Excellent commencement speech by Admiral William McRaven --
Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.
If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.
I keep track of my habits and the things I want to do each day on a "Lights Spreadsheet" that looks like the above.
There was a great comment by Adam last week,
"Your spreadsheet tracks target desirable behaviors, which is great, but it doesn't tell you what you did instead if you didn't meet your target..."
It's a very sharp comment -- he goes on to describe how he measures his time and other factors, and how it's useful to him.
From a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Education of a Bodybuilder" --
"Already, since my experiences at the lake, I was a strong believer in training partners. I needed someone not only to teach me but to inspire me. I trained better, harder, if I was around someone whose enthusiasm was as strong as mine and who would be impressed by my enthusiasm. That first winter, I trained with Karl Gerstl, the doctor who had helped me with my initial program. Aside from his usefulness as a translator, it was especially helpful to be around Karl. He knew everything about the body. He was serious and worked hard. We trained the same way, except our goals and our diets were different: I wanted to gain weight, to bulk up; Karl wanted to lose it. But Karl gave me the boost I needed.
There were certain days when something held me back and I didn't train as hard as on other days. That was inexplicable to me. Some days nothing could hold me back. Other days I'd be down. On the down days I couldn't handle anywhere near my normal amount of weight. It puzzled me. Karl and I discussed it. He had read a great deal of psychology (at fifteen I barely knew the word, though his argument made good sense and in fact helped lay the foundation for my later thinking). "It's not your body, Arnold. Your body can't change that much from one day to the next. It's in your mind. On some days your goals are just clearer. On the bad days you need someone to help get you going. It's like when you ride a bicycle behind a bus and get caught up in the slipstream. The wind sucks you along with it. You just need some prodding, some challenge."
Karl was right. Every month, I had at least a week when I didn't really want to train and I questioned myself: Why should I train hard if I don't feel like it? These were the days Karl pulled me out of it. He'd say, "Man, I feel great today! I want to do bench presses. Let's do twenty-five instead of twenty. How about a contest? Ten shillings to the one who does the most bench presses."
It worked perfectly. He forced me to get off my butt, to get my sluggish body moving. It became extremely important to have somebody standing behind me saying, "Let's do more, Arnold. Come on—another set, one more rep." And it was just as important for me to help somebody else. Watching him work out, encouraging him, somehow drove me on to do an even tougher set."
Is my wrist broken? No.
Am I sure?
I analyze damn near everything anyways, and this one is going to get more than normal amounts of analysis. I replay the scene in my head –
I can't believe I hadn't read The Education of a Bodybuilder before -- it's been semi-regularly recommended, but I just got around to it.
Four chapters in, I already picked up a half-dozen small implementable gems. Easy fast reading, and enjoyable too. Very recommended.
I just got another round of digitized comic books.
I quite like good comics -- I put the better comics right up there with great literature in terms of ability to evolve worldview.
But one thing stands out: oftentimes, heroes in comics will do tactically stupid things and get away with it because they're the good guys. It lets them get into trouble and have drama in the story, but the trouble almost never results in real consequences.
I think it's possible to accidentally think this way -- "Good wins, I'm on the side of good, and thus..."
It's why studying history is so valuable -- the side that wins is the side that wins. Sometimes that's the side you'd peg as good, sometimes not. Almost always, it's the side that had some mix of more advantages or made usage of them.
Very careful time tracking is valuable on many levels.
Recently I shifted from "how is the quality of how I'm spending my time?" style tracking (EX: categorize into "excellent", "good", etc) into "what activities am I spending my time on?"
It's always amazing and surprising to see how little time working is required to do a task, but often the time spent "at work" is much higher than that.
For instance, I finished an absolute beast of a bear of a task in 7.2 hours (425 minutes) of full-on work across two days. It seemed like the kind of thing that would take a long time, but it was only one full day of working.
But I notice if I'm not careful, I'll spend maybe 2-3 hours in a day doing the most important types of working and then spend a lot of time "at work" -- sometimes doing very valuable things, but by definition, almost never as valuable as the most valuable thing.
Cicero's final work is a masterpiece --
If you're used to reading books that spoon-read you rapidly without thinking, this might not do it for you. You need to read a paragraph slowly and analyze what lessons can be taken out of it, thinking about people you know that follow the precepts and those who don't, and getting takeaways from it.
But if you do that, I almost guarantee it'd give you new mental models and help identify some character flaws or operating errors you've got.
It's excellent, and a fast read. Knowledge of the history of end of the Roman Republic / start of the Empire helps give it context, but isn't necessary to get something out of the work.
We've all heard the expression "fat and happy" -- it's hard to imagine someone described as "fat and happy" getting a lot of things done.
But what is that, what do people mean by the phrase? Certainly there's some portly jovial people who achieve things, no?
"Fat and happy" seems to relate to being satisfied more than anything else.
We all need a measure of satisfaction. When you can't get no satisfaction, you're driven to fix, change, improve things.
There is a a path of neutral equanimity, an egoless path which transcends the needs for self-gratification.
Not a usual blog post, but I'm enjoying this drink so much that I have to recommend it.
Raw cocoa powder actually has no sugar in it -- surprising. It's pretty bitter.
It also has a chemical composition quite similar, but slightly different from caffeine. I read on other sites that the come-down from it is easier than caffeine -- I don't know, because I do both in a day.
But it is a stimulant, definitely, and it's delicious.
Stevia is a non-carbohydrate sweetener.