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My hope is that you use these emails to practice reflection.

My vision is a world where everyone can flourish. My mission is creating better conversations to spread understanding and compassion. Drop by https://constantine.name for my podcasts, writing and more.

~ Craig Constantine

Otherwise life feels empty

So I make it really simple. I’d say art is: “That which you have no choice but to do, because your soul demands it”.

Yes, it’s a fairly flawed definition. But it illustrates something that most people don’t get about artists or entrepreneurs. We do it, because if we don’t, life feels empty. The downside being, it doesn’t exactly come with an easy life.

~ Hugh MacLeod from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2018/05/10/do-it-because-your-soul-demands-it/

 
 — original post, tagged Creativity, Hugh MacLeod, Quotes



The only rule

What I learned from reading about writing…

~ “Dynomight” from, https://dynomight.net/2021/02/07/writing-as-a-craft/

This was a fun read and is mostly not the usual titles one sees suggested to read on writing. Among many things, I am a writer. I enjoy learning what appears—in others’ view—to be the right way to do things. The more I read, write, and read on writing, the more I’m convinced it’s just like any other mastery practice: The only rule is that there really are no real rules. Understand the best, accepted practices, (often labeled “rules” to get the newbies to start in the correct direction,) and then later move on to do whatever you please.

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 — original post, tagged Dynomight, Mastery, On Writing



If you change

You have two options. You can stay the same and protect the formula that gave you your initial success. They’re going to crucify you for staying the same. If you change, they’re going to crucify you for changing. But staying the same is boring. And change is interesting. So of the two options, I’d rather be crucified for changing.

~ Joni Mithcell

 
 — original post, tagged Changes and Results, Quotes, Self-acceptance



How to be productive

For me the pattern is now perfectly clear: the later I come at the task, the more time I’ll spend dancing around it before beginning in earnest. If I can make contact at an earlier hour, the urge to dance away from it is diminished, because I only have so many dance moves, and I’ll run out long before lunchtime.

~ David Cain from, https://www.raptitude.com/2021/12/9-things-i-learned-about-productivity-this-year/

About once per year I trot out a, HOLY CRAP!

This entire article is jammed full of insights, only one of which did I quote above. I’d say that I have learned those same things. But absolutely I have not learned them in a single year. Where’s my time machine? I need to get this to my 16-year-old self.

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 — original post, tagged David Cain, Discipline, Getting Things Done, Motivation



Skill

Skill is earned. It’s learned and practiced and hard-won. It’s insulting to call a professional talented. She’s skilled, first and foremost. Many people have talent, but only a few care enough to show up fully, to earn their skill. Skill is rarer than talent. Skill is earned. Skill is available to anyone who cares enough.

~ Seth Godin

 
 — original post, tagged Creativity, Quotes, Seth Godin



Three habits

The thing about really deep learning is it actually changes the structure of your brain. You are breaking an old pathway and creating a new neurological pathway. […] The three habits I’ve talked about—seeing in systems, taking multiple perspectives and asking different questions. Those are the natural habits of people who are farther along in this adult development path. If we can encourage ourselves to develop some of those patterns in ourselves, and we can be learning those things in ways that create new neural networks, then suddenly, we are living our way into these more advanced forms of development as we are just going about our daily lives.

~ Jennifer Garvey Berger from ~1h 13m into, The Mental Habits of Effective Leaders with; transcript edited for clarity; https://fs.blog/knowledge-project-podcast/jennifer-garvey-berger/

This episode from Shane Parrish’s, The Knowledge Project, podcast is excellent. About two-thirds of the way through the 90 minutes, they start going really deep into mental habits including specifics of how to change one’s mindset. The title of the episode could well be expanded to, …of Effective People.

I’ve been asked how it is that I do what I do, in podcast conversations. Here Berger and Parrish have explained it; Frankly, I better understand how I do it, now having listened to Berger. These three habits she points out are the magic that I use to power my conversations. I’ve always had the habit—my parents would say, “to a fault”—of asking good questions. About 35 years ago, when I became immersed in engineering, physics, computers, and the Internet I perfected the habit—here I would say, “to a fault”—of thinking in systems. And 10 years ago, as I began my journey rediscovering my personal movement, I realized the magnificent knowledge and experience available to me through others’ perspectives.

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 — original post, tagged Jennifer Garvey, Knowledge systems, Podcast episodes, Self-improvement, Shane Parrish



Scorn and censure

He that cometh to seek after knowledge with a mind to scorn and censure shall be sure to find matter for his humor, but none for his instruction.

~ Francis Bacon

 
 — original post, tagged Experience and learning, Francis Bacon, Quotes, Self-awareness



Broke my but

In my journey writing thousands of blog posts I’ve developed certain habits and a style. There have been a precious few points where I’ve intentionally made a significant change. I used to lead with the URL followed by the pull-quote, before changing to a more normal style of a quote with a following attribution. At one point I started adding slip addresses, and at another point I started reigning in my use of exclamation marks.

