. 105

Earth against the stars.

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0. “Substack”

Let me start by being super clear: your email subscription will not change, unless you want it to. Do nothing and, if you’re getting 7 Takeaways by email this week, you’ll get it the same way next week. Similarly, the archive of back issues on will remain, and will continue to accumulate new issues as they’re published. And if you’re using the RSS feed, that’s not going away either.

However… Smile

Starting this week (well, actually two weeks ago, since I’ve been testing) 7 Takeaways is now also being published via Substack. Why? A few reasons:

  • If you’re already subscribed to other newsletters via Substack (as I am), they do provide a nice, unified reading experience, particularly via the Substack app.
  • Substack provides for an easy, optional way for subscribers to support the publication.
  • Substack has several promotion opportunities to expand the reach of 7 Takeaways.
  • Everything’s an experiment.

So, you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to, but if you want to, you can subscribe on Substack instead (or as well).

Do this: Nothing. Unless you want to.

1. “If you admire someone, tell them so.”

How to Become Someone’s Spirit Animal: The Immense Importance of Setting an Example – Julia Hubbel – (Walkabout Saga blog)

The first part of this is, as the takeaway states, an admonition to tell people. But the part that I think is more true to the article title is this:

On the flip side, if you want to be someone’s spirit animal, be the person that others admire. Stand up for those you love, stand tall in the face of disaster, be vulnerable in that way that allows you to hurt but bend, so that the hurt doesn’t destroy you.

It made me think of the importance of examples. It’s something I’ve written about before. We need more positive examples, and those positive examples need more notice.

Do this: Be someone’s example.

2. “The need to prepare for old age”

No Family? Make Your Own – Don Akchin – (The Endgame newsletter)

This is something that my wife and I think about from time to time as we get older.

”Who’s going to care for me when I’m too frail to care for myself?”

… For “solo agers” – those among us who live alone, are not in a long-term relationship, and/or have no children – answers are harder to come by.

We are not (yet) “solo agers”, but we don’t have children that’ll be there as we age. We’ve joked about needing to make younger friends, but that seems disingenuous if roping them in to take care of us in some future is an unstated goal.

It’s a difficult problem to consider, but consider it, we must.

Do this: Prepare, as best you can.

3. “No longer floating in darkness”

“I went to space and discovered an enormous lie” – Ron Garan – (Big Think)

In this video (with transcript), former astronaut Ron Garan discusses the “overview effect” — that change in mindset that occurs to many astronauts after seeing Earth from their unique vantage point. Rather than seeing borders and economies and politics, the view switches to one of interconnectedness and planetary unity.

His perspective dives into more detail, of course, and while I’ve certainly heard of the overview effect before, it was an interesting and somewhat fresh and hopeful perspective.

Do this: Remember that we’re all in this together. All 8 billion of us.

4. “Hold those hugs just a little bit longer.”

22 Lessons Learned in 2022 – Sahil Bloom – (newsletter)

I know, I know, I’m a sucker for “lessons learned” lists, and list in general. I suspect we’ll have plenty to consider in the next few weeks.

I picked this one because it has a few items that aren’t typical.

#3: Most of your friends aren’t really your friends.
#5: Never think twice about investments in yourself.
#8: Regret is way more painful than failure.
#10: Learn to enjoy being wrong.

Those are just a few highlights, but the entire list is thought-worthy.

Do this: Value finding the truth over being right.

5. “There’s no fixing a bad manager”

Advice on being managed – (Dynomight newsletter)

I’m past working for a manager, or even being one, but this essay called out a couple of important pieces of advice I strongly recommend to those who are.

I’m not sure how to operationalize this, but some managers are simply much better than others, in a way that has big implications for you and your future.

I can’t stress that enough. Who you work for matters more than what you work on. It took me too long to figure that out at Microsoft, but once I did, it made all the difference. I worked for a few truly great people, and a few truly abysmal (including one I refer to as the “PHB incarnate”), and a number in between. The difference not just for career growth and job satisfaction is tremendous, which naturally spills over into the rest of your life as well.

The strongest piece of advice I can offer to those in the workforce is to choose your boss carefully and with intention — to the extent that you can, of course. And don’t hesitate to acknowledge the good ones.

Do this: Don’t work for, or be, a PHB.

6. “Social media should come with a health warning.”

Is Social Media Making You Sick? – Believing Is Seeing – Robert Bartholomew – (Loading Docs / YouTube)

TikTok is a double-edged sword. It can raise awareness of these illnesses, but it can also trigger them at the same time.

This is primarily about the “TikTok tics” epidemic(?) of the last few years. Individuals with legitimate Tourettes or tic generating issues have gone on to the social media site to education about their issue, and spread awareness. The result? A rise in the number of teenagers exhibiting the behaviors. Mass Psychogenic Illness, is apparently what it’s called. Mass hysteria is the less accurate and cruder term.

This all makes me think of the true definition of the term “meme” (via Wikipedia):

an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning representing a particular phenomenon or theme

A mind-virus, if you will, that transcends everything from tics to cute cat pictures to the latest societal or political outrage.

And of course people are blaming social media. While social media perhaps makes the virus more efficiently transmissible, the concept is hardly anything new.

Do this: Be skeptical of both claims: that social media is the problem, or that it’s a solution. It’s much more nuanced than that.

7. “Zuckerberg is screwed.”

On Teenage Luddites – Cal Newport – (Study Hacks blog)

Seriously. Teenage Luddites. Who’d a thunk it?

There was, however, one passage in particular that gave me the most hope that a shift in teenagers’ relationships with their phones might actually be imminent. “My parents are so addicted,” said Lane. “My mom got on Twitter, and I’ve seen it tear her apart. But I guess I also like [being offline], because I get to feel a little superior to them.”

Huh. Who knew teenage rebellion could be such positive thing?

Do this: Watch the kids. Perhaps learn from them.

8. “Failure is not a disaster, it’s a data point.”

Every Day is an Experiment – Leo Notenboom – (Blog)

I share my mantra that’s helped me make life interesting and educational.

The risk of failure feels more palatable if you treat what you’re doing as an experiment for which you’re actively interested in the results.

Failure’s rarely the disaster we make it out to be, and fear of failure gets in the way of so many possible successes.

Do this: Experiment.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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