Two new essays, and thoughts on deviating, assholeishness, and concentration.
RELAX LIKE YOU’RE ABOUT TO BE EXECUTED
A maxim from Stoicism:
Before doing anything, first imagine the worst possible outcome.
Second, voluntarily accept the possibility.
Third, expect it to happen.
Fourth, move on.
This usually gets the worst reactions from individuals evaluating Stoicism from the outside, but it’s my favorite part!
Now, let’s say you’re strung up and about to be executed by gunshot. Absolutely nothing you could do about it. What would you do?
Much of idea generation occurs in the recesses of the mind. How can creativity be optimized?
The three occasions of ideas:
While thinking about the problem for the first time;
(Randomly) while doing something unrelated;
While freshly reconsidering the problem.
While each occasion is limited, they can be maximized. For Occasion #1 there comes a point where, despite idea sex, nothing more comes to mind, and so we must turn to Occasions #2 and #3.
Occasion #2, while based on luck, can be enhanced by doing menial tasks after considering the problem.
When we think hard about something, and then work on something menial thereafter, the problem continues to mull over in the background of the mind— but if we overload our mind with something highly cognitive, this doesn’t occur.
I’ve been thinking more about Deviate, one of my favorite essay ideas I’ve published.
Any opportunity that is commonly done and known known to exist, anything hidden behind a systematized application form, anything that can be recommended (because you can’t recommend what you don’t know is possible)… all of these things seem to have rather average expected rewards. Though their average value may be rather high, their maximum value seems rather limited.
Meanwhile there is another class of opportunities—that which is uncertain, unpredictable, random, unrecommendable, hits-based, unheard of, requires creativity, and features the most interesting people—this is where the best opportunities seem to be. Opportunities that don’t have a ceiling.
After all, if there were some grand opportunity that everyone knew about, there would be such a competition for it that its net value would shrink to roughly the value of similar options. Efficient market hypothesis.
Thus it seems the best opportunities are specifically not in the class of things that are commonly known to exist—competition is for losers?
I have a friend that got an internship at a great organization by liking all of the founder’s tweets on Twitter. My friend liked the founder’s tweets for whatever weeks or months, and eventually the founder messaged him to ask who he was, and he ultimately offered an internship. My friend is currently the only intern at this not-small org. What’s the lesson there? It can’t be “like the tweets of important people until the message you”, this is unrecommendable—but maybe the strategy is “Chase interesting people and eschew commonly known opportunities”?
I’ll be thinking about this more.
Is the distinction between being kind and being an asshole anything more than a difference in perceived time horizons?
Maybe you are an asshole, but you know that it’s likely you’ll be interacting with this person for 20+ years, so the best strategy is still to be quite kind. Hm.
Most things are trivial, and few things are important. I think striving for concentration is a virtue. Have more that is important and useful, and less that isn’t.
A few days ago I redesigned my website’s home page to further reflect this. The front page now hosts a few essays that I think are the best, and everything else has been relegated to a less prominent page. How can I make the site even more concentrated?
Hit reply if this month’s Essays and Thoughts made you think. Do reach out if you have any thoughts on deviating, particularly.