This is my effort to provide a little signal by curating some of the best/most interesting posts I encountered during the month of June 2015. I recommend identifying and diving into 2-3 that resonate with you. Focus less on the dopamine rush you get from hopping from article to article and more on how you apply the wisdom in these posts to your own life.
Please use the comments section to recommend and share other posts you’ve recently found useful and/or your best posts of late.
The commentary below the link is typically the author’s own words that I’ve extracted as a key takeaway; however, sometimes I add my own commentary and make connections as well.
[Blog Posts/News Articles]:
“I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has been invented by committee. If you’re that rare engineer who’s an inventor and also an artist, I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone. You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team.” – Steve Wozniak
If this is true—if solitude is an important key to creativity—then we might all want to develop a taste for it. We’d want to teach our kids to work independently. We’d want to give employees plenty of privacy and autonomy. Yet increasingly we do just the opposite.
We need to create settings in which people are free to circulate in a shifting kaleidoscope of interactions, and to disappear into their private workspaces when they want to focus or simply be alone. It’s also vital to recognize that many people—especially introverts—need extra quiet and privacy in order to do their best work.
Forever starved for time we try to fit everything into each day. But as we know, managing time by itself is not the answer. The energy you bring to the table matters too.
“Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.”
- Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
- Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and with underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.
- To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do.
- Positive energy rituals—highly specific routines for managing energy— are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance.
Abandoning Perfection – Seth Godin
Perfect is the ideal defense mechanism, the work of Pressfield’s Resistance, the lizard brain giving you an out. Perfect lets you stall, ask more questions, do more reviews, dumb it down, safe it up and generally avoid doing anything that might fail (or anything important).
You’re not in the perfect business. Stop pretending that’s what the world wants from you.
Truly perfect is becoming friendly with your imperfections on the way to doing something remarkable.
It’s unreasonable to expect that you’ll develop amazing people when you don’t give them room to change, grow and fail.
And most of all, it’s unreasonable to think you’ll find great people if you’re spending the minimum amount of time (and money) necessary to find people who are merely good enough.
Building an extraordinary organization takes guts. The guts to trust the team, to treat them with respect and to go to ridiculous lengths to find, keep and nurture people who care enough to make a difference.
Forget Self-Esteem. Try Self-Compassion. – Eric Barker
Self-esteem is *not* the answer to everything. In fact, unlike self-compassion, it’s had some negative effects on the world — like an epidemic of narcissism.
Stop lying to yourself that you’re so awesome. Instead, focus on forgiving yourself when you’re not. Why? Research shows increasing self-compassion has all the benefits of self-esteem — but without the downsides.
Self-compassion is associated with significantly less anxiety and depression, as well as more happiness, optimism, and positive emotions. Research also shows self-compassion even makes you less likely to procrastinate. It also boosts happiness and reduces stress.Want a better love life? Self-compassion improves romantic relationships.
Warren Buffett Says to Invest as Much as You Can in This – Chris Winfield
“Invest as much in yourself as you can, you are your own biggest asset by far.”
You will never get a better return on life than when you truly invest in yourself.
- Mind: read a book (even if it’s just one page a day), journal, come up with ideas.
- Body: exercise (even if it’s just for 7 minutes), eat good food, drink plenty of water, get a good night’s sleep.
- Spirit: pray (it doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not) or just says ‘thanks’, be kind to people, write a gratitude list.
Don’t stop learning. Hang out with people smarter/better than you. Spend time getting to know yourself.
My wife and I have a food budget, a booze budget, a travel budget, a clothes budget and… you guessed it: a self development budget.
In Defense of Being Average – Mark Manson
There are over 7.2 billion people on this planet, and really only about 1,000 of those have major worldwide influence at any given time. That leaves the other 7,199,999,000 +/- of us to come to terms with the limited scope of our lives and the fact that the vast majority of what we do will likely not matter long after we’ve died.
Mark takes a detour from our “make more, buy more, f**k more” culture and argues for the merits of mediocrity, of being blasé boring and average. Keep in mind that mediocrity, as a goal, sucks. But mediocrity, as a result, is OK.
