“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.“
— Joseph Campbell
Here’s your midweek newsletter — a gentle nudge to make your week more interesting, thoughtful and productive.
A Teacher in Middle School Defined How I Work
When I was in middle school, a teacher came up to my parents, and with all the good intentions said something that changed how I worked forever. I was a silent kid, to be honest. I didn’t talk much, and I had my close circle of friends. Then, one day, the teacher said, “He’s a silent creator; you never know what he’s up to until it’s out in the open.”
As much as that was a good compliment to get, I didn’t like it. Something about being the one creating silently felt nefarious or evil to me. Almost as if, it was an equivalent or a synonym to scheming. So, I started to announce each idea, project, or activity I had in mind. Everyone knew what I was up to, always. Even if it were something in a notebook, most people I knew would know exactly what I had in mind.
It is not too far from the current movement of entrepreneurs building in public. Countless social media posts ask people to work in silence, not to announce plans or to keep their ideas secret until they can put them out. I feel they are missing the point by a huge margin, though. To me, creating silently is why society is what it is today.
People are too private with their dreams. Rather, they should shout each idea out just in case a collaborator is listening. They should declare vague projects. There’s nothing wrong if you don’t follow through with most things either. Someone else might take that idea. It’s better than a potential idea sitting in a notebook and never being implemented.
If it helps make you feel better, although it shouldn’t, Da Vinci left all sorts of projects midway but is ultimately known for what is in his notebooks. People took his vision forward, and the little he created came from every little thing he started and left midway.
Life is experimentation. Creating silently may work if you’re trying to make money, but if you’re aiming for an interesting life filled with wealth—not just money—your best shot is to do it out loud, not silently.
Statistically Insignificant Bad Days
Last week, the #TryoutThursdays post on the social profiles featured the Year in Pixels method created by Passion Carnets. The idea is simple: a grid is made where each square is a day of the year, you colour each square based on the overall emotion for that day, that summarises your year.
Ever since I started doing the activity, I realised that the number of awful days I faced in a month or even a year were far fewer in number than the good or the average ones. It tipped the data/stats guy in me to realise an obvious observation.
If in a year of 365 days, the number of terrible days is just about 10, life is pretty good, all things considered. If I include every day that wasn’t good or great, I’d still fare at less than 50. Most of our unhappiness feels large in the stories we tell ourselves.
But if we look at life more honestly, especially considering our privilege such as me writing this email in a cafe, most of the bad days are statistically insignificant. They could even be accounted to and by the random noise in the data. Life is great, in summation. All it needs is a closer look.
P.S. Here’s an Explain-Like-Im-5 thread on Statistical Significance.
Reading List: 21 Lessons for 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
“One potential remedy for human stupidity is a dose of humility.“
It’s a no-brainer that you’ve heard of Harari already. I’m sure it’s also more than once or twice. If not, you have now. 21 Lessons is my favourite Harari book because it was the first one by him that I read. In what feels like a series of three books, Harari talks about all three: the past, the present and the future.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century is the book about the present. He talks about everything from politics to religion to history to the fallacies of contemporary human behaviour. This book is packed with insights, research and opinion. You’ll have to separate all three. It will be worth the effort, though.
I still revisit this book from time-to-time, and I think I’ll keep doing that. At least, until the century doesn’t change.
Quick Update On Nudge › How
Last week, I wrote a long piece about how each of us has an unsaid Preservation to Expenditure ratio at any given point of time in our lives. I combined that with Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey archetype to make a case that all of us start on one side of that ratio, go to the other side, and return to our own with the knowledge of the other intact.
Simply said, if you’re a spontaneous person, life will teach you to think things through, then you’ll go back to your spontaneity and learn to be more thoughtful when required. If you’re someone who tends to lie on the preservation side of things, the journey will be vice versa.
The idea is to make the journey when it demands to be made.
I hope this added some value to your week. Stay safe, stay inspired, and I’ll talk to you next week.