Thought bunnies

It’s not uncommon for me to think deeply about one thing only to completely forget about it the next moment, and try as I might, it’s not coming back any time soon.

Sometimes, I might be reading an article and part of my mind, upon being prompted by something, starts to wander off somewhere, branching my thoughts into a different path. Yet, part of my conscious self is still reading while another part is doing this.

Most of the time, the reading part wins and I’m left wondering what I was thinking about midway through the article. It’s not easy trying to retrieve those thoughts, they are very elusive and unless I can trigger back the original prompt, I’ll just have to wait it out until next time.

It’s a shame though, I’ve lost many great ideas this way. It’s like a giant field of rabbits, if I start chasing after one, I can’t chase the others. As the saying goes, he who chases two rabbits catches none. Or she. See what happened there? That rabbit quote suddenly prompted me to remember the seemingly random “or she” quote.

The epitome of my creativity seems to stem from this field of cute little bunnies and their rabbit holes. Usually, there’s either none in sight, or dozens hopping round, and I can never seem to just focus on one without chasing another. Or perhaps this is the mark of a distracted mind?

He who hesitates is lost. Or she. Be decisive and choose. I can’t have them all and by the way, I’m starting to take this whole “make your own decision” thing as a rule to live by. It’s a very promising topic and something I would very much like to write about soon.

 

Advertisements

Greed

When you overload the grid, taking more power than it can supply, it’s no surprise the whole thing just trips and you end up with no power.

In the story of the goose that laid the golden eggs, one golden egg per day is plenty. There’s no need to be greedy and kill the goose, you’ll just trip the system that gives you golden eggs.

Throughout history, humans have always been greedy, always wanting more more more. But more comes at a price, and also the risk to lose it all.

When things don’t go your way, ask yourself. Am I being too greedy? Am I trying to do too many things at once? Am I being realistic with my demands? Sometimes, you’ll find that the answer might just be a resounding yes.

Good enough

You can only say it’s good enough when it really is good enough. Most of the time, we say it’s good enough when it really isn’t and we do that so we can move on to other things.

That’s okay if it’s not important. If it’s just a random office memo, the front door Christmas decorations, or a simple project proposal for something minor, it’s okay to just be good enough. It has to be good enough, how else would you find time to tackle the really important stuff?

For the really important stuff, good enough is never good enough. It has to be perfect. No one wants a dentist that pulls out the correct tooth 99% of the time, the dentist has to pull out the correct tooth 100% of the time. No one wants a parachute that works 99% of the time and no one wants to hear the air traffic controller say “we did a good enough job, 99% of all plane take-offs and landings are free of accidents”.

No, it has to be 100% or as close to 100% as practically possible. A busy airport serves hundreds of thousands of take-offs and landings per day, a 1% accident rate would mean about a few thousand mishaps per day per airport. One failed parachute per hundred manufactured and no one trusts that brand ever again. One wrong tooth pulled out and everyone starts questioning the dentist’s basic competency.

The important stuff demands perfection, you might think that it doesn’t apply to you but think again. If you use the kitchen knife, you don’t want to be good enough and not cut your finger 99% of the time. If you drive a car, you don’t want to be good enough and not have an accident 99% of the time.

You might argue that perfectionism is a myth, that it can’t be attained. That is true, we are only human after all. But don’t fall for the trap of believing good enough to be a suitable goal.

Striving for good enough is a slippery slope, it’s all too easy for your definition of good enough to drop to the point where it means borderline acceptable. Good enough needs to be as close to perfection as practically possible, otherwise it’s never good enough.

The value of learning facts

Something struck me a while ago. In an age where everything is just a google search away, why would anyone bother memorizing any facts? This is basically the Google effect in action, why remember something when it is so readily available online?

But here’s a question for you. Sure a lot of stuff is readily available on the internet but how often have you looked something up online? And how confident are you that it is correct?

You may have heard that George Washington had wooden teeth, but have you ever checked that claim? The oatmeal made a nice, albeit NSFW with its language, comic strip on this. Go read it now, I’ll wait.

So how do you feel after reading it? Shocked? Interested? Enraged? Indifferent? I knew it all along?

