Be Careful What You Believe – 7 Takeaways for May 30, 2021

1. “Code words. That’s all language is.”

Code Words – Seth Godin – (Blog)

A small post, but oh-so-true. Can’t count the number of times I’ve been in “violent agreement” with someone, only to find that it was all about slightly different definitions of a word. Once that was cleared up the agreement became … less violent.

Do this: Make sure everyone’s talking about the same thing, especially if you feel an argument coming on. You may be surprised.

2. “Nobody wants their worldview torn apart if loneliness is the outcome.”

3-2-1: On dealing with conflict, writing books, and working on the right level – James Clear – (3-2-1 newsletter)

If truth no longer matters, what does? Belonging. Belonging trumps truth.

Convincing someone to change their mind is really the process of convincing someone to change their tribe. If they abandon their beliefs, they run the risk of losing social ties. You can’t expect someone to change their mind if you take away their community too. You have to give them somewhere to go.

Do this: next time you’re in disagreement with someone, think about what their changing their mind might really mean to them, and specifically to their relationships.

3. “we don’t know exactly what we will need to know in the future”

Better Thinking & Incentives: Lessons From Shakespeare – Farnam Street – (Newsletter)

This is an argument that the way we think about education needs to fundamentally change.

It seems that a better approach is to incentivize teaching tools that will give students the flexibility to develop their thinking in response to changes around them.

To be clear, we don’t do that. Much lip service is paid to the idea that school — especially higher education — is about learning how to learn — it’s not. What’s taught are easy-to-test arrays of facts and techniques that, while perhaps applicable today, often are completely useless in 20 years. What would be better is to truly teach how to learn, how to think, and how to prepare yourself for a future unknown.

Do this: One of my mantras: never stop learning. If you don’t know how, bootstrap: learn how to learn. It’s never too late.

4. “By devoting yourself to a craft, no matter what field that craft appears, you are an artist.”

The Unstoppable Creative – Todd Brison – (ebook)

Part of me says I should really stop “taking away” things that really just reinforce my existing beliefs, but this is one I feel enough people don’t appreciate.

Art is everywhere. Art is anything. We can all be artists, no matter what we do. The grocery store bagger can be an artist in how they arrange items in your bag. The welder can be an artist not just in actually creating art, but handling the otherwise mundane with care and artistry. I know the software engineer can be an artist by crafting novel, efficient, and even elegant solutions to complex problems. The cook. The teacher. The cop. The orator. The writer. The list goes on.

Do this: view your avocation through the lens of artistry.

5. “Act IV, the unraveling”

Scenes From a Mogul’s Marriage or: The Troubling Fourth Act of Bill Gates – Timothy Egan – (New York Times)

Bill & Malinda’s divorce shocked me, as it did many. It makes me sad, on several different levels. What makes me sadder is that it appears to simply be the tip of an iceberg of revelation about someone whom I held in high esteem (at least in certain regards).

It brings up so many issues — separating the man from his accomplishments, separating the questionable decisions from the tangible good. We are all human, I get that. And, of course, to quote the article again: “Every marriage is a mystery, of course, which no outsider can ever truly understand. ” but this seems soo much deeper, and sadder, than that.

Do this: As with anything in life: separate the good from the bad (or questionable). Celebrate the positive and leave the rest behind.

6. “He’s my dad, not the gardener.”

Our honest, hidden thoughts on race captured in just 6 words – Michelle L. Norris – (National Geographic)

This is a lengthy article on people’s sharing their experiences with “The Race Card Project“. We have a difficult time talking about race, and when we do it tends to boil down to generalizations — often overgeneralizations — based on misinformation, miseducation, and even the lack of education. The project provides an absolutely fascinating insight into the experiences of those affected.

Do this: Read the National Geographic article, at least (free registration may be required). It may be eye-opening.

7. “Be careful what you believe.”

The Profile: The marathon men who can’t go home & the app causing body dysmorphia – Polina Marinova Pompliano – (email newsletter)

The takeaway above is actually from the introduction to this week’s newsletter. Pompliano discusses the skewed pictures we all form of people — particularly celebrities and others in the spotlike — without having access to the full picture that is their life. She highlights the surprising revelations about Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos as examples, but it applies to just about anyone. We don’t know the whole story. We can’t know the whole story.

Reminds me of one of my favorite (miss)quotes:

Let us be kind, one to another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle others know nothing about.

Do this: be kind.

What I’m Reading

In progress (also on GoodReads):


You’ll find all the books I’ve read or am reading as part of this project on the site’s Reading List page.

2 thoughts on “Be Careful What You Believe – 7 Takeaways for May 30, 2021”

  1. Thanks, Leo. I often get something out of “7 Takeaways.” This week’s lineup felt close to home for me several times. I just have to come up with a way to retain the wisdom when it’s needed — later, likely far from my computer, and possibly in a heated discussion.


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