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Posts in Self-awareness
Your passion may be dangerous

Is it just careless copy or do we actually believe a rockstar engineer is passionate about a fast paced environment?

Maybe we should watch out for all the passion talk. “Follow your passion” might be the worst lie we’ve been told.

The illusion of a magic moment that points to a direction that makes all the sense in the world may be just that. An illusion. There may be people (like me) who get excited about a bunch of things, every once in a while, there may be something that seems like a passion. It may fade, and then come back. 

You may get a quick start, then you get stuck. But if you liked it at first, if it liked you, that may be it. That may be one if them. 

That may be it for now.

If you liked it at first, if it liked you, that may be it.

So no, don’t follow your passion. Follow opportunity. If one of those pops up, you may get some early wins. You keep at it. Even when it’s not glamorous, even if you can’t - or don’t want to tell your friends. Even if you don’t fit in. If you liked it at first, if it liked you, that may be it.

Your place to develop. Your place to flourish. Your place to build character and find meaning. Yes, there is meaning in tough work. As there is in meaning in struggle and strain.

The place for hard work, good work, and most of all bad work. 

If you want good people, passionate people, you can do as little as care about what you’re saying. Carelessness is worse than incompetence.

Attention + Empathy = Meaningful Interactions

I want to know everything. 

Everything you care about. The meat, not the surface. I have grown to dislike small talk. Something unuseful by design, an introduction without substance.

When you write an introduction to your book, a lead for your article, or record an introduction to your podcast, you (should) do it after the fact. After you make it, you can nitpick the substance or create suspense.

But what if we cared?

Oftentimes with small talk, it’s empty. Lack of interest and lack of substance. But what if we cared? What if we care about the people to start a conversation and maybe build a relationship? It surely doesn’t happen when we move on to business.

The ultimate conversation starter

“Tell me about yourself.”

A substitute for the small talk we dread. You know, the one about weather and traffic and busyness and how time flies by.

It’s great because it’s compassionate and non-judgmental. It doesn’t preconceive notions about the other person and leaves them free to form the story about themselves.

Maybe what she does for a living is not what she deems important. Maybe she’s not ready to tell you about her weekend. Maybe she wants a permission for your genuine attention.

And it costs nothing to try it out.

This is why your day is ruined

Since the beginning of humanity, the snap judgment was essential to our survival.

Fight or flight. Danger or safety. Black or white.

For some of us, this day and age has been the first time we don’t have to worry constantly about the imminent perpetrator.

Yet, most of the time, we do. We rush to judgment all the time because it’s instinctive.

Instinct > Emotion > Action

There is a choice though. As we mature we attain a skill. We don’t suppress our nature. We learn to separate feelings from the action.

Instinct > Emotion < Choice > Action

As we mature even further, we learn to control our emotions. We’re still people, thoughts manifest themselves instinctively. But we have a choice to label them as good or bad, practical or impractical, or rather, as thoughts. No more, no less.

The skill of maturity is seeing things for what they are in reality. Next time someone cuts you off in traffic or you yell at your kid because she did something, think about this:

Did they really ruin your day?

Or did you ruin it yourself?

It’s not about you

Words carry meaning. A paragraph is there for a reason.

Every word should be there for a reason. This should be here for a reason.

It’s easy to forget that words carry meaning. Words are everywhere. Sometimes we think ‘hey, we should put a paragraph of text here.’

Why? Because the page asks for it, everyone does it, or that’s how we’ve always done it.

We should have a name, a logo and a tagline. We should have a story. We should have a mission. We should have colors. We should have a design system. We should have a bio, a short one, a long one, and something in between. Just in case.

Everyone should know what we do. Really, please, read out all this crap we can do for you. Every single thing. Aren’t we great? We can do all those things. We’re the best. No, we’re better than the best. We’re the bestest.

If we did spell out what we do, we would be only that. We would be just another company trying to compete inside a category. And we would’ve successfully matched ourselves with the thousands of those who do what we do but cheaper. And you will never win if you sort by price.

What if we are something else.

What if we say how instead of what.

What if we say why.

What if we make things say things.

Don't think

Are you sitting down?

You’ve done done the majority of what it takes.

Writing is more about sitting down than having the right ideas and the right words to express them. Writing is more about sitting down than anything else.

When you sit down and write, something will come out of it. Words will step up to fight the blank page. Some of them good. Most of them bad. Most of it will be crap.

Same with ideas. Most of them are crap. That's the balance. 80 percent of production is crap so the remaining 20 can be something. In fact, the 80% percent of work is work that needs to happen to give birth to the minority good. This is practice.

I have this habit I fall back to when I lose momentum with writing.  When you think about writing, it makes you wonder about that genius idea that you'll write down when it comes. When it doesn't come, no idea is good enough. In fact, if you don't sit down, no idea is good enough.

The habit has a name. I gave it a name so I can quickly identify I'm doing it. I call it thinking in titles.

When I don't write regularly I start thinking in titles. I believe it's self explanatory.

What's wrong with titles? A title doesn't develop. A title is not a story. It's a summary. It's a single point. Usually, when I think about something and I come up with a title first, it's a dead end.

I don't want to preconceive notions for my work. It's not a hit job. I want to think it through along the way. It's a journey.

When I sit down to write, when I remember a story and type it up, it always develops. It becomes something else. Sometimes good. Most of the times bad. But see, bad is important.

I don't always remember a story, and I don't always sit down. What would I write about if I sat down? Those times, nothing gets made. No doors open.

Tonight, just sit down.