“The secret to concentration is elimination.”
– Howard G Hendricks
Here’s your midweek newsletter — a gentle nudge to make your week more interesting, thoughtful and productive.
Life and The Paradox of Choice
It’d be a dumb thing to not believe in the possibility of life today. With the internet comes the power to do and learn so much that the potential is, in effect, infinite. The problem starts with the paradox of choice.
In Barry Schwartz’s book that pretty much popularised the phrase, Barry says that eliminating options for consumers can reduce their anxiety and issues of not making a purchase among other ideas on economics, life and society. He says that there’s just so much; it gets difficult to choose from. That’s the Paradox of Choice.
Life in the internet age is the same. You can be anything. You can learn anything. It’s all on Youtube, and the courses and the tutorials are all right there. The only thing is to be able to start.
There’s another principle at work here, in my opinion: Buridan’s Ass. I shared this on last Sunday’s social media Weekly. Buridan’s Ass is a paradox about a hypothetical donkey who is equally hungry and thirsty, standing exactly between a bucket of water and a pile of hay. The principle argues that it would be unable to choose and die of both thirst and hunger.
While the paradox talks about the conception of free will or lack thereof, I think it also in some ways touches upon the choice paralysis. Since everything looks attractive in all the stories we read or hear about on the internet, each option is equally viable for a good life. Our goal is a good life. There enters the paradox.
How to choose what to do then? This is something I’m trying. I can’t vouch if it works, but it was a bit of advice by Jack Butcher from Visualize Value. Instead of spending six months trying to do two things together, try to split them into chunks of three months each. It’s as simple as that.
One thing at a time does not in any way mean you will continue with that one thing. If you are looking to explore, might as well dive deeper into it at once than staying above water for a long time.
If you’re following the newsletter, you might think this is in contradiction with last week’s 80% in all the things or 150% in one thing idea, but it’s an extension of it. In a way, you’re looking at 150% in micro activities to build a macro of 80% in everything.
I think that’s an interesting approach I’m willing to try for some time.
How To Make Sure No One Steals Your Ideas?
Seth Godin recently wrote about stolen ideas on his blog. In the concise post, he argues that ideas on the internet will always move and change and morph into different ideas continually. He suggests that while copying is a real threat, it is “holding ideas too tightly in fear of the ripples and echoes they’re going to cause” which is the real problem.
Shane Parrish of Farnam Street recently tweeted, “Everyone has an idea, what sets people apart is execution”. The tweet along with Seth’s blog post made me think that if someone steals an idea that was an original thought by me and makes something out of it that I wasn’t going to, well, they deserve it.
Ideas don’t work like commodities. They don’t decrease in strength. They increase as more people get to know about them. It is a fallacy to apply the same rules and principles we would to, say, our phones to our ideas.
So, how do you make sure no one steals your ideas?
Share them away. Talk about them. Discuss them openly and find flaws in them. Other people’s perspective can potentially help you embolden and fortify where you’re coming from. You don’t have to take all feedback, of course, but it helps to shine a light on the blind spots.
If you keep an idea to yourself and do nothing about it ever, you’re doing the world a gross injustice.
Reading List: As A Man Thinketh by James Allen
“As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.”
Originally published in 1903, this is the shortest, most succinct self-help book you’ll ever find. Almost every single line is quotable because it instantly gets to the point. I revisited this book recently, and therefore, decided to share it with you today.
Quick Update On Nudge › How
I gave a Primer On Effort, Direction And Goals last week on the blog. The concept of using paper balls to define those three concepts was inspired by time as a volunteer in a school for the underprivileged children in Telangana, Hyderabad, India. It was a simple exercise that we came up with on the fly because the curriculum we were handed was far beyond what the children could understand. It is a lesson that I still recall from time to time.
Besides that, if you didn’t notice, I have doubled down on what I’m calling Quick Nudges, for the lack of a better term. These are social media posts in the form of Tweets, posts on Facebook, Instagram stories et al. It’s mostly just me sharing tiny bits of principles that I consistently think about and use myself.
In any case, let me know if you like them and if they’re helping you in any way.
I hope this added some value to your week. Stay safe, stay focused, and I’ll talk to you next week.