This week is the final week of the first version of the Lights Spreadsheet. I upgraded it, and will share the upgrades with you shortly after I hammer out the details.
This week, I want to talk about pragmatism and mantras.
First, pragmatism: I have a theory that I call The Theory of Rapid Repairs.
It goes like this:
A good reflective comment from Radhika on her habits/lights tracking --
Well, it's important to note we all start from different places. A person who has some "ADD-like" characteristics will have more ability to generate raw creativity, but have a harder time nailing consistency habits. If you're only tracking consistency via Lights (which is what it's primarily for), it'll miss the magnitude, frequency, and depth of creativity -- thus leading to the feeling that "jeez, I'm not doing as good as other people."
But -- ! You're not other people. The high-creative/high-inconsistency person benefits more from getting on structures like Lights, despite seeming to do more poorly objectively. Yet, being able to harness and channel that creativity leads to huge gains.
You know? The same could be said of someone who naturally has high levels of fatigue -- it might be harder to do fitness, stretching, etc -- but they also benefit more from incrementing up on it than someone who naturally has a ton of energy.
There's a certain tendency to look for magical solutions.
Maybe this has happened to you.
You tried to get a fitness program going, then fell off, and you're trying to restart now — what do you do?
Most people will want to look for a magical solution.
They'll find something. Maybe Starting Strength or Stronglifts, or maybe Crossfit, or high-intensity interval training, or whatever. And they'll get excited —
I just started Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War.
Boyd's father died of illness when he was young, and his mother was left to scratch and scrape by desperately with five kids. But Elsie Boyd — John's mother — led her household with such strength and will. I find myself admiring her so much reading this.
The youngest Boyd daughter, Ann, contracted polio, which often consigned the person suffering from it to the wheelchair. Overriding doctors, Elsie insisted her daughter would walk. From the book —
When Elsie brought Ann home, it was clear that neither the operations nor the treatment were of much benefit. Ann wore heavy braces on each leg and could walk only with the assistance of crutches.
Look, look, look. Hold up for a second. Hold on. Wait a moment.
Our ancestors survived for, like, thousands and thousands of years without advanced climate control, 24/7 news feeds, and 10 million modern conveniences.
You won't die if you're a little uncomfortable.
Not only that, but there's this really cool thing your body can do called "homeostasis" — see, your body doesn't want you to die from heat stroke or freeze to death, so if you're out in hot or cold weather regularly, you actually get tougher and more able to withstand it.
Likewise — get this — walking to places makes your legs stronger, running makes your lungs stronger, lifting makes your muscles stronger.
Reader Christopher Williams graciously sent this over. How intriguing:
"People prefer electric shocks to time alone with thoughts"
I think being able to deal with boredom effectively is probably the challenge for hard-driving knowledge workers who work alone and don't have deadlines.
Being able to sit there and be miserable until it passes is critical. Meditation helps with that, obviously.
Thanks Christopher. It's worth reading, that link.
This was a blast. I think there's lots of gold on here. You'll probably like it.
Link to the podcast: "Upgrade Your Operating System with Sebastian Marshall"
Share your comments there with Scott, and here with me too. Let me know what you liked and didn't, what you'd like to see more of going forwards, and so on. I'm going to be doing lots more podcasts and audio type stuff going forwards, so your feedback here helps a lot.
A few weeks ago, I went from sharing general information on the Lights Spreadsheet by week to going to a specific theme.
If you're tuning in new here, it's something I do to stay on track with habits. It works as a great way to both control behavior and a warning for when things are getting off-track. The colors offer a surprising motivational boost: the desire to get one's "green light" and avoid "getting a red light" seem to come universally to people who adopt it.
Now, for a decision I made when I first started:
There are no notes or narratives contained on my habit-tracking spreadsheet.
From Ducker’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship, emphasis added —
“…hamburger stands have been around in the United States since the nineteenth century; after World War II they sprang up on big-city street corners. But in the McDonald’s hamburger chain — one of the success stories of the last twenty-five years — management was always being applied to what had always been a hit-or-miss, mom-and-pop operation.
McDonald’s first designed the end product; then it redesigned the entire process for making it; then it redesigned or in many cases invented the tools so that every piece of meat, every fried potato would be identical, turned out in a precisely timed and fully automated process.
Finally, McDonald’s studied what “value” meant to the customer, defined it as as quality and predictability of product, speed of service, absolute cleanliness, and friendliness, then set standards for all of these, trained for them, and geared compensation to them.”
Interesting. Defining value explicitly, and then managing intensely for that.
The Dutch Golden Age, which lasted just three generations, was 400 years ago. And still, there after-tremors of it are being felt today. The buildings, the canals, the engineering, all the amazing works, the contents of Rijksmuseum — these are the fruits of those generations.
When asking myself why Amsterdam is such a beautiful and well-run city, that was where my explanation stopped. And indeed, this was my answer when asked why any place of grandeur and splendor is grand and splendid.
If a place goes through a Golden Age and accumulates great works of culture, engineering, building, puts up universities and establishes a great tradition of scholarship, and so on — there are permanent gains to that. You could call it capital accumulation.
This was my old explanation. A Golden Age or Imperial Period meant capital accumulation.
The Turks have changed my opinion on this.