Do Something.

Ship it, complete it, good enough, fake it, get it done, act as if, produce.

Do something.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to match your ideals. It doesn’t have to match anyone else’s ideals.

From one of my favorites, the Cult of Done manifesto, number 13: done is the engine of more.

Crafting, honing, perfecting, and improving all have their place. But getting stuck isn’t a place, so don’t find yourself there.

If the engine won’t start, get out and push. If the job isn’t working out, fight hard for a new one. If the idea won’t finish itself, start over or move on. If the paint sucks, pick a new color. If you’re not running enough, start walking faster.

Don’t be static just because your scared, hesitant, or unwilling to push forward.

Have good reasons for the things you do, or stop doing them. 

Always Produce

“Always produce” is also a heuristic for finding the work you love. If you subject yourself to that constraint, it will automatically push you away from things you think you’re supposed to work on, toward things you actually like. “Always produce” will discover your life’s work the way water, with the aid of gravity, finds the hole in your roof. – Paul Graham

I used some quotes from this same article a couple day ago, but this one really stuck out as a valuable lesson by itself. To clarify, a heuristic is a rule of thumb, or a practical method for finding a solution to a problem that can’t be easily diagnosed.

I often push myself to do things that I’m not convinced are the best for me. It’s sometimes a way to Act As If. Sometimes this backfires, and what I do burns me out. Sometimes it’s a wash. Sometimes I end up being productive.

Always pushing myself to produce, while frequently uncomfortable, usually benefits me in some way. At the absolute minimum, it makes me feel productive. Beyond that, it often helps me discover something new, form a new relationship or improve an existing one, write some good content, or maybe clarify my dreams. Always producing (which I never do all the time) makes me accountable to myself to have something to show for my efforts.

Ever write a nice long paper or article, or edit a great video/song, or create anything in a digital format and have it erased unexpectedly? That feeling you get is the feeling of having what you produced be washed away. All the work you put in just went down the crapper. But that’s how you know you did something productive. Chase that feeling. Temper it with health, don’t overextend. Don’t confuse being productive with always being busy. Downtime is absolutely vital.

I take “always produce” as meaning, don’t waste your time with busywork. If you’re going to work on something, make it something productive.

6 Lessons From Scrubs

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My wife and I just watched through the 8 seasons of Scrubs. I know there’s a 9th season, but I can’t really count it.

Scrubs is one of my all time favorite TV shows. I love the character development, the stories, the imagination, the development, the relationships, and the setting. I specifically relate well with J.D. because he’s very imaginative, he has a running internal monologue, he isn’t always a perfect hero, and (relevant to when I started watching the show) he struggles with his relationships. Here are a few lessons I picked up from watching through this show (for probably the 4th time).

1. “Being a man doesn’t mean being a stereotype.”

J.D. is always made fun of by Dr. Cox for being emotional, wimpy, un-manly, etc. He’s always called by girls names. He isn’t a sports fanatic like Turk. He’s not a heavy drinker, or an emotion-bottler like Dr. Cox. I’m not a big sports fan, I’m not particularly tough, I can be pretty direct about my emotions. I like relating with others. I’m a hugger.

2. “Relationships change and require maintenance.”

J.D. goes through several dating relationships. He experiences his best friend getting married and having a child. He dates his other best friend, off and on, and ends up marrying her. He struggles with having an older brother who is a loser, but ends up becoming successful. He has a child and has to work to spend enough time with his son. His mentor and father figure is constantly demeaning and distant, but eventually reveals his admiration for J.D. All of this is a result (fictional or not) of a character who refuses to give up.

3. “You can’t give up.”

Leading off from the previous lesson: J.D. doesn’t give up on his patients. Turk and Carla don’t give up one each other. Dr. Cox ends up getting back together with his ex-wife and having 2 kids. The Janitor harasses J.D. until the end of his last day. Ted keeps coming to work. Dr. Kelso goes back into medicine after retiring from Sacred Heart. J.D. ends up with the girl that the viewer always knew was the right one for him. Even when the characters do give up, it becomes an object lesson for the episode, revealing the dangers of not following through.

4. “Everyone gets burned out.”

Pretty much every major character in the show has a period where they get totally burned out, and need time to recuperate. And it’s totally okay. Their friends are there for them. Their loved ones help bear their burdens.

5. “Find the humor in life.”

