This is the second week of the daily habit targets set. Last time, it was called "Key Points: Week One" -- but it looks like the long-term name that's sticking is the "Lights Spreadsheet" (due to the color-coding "green lights" being highly motivating).
You'll note an upward trend in most categories. Largely this is due to an excellent environment -- Kai and I took a ship across the Atlantic for two weeks, from Miami to London, to create a good working environment. I used the internet in ports only... and it was magnificent.
(I'll perhaps write about it later. I didn't announce it beforehand except to a few people that might have needed me on very short notice, because I was curious to see how many people recognized I was away or felt inconvenienced. Answer: Not many.)
We've already talked about the worst day, analyzing 27 April in "Cascading Unpleasantness" -- no need to rehash it. It was unpleasant.
Observe a powerfully built man. Average height, but weighing as much as most people much taller. Broad shoulders, easily able to pack on muscle mass, easily able to put on a beer belly if he gets sloppy.
Heavily muscled and thick legs lends its way to a high capacity for endurance and a high pain tolerance; indeed. Such a built man, with his low center of gravity, would be good to strap a heavy pack across his back and trek it across a mountain.
But he could not jump high.
It's indisputable and inarguable that someone with a low center of gravity, high mass, relatively under-developed fast-twitch muscles, etc, etc -- will never be excellent at jumping.
This does not make this sort of man a less worthwhile man. Nor does it make him more worthwhile. It is simply a fact.
I assure you, the hardest part of leadership is not getting rejected.
Yes, you’ll have to call on people in elevated and lofty positions. Yes, sometimes they won’t call you back. Occasionally they’ll even — in the midst of being knee-deep in their own issues and generally terse — be rather unpleasant to interact with. You do get rejected, more or less harshly.
That’s not so bad.
Much harder is when you let someone down. When people believe in you, commit to you, and you can’t deliver final results — which, if you’re really pushing the envelope, is at least somewhat often — that hurts.
As a leader, people pour their energy, their cognition, their time which is the very lifeblood of existence — they pour all this into you and bet on you, and when you let them down…
“The distinction between safety and justice is often blurred, but it becomes clear when you are walking down a crowded city sidewalk, and an athletic young man grabs your pursue or briefcase. As he runs off into fast-moving traffic, justice requires that you chase the youth down to catch and arrest him. But as he zig-zags through traffic, cars barely missing him, safety requires you to break off the chase. It is unfair that he gets away unpunished, but it is more important that you come away unhurt. (To remind clients that my job is to help them be safer, I have a small sign on my desk that reads, Do not come here for justice.)”
From Gavin de Becker's "The Gift of Fear," on the topic of security -- but relevant in general to remember not mixing up your necessity for winning and protecting yourself with the desire to make others lose and avenge yourself at your own expense.
"Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes is an absolute landmark of a book.
He has the right mix of observations designed to get the mind going and prime a search space for evidence, and citing hard proven science, and comparing different points of view, and looking skeptical at conclusions accepted with poor evidence.
I don't know if his hypothesis is true about fat cells taking priority over nutrition in some cases (high carbohydrate diets and insulin resistance primarily) -- but if it is, it's a total game-changer. Obesity becomes, thus, less about willpower and character, and far more about people being nutrient-depleted and in a terrible state of mind and body despite eating over the caloric needs.
It's fascinating. It's amazing. It's exactly what a popular science book should be. It's more from the perspective of public health and science-in-general than a tactical manual -- there's not much in the way of tactics in it -- but it did change how I think about the brain, body, and hormones.
I feel a lot more sympathetic to overweight people. Much moreso. And it got some discussion kicked off in my head about various insulin sensitivity levels and diet tolerance different people have, genetics mixing with environment, etc.
This might sound silly or stupid, but it's true, so I'll go with it.
I've realized that, like many people, the abstract and intangible nature of long-term gains is less motivating than getting little badges, awards, checkmarks, and visual indications of progress.
This is why people write an item they just did on a to-do list to be able to cross it out right away.
Working with the new Daily Targets Spreadsheet, I find myself motivated to get "Green Lights" on it.
The spreadsheet I made tracking the key things I should do each day -- it's been really fantastic.
Here is a breakdown of a breakdown of habits --
Note that the 26th went reasonably well; no outright failures, and basically everything on track.
But buried in there, you'll see, is "Sleep Well" is only at half.
From Seneca's Letters --
1. I commend you and rejoice in the fact that you are persistent in your studies, and that, putting all else aside, you make it each day your endeavor to become a better man. I do not merely exhort you to keep at it; I actually beg you to do so. I warn you, however, not to act after the fashion of those who desire to be conspicuous rather than to improve, by doing things which will rouse comment as regards your dress or general way of living. 2. Repellent attire, unkempt hair, slovenly beard, open scorn of silver dishes, a couch on the bare earth, and any other perverted forms of self-display, are to be avoided. The mere name of philosophy, however quietly pursued, is an object of sufficient scorn; and what would happen if we should begin to separate ourselves from the customs of our fellow-men? Inwardly, we ought to be different in all respects, but our exterior should conform to society. 3. Do not wear too fine, nor yet too frowzy, a toga. One needs no silver plate, encrusted and embossed in solid gold; but we should not believe the lack of silver and gold to be proof of the simple life. Let us try to maintain a higher standard of life than that of the multitude, but not a contrary standard; otherwise, we shall frighten away and repel the very persons whom we are trying to improve. We also bring it about that they are unwilling to imitate us in anything, because they are afraid lest they might be compelled to imitate us in everything.
4. The first thing which philosophy undertakes to give is fellow-feeling with all men; in other words, sympathy and sociability. We part company with our promise if we are unlike other men. We must see to it that the means by which we wish to draw admiration be not absurd and odious. Our motto,as you know, is "Live according to Nature"; but it is quite contrary to nature to torture the body, to hate unlaboured elegance, to be dirty on purpose, to eat food that is not only plain, but disgusting and forbidding. 5. Just as it is a sign of luxury to seek out dainties, so it is madness to avoid that which is customary and can be purchased at no great price. Philosophy calls for plain living, but not for penance; and we may perfectly well be plain and neat at the same time. This is the mean of which I approve; our life should observe a happy medium between the ways of a sage and the ways of the world at large; all men should admire it, but they should understand it also.
As wood stove burns,Small enclosure fills with smokeCling to its acrid warmth;dare not venture into the cold
And yet — !The way out is throughWhen has it been otherwise?
Or march into the snowOut of hazy-warmthsDoes the winter pass?Or do you pass the winter?
The way out is throughWhen has it been otherwise?Chill air and bright eyesAs one’s blood gets hot again
I finished "Claudius the God" on audiobook a few days ago.
I felt -- and I almost feel sappy saying this -- almost a palpable sadness, like an old friend was going away that I wasn't going to see again.
I guess good books do that.
But more than that, Emperor Claudius was a real figure... yet, the lack of comprehensive records on his reign let Robert Graves write an account with a relatively free hand. He left you wondering if Claudius was really an idiot, or if he was an idiot who got himself straightened out after he came into power, or if he was really a remarkable genius and cloaked it in foolishness to survive all the purges and assassinations.
Of course, the real Claudius was probably not so noble as Graves's historical-fiction Claudius.