It just dawned on me - there's the "you can do anything, be anything, have anything" crowd - and obviously, that's not literally true. Could anyone play professional golf and win the Masters and perform as first chair violin at a prestigious symphony? Nah, probably not.
But I always think to myself, "I can do anything except the things I can't do yet, and I could learn those and do them if I want to." Most successful people I know think the same way.
Trying to reconcile that, I start thinking: You might need natural talent to win at a zero-sum game, or if you're competing for limited pieces of pie.
But you don't need natural talent for positive sum games. Positive sum games make multiple winners and expand the pie more than what the person eats.
NBA? On the court, it's a zero sum game. Every "W" in the win column comes at the expense of putting an "L" in another team's loss column. There's 5 starters, and if you want to start, you've got to take someone else's spot when they retire or get sent to the bench. Then there's a few more rotation spots, and a few more non-rotation bench spots. And that's pretty much it.
That means that hard work, hustle, struggle, discipline might not be enough to play NBA-level basketball. Because there's only so many spots.
But positive sum games don't require natural talent - by building more, accomplishing more, facilitating more in way that makes it possible for others to build more, accomplish more, and facilitate more - well, then you never run out of spots. To be an NBA player, you're knocking someone else off an NBA team. To get into an NBA rotation, you're taking someone else's minutes. To become an NBA starter, someone else is retiring or getting sent to the bench.
So maybe you can't be an NBA player. Because there's somebody that'll work just as hard as you but also might have been born taller, or put on denser muscle mass, or has a higher vertical jump even after you've trained like crazy on it.
But don't make the mistake that all of life is like this. Anyone could succeed teaching craftsmanship, because people learning more about art, engineering, machinery, and building stuff makes them willing, excited, and able to learn even more about art, engineering, machinery, and building stuff. There's a near infinite role for good craftsmanship and good teachers of craftsmanship in the world. There's a near infinite role for good business. For good science. For good art. It makes other things possible if you do a good enough job of it.
That doesn't make it easy. But if you hustle long and hard enough, you should be able to break through if you're playing a positive sum game.
Wow. We've had over 10,000 visitors in the last 24 hours. It started with "How do I write so much, you ask? Well, glad you asked -" hitting the front page of Hacker News, but then there's been a steady stream of tweets and blog referrals. It's been crazy, and it's still going. After it settles down I'll do an analysis post on the traffic, comments, emails I've gotten, etc.
This leaves me scratching my head - hmm, I now have a lot of new visitors and readers (hi, welcome, glad you're onboard). And like I said in "How do I write so much?", I don't think someone can exactly control the quality of their output. You give your best, but you're not always firing at your highest level.
So I'm cheating, and I'm producing a best-of here. I took the best posts on here, and grouped them in a way so you can find exactly what you're looking for. I'd also like to invite you to comment on which you like, make suggestions, ask questions - I read every comment. Alright, here we go -
Want to get more done?The Evolution of My Time/Habit/Life Tracking (probably my best post on getting more done)The Joys of Public AccountabilityMore About Intek – Knowing a Skill vs. Living a SkillSome General Life GoalsGuest Post: On Being On-Track With Obsessive TasksWhy Isn’t My Book Done?Fill Up Your Dead TimeNew Word: intekPositive Sum Games Don’t Require Natural TalentQuitting Spectator SportsBecoming Prolific
My Philosophy:Me? I’m a strategistI think greatness is something you do, not something you areGuest Post: Greatness and HumilityBecoming a Liberal and Magnificent TipperWhy Build? Because I Like HumanityProducing is a Million Times Better Than ConsumingLuck Doesn’t ExistRule an Empire, Fistful of RiceBad Stuff That’s Happened to You = Expensive Lessons You’ve Already Paid ForIf luck doesn’t exist, then should we give way to fatalism?Cowboy ScienceWe All Get 24 Hours…Watching the LightningObserving the PainA Lot of Victory is Just Walking Around
I'm thrilled that Tynan is coming to you with two things -- first, he's offering a breakthrough session through GiveGetWin. It's geared around doing more of the kind of excellent work you want to do, becoming more internally focused with your emotions, having a more enjoyable life, building great habits, and producing a lot of value in the process. There's five spots, so check it out now.
Second, we have this wonderful tour-de-force interview: it starts by covering how Tynan made the shift from unfocused to focused, how to derive internal enjoyment from things, useful actionable exercises you can do right now, Tynan's method and mindset for producing creative work consistently, how to set up great habits and an excellent mental and physical work environment, and how to make blogging work and similar endeavors work for you.
Total Focus; Total Enjoyment by Tynan, as told to Sebastian Marshall
When I turned 30 and I had a minor freak out… I thought, "I'll be 40 in not long, and then 50… there's things I want to do in my life, and they're not happening at this pace."
Before that, I had a general idea of things I wanted to do and have in my life, but I went about in an unstructured way. It was good in a lot of ways. It made be a broad process, but not much depth.