Recently I asked one of my mentors, Jesse, for feedback on some copy, and he made a comment about his personal rule to be very intentional about using the word, “but”. I didn’t think I was overusing it, but [oh no!] I often used it as a conjunction— I often used it as a way to connect two sentences to create a point and counter-point structure— Dammit, Jesse. Now I cannot unsee every “but” as a weasel word. You suck. Thanks for making me better.

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 — original post, tagged Jesse Danger, On Writing, Self-awareness



A sneer

A sneer is the weapon of the weak. Like other devil’s weapons, it is always cunningly ready to our hand, and there is more poison in the handle than in the point.

~ James Russell Lowell

 
 — original post, tagged James Russell Lowell, Quotes, Wisdom



Guiding principles

We rarely take the time to capture these guiding principles—even though recognizing them can help steer our actions, lead us to better decisions, and let us live more in alignment with who we are.

~ Chris Bailey from, https://alifeofproductivity.com/my-6-guiding-principles/

As with Bailey, I don’t think I have a clear set of guiding principles. I’m not sure if I’m okay with that. I am sure that I do not want to spiral off and spend my entire day—that’s what would surely happen to me if I begin—thinking about this. Instead, I read his list and spent some time letting my thinking happen spurred by his principles. Just as he described, I did have one principle spring immediately to mind: Curiosity. To be powered by curiosity. To be passionately curious. “Curioser and curioser”, said Alice.

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 — original post, tagged Chris Bailey, Principles, Thought and Philosophy



One day

One day I’ll be a filmmaker! One day I’ll be a famous artist! One day I’ll be a CEO! One day I’ll be a Creative Director! One day I’ll be a Venture Capitalist! And so forth.

Then you get to a certain age and you realize that the time for “One Day” is over. You’re either doing it, or you’re not. And if you’re not, a feeling of bitter disappointment starts hitting you deep into the marrow. Which explains why we all know so many people in their 30s and 40s having mid-life crisis’.

~ Hugh MacLeod

 
 — original post, tagged Goals, Hugh MacLeod, Quotes, Vision and Mission



Nonequilibrium?

I don’t know if you like parties. I don’t know if you’re organized or punctual. But I bet you don’t like rotting smells or long swims in freezing water. That is to say: People are different, but only in certain ways. What’s the difference?

~ “Dynomight” from, https://dynomight.net/better-personalities/

This article is about personality types, and it goes down the rabbit hole, (in a good way.) We’ve all learned about the theory of evolution, and there are countless examples where it’s used to explain—or at least to try to imagine—how some specific feature of ourselves came to be so.

Way down in that article he mentions in passing that we—us, the people—might not currently be in equilibrium with the current selection pressures. This was a startling thought for me. Evolution can be fast—a gene mutation leading to a significant change in one generation—but I’ve always had the impression that it is most often slow and steady. I’ve always imagined a big-ship with a small-rudder metaphor. And I’ve always had the impression that who we are genetically, (the big ship) has its rudder set for straight-ahead. I’ve imagined that at some point in our distant past, selection pressures made us who we are as a species, and that was then. This is now, when we’ve been on a stable, no-changes evolutionary course for all of recorded history.

What if, let’s say around the time of the invention of the transistor and computers, the social pressures changed drastically. That is to say: Suppose that introduced a major change in the rudder’s position? Suppose we, the big ship with the big pile of DNA-encoded information, are right in the middle of a slow course change. What if right now, important and noticeable features of our biology and psychology are being strongly differentially selected?

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 — original post, tagged Biology, Dynomight, Psychology, Society



Depth of commitment

If someone were to ask me to identify the single primary quality that an artist or entrepreneur should cultivate in himself, I would say depth of commitment. Because depth of commitment either embodies all the other virtues or establishes the fertile field in which they can take root and grow. Depth of commitment presupposes courage, passion, recklessness, capacity for self-discipline, and the ability to have fun. It implies perseverance.

~ Steven Pressfield from, https://stevenpressfield.com/2012/12/a-pro-recognizes-another-pro/

 
 — original post, tagged Creativity, Discipline, Quotes, Steven Pressfield



By which handle

It’s easy to think negative thoughts and to get stuck into a pattern with them. But forcing myself to take the time not only to think about something good, but write that thought down longhand was a kind of rewiring of my own opinions. It became easier to see that while there certainly was plenty to be upset about, there was also plenty to be thankful for. Epictetus said that every situation has two handles; which was I going to decide to hold onto? The anger, or the appreciation?

~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/gratitude-is-a-daily-practice/

The idea that there are two handles to every impression is a blazing reminder that impressions are neither inherently good nor bad. It is our own reasoned choice which adds that evaluation.

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 — original post, tagged Epictetus, Ryan Holiday, Stoicism




 
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Since August of 2011, I have spent countless hours and thousands of dollars keeping my personal blog going. It has remained free and ad-free and alive thanks to patronage from readers like you. I have no staff, no interns, no assistant—it's just one maniac with a keyboard. If this labor of love makes your life more livable in any way, please consider aiding said maniac's sustenance. You can subscribe at $50/year, subscribe at $5/month, or make a one-time contribution of any amount you like.

just the quotes?
My collection of ~1,000 quotes, (and growing,) figures prominently in these weekly emails. You can also get a daily, random quote by email from my Little Box of Quotes.






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