you’re learning fast enough if when you look back to a year ago and you think, “I was so f***ing stupid”

Was cleaning out my Evernote and just a few gems from the past year or so that hopefully increases the likelihood of the title. Reminder to self + some synthesis + for the sake of sharing. Hopefully not overly preachy.

  • Be ruthlessly present. Even if it’s “stupid” work like responding to email. Be present enough to think about the task as well as the action of doing the task and how it can be improved. If you can’t get to that level of presence doing something, consider automating it or otherwise removing it from your life. Similarly applies to spending time with loved ones, carrying a conversation, showering, eating, etc. Doing this is extremely tiring, which is why everybody does it so infrequently.
  • Read with purpose. This means forming a hypothesis or rebuttals while reading rather than just consuming information. Doing this is extremely tiring as well. I think it’s fine to start small — just one piece of journalism with purpose a day, rather than 10 pieces without purpose, to build the right muscle.
  • Surround yourself with people you respect. And if that’s not immediately possible, the people can be virtual — thought leaders, historical figures, etc. Nothing accelerates learning as much as the quality of people around you. And it’s the most effortless kind of learning, too. Make these people keep you honest, especially about the following point.
  • It’s ok to fail, but it’s not ok to not know when you have failed. Usually through denial and self delusion. It’s shocking how often this happens. Think about your past — how many months does it usually take you to recognize a failure? A failure can be as small as that you’re not talking to somebody in the way that they want to be talked to, or that you’re not asking the right questions of somebody more experienced than you. Sometimes people never realize these are actually failures because we attribute the fault to the other party.
  • Success is achieved by people who deeply understand reality, not those who choose to ignore it. As a corollary to the above point. What’s interesting is how few people really deeply understand reality.
  • Embed humility in your mindset. Always be asking yourself “what can I learn from this person?” Focus on that rather than every person’s inevitable shortcomings. Also, kindness is egalitarian — everybody deserves it.
  • Take a few minutes each day and jot down three takeaways. To help you synthesize each day. And only three to force you to prioritize.
  • Possibly most importantly, do not get efficient at the wrong thing. Progress in the wrong direction is worse than no progress because it deceives you into thinking you’re making progress. Our environments most significantly affect this. If you don’t want to get better at politicking, don’t be in a highly political company. If you don’t want to get better at responding to email, don’t prioritize your day around getting to inbox zero (guilty). Focus what little time and energy you to the things you want to get better at. Efficiency is not created equal. And you will definitely lose what you don’t practice.

How has the last year been?

you’re learning fast enough if when you look back to a year ago and you think, “I was so f***ing stupid”