11 of My Favorite Posts from July 2015

This is my effort to provide a little signal by curating some of the best/most interesting posts I encountered during the month of July 2015. I recommend identifying and diving into 2-3 that resonate with you. Focus less on the dopamine rush you get from hopping from article to article and more on how you apply the wisdom in these posts to your own life.

Please use the comments section to recommend and share other posts you’ve recently found useful and/or your best posts of late.

The commentary below the link is typically the author’s own words that I’ve extracted as a key takeaway; however, sometimes I add my own commentary and make connections as well.

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[Blog Posts/News Articles]:

What is Your Art? – Seth Godin

What is Your Art?

 

The most difficult part might be in choosing whether you want to make art at all, and committing to what it requires of you.

The Structure of Gratitude – David Brooks

Gratitude happens when some kindness exceeds expectations, when it is undeserved. Most people feel grateful some of the time — after someone saves you from a mistake or brings you food during an illness. But some people seem grateful dispositionally. They seem thankful practically all of the time.

People with dispositional gratitude take nothing for granted. They take a beginner’s thrill at a word of praise, at another’s good performance or at each sunny day. These people are present-minded and hyper-responsive. This kind of dispositional gratitude is worth dissecting because it induces a mentality that stands in counterbalance to the mainstream threads of our culture.

…the more a person is inclined to gratitude, the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or neurotic. (Source: The How of Happiness)

Gratitude is the key to happiness.

3 Happiness Principles – A Synthesis of 50+ Books – Rohan Rajiv

Speaking of happiness, Rohan does an excellent job synthesizing everything he’s learned about happiness from his readings (50+ relevant books) and experiments over the last few years.

He’s distilled his learnings into 3 principles:

  1. Optimize your energy over everything else.
  2. Use your willpower to build good habits like exercising, reading, keeping a journal/meditating, and building meaningful relationships with people you care about.
  3. Choose learner questions over judger questions (See also: Carol Dweck’s Fixed vs. Growth Mindset)

If there’s a ‘one last thing’ idea here, it is that all this data is useless if we don’t use it to make better decisions. The Latin root of decision translates into ‘to cut’ or ‘to kill’. So, learning to say no, and in the process, deciding what we effectively say ‘yes’ to may be the single most important skill that affects our happiness. The quality of our lives are directly proportional to the quality of our daily decisions. And (echoing Annie Dillard), as we live our days, so we live our lives.

10 Things More Valuable Than Money – James Altuchur

You only get the money, appreciate the money, keep the money, grow the money, when you always put the things more important than money first.

When we turn back into the midst of nothingness, all that is left are the tattoos we drew on the souls of others – children, friends, lovers, the stranger in the street who smiled at us. The art we created from our imaginations and not from our fears or angers.

Check out the infographic of all 10 things here.

The most important piece of advice for folks starting their careers – Jason Calacanis

The most importance piece of advice I can give folks starting out: Be great at an important skill. Refine your skills faster than your peers. Don’t wait your turn. Take your slot by working harder than everyone else and by refining your skills faster than everyone else.

There is always more knowledge to acquire, new skills to be mastered, yet most folks hoard their talents. This is a mistake. Give away everything you’ve learned, and take credit for doing so.

Don’t get involved with politics or be negative. The people who are killed, the deer, tend to huddle around the kitchen or go on cigarette breaks and bitch and complain about everyone and everything at the company. The tigers are too busy killing it to be bothered with such things.

Also read about how top performers take on projects, embrace chaos and define reality. Do this whether you’re at a start up or a big company. This stuff will separate you from the pack.

Turning Towards Failure – Shane Parrish

If failure is so ubiquitous you would think that it would be treated as a more natural phenomenon; not exactly something to celebrate but not something that should be hidden away either.

Our resistance to thinking about failure is especially curious in light of the fact that failure is so ubiquitous. ‘Failure is the distinguishing feature of corporate life,’ writes the economist Paul Ormerod, at the start of his book Why Most Things Fail, but in this sense corporate life is merely a microcosm of the whole of life. Evolution itself is driven by failure; we think of it as a matter of survival and adaptation, but it makes equal sense to think of it as a matter of not surviving and not adapting. Or perhaps more sense: of all the species that have ever existed, after all, fewer than 1 per cent of them survive today. The others failed. On an individual level, too, no matter how much success you may experience in life, your eventual story – no offence intended – will be one of failure. You bodily organs will fail, and you’ll die. (Source: The Antidote)

Regardless of your political disposition, hearing President Obama, in his interview on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, talk about learning from experience and overcoming fear is fascinating.

