Wow. We've had over 10,000 visitors in the last 24 hours. It started with "How do I write so much, you ask? Well, glad you asked -" hitting the front page of Hacker News, but then there's been a steady stream of tweets and blog referrals. It's been crazy, and it's still going. After it settles down I'll do an analysis post on the traffic, comments, emails I've gotten, etc.
This leaves me scratching my head - hmm, I now have a lot of new visitors and readers (hi, welcome, glad you're onboard). And like I said in "How do I write so much?", I don't think someone can exactly control the quality of their output. You give your best, but you're not always firing at your highest level.
So I'm cheating, and I'm producing a best-of here. I took the best posts on here, and grouped them in a way so you can find exactly what you're looking for. I'd also like to invite you to comment on which you like, make suggestions, ask questions - I read every comment. Alright, here we go -
Want to get more done?The Evolution of My Time/Habit/Life Tracking (probably my best post on getting more done)The Joys of Public AccountabilityMore About Intek – Knowing a Skill vs. Living a SkillSome General Life GoalsGuest Post: On Being On-Track With Obsessive TasksWhy Isn’t My Book Done?Fill Up Your Dead TimeNew Word: intekPositive Sum Games Don’t Require Natural TalentQuitting Spectator SportsBecoming Prolific
My Philosophy:Me? I’m a strategistI think greatness is something you do, not something you areGuest Post: Greatness and HumilityBecoming a Liberal and Magnificent TipperWhy Build? Because I Like HumanityProducing is a Million Times Better Than ConsumingLuck Doesn’t ExistRule an Empire, Fistful of RiceBad Stuff That’s Happened to You = Expensive Lessons You’ve Already Paid ForIf luck doesn’t exist, then should we give way to fatalism?Cowboy ScienceWe All Get 24 Hours…Watching the LightningObserving the PainA Lot of Victory is Just Walking Around
You'll see a theme in history - armies that train for "worst case scenario" eventually kick the hell out of armies they don't. Command and control based armies, that only fight well in formation, tend to do really well until their ranks get broken. Then they get slaughtered.
If you look at George Washington or Napoleon Bonaparte, their forces knew how to fight out of formation. That's why they were able to win important battles against larger, more well-equipped forces. They stirred up a bunch of chaos because their forces were able to handle chaos better than the enemy.
I think if you want to do creative endeavors like writing, painting, whatever - you need to learn to fight out of formation. By that, I mean you need to learn how to do it without having "formal expert tone" or being highly polished. Ideally, you can communicate well without necessarily obeying grammar and punctuation. After all, the point of writing is to communicate - the language is supposed to serve you, you're not supposed to serve it.
It takes a lot longer to get into formation if you're out of it than to just fight slightly wild and crazy. Of course, you should learn discipline and how to fight in formation, and should be able to do well in that role. It might even be your bread and butter. But if you're editing every memo you send, every blog post you write, every rallying talk or speech you give - then you're burning a lot of time.
Yes, fighting in formation produces better results much of the time. But sometimes ranks get broken, and then you're screwed if it's the only way you know. I think it's better to learn to fight out of formation before you ever need to. The quality of out-of-formation output is going to be lower at first than in-formation output. You need to learn how to deal with a chaotic messy environment. It doesn't have to be the only way you do things; in fact, sometimes you ought to use proper grammar and punctuation. But you also should be able to handle not doing it, just throwing things together with commas and dashes, slapping some rough thoughts down, and figuring it'll turn out okay. As long as what you're saying is clear enough, you don't have to bow to formality.
A few of my friends - three friends, to be exact - mentioned to me that I write a heck of a lot on here and they're impressed. I have convinced the ultra-smart Sami Baqai to start blogging, and he just got the holy-shit-this-is-hard-I'm-overwhelmed feeling. Ah, yes, I have been there Sami. Perhaps I can share some thoughts.
First and foremost, I am a huge devotee of the Equal-Odds Rule. As far as I know, I'm the only person talking about it outside of academia. This Amazon review covers it pretty well:
The equal-odds rule says that the average publication of any particular scientist does not have any statistically different chance of having more of an impact than any other scientist's average publication. In other words, those scientists who create publications with the most impact, also create publications with the least impact, and when great publications that make a huge impact are created, it is just a result of "trying" enough times. This is an indication that chance plays a larger role in scientific creativity than previously theorized.
So I read that, and I'm like - whoa. You know Neo in the Matrix? Whoa.
If you want to make excellent stuff, you need to make a lot of stuff.
Judd Weiss over at Hustle Bear has awarded his 2010 Man of the Year - Peter Schiff.
I never get tired of this video:
I love how people are laughing at him and calling him wrong, calling him crazy, calling him Mr. Doom and Gloom... I've seen that video like five times now, it doesn't get old. His tenacity is amazing - he knows the fundamentals and doesn't waver.
I updated My Time/Habit/Life Tracking about three weeks ago. In it, I added a "Challenges" section:
——————————————- CHALLENGES: Did I start the day in my planner instead of online? Did I only check email when I was ready to write back immediately? Did I clear my active to do list before any screwing around? Did I avoid getting into arguments with idiots online? Did I only check a site once, then done with it? Did I prioritize books/good learning instead of mindless surfing? Did I avoid sugary food? ——————————————-
Note one in particular - "Did I avoid getting into arguments with idiots online?"
This can be hard to do if you're on a discussion site. But now, I think I've got a rule that covers when to discuss and get into it with people, and when not to.
The rule - no arguing with peasants.
