much can be learned by walking around and watching people, things, places. one of my first marketing ideas occured while killing time in Central Park.
a few more seeped into me last week on a trail in my small town. following is an attempt to tie them together.
you’ve just eaten a big, delicious meal. there’s more on the table in front of you but the thought of a single additional bite conjures images of a ruptured stomach.
a moment later the host returns from the kitchen with a cake. it’s your favorite, red velvet.
miraculously your stomach has yielded some vacancy.
my generation got their first flip phone in high school. without busying the home line we began to conspire with friends and crushes privately, from anywhere.
quickly a status game emerged. how many texts do you get per month? does your plan include rollover minutes?
rather than hire a personal trainer you search “how to be healthy.” collating a few articles you gather that 2500 daily calories with a 40-30-30% macro split is ideal for muscle growth and fat loss.
a few diligent weeks later you’ve actually gained weight, and feel more sluggish than before.
all together now
readers of this humble (see: non page ranking) blog want to rise each morning, slay their dragons, and fall fast asleep knowing they performed at a peak level.
some such readers, despite 100s of published protestations on how to go about these endeavors, cannot read between the lines of my ideas to achieve their desired results.
here are 3 hints.
there is always room for dessert;1 energy does not include rollover minutes;2 specific advice must be applied specifically.3
- one can manage several projects (increasing throughput) by strengthening their ‘stomach’ for context switching
- productive hours reset every morning; a non-genius, non trust funder, non nepo recipient cannot outpace 99% of others without outworking 99% of others
- the quality of instruction is not so much determined by who delivers it, but who receives it
one more example to be clear.
“work smarter not harder” applies only to very smart people. nobody is born smart, we must work hard to earn it. so you work hard, get smart, then tell (lazy) people to “work smarter not harder,” a clever (smart) way to suppress competition.
i hope this makes sense. take a walk this weekend to be sure.
“work smarter, not harder” — like most trite sayings that contain a kernel of truth– is misapplied. Here’s what it does NOT mean (but everyone wants to think it does): Apply a few hacks here and there, get that Ferrisian “minimum effective dose” and you can 80/20 your way through life. This is wrong.
It’s more instructive to invert the saying: throwing effort at something, without having any larger plan to see the forest for the trees or critical thinking to see what’s working, is stupid. THAT is correct– and it’s what we learn looking at people who slaved away at a job for 20-30 years only to be laid off and have their pension taken. Those people– many anyway– certainly worked hard. Ever try driving the 4am bus route in Detroit for a few decades? That’s not easy. Simple… but not easy. It’s correct to understand the problem with that.
There’s a difference between hard work (sounds painful, sounds masochistic) and diligent work. Diligent work carries with it a certain level of pain and I wouldn’t call it “fun” necessarily either. You have correctly delineated the difference between pleasure and happiness before, Ryan. Diligent work is often not “pleasurable”– though it can induce tremendous amounts of happiness.
I don’t know if the hard/diligent distinction is sufficient. Probably isn’t but I haven’t found a better one. Regardless, the pt is if work becomes “hard” in the sense its akin to martyrdom its not sustainable and almost certainly not rewarding– financially or otherwise– even if it were. Ask that bus driver.
That’s why “Just work harder” is the dumbest prescription in the book, its own con really, usually dangled in front of desperate employees like a carrot in terms of what lies *just* around the corner by way of a raise or promotion. Dumb. Don’t do that. Be focused. Be diligent. Suffer the invariable slings and arrows of that path– but don’t be a martyr. Turn back when you hit that spot.
As for being > than 99%… this is true… but also misapplied. Look around. Writing and completing a to-do list of meaningful activities– not just admin or errands– each day puts you in that top 1%. You don’t need to redline it every day, Tokyo Drift style. Just be consistent and keep your eyes open. That’s really enough for almost everyone.