Our lives today are filled with information coming from the extremes of the bell curve, because in the media that’s what gets eyeballs and the eyeballs bring dollars. That’s it. Yet the vast majority of life continues to reside in the middle. And being “average” has become the new standard of failure.
This is the great irony about ambition (and the drive to be exceptional). If you wish to be smarter and more successful than everybody else, you will always feel like a failure. If you wish to be the most loved and most popular, then you will always feel alone. If you wish to be the most powerful and admired, then you will always feel weak and impotent.
The ticket to emotional health is through accepting the bland and mundane truths of life. The knowledge and acceptance of your own mundane existence will actually free you to accomplish what you truly wish to accomplish with no judgments and no lofty expectations.
Don’t Trust Anyone Under 500 – Dale Davidson
Like many of you, Dale tried all the nonsense self-help, pop psychology nonsense about travel blogging and being more happy. None of it worked.
So he shifted gears and launched The Ancient Wisdom Project in which he pursues personal growth by adopting practices from an ancient religion or philosophy that have persevered and still around today. Click the post above to read some of his most insightful things he learned. To get you started here are a couple of my favorite:
- Modern advice tells us to pursue accomplishments. // Ancient wisdom tells us to live virtuously.
- Modern advice tells us to enlarge the self. // Ancient wisdom tells us diminish the self for others.
- Modern advice encourages us to achieve work-life balance. // Ancient wisdom tells us to work hard at building a life.
Frankly Speaking: How I Found Purpose – Francesco Marconifa
Like Dale, Francesco was seeking inspiration, but most books on success were written by people who were at the apex of their careers, light-years removed from their early days of climbing the proverbial corporate ladder.
As a result, he drafted his own personal playbook of tested, real-time observations along the way. The resulting five-part publication is Frankly Speaking, bite-sized chapters with anecdotes, data and inspirational takeaways that tell it like it is. The link above is, Part 1: How he Found His Purpose. It’s a worthwhile read with some great, digestible takeaways.
How to be a Bad Leader – James Altucher
Every day, the people following a good leader should be able to call their parents and say, “I’m so happy. You won’t believe what I did/ learned/ met today.”
How do you become a good leaders?
- Every day, 1% improvement on yourself in the areas of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. This 1% compounds very very quickly.
- Every day, do something to help the people around you achieve greater competence, better relationships, and more freedom in their choices.
- Repeat this: help others, then give them full credit. Whether it’s your boss or your colleagues or your friends or family or whoever.
Leadership starts at the bottom, does these three things, and floats to the top.
Soldiers and Generals – Rohan Rajiv
The soldier works at all hours, chugs coffee, sacrifices sleep, and personal time. They can’t afford to rest because the cause would fall apart without them. Boundaries are a bad thing.
The general way is where you deal with the reality of war very differently. You take control of your work, actively set boundaries and expectations and learn to work with others (often soldiers) to do what needs to be done. Being a good general requires a degree of calm, mindfulness and focus.
So, why does this matter? I find it worth remembering that it is soldiers who die in battle. Generals don’t.
The Risky Business of Hiring Stars – Boris Groysberg, Ashish Nanda & Nitin Nohria (HBR)
“I painfully learned that hiring a star analyst resembles an organ transplant. You could get lucky, but success is rare.”
Companies cannot gain a competitive advantage by hiring stars from outside the business. Instead, they should focus on growing talent within the organization and do everything possible to retain the stars they create.
Most executives realize that a star’s appointment will hurt the morale of the people she will work with, but they underestimate the aftershocks. Their coworkers often become demotivated because they feel they must look outside the organization if they want to grow or to occupy leadership positions.
Most firms hire hardworking people, don’t do much to develop or retain them, but focus on retaining the high-level stars they bring in from outside. Others recruit smart people and develop some into stars, knowing that they may lose them to rivals. Only a few corporations recruit bright people, develop them into stars, and do everything possible to retain them. Which one do you think wins in the long run?
What Drives Success? – Amy Chua & Jeb Rubenfeld
It turns out that for all their diversity, the strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control.