I finished the Lone Wolf and Cub series, which was excellent. It's 28 books, a tale of a fallen samurai out on a quest for vengeance. Very philosophically deep and powerful. The whole series is very, very good, though I feel it dragged on a little bit at the end. There's an amazing duel between a great marksman and Itto, and then then Itto hijacks a ship to Edo (modern day Tokyo). After that, the series kind of meanders around - it could've ended in 2-3 books after that, but instead it went much longer, introducing a new antagonist and plotlines, fleshing out the backstory of the primary antagonist... it seemed just unnecessary, which is why I had a hard time getting through the last five books after enjoying the first 20 so much.
With that said, it's one of my favorite stories and my favorite comic of all time now. Well, calling it a "comic" doesn't do it justice - it's beautifully drawn, with lots of great philosophy and deep points. You definitely want to read at least the first three books. I wrote about this in Rule an Empire, a Fistful of Rice, with excerpts from the comic and discussion on the philosophy. If you're curious about the series, go read that post right now - I think you'll enjoy it, it's been a favorite around here.
I finished "The Ultimate Sales Machine" by Chet Holmes. Wow, that was a great read. Brilliant. Highly recommended, probably the best business book I've read since The E-Myth by Michael Gerber.
I listened to "The Greatest Salesman in the World" on audio - a very nice book, quite moving. It has some basic lessons for sales and life in the form of a narrative back in Biblical times. The audio was recorded by its author, Og Mandino, some 20 years after the book came out, so he's in his 50's or so. Really lovely, thoughtful piece, with good lessons. I really enjoyed it. His voice is nice to listen to too - it's very different from professional vocalists who are more steadfast, this one feels more like your grandfather is telling you a story.
If you asked me what I do, I'd probably give you a nondescript answer and get on to more interesting topics. Fact is, I "do" a lot of different things. This whole "What do you do?" question is a relic from an earlier era, before it was possible to "do" 30 different things. I am not salaried, so I work on my professional, personal, family, and global objectives each day. A little business, a little reading, a little history, a little art, a little self-discipline, a little philosophy, a little technology, a lot of different things.
But if you had to nail me down to three words, I'd say, "I'm a strategist." Nine words? "I'm a strategist. I figure out how to win." 15 words? “I’m a strategist. I figure out what is winning, and then how to get there.”
The first part of strategy is answering the question, "What is winning? What are even working towards? What are our highest level objectives, and why do we have them?" This is typically known as grand strategy.
Grand strategy is figuring out what the goals of an organization or a solo person ought to be. Arguably, this is the hardest part of strategy, because there is no right or wrong answer. It's subjective. And if you work on the wrong stuff, it doesn't matter how good of a job you do at it.
That's worth saying again. It doesn't matter how good of a job you do bringing your vision to reality if your vision was poorly chosen.
Has it only been a few months since we started? It feels like much longer, there's already a strong and vibrant and insightful group of people communicating here at SebastianMarshall.com - I'm really pleased and happy to have a good crew reading, commenting, emailing me, getting into good discussions and thinking.
A tricky thing for most people building a website is to nail down these questions - "Who is this website for? What do I want to do with this?"
It's easy for me. The site is for people like me who wish to do a lot of important things, to communicate, to think more clearly, to become prolific, to grow in strength and virtue. I create on the topics that are important to doing important things.
The people who this resonates with are always welcome to come visit and gain in strength and knowledge here, to build, to hopefully be inspired, to communicate, to do good things. The people who the site appeals to are its audience, and I won't be trying to persuade anyone to join us who these topics do not appeal to at the current stage in their life.
I've got a number of good comments I'd like to share. This was the second half of a comment from yesterday's post, me wondering about technology.
I've got a spreadsheet and a web browser open and I'm doing some research. I keep having to click back and forth. It'd be a lot better if I could take notes right on top of the web page, maybe have the spreadsheet transparent on top of the site I'm looking at.
1. Does anything like this currently exist? 2. If not, how hard would it be to do technologically?
I'd use it. A lot, actually.
My mind has been scrambled the last couple days. I don't know why, it came on very suddenly. I've made massive strides over the two weeks before - I accomplished about six months worth of work over two weeks. I felt on top of the world. I wasn't even very tired afterwards, I felt good, ready to go.
Then yesterday, just bzzt - nothing. Foggy, almost like confusion. Couldn't focus at all. Strange. I said, y'know what? I haven't had a day off in a while, I'm just going to take the day off. Went and sat at a cafe and listened to some audio for about four hours, walked around and saw the city, went and had a massage, and then sat and ate fruit. Spend like 10 hours in a row just thinking and relaxing, which is good, I don't take full days off very often. I had some good ideas when I was out at the cafe and took some extensive notes, so I got some production out of it too without even trying to.
Now, I wish I could say, "And then I was recharged, and today I was awesome!" But no, I woke up in a fog again. Damn this. I track my time and have some routines to keep me running well, but I was foggy despite it, unable to focus really. Suck, what is this?
I was working, but it was half-working. Now, half-working is a big problem in my opinion. Half-working tires you out as much or more than real full working, but you get about 5% as much stuff done. Yes, 5%. Good work requires something like focus. It doesn't necessarily require the highest levels of focus and flow (though that stuff is very good), but it requires working through the mentally difficult parts when they come up. The worst part about half-work is you cruise through the easy enough stuff, then stumble on a difficult part.
This is doubly bad, because when you come back to your work, you're staring the hardest part in the face. This sucks, you need to kind of regroup and double down to get re-started while staring a difficult or complex part of work in the face. But again, I was in that mental fog and so I start half-working on it, and then I wander off again. And I try to come back to the work, but then - bam, there's this hard problem staring me right in the face, that I already failed to conquer twice.