For the curious, last week’s test / move went smoothly. 7takeaways.com is on a new speedier server. And yes, these are the things I geek out over. Well, that and the bonus takeaway, down below.
Hope you’re having a good week.
1. “hydrostatic stress test”
Finding the Best and Worst in Ourselves – Mark Manson (Mindf*ck Monday newsletter)
That’s a pressure test generally applied in various engineering realms. Manson points out that the concept applies to what we’ve all been experiencing during the pandemic. There’s much truth to his interpretation.
He also claims that “the new normal” everyone is talking about won’t really be all that new. Once the pandemic has passed and things return to whatever they return to, they’re going to look an awful lot like the “before time”. I tend to agree. Sure, we’ll appreciate hugs more for a while, and maybe some work-at-home scenarios now tested will last, but by and large, my sense has always been that after some recovery time — call it the “roaring ’20s” if you like — the new normal will look a lot like the old one. (To be fair, he points out that under the hood there have been some pretty amazing advances in technologies resulting from the pandemic response. Those won’t make a lot of waves in our day-to-day, but will just be part of the original normal: things keep getting better over time.)
Do this: Over the next 12-24 months pay attention to what returns to its pre-pandemic normal, and what remains forever changed.
2. “8 hours is the new 10,000 steps”
Should You Buy a Sleep Tracker? – Nicole Nguyen – (Wall Street Journal Tech News Briefing podcast)
On the heels of the pandemic, it’s become clear that a number of people continue to have problems sleeping. Be it stress, schedule chaos, depression, or any of a number of other possible reasons, it’s almost a pandemic-after-the-pandemic. While the podcast talks specifically about the number of new sleep tracking devices, the throw-away comment above caught my attention. I hope it’s true: step trackers will fall in priority in favor of getting enough sleep. I’m fairly convinced that lack of sleep has significantly more long term issues than we all realize.
Do this: are you sleeping enough? Honestly? Take steps (pun not intended), if you’re not.
3. “Learning almost always involves incompetence.”
The Practice: Shipping Creative Work – Seth Godin – (ebook)
Incompetence is considered a bad thing, right? You’re bad at something, so you’re incompetent. Calling someone incompetent is often a measure of their performance compared to our expectations. If the mechanic who’s supposed to fix your car messes it up instead, he’s incompetent.
There’s another kind of incompetence that’s much simpler: before we know how to do something we are incompetent at doing it. That’s not a bad thing, that’s not a good thing, it’s just a thing. It’s a thing to accept and acknowledge and then either understand our abilities or choose to learn and improve them.
Too many people see incompetence as something shameful, and an excuse to not even try.
Do this: Think carefully about what you’re good at today, and then think back to a time before, when you were incompetent. Incompetence wasn’t bad, was it? If anything, it was motivation to be better. Don’t treat objective incompetance as shameful.
4. “Now go take a risk”
103 Year Old Man Gives His Last Piece Of Advice! – Myron Steves, Sr. – (YouTube)
A little over a minute, and worth every second. This might be the takeaway of all takeaways. This might be a commercial for the insurance company Mr. Steves apparently founded, but there’s absolutely no advertising here. That I have to say it “might” be a commercial says all. His words are simple, yet moving. They sent a chill up my spine.
Do this: Watch the video. Then go take a risk.
5. “Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths.”
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari – (ebook)
As I mentioned a week or two ago, I’m finding this book incredibly interesting. It’s large but well worth the investment.
This quote captures a concept that I’ve known for a long time but made it more concrete for me: that of myth. In Harari’s view, almost anything that isn’t physical is a myth of some sort. For example, money is a myth — it’s a completely conceptual construct. The only reason it works is because everyone agrees and believes in it. The same is true for borders and property lines, governments, religions, and more. None of them exist without humans that believe they exist. To me, it’s a fascinating concept, in particular, because it enables society to exist.
Do this: Ask yourself what you believe to exist that only exists because some number of humans believe it exists as well.
6. “…every interaction, conversation, article, data point, and idea is potential fodder for writing…”
The Idea Farm: How to Sow, Grow, and Harvest Great Blog Post Ideas – Ryan Law – (Animalz – blog)
Or, as I’ve put it in the past: “Everything is content”. I’ve even expanded that to “… you can even build a business around it”, referring of course to Ask Leo!. It certainly got it start with, and continues to be fueled by, the questions I get every day. Every emailed response is potential content fodder for that machine. I don’t say that disparagingly, either. Every question I answer is being asked by many others as well. Publishing those answers adds value to the world by making the answer available to others. Be it tech questions, humor, stories to tell, or advice to share — we’re all brimming with content.
Do this: especially if you’re a budding writer, pay close attention to your daily interactions, and use them not only for inspiration but actual content opportunities as well.
7. “America’s post-lockdown boom has begun.”
America’s boom has begun. Can it last? – The Economist – (Magazine)
A friend who’s part owner of a local bar told me the other day that it looks like they were going to make it, meaning that it looked like they were going to survive the pandemic and remain open. Things were beginning to look up.
The Economist article has some fascinating data on exactly what’s happening, some speculation as to why, and some hope for what’s next in terms of the US and world economies. It’s careful to point out that there are at least three significant risks: the economic impact of the businesses that didn’t make it and the people affected, the upcoming inevitable end of various governmental support and stimulus programs, both local and federal, and of course — the virus itself. A resurgence could undo much of the forward progress we’re seeing right now.
Do this: get vaccinated, if not now then as soon as you’re able. You have direct control over the resurgence of the virus.
Bonus: Toccata and Fugue in D minor
Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565 – Van Doeselaar | Netherlands Bach Society – (YouTube)
This is my favorite piece of music, ever. Don’t know why, it just is. While this isn’t my favorite performance (this is), I ran across the video above this week and it spoke to me. I mean, it’s a fine performance, and a) T&FinDm, b) the Netherlands, and c) there’s a Bach Society!
You’ll recognize it, of course. Unfortunately, it elicits many different preconceptions because of where people have heard it before, or their general feelings towards pipe organ music. Some think of it as horror movie music, others funeral, and other still church music. As for me, if I’m in the right frame of mind, this piece can literally send a chill down my spine, and bring tears to my eyes.
Do this: listen and hopefully enjoy.
What I’m Reading
In progress (also on GoodReads):
- The Practice: Shipping Creative Work by Seth Godin
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
- 90 Days of Creative Motivation by Todd Brison
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity by Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman