Intelligence Is Always Work In Progress – 7 Takeaways No. 52

Albert Einstein

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This marks the 52nd issue of 7 TakeAways, and completes its first full year. Thank you for tagging along! I hope it’s been entertaining, but most of all I hope it’s been thought-provoking. I know I’m enjoying it, and the structure it’s forcing me to adhere to.



1. "overwhelming evidence of injustice"

A Jury for America – Dan Rather – (Steady newsletter)

Last week’s conviction in the Ahmaud Arbery case was newsworthy, and that’s a shame. Justice should be routine, not exceptional because white jurors happened to convict white defendants who had killed a black man. Rather takes some heart in the verdict:

when presented with overwhelming evidence of injustice, most Americans will come down on the side of justice

But the problem runs deeper. It really does take overwhelming evidence. The hypocrisy, I think, is that so many walk free, even in the face of clear, yet slightly less overwhelming evidence. Racism remains deeply rooted in America.

Do this: Advocate for justice.

2. "making someone do something . . . requires either coercion or manipulation"

No, You Can’t Make a Person Change – Mark Manson – (Medium)

You can’t make someone be confident or respect themselves or take responsibility — because the means you use to do this destroys confidence, respect, and responsibility.

This is something we all struggle with. That old "if only they would" kicks in and frustration quickly follows.

Yes, Manson does go on to talk about what you can do, but there’s no magic solution, no potion that will make that other person change. Since you can’t change them, the Stoic in me would have you focus on what you can control: you . . . or rather, your reaction.

Do this: Think about that person that came to mind when I said "if only they would". Consider your reaction, and how you — not they — might change.

3. "Dogs are friend-making machines."

Posts from swissmiss for 11/30/2021 – Tina Roth Eisenberg – (SwissMiss newsletter)

This was just a throw-away line in her newsletter — literally the last line — but it struck me as more significant than that.

When I look around at our current circle of friends, including many of those now closest to us, we met because of our dogs. (Corgis, in case you didn’t already know.) I know, I know, people congregate based on common interests all the time, but there’s just something about dogs that eases the process.

Do this: No, I’m not going to say get a dog. If it were appropriate, you’d already have one. 🙂 Instead, examine your circle of friends and consider the common interests that brought you together.

4. "I love email."

How to master your email inbox (when the usual methods fail) – Tiago Forte – (Email newsletter)

I stand with Tiago. I love email. Nothing allows me to communicate more clearly, on my schedule, than any other technology.

Email is the last bastion of free, open communication online.

Forte shares pointers to a couple of his deeper dives into email management. All are highly recommended if you feel overwhelmed by email, or just feel you could improve your skills.

Do this: improve your email game.

5. "Avoiding stupidity is easier than trying to be brilliant."

50 Ideas That Changed My Life – David Perell – (Blog)

That’s just the first one. The list is long, thought provoking, and valuable. Some you may have already heard of (Occam’s Razor, for example), but others are insights that run the range from familiar, to "yeah, that makes sense", to "I hadn’t thought of it that way before."

The Medium Is the Message: We pay too much attention to what is being said. But the medium of communication is more impactful. For example, the Internet’s impact on humanity has a bigger influence than anything that’s said on the Internet.

Do this: scan the list. It’s pretty interesting.

6. "What would a prudent reaction be at this moment?"

When You Can’t Change the World, Change Your Feelings – Arthur C. Brooks – (The Atlantic)

I get occasional push back for my generally Stoic philosophy that ultimately all you control is your reaction to events rather than the events themselves. This essay does a better job than I could of walking the line between acknowledging that some require changing circumstances, but that more than we realize can be addressed by changing our reaction.

Evolutionarily speaking we have more time to think about things than our biology was developed for.

Half a million years ago, taking time to manage your emotions would have made you a tiger’s lunch.

Do this: Think about things.

7. "Intelligence is always work in progress."

Why Albert Einstein Said: The Measure of Intelligence Is the Ability To Change – Thomas Oppong – (The Good Men Project)

Change is something I’ve talked about before — perhaps even more than once. It’s important, and it frustrates me when I see people unwilling to accept change (must less embrace it) for no other reason than it’s change.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often, said Winston S. Churchill

It doesn’t have to be big or radical, but without it, we stagnate.

Roy T. Bennett says, “It’s never too late to change your life for the better. You don’t have to take huge steps to change your life. Making even the smallest changes to your daily routine can make a big difference to your life.”

Do this: Grow. Never stop.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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