Why Read Old?

There is “gold in them hills.”

In Silicon Valley, there is talk of a mystical 10x engineer. It is said one of them is worth 100 regular engineers.

I am realizing that the same thing with the best material I’ve read over the last year.

A great Paris Review interview that profiles Maya Angelou can turn a cold day hot. The Tao Te Ching is eighty pages of philosophical grace. An essay from James Baldwin on race takes me to the past while connecting me to the present, and that is something I can’t find in a Facebook post.

So then we land on a new question.

Why not spend more time exploring the great originals instead of seeking new retreads?

From my latest Medium Essay – Why Did I Delete My Twitter? 80,000 Tweets Gone.

Find the answer there, and much more.

Find Conflict

It’s ok to get into tense situations

No one likes the person who is always fighting.

Unfortunately, as a response, many of us don’t ever find conflict at all. We suffer for this.

Our ideas need to find their way in the world. If we try to avoid the tension that we find by being vulnerable, we miss an opportunity and suffer.

Instead of finding the tension in the right place, we find it within ourselves.

Then we end up with destructive self-talk.

Find the conflict and put that energy where it belongs.


We Aren’t Rational

Robots are rational

When we discuss things, we tell ourselves “we’re rational, and the other side isn’t.”

The truth is, we aren’t either. We are humans. We have other things to consider.

Robots, however, are entirely rational.

They are:

  • Tasteless
  • Senseless
  • Unfeeling
  • Fearless
  • Courageless
  • Indecisive
  • Contextless

No. That isn’t the human experience at all.

Let’s celebrate that.

The “Sound Smart” Trap

Don’t “Sound Smart” when it matters

This whole month has revolved around Jeopardy Knowledge.

I don’t think Jeopardy Knowledge is a “bad” thing.

Much like a hammer or a piece of paper, it is a tool capable of many things. It’s the consequence of the device, both subconscious and conscious, that interest me.

One of the traps of Jeopardy Knowledge is the trap of “sounding smart.” The consequence of this, both consciously and subconsciously, is that you lose your edge.

Sometimes, the person who “sounds dumb” gets the most context out of the moment. “sounding smart” sacrifices growth in the name of fitting in.

The problem is, when a crisis occurs, no one cares about people fitting in. They want the prepared. They need people on edge.

The edge is where you achieve the freedom to exercise who you are.

Precision vs Accuracy

Don’t confuse one for the other

For many, these seem to be the same words. However, physics has a clear definition for both.

Precision is the grouping or closeness of your choice.

i.e. A bunch of arrows hitting the same place. Think of a bunch of arrows.

Accuracy is how close your choice is to the value.

i.e. Hitting the target as specified. Think of the bullseye.

They are mutually exclusive.

The trouble comes when we lead; sometimes we confuse one for the other.

If one thing “works” out of five, we were accurate, not precise.

If five things were in the same ballpark but were none of them “worked,” we could have been precise.

It is impossible always to be accurate and precise because we aren’t robots. We also must recognize that because we aren’t robots, it is our duty to understand when we aren’t, and communicate it.

To gain trust consistently, you have to recognize the difference and act on it.

Disorder is Here. Get Used to It.

Disorder is here to stay. That is forever

Human beings are complex creatures.

With complexity comes disorder.

We, as humans, like “simple.” The truth is, though, things are never the way they are “supposed to be” for too long. It has always been this way.

  • The idea of a “job” as we know it is only 200 years old.
  • “Car culture” has been only  around for 75 years.
  • Venture Capital (VC) has operated as it does now for just 40 years.

The last two items on that list mean there is someone in your family that is still alive who didn’t have a car growing up, or thinks it’s crazy to raise money without going to the bank.

Humanity is always changing.

Don’t get left behind, because later, there will be jet packs.

Don’t Get Arrogant with Taste.

Bad taste is ignorance, not difference

Don’t confuse bad taste with “taste” you don’t like.

That’s arrogance. It has no place in a work style conducive to leadership.

Ignorance is a lack of knowledge

  • For example, if I worked for a company that wanted to launch a content strategy, and they didn’t know what WordPress was, that’s ignorance.

Difference comes from worldview

  • If that company wanted to use Drupal and hated WordPress, then that’s a difference.

Instead of seeing it in my way, I now have a challenge.  As a changemaker, it’s now my job to understand why they want Drupal.

Don’t look at it as bad taste. It isn’t; it’s a learning opportunity.

People take different paths, like  it says in the Diff’rent Strokes theme song:

“What might be right for you may not be right for some”

The difference between two styles creates art.