I thank you for your constant thoughts and insights. I have an RSS application on my phone and only one subscription, which is SebastianMarshall.com. I can go on Hacker News anytime during the week to cherry-pick great articles from the continuous feed of articles, but I know that when I see that red (1) next to the app, I am going to read something excellent that day. [Sebastian: this was one of the most awesome things I've read, wow, thanks] Thanks for taking my email. Here's my question..
Do you believe that only great work can be produced by a mind solely devoted to that work at any given time? If so, would you be able to suggest books or resources I could acquire to being mastering concentration/mind devotion?
I feel that sole devotion of the mind to a project could pretty much be an obvious factor of amazing results, but I find it hard to implement in my own life. I know I have the potential (as well as everyone else) to do amazing work. When I research amazing work done by people, the research yields the author to be devoted to their work to the point that it seems the author had NOTHING but the project on his/her mind as they work on it.
When I study for college classes, I feel I am not taking in as much as I should be because my mind wanders on occasion, which is probably due to the idea that I have no interest in this class but the grade at the end. I understand that there will need to be emotional changes as well as mental changes in order to reach the status of a walking curriculum-sponge. I would like to hear your thoughts and suggestions on how to master concentration so that it may be applied to everything in life. Thanks Sebastian.
Thanks a really nice email C, thanks.
Re: intense focus, I don't think so, no. If you look at Steve Jobs, he was always dabbling in this or that random beautiful thing. He was getting into motorcycles or learning calligraphy or whatever thing unrelated to technology and computing. But he implemented and got a hell of a lot of that into his products later, partially because of his general love of beauty, typography, industrial design, etc.
I think there's probably some value in limiting the bulk of your creative time to a particular domain - then you could be more systematic and all your learning could be built on itself. Certainly, you'd be hard pressed to achieve a high level of mastery simultaneously in singing, painting, international trade, linguistics, archaeology, physics, and sports.
Even then, you might be surprised which disciplines helped each other, but obviously being scattered in such a way means you won't get past the most basic rites of passage in any of those arts, so you can't get deeper
But there are some domains that work well together. I'm pretty well convinced that all my time spent learning and applying finance, governance, history, and business all work together. Perhaps my growth curve is slightly slower than someone who just keeps doubling down and tripling down on one of those domains, but I think the synergy/cross-pollination will eventually lead the highly focused and driven broad domain expert in general affairs over the hyper-specialist in actual real-world result (though the specialist will possibly be better at his specialty).
To answer your specific question - "I understand that there will need to be emotional changes as well as mental changes in order to reach the status of a walking curriculum-sponge" - I'm not sure you can fundamentally achieve mastery over a field you don't really like. There's something to be said for training by forcing yourself to get better at things you don't like for training reasons, but I don't think it's long term sustainable. You'd be much better off figuring out a way to hack the system, get your classes/credits/credentials as quickly as possible in the topics you don't find boring if you need them, and then get on to graduate studies if you're going into academia, or go into industry, or art, or whatever actually stimulates you.
Thanks for writing, cheers,
To be able to have the right concentration on things and to be able to control your emotions: 1. You need to have the right focus on different things.
2. You need to have the right technique on different tasks.
3. You need to have the right attitude towards different things.
Noone is perfect, but remember that we all have free will, we have a choice. Everyday we make choices that will move our lives in different directions. The questions are: What do you want and where do you want to go? When you know what you want then it´s all much easier. Noone knows what you want except you...
I red these things somewhere : 1. He is incredible because he thinks he is incredible./the illuminati
2. If you want to make big changes in your life you have to realize this: It´s up to you./My friend
3. If you repeat a lie long enough it will eventually become the truth./Adolf Hitler (People who pretend to be retarded always repeat lies in order to get what they want.)
To do things that you think are hard to concentrate on: This is a delicate topic. In my opnion anything could be done with the right mind-set. And if you do not have the right mind-set, you could be mind-controlled or hypnotized to do the right things that requires the right concentration, attention and effort(but this requires special and secret information). In order to acchieve the right mind-set all by yourself you need a strong will, training, challenges, a sense of duty and good habits. This usually starts at a very young age, maybe at five. For an adult to just jump in to the game may brake his psyche. Humans are by nature very weak emotionally. To be able to control your emotions you usually need to have experienced all these challenges over the years. And even if you are a very strong person, there is still a risk that something can brake you down, not totally, but maybe partially. So you have to watch your neck and always be careful.
I got this really, really amazing email from a reader. I get a lot of emails, but this one in particular was fantastic. Check out his recommendations in here as well -
We exchanged a bit of email last year, but I felt the urge to reach out to you again to just say "thanks". When I started reading your site last year, I was a completely different person than I am now. I was 300lbs, unhappy with my life, my work, and my achievements.
Since then, I've completely turned my life around.
Reading your blog has been (by far) the biggest influence in my life changes, and I'm extremely grateful for all of your writings. I really associate with your writing a lot--I feel like I've always had lots of ambition and purpose, but was never able to harness it to do what I wanted to. Your blog has really helped me understand a lot of critical things in personal development.
Question from a reader --
Off the bat I wanted to say you have a very useful website. Thank you for that.
I want to change my life for the better, and I have put effort into it, and still am. My problem is I take on to much at once, and with all that clutter and confusion I feel I am back where I started. I could make a list of 1,000 things I want to learn, and 100 habits I want to have. But when it comes down to it, if its not an external change [Habits like flossing I've built] then I lose track. Confidence, better control of fear, productivity, knowing what I want, are all things that don't seem to build.
I'm a bit off track. There's a lot I want to ask but I'll ask this.
Being a huge hip-hop fan, what I love is being able to portray your mind, feelings, and topics onto a page with words, and too, words that rhyme. What advice do you have to help me with doing this? I know you're not a rapper, but when I do write, I look back at disgust or thing 'There's no way that came out right'.