The Practice is the Output – 7 Takeaways for March 21, 2021


(Whoops. Tagline didn’t make it to the email. Or did I catch in time? Oh well. No matter. More practice needed. Smile)

1. “Stimulus eventually causes inflation”

Your Stimulus Check Is Creating Wealth Inequality – Tim Denning – (Medium)

I have to admit, the stimulus portion of the economic recovery plan(s) being implemented throughout the world concerns me. As Denning points out, they’re simply printing more money. While that has some short-term positive benefits, the piper will have to be paid at some point. Exactly what that looks like (inflation), as well as when is pretty fuzzy. I’ve read also from Ray Dalio on the broader topic — both seem to agree that hard assets are likely to do better than some of the more traditionally “safe” places we put our cash, which is poised to lose value in the coming months/years. There’s a lot to think about here. While I don’t agree with everything in Denning’s missive, it’s approachable and a good way to start thinking about the issue(s).

Do this: think about the issue. Take steps now to educate yourself, and prepare for a financially uncertain future.

2. “…the present has the tools to bring the past to life in a big way.”

No Sweat Tech: Colorized Images Can Enrich Our View of History – Tara Calishain –  (Saturday Evening Post)

This could almost be a Not All News is Bad entry. I was recently reminded of this article by my friend Tara Calishain from late last year. I’m already enamored with the power of technology to do amazing — and sometimes scary — things with digital media. This article reminded me a) that this technology exists, and b) in the hands of a talented human it exceeds all expectations.

Do this: Visit the article and browse some of the example images, and video. If you’ve not seen this before you’ll be amazed.

3. “What if, rather than improving your mind, what you should really be working on is getting better at changing it?”

Think Again (summary) – Adam Grant – (Blinkist)

This is a take-away for two reasons. The first, and most basic, is the importance of the topic. Much of the division in our midst is driven by the unwillingness to even consider that our own ideas might be wrong. Scientific method is all about looking for how a theory or hypothesis might be wrong — and we’ve seen how anti-science many people have become. They’d rather stick to their own preconceived ideas and ideals rather than admit even the smallest error.

My second reason, though, is because of the format. I became aware of Blinkist earlier this week. It’s a non-fiction book summary service — not unlike Cliff’s notes of years gone by. Each book is summarised into a 15 minute series of “blinks” that encapsulate the primary themes and messages in the original. These are made available in both written and audio forms. I’m finding it a valuable resource for determining what books are worth my time to read fully, or to refresh myself on books I’d previously read.

Do this: please, please, please keep in mind that you might be wrong. Develop the skill of changing your mind in the face of new evidence or information, and resist penalizing others for doing so as well.

4. “… the practice is the output…”

The Practice: Shipping Creative Work – Seth Godin – (ebook)

The full quote:

The practice is not the means to the output, the practice is the output, because the practice is all we can control.

This spoke to me because of its similarity to one of my personal mantras: “Every day is an experiment.” That could just as easily have been something along the lines of “Every day is practice.” Practice in writing, practice in reading, practice in answering questions, practice, practice, and more practice of all the things we do.

Focusing on “practice” brings with it the implied concept of “improvement”. Like experiments, we practice, we learn, and we improve.

Do this: view your avocation as something you practice with the goal of improving. I’m betting just changing that viewpoint will cause it to be self-fullfilling.

5. “If you’re bored, we’re bored.”

Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative – Chuck Wendig – (ebook)

I finished this book this week, and while it was interesting it felt off-topic for me. It’s mostly aimed at those writing fictional stories, which I’m not. Storytelling for me is a mechanism to make non-fiction more consumable and relatable. This wasn’t that. Until the appendix.

The appendix is a list of 50 storytelling tips, beginning with the takeaway above. This boiled down the essence of the book in a format more relevant and accessible to what I’m trying to accomplish.

Do this: ask yourself: “Am I bored?” about what you’re creating?

6. “magical insight logging framework”

The 5 Magical Apps That Changed My Life – Ali Abdaal – (YouTube)

It’s a kind of corny name, for something that I find incredibly valuable myself: the tools and techniques I use to capture these takeaways, and more. Abdaals tools overlap with mine. He uses Kindle, Instapaper, Readwise, Airr, and Notion. I use the first three, and Evernote in place of Notion. There’s no Android equivalent for the podcast utility Airr, or I’d be running that too. (As it is I use Google Recorder and/or HappyScribe to get transcripts of audios and videos if needed.) I did add myself to the Airr for Android waiting list.

Do this: think about how you use technology to make sure what you read or consume, “sticks”.

7. “what can I do to make it better?”

A Key Mindset to Achieve More – Michael Hyatt – (blog)

I do seem to gravitate towards items that confirm my opinions. Smile This is another. The key mindset?

When I reflect on those around me who have experienced tremendous success, who have made their dream a reality, one trait that I often see exemplified in their life is that of an experimental mindset.

It’s my “every day is an experiment”, restated. It’s a great way to look at it. Everything you do is an experiment. If it fails — or, heck, even if it succeeds — the question to ask yourself is “what can I do to make it better”. You can see why this spoke to me.

Do this: keep experimentation in mind. Whatever you’re facing, whatever you’re accomplishing, or not, view it as an experiment and something to be learned from.

What I’m Reading

I completed Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content by Mark Levy earlier this week. It’s probably evident from my earlier comments (and the speed at which I raced through it) that I found a lot of value in this book. If you ‘re a writer (aspiring or otherwise), or have problems getting “stuck” or getting ideas down on paper, I highly recommend this one.

I completed Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative by Chuck Wendig as well. As I mentioned in takeaway 5 above, it was off the mark for me, but Wendig has a very entertaining writing style, and if you’re writing fiction I can see it being a valuable guide.

In progress (also on GoodReads):

Leave a Comment