With everything just a quick google search away, more and more people are quick to believe what they read, especially with facts that don’t trigger any emotional responses. And when it does trigger an emotional response, they fight it and try to dismiss the fact in any way possible because it doesn’t sit well with their beliefs.

We are also becoming more and more ignorant of the world. Without knowing any facts, without being able to see the world for what it is, how can we make any rational judgment? How can we have any proper opinion if we can’t even tell fact from fiction?

I’m not saying you should use rote memorization and cram as many facts as you can. The point I want to emphasize is to learn how to see. To be able to see a fact and check that it is true, to challenge the source and ensure its credibility, and to teach your mind how to evaluate ideas.

The value of learning facts is that it gives you a foundation to stand on. The more you learn, the better you are at discerning facts from fiction. Knowing something also helps when you’re trying to form an opinion or make a decision. As the saying goes, the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.

The worst way to make a decision is to ask the internet. You don’t know much so you actually don’t know what you don’t know. That’s a terrible state to be in if you want to make any decision and you will just be swayed by whatever you read in the internet.

It’s much better to learn how to develop your own opinions and learn how to decide for yourself. That is the value of learning facts, so you have a foundation to stand on and a reference to make your own judgments.

Let go your expectations

Ever noticed that when you do something for the fun of it, not caring about the outcome and all, it usually turns out surprisingly well, and when you do start caring about the outcome, it usually doesn’t turn out the way you want it to?

Most of the time, we don’t know what we’re doing or where we’re going. We’re just floating around in-between things, trying to get with the flow and go somewhere. But usually, we end up nowhere because we keep going back and forth.

When you do something for the fun of it, you’re going somewhere. You don’t know where but you’re going somewhere. You’re more open to the possibilities, more willing to try new things and just explore. You are guided by the joy of exploration and that usually leads to some unexpected treasures, treasures you wouldn’t even have known existed.

But the moment you start chasing something, an outcome you want or a specific treasure, that’s the moment you start losing your way. It’s all too easy to end up blindly following that one path and ignore all the side quests, treasures in plain sight, just because you were too focused on your path.

Sure you would also end up with some unexpected treasures, just that you might be disappointed because it’s not the treasure you were expecting, it’s not the outcome you want.

So let go, drop all expectations and just do it for the fun of it. Enjoy the journey and be surprised by where it takes you. It’s not the destination that matters but the journey itself. Don’t stay in one place too long, go somewhere. What’s your journey like?

Fountain pens

The cheaper you go, the cheaper your competition goes. What you’re doing is no longer an art, it’s mass production. Make more, increase efficiency, sell it cheaper, repeat. Truly a race to the bottom, it commoditizes what you’re offering and destroys the market value.

Eventually, the market saturates and everyone jumps ship. It’s over, the well is dry. There’s no more gold to be found, the market is dead. No one cares anymore, everyone just goes for the cheap generic brands, everyone except the enthusiasts.

Pens are one such example, everyone uses cheap disposable ballpoint pens. It’s only the enthusiasts who still cared to use fountain pens*, pens with craftsmanship, pens that write well and last, pens that don’t contribute as much to landfills.


*With my recent pen obsession, I’ve been thinking about getting a fountain pen for the past few days now and coincidentally, I just realized the cover picture of my blog contains a fountain pen.

Bouncing ideas

Apparently, an old friend of mine was in town so we went for drinks tonight. We chatted about random stuff, mostly catching up and talking about the future. Just a way to pass the evening and have some social entertainment really.

One thing led to another and we were soon bouncing ideas back and forth. Some practical, some a bit far-fetched and some outright crazy. The weird thing is, some of those ideas sounded great on paper and the math seems to work. But that’s it, nothing happened.

It’s already been three years since the thought came to mind, and it took me more than two years to finally start doing something. Three years ago, we would often talk over dinner and bounce ideas back and forth, but in the end, nothing ever happened and three years flew by just like that.

I wonder if the next three years would be similar. I hope not. I hope my drinking buddy would start taking action soon. All those reasons and excuses on why it can’t be done, it’s just self-justification to not do anything, to not take action and make progress.

There is so much value in starting and failing, the lessons and insights are invaluable and it makes it so much more likely to succeed when you get up and try again. Failure is nothing but the price you pay for a hard lesson, you just need to take plenty of lessons and find a way to make them cheap.