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Skepticism is a virtue. It requires a willingness to question conventional wisdom, and the guts to accept something after you discover that it’s actually true.
Denialism, on the other hand, is a willful rejection of reality. It’s safe and easy, and unproductive. Because there’s no room to change your mind.
To be a generous skeptic, we need to state in advance specifically what it would take for us to engage with the proposed insight, and then do so after our standards are met.
There are habits, assets and learnings that seem too expensive right now. And so we simply stick with our status quo.
When we take the time to itemize the carrying benefits and write them down, understanding the accumulated benefits over time, they’re harder to overlook.
When we seek to make change, our instinct is to start pushing. But shifting to pull can create efficiencies that can’t be matched by mass promotion.
People always address now problems before they work on later problems.
All problems are short-term problems if we tell ourselves the right story. But we usually don’t, because we discount the future significantly. A grilled cheese sandwich today is more important than two grilled cheese sandwiches next week. Unless we tell ourselves a present and urgent story about what it feels like to ignore the future.
Sometimes, we choose to use the urgent crisis as fuel. We set up our lives around creating these deadlines, reminding ourselves that if we cross that line, we’re dead.
And then we allow the world to do it to us. To create urgencies simply to take our attention and focus.
Productivity is a measure of the value of what we ship in the time we’ve got to invest. It’s not measured in drama.
It’s possible to do great work without putting everything in jeopardy.
The strategy of the smallest viable audience doesn’t let you off the hook–it does the opposite. Instead, you have to choose your customers–who’s it for and what’s it for. And when you’ve identified them, the opportunity/requirement is to create so much delight and connection that they choose to spread the word to like-minded peers.
Specificity is the way. It has nothing to do with absolute scale and everything to do with being really clear about what hook you want to be on and setting a standard for producing work that people connect to and are changed by.
Great stories succeed because they are able to capture the imagination of large or important audiences.
A great story is true. Not necessarily because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic.
Great stories make a promise. The promise needs to be bold and audacious.
Great stories are trusted.
Great stories are subtle.
Great stories happen fast. First impressions are far more powerful than we give them credit for.
Great stories don’t always need eight-page color brochures or a face-to-face meeting.
Great stories don’t appeal to logic, but they often appeal to our senses.
Great stories are rarely aimed at everyone.
Great stories don’t contradict themselves.
Most of all, great stories agree with our world view. The best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.
Get smarter. Hurry. Learn something new and difficult and valuable. Learn it today and continue learning it tomorrow.
Solve interesting problems.
That would be you.
Even if you’re not self-employed, your boss is you. You manage your career, your day, your responses. You manage how you sell your services and your education and the way you talk to yourself.
Odds are, you’re doing it poorly.
If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much of your time as you do, they’d fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under.
Think about how we manage ourselves.
Deniability–“They decided, created, commanded or blocked. Not my fault.”
Helplessness–“My boss won’t let me.”
Contempt–“They don’t pay me enough to put up with the likes of these customers.”
Fear–“It’s good enough, it’s not worth the risk, people will talk, this might not work…”
• Situational awareness
• Filtering information
• Clarity of goals
• Good taste
• Empathy and compassion for others
• The ability to make decisions that further your goals
Smart is a choice, and smart is a skill.
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A good heuristic to determine what is worth your time and what is not.