Your starting position has to be somewhat optimistic or you’ll talk yourself out of getting started. Believing in what you are about to do does not guarantee success, but a lack of belief can prevent it.
To run a company, you have to be comfortable making important, life-changing decisions at a speed that would astound the average person.
The person who focuses on one task and sees it through to completion—even if they work in a somewhat slow or outdated manner—beats the endless optimizer who jumps from tool to tool and always hopes a new piece of technology will help them finish what they start.
Your relationships will rarely be healthier than your self-esteem. If the time you spend alone is already enjoyable to some degree—that is, if you have a healthy internal monologue and generally feel good about yourself—then you will have a fairly high bar for the type of relationships you’ll enter. But if you’re unhappy with yourself, then you are more likely to put up with bad relationships because they may occasionally make you feel better than you do alone. If you want a great relationship, the first thing you want is to be comfortable with yourself.
For many years I’ve been in desperate search of taste. I think people wrongly assume that your taste is a birthright, that it will fall into your lap. I don’t think so. I think you have to run after it. That was what I was doing all those years when I was poring over books written by old Russian men instead of paying attention in class, picking cherry blossom petals off the ground by the handful and worrying them until they fell apart between thumb and index finger, talking to you instead of living my life, buying the wrong clothes and discarding them, screenshotting thousands of words of text. I was following my attention. I was letting myself get caught, and then I was tearing myself free.
A phrase that’s been showing up recently is, “no pressure.” It usually comes in a pitch letter of some sort, written by someone who isn’t in a position to exert any pressure.
So why say it?
It’s a bit like, “while supplies last.” And “to be honest…” which is perhaps the most self-negating of the three.
It’s throat-clearing, a word salad designed to somehow establish a connection or at least the appearance of empathy or clear thought.
Semiotics is the science of signs and symbols. A stop sign isn’t a stop sign unless it looks like a stop sign, and that song they sing on your birthday means something really different if people whisper it quietly.
It’s tempting to simply focus our attention on the text itself. That we should say what we mean and mean what we say. But messages merely begin with the text. The rhythm, presentation, source, and context deliver most of what we take away from a message.
Watching a video with the sound off communicates far more than we realize.
And one way to develop a style of writing is to skip the salad. Simply say what you mean.
Donna Tartt once said in an interview that if the writer’s not having fun the reader isn’t either. I think people make the best things when they love the process, when they willingly shoulder the inherent uncertainty and pain that comes with it. It’s almost like a form of prayer: you offer up what you can even though the reward is uncertain. You do it out of love.
When you’re doing something hard, focus on the fun part.
Many people make a subtle mistake, which is they emphasize how difficult it is to do something. They tell themselves writing is hard or running is hard or math is hard. And so on. The dominant thought in their mind is that this is hard to do.
And it is true these things (and many others in life) can be challenging.
Meanwhile, people who thrive in a given area are often emphasizing a completely different aspect of the experience. They are thinking about how it feels good to move their body rather than telling themselves exercise is hard. Or, perhaps, they aren’t really thinking much at all. They may slip into a trance during their run, a meditative rhythm.
But what they are almost certainly not doing is repeating a mental story about how hard it is to do the thing. Their dominant thought is about some element of the experience they enjoy. They are working hard, but with the fun part in mind.
For many years I’ve been in desperate search of taste. I think people wrongly assume that your taste is a birthright, that it will fall into your lap. I don’t think so. I think you have to run after it.