Choosing What to Work On…

I’m sharing an article from Vasili Shynkarenka. Check it out…

When our startup failed, I didn’t know what to do next.

I’ve always been busy running somewhere but never had the time to think hard about where I was heading.

Now I had all the time in the world. So I embarked on a journey to figure out what to work on.

I dug deep. Over the past six months, I devoured hundreds of books, articles, and videos on how to choose what to work on (or, more generally, what the f**k should I do with my life).

Most of them sucked. But the winners changed my life.

Instead of you wasting years searching for the best stuff, I’ve created this curriculum of the 13 essential reads to choosing what to work on.

These are less the 1% that made the cut. I’ve read virtually all of these twice or more….

Click here to read the article.

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Convenience Bends

bend.jpgThere is a technique in blacksmithing called the convenience bend. If you’re working on a piece, you might find you can’t get your hammer at a particular spot because another section of the piece is in the way. No problem. Just bend it out of the way, work on the section needed, and afterward bend it back. 

Usually, when bending the obstructing piece out of the way, you must deform the piece from what it is intended to be, and you might even undo some of the forging already done. That can be bothersome, especially when you tend to think linearly and you hate straying from the straight and forward path. To have your work at a place you want it to be, only to have to put it out of shape again, goes against the grain of most people’s thinking.

But it’s a good lesson for life though, isn’t it? How often do plans play out in a non-linear fashion? How often do you have to temporarily veer off the main course in order to stay with the main course in the long run? I find it’s quite often.

With blacksmithing, you know what you’re starting with, and you know what you want to end up with. However, you are not assembling a bunch of prefabricated parts — the work piece itself is changing shape and will go through several different manifestations before being complete. That is hard to do. What shape does this iron need to be now in order to get it to the shape it needs to be next? This challenge of sculpting is the reason the trade of blacksmithing has always been occupied by artists.

And such is life. You might know what you want, but you might not know how to get there.

Sometimes you just have to move forward blind, try new things, and make a few convenience bends.

 

life line

Be Judged by Reality (Not by Peers)

I recently finished reading two books by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Skin in the Game and Antifragile. Both are good books and I will have to go back to them to glean more of the ideas.

One idea Taleb puts forth often is how one should strive to be judged by reality rather than peers. Your peers will most likely not give you a realistic assessment of how you’re really doing. In fact, your peers will celebrate you, perhaps in the spirit of teamwork, without even knowing much about what you’re doing.

If you strive after the judgment of peers, you will tend to portray yourself in a way that generates positive reviews from your peers, even when those portrayals are less than true, which is most likely the case.

Reality will not treat you so kindly.

cannews

If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death. -Code of Hammurabi #229

Taleb’s book Skin in the Game focuses on taking real risk in your endeavours, and if you have no skin in the game, you will build nothing worthwhile.

Over-eager politicians are very happy to usher in their version of paradise but will never suffer the consequences when their ideas fail. Their peers celebrate them and so they are encouraged. However, when reality proves them wrong, only those with skin in the game will pay the price.

A builder who is put to death if his building fails definitely has skin in the game. There is huge risk so he must be careful to be sure his construction is sound and safe and strong. He will be held personally responsible for his actions, no one else. Reality is a harsh judge, but it is a true judge.

I live and work in Cambodia and whenever a non-Cambodian tells me they’re going to come and build some new ministry in Cambodia, I ask them two questions: 1) How long are you planning on staying in Cambodia? 2) Are you going to train up Cambodians? If the person answers, “Maybe about 5 years,” and, “I’m going to focus on English speaking expats first, in order to build a core team, then focus on Cambodians after,” then I won’t pay much attention to them, and I won’t invest much or any of my time and resources into them. They have little skin in the game. They may be able to create an appearance of doing much in their short time in Cambodia, especially when posting creative photos on Facebook and being judged by their peers. Reality, however, will dissolve all their efforts in the long run.

Related reading:

Facebook Illusions

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