1. “You can’t help someone you don’t understand”
If You Want to Be a Better Writer, Start Listening Twice As Much As You Talk – Sinem Günel – (Medium)
This is one of those adages that traces its origins back to Epictitus — “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” — and probably even further. Everyone knows it. Everyone can parrot it.
Why do so few actually do it? I’m not pointing fingers — I’m as guilty as anyone. If anything this takeaway is as much a reminder for me as anything else.
Do this: listen.
2. “Tolerance demands discomfort “
Every Excess Hides a Lack – Mark Manson – (MindF*ck Monday)
The dilemma of being tolerant of other people’s beliefs, actions, foibles, or whatnot, is that it’s a spectrum. Some things are easier to tolerate than others. Some make us uncomfortable, some make us so uncomfortable as to test our very ability to be tolerant of others. And some cross the line.
The irony is that in order to practice tolerance, you must be willing to sit with things that upset you or make you uncomfortable. Yet, if your adopted ethic is that no one should ever be upset or uncomfortable, then you make any sort of tolerance impossible.
The reality that we can’t tolerate everything doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tolerate more than we probably do. Much of the upset we have to be willing to sit with is of our own making.
Do this: examine what upsets you. Is it really worth it? Some things are, absolutely, but so many things are not.
3. “Resourcefulness . . . is infinite”
The Invaluable Trait that Helps You Make the Most of Any Situation in Life – Srinivas Rao – (Unmistakeable Creative Blog)
As I was reading this essay discussing the trait of being resourceful — what it means, how it helps, and how to cultivate it — my mind went in a slightly different direction.
Why isn’t this something we teach in school?
I mentioned a week or so ago that school, especially higher education, nominally teaches you how to learn (except it doesn’t really). If that were true, wouldn’t teaching the value of resourcefulness be a natural and incredibly valuable extension? Simply looking at what you have and learning to ask “what else can this do?” can be so incredibly enlightening.
Do this: Look at what you have. Ask yourself are you using it to its fullest? As an example, Rao suggests you “see your phone as a tool for creation and not just a device for communication,” and my mind begins to consider possibilities.
4. “The more social ties we have, the happier we are.”
How to Live – Derek Sivers – (ebook)
The statement itself is a difficult one to swallow for an introvert like me. And yet, I get it. It’s not easy, but I get it.
What brought this to my attention this week is Derek Sivers new book, How to Live – 27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion. It’s a surprisingly difficult read because it’s not so much “about” anything specific as it is a collection of independent statements — one could even say pithy aphorisms — on that topic. It requires thought. Even Sivers says so: “It’s meant to be read slowly.”
I think that might be the only way it can be read.
Do this: cherish your social ties.
5. “Tulsa massacre had been largely absent”
Holes In Our History – Dan Rather – (Steady)
I had a conversation earlier this week with my gen-x niece, who mentioned that she’d never been taught anything about the Tulsa massacre in school.
Neither had I. The first I’d heard of it was just a few years ago, in a comic book mini-series adaptation of The Watchmen on HBO. The show opened with the attack, and at first, I thought it was some fictional alternate history. While certain aspects are certainly fictional (it’s a sci-fi comic book, after all), the attack was brutally and unforgivably real.
I was shocked.
We are living in a time where we are seeing cynical attempts to bury the past on many fronts.
Let’s not let that happen.
Do this: learn more about The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. And commit to not burying the past, but learning from it.
6. “A generation ago, delivering the news was a civic duty. Now it’s a profit center.”
Production values – Seth Goden – (Blog)
Let’s not over-simplify this. News has always a for-profit enterprise unless you’re PBS/NPR or similar. Newspapers and other news delivery services have always been aggressively competing for eyeballs. Sensational headlines aren’t really new. Misleading stories aren’t really new. Even clickbait isn’t really new. (National Enquirer and Weekly World News were the grocery-store equivalents of clickbait news — and there were people that believed ’em!)
Multiple things have changed. The ease of publication. The ability to “test” your headlines in real-time. The ever-shorter attention spans of the news-consuming public. Perhaps most importantly, the apparent unwillingness of the average consumer to vet what it is they consume.
Yes, I do believe that Walter Cronkite and his cohorts of the day took it as a civic responsibility — more so than many, if not most these days. But it’s always been a profit center.
Do this: be different: vet what you consume.
7. “My conviction is that education must be about thinking— not training a set of specific skills.”
How to Think like Shakespeare – Scott Newstok – (ebook)
Some of my takeaways must seem like a broken record as they all circle around a common theme, once again reinforcing my pre-conceived opinions. Nonetheless, this bubble I’m in seems important.
I stumbled across this book in some of my other reading, and that takeaway, from its introduction, hooked me. I’m partway through and finding it a thought-provoking read. (Full of quotes, by the way.)
Do this: encourage thinking and problem-solving in yourself and others.
What I’m Reading
In progress (also on GoodReads):
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
- How to Think like Shakespeare – Scott Newstok
- 90 Days of Creative Motivation -Todd Brison
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman
- On This Day in History Sh!t Went Down – James Fell