Someone Who Never Writes Has No Fully Formed Ideas — 7 Takeaways No. 64


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1. “Belonging is a spiritual practice”

Brené Brown । 30 Minutes for the NEXT 30 Years of Your LIFE – Brené Brown – (YouTube)

This 30 minute video collects excerpts from several Brené Brown videos, ultimately on the topics of belonging and being vulnerable.

The video is full of takeaways, to be honest. A quote that got my attention was this, on our currently fractured society:

I’m just with people who are like me, but it turns out that behind those ideological bunkers, it’s not that we’re deeply connected to each other. We just hate the same people and hating people doesn’t really mean Jack when it comes down to belonging.

Do this: It’s 30 minutes well spent. Give it a watch if you can.

2. “Someone who never writes has no fully formed ideas”

Putting Ideas into Words – Paul Graham – (Blog)

This is another treatise on the power of writing. The claim is pretty extreme:

If writing down your ideas always makes them more precise and more complete, then no one who hasn’t written about a topic has fully formed ideas about it. And someone who never writes has no fully formed ideas about anything nontrivial.

It’s hard to argue against. If writing your thoughts forces them to be better, then if you don’t write them down, then by definition they’re incomplete — they could be better. As he said, there are no guarantees that your ideas will be fully formed by writing, only that by not writing they certainly won’t be.

Do this: Write.

3. “Depressing Math”

How Covid Stole Our Time and How We Can Get It Back – Tim Urban – (New York Times)

Once you visualize the human life span, it becomes clear that so many parts of life we think of as “countless” are in fact quite countable.

That’s the depressing part. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that everything ends, ourselves included. Urban, who also pens the internet blog Wait But Why, presents a few ways of viewing time, specifically, making its limitations much more tangible.

But there’s good news as well. Acknowledging that we have only a certain time to play on this planet, there’s much control we have right now. Rather than looking past at the roads not taken, we can look forward.

If we imagine what we might regret down the road, it’s very much in our hands to do something about it now.

Do this: Do some depressing math to get context, and then look forward with your newfound perspective.

4: “Expecting to find interesting things”

How You Get Old, and When You Truly Get Old… – Julia Hubbel – (Medium)

Aging has turned out to be one of my recurring themes here, and Hubbel is one of my inspirations. She not only writes about the topic, but exemplifies someone who’ll some day die young, regardless of her calendar age.

Nothing ages you faster than deciding you’re old.

I have to admit, I’ve looked at many people my age, and even younger, and thought to myself, “man, they’re old“. At the other end of the spectrum are role models like Hubbel, and Doris Carnevali (a 100-year-old blogger) who show us all that there are things you can and should do today to ensure you’re as vibrant as possible for a long as possible.

Simply being present and wondering at the amazing world around you is a start.

Do this: Choose to live a full life.

5. “People can’t think statistically.”

Termination Shock: A Novel – Neal Stephenson – (ebook)

The full quote:

People can’t think statistically. People are hardwired to think in terms of narratives.

This is a slightly different perspective on something that I’ve thought for a long time: people don’t understand large numbers. The magnitude difference between one and one hundred? Sure, we get that. The difference between a billion and a trillion? No concept. We’ve never had anything tangible to map it to. We have no experience with which to comprehend these huge numbers. Governments and politicians, in particular, love this as a tool of manipulation.

The same is true for statistics. Which came first, story telling or mathematics? It’s storytelling and narratives — that we tell others or that we tell ourselves — that often outweigh all the mathematical proof we might be offered.

Do this: Honestly, developing a basic understanding of statistics, and yes, large numbers, would do everyone a lot of good.

6. “Don’t let your thoughts die with you.”

Don’t let your thoughts die with you – Mike Crittenden – (Blog)

Consider this another of my reminders — for you and for myself — to write.

If you died tomorrow, how many of your thoughts would live on? Writing is high leverage and eternal.

I know many people’s reaction is that “my thoughts are unimportant”. That might be. But you could be very wrong. And as I’ve mentioned here before, writing, even for yourself, is a process of clarification and discovery. Your thoughts are not unimportant to yourself.

Do this: need I say it?

7. “60% of Ikea purchases are impulse buys”

How Ikea tricks you into buying more stuff – Zachary Crockett – (The Hustle newsletter)

That take-away got my attention. In a fascinating overview of the non-standard techniques Ikea uses to increase sales, we learn about everything from one-way streets, to “dump bins”, mirrors, decoy pricing, to, yes, meatballs (over a billion of them sold every year).

And of course:

… the Ikea effect: a cognitive bias wherein we place a higher value on items we build ourselves, regardless of the quality of the end result.

Do this: If you’re interested in marketing, or if you’re interested in defending yourself against marketing, this is a pretty worthwhile read.

8. “It all comes down to fundamentals.”

Consistency is a Super Power – Leo Notenboom – (blog)

I hit a milestone on one of my publications recently, and it got me to thinking about the volume of things I publish in various guises. There’s more than just Ask Leo!, or even 7 Takeaways.

My reflection was about the common thread, the underlying principle that keeps the machine running.

Do this: Be consistent.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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