Haven't gotten too much done the last few days. I was in Saigon for three months, so I had to pack up and finish errands there before moving on, and I haven't really gotten settled into Kuala Lumpur yet. I'm not really working on the big expansive projects I've got, I'm doing little odds and ends with my time, including giving in to a fair bit of distraction.
And then I realized - I'm actually doing okay, because I'm not engaging in addictive pastimes. Some pursuits, once sucked in, really grab you and hold you. Things with high levels of stimulation, learning curves that keep you in flow, and social elements are the worst. I've never played World of Warcraft, but I imagine that's why it's so addictive. Heck, I used to spend quite a lot of hours on Conquer Club each day, which is an online version of Risk. Part of it was, you'd get into team games, and if you dropped out you'd hose your team.
So the last few days, not much has really happened... but that's okay, I've been screwing off and wasting time on Hacker News, Quora, Less Wrong, and various blogs in my RSS Reader. That's not good, but it's not so terrible. It's easy to let those fall off and get back onto track.
This was part of a conscious shift I made a while ago - get off anything that's a consistent presence in my life that's not producing good things. It took a while, but I cleared out a lot of that stuff. How about you? Got any addictive pastimes? Could you, perhaps, swap them for less addictive pastimes? The latter paves the way to dropping out of pastimes that don't serve you in favor of activities that really do.
Act I: The Discovery of Conflict Invigoration
I recently discovered a phenomenon common among many highly successful people. I'm calling it "conflict invigoration" - this is a personality trait, a mixed blessing and curse. It's the kind of person who can move heaven and earth when inspired, but doesn't do as well when they aren't... and who is always invigorated by a fight.
I first noticed conflict invigoration among a number of the most successful people I knew personally. See, I don't think this is an entirely new observation, but a lot of the people that reach stratospheric levels of success are kind of deranged. You almost have to be, to keep going after you've "won" by every conceivable measure, to work yourself to the bone at the expense of your sanity and longevity and vitality, to neglect so many of the basic human needs and pleasures and comforts.
I saw this trait in lots of successful people, and then I started paying attention to biographies and histories. Indeed, many of the most expansive people in our generation and previous ones are conflict invigorated - they've perhaps always got a baseline of creativity and striving, but it really comes out when a fight breaks out.
"Competition is always a fantastic thing, and the computer industry is intensely competitive." - Bill Gates
First off, let me say this: BOOM! I got Tynan.com! YES!!
Okay. So back when I was in high school, I had the idea that maybe this internet thing was going to work out, and I might want to own Tynan.com. I put www.networksolutions.com into trusty old Internet Explorer 3.0, searched for tynan.com, saw that the domain was available, and then balked at the $70 price for two years.
I'll just get it later, I thought.