The Known Is Transformed by the Unknown

When we reach for new ideas, it results in a more nuanced relationship to the ideas we already have.

By grappling with unfamiliar concepts, we breathe new life into the familiar ones.

Learning not only begets new information. It begets new opportunities with old understandings we may have taken for granted.

What is education?

Whatever it is, it’s not just about regurgitating what we know. It’s the process of revitalizing what we know through our willingness to wrestle with the unknown.

Knowledge becomes increasingly useful to the degree that we seek out new opportunities for practical application and philosophical adventure.

If you think you already know enough, you’re probably right. The real question is “Do you know enough about the things you already know?”

The only way to find that answer is by exploring the possibilities that aren’t on your map.

When was the last time you tried to learn something that wasn’t easy to understand? That might be a great place to start.

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Am I a Writer? Are You? Does it Really Matter?

I have never troubled myself with a preoccupation over the following question: “Am I a writer?”

I simply write.

Sometimes I do a decent job. Sometimes I do it poorly. At ALL times, I do it in ways that could use some improvement. The most important thing to me, however, is that I do it at all.

For me, to write is to have something to say and to face the challenge of trying to get your point of view across.

I have something to say. I’m willing to face the challenges involved with saying it. So I choose to write.

Does that make me a writer? I have no clue. That’s other people’s question to answer. Some will affirm it. Others will deny it. But I will have nothing to do with those discussions.

My job is to do the work, writing or otherwise, that my heart compels me to do. My job is to keep finding ways to say “yes” to what makes me come alive.

It’s not my job to convince others that I deserve some kind of special label or title for what I do. And it’s not your job either.

Instead of defending your status as a writer, as a creative, as an entrepreneur, or as a whatever, why not use that time and energy to show up for the work your soul summons you to perform?

It’s far more important to do the work than it is to debate your status as someone who does that kind of work.

Actual participation in the creative process has way more value than any in-group label you could chase.

We all have interests and ideas that we want to explore, but sometimes we get stuck in an identity game of thinking “I need to be the kind of person who does X before giving myself permission to experiment with X.”

That’s a trap.

You don’t need to define yourself as someone who does interesting things as a prerequisite for doing the things that are interesting to you.

You don’t need to know all the answers about who you are before you can begin being true to what fascinates you in the present moment.

You can create BEFORE you settle the identity debate.

And here’s the paradoxical thing: you’ll come up with better ideas about who you really are by trying to create things than by trying to figure out if you’re the kind of person who has the right to create things.\

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Don’t Apply for “A Job”

Don’t apply for “a job.” That’s too general.

Apply for a specific opportunity to create a specific kind of value for a specific company.

If you apply for something, that’s actually what you’re doing anyway. So you might as well adopt a mindset that’s congruent with the task.

Apply for jobs with the same practical wisdom you’d display when looking for a date.

Don’t let yourself sound like a desperate person who’s looking for anything under the sun. Make the company feel like you’re uniquely interested in them.

You wouldn’t go on a date and say “Oh, I’m just here because I have no friends and you were available. There was nothing about you that made me intrigued. I’m just trying to get to know ANYONE who’s willing to listen.”

You would say “When I met you the other day and you started talking about how you loved the Chicago Bulls and THEN you dropped that Eminem reference in the SAME sentence, I was like ‘I GOTTA get to know this person right here.’”

Make your pitch personal.

People like it when you’re interested in them in particular.

They like it less when you’re just putting out a bunch of feelers.

The same is true for companies.

Don’t be spammy. Be specific.

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Two Economic Tragedies

Two economic tragedies:

1. Refusing to acknowledge any forms of value that don’t make money.

(Ie. “Friendships and hobbies are a waste of time unless they advance your career.”)

2. Resenting markets for not rewarding all the things we value in terms of money.

(Ie. “I enjoy laughing, listening to music, and hanging out at the beach. It’s unfair that nobody wants to give me a job or pay me money for those things.”)

#1 = a failure to understand why money matters and how it relates to the pursuit of meaning.

#2 = a failure to understand how value-creation works and why people choose to pay for things at all.

The way out:

Understand your why.

Respect other people’s.

Figure out how to use the former to serve the latter.

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Your Future Is Not a Debate

Instead of pressuring yourself to discover and defend new dogmas, focus on exploring and experimenting with new mental models.

Self-improvement is an adventure, not a religion.

There’s no need to meet a belief-requirement, recite a creed, or pledge lifelong allegiance to a particular school of philosophy in order to better yourself.

Just choose to do more of what works for you and less of what doesn’t.

It’s that simple.

Don’t debate your future. Create your future.

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