Last week's piece in TSR was about intersubjectivity and Mustafa Kemal's building of modern Turkey. It was popular; I got more reader replies than I've gotten in a couple months.
A terrific long-time TSR reader wrote in and asked,
Curious to hear when you began understanding intersubjectivity, which objective stuff you took care of first, and which intersubjective paradigms you stripped away.
When I first thought about intersubjectivity (although I didn't have a word for it), I tried to manipulate my reality through perspective a lot, and for the past two years learned to mellow myself out and take care of objective things, and be pragmatic. So curious to hear what those things were for you."
My answer --
Laozi (Taoteching) and Wittgenstein (Tractatus, but read summaries instead of the book directly) was what led me there.
Wittgenstein said -- basically, simplifying and getting it a little wrong -- that anything that can't be expressed in terms of picture-based words should be deleted and unspoken, because it's not truthful.
It thus strips away concepts even like "hope" and "fear" and gets closer to descriptions of behavior (which can be seen/observed). Instead of describing someone as "fearful", you just describe their behavior and actions, which are either true or untrue. Contrast also "he's a reliable person" vs "the actions he says he's going to do, he then performs" -- behavior, not state. I'm not always perfect on it, but it makes you smarter.
I'm really big on that last concept: behavior, not state.
Describing yourself in terms of state might lead to saying something like: "I'm a messy person"
Whereas, the behaviors might be: "I haven't cleaned my room in three weeks, lately in the morning I don't check my calendar right away and sometimes fail to go to an early appointment, and sometimes I turn in assignments for class past the deadline the professor set."
Describing yourself in terms of a state -- "I'm loyal" or "I'm reliable" can be useful shorthand, but it risks building yourself a prison.
Hmm. That sounds more melodramatic than it should, and I'm not hyper-vigilant about this myself, but one of the standard tools in my toolbox is just deleting everything state-based and analyzing in terms of straight behaviors top to bottom. It strips emotion and nonsense out of the way. If you want better results, you change the underlying behaviors and mechanics.
It's a little hard to do at first, especially if you're sensitive[*] naturally, but it's totally liberating [*] once you get it.
[*] I fail to avoid using anti-Wittgensteinian words even when I'm trying to. "Sensitive" is a state obviously, and what is this theoretical "liberation"? Alas, language is a mix of laziness and brutality.
PS: Sorry if you got ten million emails from the blog a few days ago; the software went a little haywire. Thanks for your readership.
Perhaps I'm tipping my hand a little too much since we're still taking applications for GiveGetWin Summer Camp... nevertheless, I think the following could be really useful for young recent graduates applying for jobs, or really, anyone applying for anything.
Before you describe yourself as "passionate," strongly consider describing yourself as "dedicated" instead.
You see, if you told someone that you were dedicated to Chess and played 20 hours per week, studied classic games and puzzles for 5 hours per week, and was competing in tournaments at least once a month... then you wouldn't need to say you're passionate.
If you wanted to ensure people really understood how much you enjoyed Chess, you could say "I love Chess" in addition to all of the above... but really, it wouldn't be necessary. We'd get it!
Now here's the thing: if you feel like you can't honestly describe yourself as dedicated to a profession, hobby, or cause... that supposedly you care a lot about... then maybe that's something that you should introspect on?
What's the worst word in the English language?
I don't mean the least pleasant word (genocide?), or the silliest sounding (squiggle?), or the longest and most complicated to pronounce (German has English beat in those, anyways).
No, I mean, what word is the least suitable for doing its own job in the language?
I figure, it's gotta be a verb we use commonly that we don't have any substitutes for. If you've got a crummy noun, it's easy to mash a couple other nouns together and maybe throw in an adjective to find a fixer. So if you think "net worth" is a dumb concept, you can easily amend it to "liquid net worth" or "cash" or "wealth" or whatever you want, however you want to define it. It's easy to create replacements for flawed nouns.
It's gotta be a verb.
I smoked tobacco from age 15 to age 24.
I was never a heavy smoker, but I felt stupendously cool in my teens cutting class and hanging out at a cafe playing Chess, having coffee or chai tea, and rolling loose-leaf tobacco into hand-rolled cigarettes, or, cash permitting, Marlborough Reds.
Despite it being incredibly stupid with hindsight, I remember it being a pretty good time.
One of the other kids I played Chess with went on to become an International Master in Chess (right below Grandmaster) and went on to study at Harvard. He smoked, too, though I'm pretty sure he quit after only a couple years of teenage rebelliousness.
WHAT ARE OPERATIONS?
My definition of Operations, which I think is sound, is "the coordination of tactics over time."
It starts, actually, with philosophy -- implicit or explicit.
Philosophy: What's important and worth working towards, on the highest levels? What's worth living for?
So you decide, let's say, that "beauty" is important to you. You want to live in a beautiful world, philosophically speaking.
Progression: Yours free on Amazon
Hello blog reader!
Obviously, most of my writing these days happens at thestrategicreview.net -- but on the off chance you're not subscribed there, I wanted to let you know that Progression is out today, and is free for 72 hours.
On the night of 4th May 2016, I was departing on the night train from Athens to Thessaloniki at 11:55PM.
The night train was divided into “cabins” that most likely were originally designed to be sleeper cars, but had been converted to more “bus-like” seating designed to fit six people facing each other.
The seats were in close together, three facing forwards in the train’s direction, three people directly across from them facing backwards. It was a narrow space; an adult man’s knees would be almost touching the knees of the man in front of him in the space.
I was seated facing “backwards” – away from the train’s direction – by the window. Directly across from me was an Athenian student-scientist – doing the Greek equivalent of a Masters degree in chemistry and materials science at Thessaloniki’s main university.
Before we get started, a couple announcements --
The first Ultraworking Work Weekend was a huge success.
We're having another one on 14 May and 15 May.
You can read more about the concept here. Starts at Noon Eastern Time on Saturday and Sunday 14/15 May. $140 to join if you're not currently a member at Ultraworking. Includes two 1-on-1 consulting calls and a 3 month membership to the Adherence League. You can sign up at this link.
If you're curious about Ultraworking, we've also fleshed out the concept of what we're trying to do more -- you can see it at the Ultraworking website.
Oh my goodness, I'm so excited to finally announce this publicly.
My good friend and oft-collaborator Kai Zau started building a new company, Ultraworking, back in December of last year.
With Ultraworking, we're looking to fill a gap in the lives of people who are highly driven, highly analytical, achievement-oriented.
We're making technology, community, and content for our type of people.
This is perhaps the most challenging balancing act when you're looking to do more.
Let's say you're tracking your productivity on important stuff, you're doing your weekly review, and you realize that when you're in a loud environment, you get less work done.
So you realize that. Maybe you never realized it before, but now you realize it's true.
And you notice it keeps holding true, even when you try to concentrate through it.
This puts you at a very tricky crossroads.