It’s odd to think of people feeling simultaneously superior and insecure. Yet it’s precisely this unstable combination that generates drive: a chip on the shoulder, a goading need to prove oneself. Add impulse control — the ability to resist temptation — and the result is people who systematically sacrifice present gratification in pursuit of future attainment.
In isolation, each of these three qualities would be insufficient. Alone, a superiority complex is a recipe for complacency; mere insecurity could be crippling; impulse control can produce asceticism. Only in combination do these qualities generate drive the “longing to rise.”
The way to develop this package of qualities — not that it’s easy, or that everyone would want to — is through grit. It requires turning the ability to work hard, to persevere and to overcome adversity into a source of personal superiority. This kind of superiority complex isn’t ethnically or religiously exclusive. It’s the pride a person takes in his own strength of will.
Why it Pays to be a Jerk – Jerry Useem
Researchers have found that semi-obnoxious behavior not only can make a person seem more powerful, but can make them more powerful, period. The same goes for overconfidence. Act like you’re the smartest person in the room, a series of striking studies demonstrates, and you’ll up your chances of running the show.
As Grant himself puts it, “What I’ve become convinced of is that nice guys and gals really do finish last.” He believes that the most effective people are “disagreeable givers”—that is, people willing to use thorny behavior to further the well-being and success of others.
Some good takeaways: Take the initiative. Tweak a few rules. Don’t puncture the impression that you know what you’re doing. Let the other person fill the silence. Get comfortable with discomfort. Don’t privilege your own feelings. Be tough and humane, and challenge ideas, not the people who hold them.
Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ – Ramit Sethi
One of the better, more applicable ask me anything’s I’ve encountered. Ramit discusses the importance of mindset, being a top performer, why you should never call yourself lazy, what he wants his legacy to be and more.
Just a sharp, successful, Indian bro dispensing free and useful advice.
Apple’s Jony Ive on the Lessons He Learned From Steve Jobs – Vanity Fair
- Ive said Jobs taught him that focus means “not doing something that, with every bone in your body, you think is a phenomenal idea,” if it would prevent you from staying on task.
- To prioritize the product over emotions (i.e. doing great work is more important than being liked).
- “I don’t think we think about designing for a point in time. We hope that if it is truly simple, and we do a good job, then it will endure.”
Why Fasting Bolsters Brain Power – Mark Mattson
- Being overweight is a big problem in the United States. It’s not only a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers but emerging evidence suggests that it’s also a risk factor for age-related cognitive impairment and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.
- Fasting is good for the body. It will reduce inflammation. It will reduce oxidative stress in organ systems throughout the body. And one thing that happens when you fast that does not happen when you eat three meals a day is that your energy metabolism shifts so that you start burning fats. (This is why I intermittent fast a couple of days a week).
- Fasting, like vigorous exercise, is a challenge to your brain and your brain responds to that challenge of not having food by activating adaptive stress response pathways that help your brain cope with stress and risk resist disease (i.e you’re producing new nerve cells and forming new connections).
- In addition to the increasing neurotrophic factors and increasing the energy neuronal bioenergetics if you will, we have found that intermittent fasting will enhance the ability of your nerve cells to repair DNA. (i.e. Fasting *may* have the ability to heal some illnesses).
[Thoughts I’m Chewing On]:
- It is better to show people the way than to tell them how it should be done.
- The best way to be 10x the manager you are now is to help 5 of your employees get 2x better as a result of your guidance.
- Unfortunately, thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in our production-oriented culture.
“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about? Don’t confuse activity with results.” — Thoreau
“Influence is like a bank account. The more you use it, the less you have.” – Mike Roberts
“You can’t just ‘hustle’ your way bigger. Think/Strategize. This is what separates constantly hustling entrepreneurs…from true CEOs.” — Ramit Sethi
“For the first 10 years of your career, optimize for learning. Those that do command far more in $$$ and meaning later in life.” — Ramit Sethi
“We admire people who stumble when following the rules far more than those who succeed by rewriting them.” — Andy Greenwald
“Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you.” — Ali ibn abi Talib
If you made it this far and found this post valuable in any way, please let me know in the comments which of these reads caught your attention. Better yet, why don’t you share something you’ve read recently that you think I’d find interesting.