I was spurred to read Principles by Sebastian's recent post about internal documents (the Valve one was also pretty amazing). Here are my very rough notes from them--- maybe enough to spark an idea or two from someone who's read it already, or act as a preview to someone who hasn't. I've left personal stuff in just to show an example of what sort of questions are raised through reading.
I didn't really read the management part too carefully or take good notes on it, so this is all from the personal principles section.
** Bad opinions can be very costly, so be cautious making them.
** Consensus is often wrong.
** Have smartest people challenge your opinions to make them better / learn their thinking.
** Most failure is from not seeing reality for what it is. Makes sense.
** Truth leads to more rapid success.. be honest about strengths and weaknesses (take personal inventory)
Important universal principle: Have to push limits and receive pain to progress. Pain + Reflection = progress. Pretty good at this.
Face harsh realities. Okay at this.
Be good, don't look good. Okay at this.
Make decisions based on 2,3,4th order consequences. Good at this, could be better. Really great heuristic to keep in mind when making decisions.
Hold yourself accountable. Very good at this.
1. Have clear goals.
2. Identify and don't tolerate problems.
3. DIAGNOSE those problems.
4. Design plans that explicitly lay out tasks that will get you around your problems and on to your goals. (NEED MOST WORK HERE)
BIG CHANGE to my process-- do these discretely. Don't worry about higher or lower on the ladder. Makes sense.
Figure out which of these I'm good at, which I'm bad at, and compensate.
** Doing hard things to become successful is a lot easier in the long run than being unsuccessful.
How well do you know what you want most out of life? Pretty well.
Most important goals? SETT, Baby Momma, Change the world
Good at setting goals? 8/10
Confidence in that? High
Why should you be confident? Confident because I've spent lot of time making goals and stating them publicly.
2) An impediment to identifying problems is not wanting to face harsh realities. For example... with SETT some bloggers won't want to switch because we don't support themes yet. Important to be able to see the scale of problems.
** Finding problems is finding puzzles that, when solved, will get me closer to my goals. In that way, problems are valuable. Ignoring them doesn't make them go away.
- How good are you at perceiving problems? Okay
- How confident? Not at all... could be anywhere from 3-8 or so.
Be very precise when identifying problems. What is causing them? The more precise, the easier it is to solve them.
Important not to tolerate problems.
How much do I tolerate problems? Varies... usually not at all, but sometimes more, especially when it involves someone else.
How confident? Very
Why? Because I have a history of saying that certain things are unacceptable, and then following through.
1. I don't meet girls anymore. I also don't really care.
2. SETT's audience is limited to exclude people I'd really like for it to include.
3. Distraction sometimes
4. Spend too much time deciding what to eat for dinner and not diligent about making sure I have a stocked fridge.
5. Too many SETT bugs
6. Not good at vulnerability
3) Diagnosing Problems
Solving anything other than the root cause is totally inefficient, because you'll have to deal with it again.
Root causes are generally adjectives about me... proximate causes are verbs. For that reason, it's very important to look at oneself objectively. If you can't do that, you can't see the problem.
- How wiling are you to touch the nerve? Varies, really. I'd say in some case very bad, in some cases decent. Definitely not a strength, although there are times I've done a good job.
- Are you willing to get at root causes? Yes.
- Are you good at seeing patterns and finding the root cause? Not sure, really.
I think that I might have a decent aptitude for this, but that I rush through/skip the process so don't benefit from it.
4) Designing the plan
Most forward motion comes from moving past obstacles. Solutions should change how I do things to make sure the problems don't recur. There are many paths to success, so just find one. Create a story linking past/present/future that describes how the problem came about and how it will be fixed. Tasks come from this, but the story is just as important.
BIG mistake not planning. I make that mistake all the time.
- How well can you visualize? Very well
- How confident? Very
- Why? Because for some important things I come up with improbable specific plans and follow through with them.
5) Doing Tasks
- How good are you at pushing through? Very. 9/10
- Very confident
- Because it's all I do.
When the process is working, things at the goal end change infrequently, and task end change more frequently.
"What is true?" "What should be done about it?"
What's the biggest weakness I have? Maybe lack of planning?
Worst step? Not really sure... actually think I'm pretty good at doing all of them BUT I skip 3 and 4 all the time. Probably wish I was better at touching the nerve.
What do you want? What is true? What should I do about it?
No right to hold a critical opinion without speaking up about it
Don't say anything about a person you wouldn't say to them directly
The point of being radically honest isn't the first level consequences... it's the 2nd, 3rd, etc
Love mistakes and learn from them. Find weaknesses and address them. Don't be afraid of either.
"I don't meet girls anymore. I also don't really care."
Question from a reader -
Hi! Interested to hear your thoughts about this: where do you draw the line between impossible and huge-effort-possible goals?
First, I'll be honest. I don't have a perfect neat answer for this that's epiphany generating... I'm going to try to work through it on paper, and I appreciate feedback from everyone in the comments if you have related ideas.
Let's get started. First and foremost, I can't say this enough - study history! If you don't study history, you don't know what's possible. Period. You need to study history if you want to know what's possible.
Here's some good people to brush up on. Now, most people's reaction is, "I couldn't do that! He did so much!" But trace their steps, these men often came from humble origins and suffered much. Don't say "Wow." Ask, "How?" How did they do it?
NOTE: Work in this case means anything that is done for money, not necessarily explicitly for money, but done with money in mind, as a component, or as a tool in. Of course work has many definitions and I don't even completely agree with the one stated above, but I needed a word that would articulate what I wanted to represent without being verbose.
After spending the last few years reading just about every major hack-the-system, be productive, quirky blog out there that tells you to start your own business, or become location independent I've realized that a lot of them resonate with me, but aren't really what I want. Take for example Tynan. I love his blog, the fact he finds innovative, different, quirky ways to solve problems. The gear he picks is some of the most niche, and effective gear for getting the results he wants and fit very well into his ecosystem. He has cool stories and spends a lot of his time (especially as of late) becoming extremely productive and getting a lot done. But lately I've been noticing a trend in many bloggers focusing on creating things bigger than themselves, leaving a legacy, and so on and so forth. They work because they want to solve a problem in the world, or they want to leave something behind, or they want to create something greater than themselves. I have nothing against this personally, and maybe I am still too shortsighted to see the benefits of it, or maybe I'm missing something, but that isn't why I work.
Ultimately I've realized I work because I want to be able to afford not to work.
The truth is while I don't hate work, I hate not being able to afford not to work. Its funny cause, this very characteristic is what drives many, if not almost all top performers. Top athletes can't afford not to exercise and train, top programmers can't afford to spend long amounts of time not coding. Sometimes it isn't because of the money, many top athletes could very well stop training and exercising and be able to live very comfortable lives. Sometimes its that "I don't know what to do" factor. I mean if you think about it, if you spent years after years having the goal of becoming best or very good at X and you finally reached that goal, after expending vast amounts of time, energy and attention reaching it, it would be incredibly hard to separate your identity from it, and in some cases you would even feel guilty or have a sort of mid-life crisis giving it up, as happens to many top sports-stars.