How to Deal With Rejection – Ramit Sethi

Here’s a counter-intuitive truth about rejection: it can be exciting. Most people don’t see it that way. They give up the moment they’re first rejected.

But that is exactly why dealing with rejection is so exciting. The moment you experience rejection and decide to push through anyway, you automatically separate yourself from 99% of the people out there who got rejected and chose to quit.

The Continuum of Doers
(Source: Jay Cross of DIY Degree)

Rejection is a merely an obstacle most people never even try to overcome.

Wanted in College Graduates: Tolerance for Ambiguity – Jeff Selingo

As artificial intelligence increasingly makes many jobs obsolete, success in the future will belong to those able to tolerate ambiguity in their work. Too many recent graduates, however, approach their job descriptions the way they did a syllabus in college—as a recipe for winning in a career. They want concrete, well-defined tasks, as if they were preparing for an exam in college.

The ability to tolerate ambiguity on the job requires people to think contextually, what I call the “connective tissue” that occupies the space in-between ideas. It is the “killer app” of today’s workplaces. We make these connections by following our curiosity and exploring and learning from peers.

Knowledge is not just what is in our brains, but is distributed throughout our networks. Learning happens by building and navigating those networks.

Here’s a great slide deck from LinkedIn’s Co-Founder, Reid Hoffman on Networked Intelligence.

6 Things to Know About How to Get Out of Funk Town – Leo Babauta

Sometimes you just aren’t motivated, maybe you’re feeling depressed (as opposed to full-blown clinical depression), maybe you just don’t have the energy to focus on work.

There are two main factors that lead to  finding yourself in Funk Town:

  1. You have low energy, from a lack of sleep, overwork, an illness, or overdoing the exercise (you know who you are).
  2. You get into a negative thinking spiral — one self-doubt leads to another, one bad thought about your life leads to another, until you no longer believe in yourself.

The gist: When you find yourself in Funk Town, get some rest and practice self compassion.

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[Interesting]:

Generation Overstimulation? Generation Y’s Addiction to Being Busy – Inga Ting

Generation Y’s addiction to having too much to do is driving the country towards a health crisis, according to new research into the lifestyles of 18 to 29-year-olds. Two thirds say they feel busy often or all the time, and three in five report having difficulty juggling all the elements of their lives.

Young people are aware that being busy has negative effects, the research shows. More than 80 per cent of 18 to 29-year olds say their physical health suffers from being too busy;  77 per cent say their social and personal time suffers; while 76 per cent say their emotional or mental state suffers, according to the Future Leader Index.

Notably, young people put work well ahead of their physical and mental health, social lives and personal time, the report found. Only 28 per cent of young people say their work suffers, despite work emerging as the third-most common source of stress, according to the research.

 

Why “Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel” Is The Worst Advice Of All Time – Chelsea Fagan

It’s aspirational porn, which serves the dual purpose of tantalizing the viewer with a life they cannot have, while making them feel like some sort of failure for not being able to have it.

Traveling for the sake of travel is not an achievement, nor is it guaranteed to make anyone a more cultured, nuanced person. Nothing about your ability or inability to travel means anything about you as a person.

Some people are simply saddled with more responsibilities and commitments, and less disposable income, whether from birth or not. And someone needing to stay at a job they may not love because they have a family to take care of, or college to pay for, or basic financial independence to achieve, does not mean that they don’t have the same desire to learn and grow as someone who travels. They simply do not have the same options, and are learning and growing in their own way, in the context of the life they have. They are learning what it means to work hard, to delay gratification, and to better yourself in slow, small ways. This may not be a backpacking trip around Eastern Europe, but it would be hard to argue that it builds any less character.

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[Thoughts I’m Chewing On]:

  • Become more fearless.
  • Most things aren’t as important as they seem in the moment. Will this matter a year from now? Five years?

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[Quotes]:

“Most people would rather sit around the table drinking and say I could have done X than give up those nights working on uncertain success.” – Shane Parrish

“Even when you feel you’ve lost everything, you haven’t lost what you learned from that experience.” –

“Effective networking is about patience & buildup, not the close. We celebrate audacity & courage instead of patience & value.” – Gary Vaynerchuck

“Ego is the fundamental problem in almost everyone’s life. It’s what deprives them of reality and truth and connection.” —

And finally… one of my favorite   anecdotes = How many sit ups do you do a day?

Ali: “I don’t know. I start counting when it starts hurting.”

 

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If you made it this far and found this post valuable in any way, please let me know in the comments which of these reads caught your attention. Better yet, why don’t you share something you’ve read recently that you think I’d find interesting.

If you like this post, you might also like my favorite reads from May or this curated list of 125+ of my favorite posts from 2014.