Sometimes finding humor in things can be callous. Sometimes it’s insensitive. Sometimes it’s ill-timed. But it helps. For J.D., humor helps him cope. It’s a break from the horrible events of the hospital. It’s entertaining (and relatable). It helps him come up with ideas. Scrubs is a large part slapstick, unrealistic humor. That’s okay. It also has a large component of relatable humor. In the first season Dr. Cox explains that sometimes you have to make light of a situation if you ever want to be able to return to work after a bad experience.

6. “Be a dreamer.”

Find things to dream about and work toward them. Share your dreams with others. Embrace your failures and find opportunities to succeed next time.

Invest In Yourself

“What a recipe for alienation. By the time they reach an age to think about what they’d like to do, most kids have been thoroughly misled about the idea of loving one’s work. School has trained them to regard work as an unpleasant duty. Having a job is said to be even more onerous than schoolwork. And yet all the adults claim to like what they do. You can’t blame kids for thinking “I am not like these people; I am not suited to this world.” – Paul Graham

This is an excerpt from Paul Graham’s Do What You Love article. It’s brilliant. He makes a ton of great observations about doing what you love, how we are taught to pursue work, the different between work and pleasure (is there one?), how much time to spend on things, and a lot of other stuff you should probably learn from reading it. Here’s another of my favorite quotes from the article…

But the fact is, almost anyone would rather, at any given moment, float about in the Carribbean, or have sex, or eat some delicious food, than work on hard problems. The rule about doing what you love assumes a certain length of time. It doesn’t mean, do what will make you happiest this second, but what will make you happiest over some longer period, like a week or a month.

This is often neglected, and I have found it is one of the common points of criticism for people when they are told “do what you love.” What you love may not be the most productive thing, or may not pay the bills, or may not be healthy. It’s important to specify that “work you love” (and work itself) is something that contributes to your wellbeing and success over the longview.

Invest in yourself, to put it simply. Don’t take the nickel now when you could have the dollar next week.

“Prestige is especially dangerous to the ambitious. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. That’s the recipe for getting people to give talks, write forewords, serve on committees, be department heads, and so on. It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn’t suck, they wouldn’t have had to make it prestigious.”

Good and Better

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.” – T.S. Eliot

Take things that are good, make them better. Find something that is one way, and make it another way. Flip, reorganize, adjust, re-face. Improve. Nothing is static. Probably nothing is original. Nothing is absolute. The world is fluid, and can be remade. We can renew and restore. We should renew and restore. We should make good better. We would avoid making bad worse.

Sometimes It’s A Wash

Sometimes you work real hard. You put in lots of effort. You research, experiment, trade. You try to come out ahead, to profit, to gain something.

But… it’s a wash. You know what? That’s okay. Maybe it’s better to come out on even ground, if you’re not coming out behind. Not succeeding is still better than failing. Making a real effort and ending up in the same spot is still better than falling behind. And even falling behind can be okay if it gives you a chance to try something again.

When you try to come up with an answer, to complete a task, to put yourself ahead, or make the right choice, and you end up with a wash… just pick the thing you prefer. If you can’t find better, then find preferable. If stressing over the answer isn’t productive, then just pick one. Flip a coin. Don’t stress. Be happy when you can just call something a wash, and move forward.

I think some people see a wash, or no gains as failure, but it’s not. When you actually fail you know the difference.

“It is very easy to say that the important thing is to try your best, but if you are in real trouble the most important thing is not trying your best, but getting to safety.” – Lemony Snicket

Reboot Your Life

Seven lessons from Maria Ross about rebooting, reorienting, and forming some great habits.

1: Focus
2: Be Authentic
3: Count On Your Tribe
4: Practice Patience
5: Learn to Say No
6: Face the Fear
7: Find the Humor

Saying no, facing fear, and finding humor in things are strong points for me. I don’t struggle much with those, and I’m even naturally prone toward them to some degree.

Focusing and counting on my tribe are hard for me. I love to multitask (or try to). I love to have several things going on at once, to focus on lots of different things quickly, and to be distracted. I also have learned over the years to build a community of genuine, great people around me. This should not be confused with lots of friends; community is not the same as friendship or teammates. A community is a group of people who commit to each other, regardless of whether they like each other all the time. This is a hard concept for anyone to believe in, but it is truly a blessing when you can do it.

What about you? Which of these is a real tough one? Which come naturally?

source: dumblittleman

How to Avoid Being a Fool.

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Being right can give people a powerful urge to show other people exactly how and why they are wrong.

I said this. I like it. Sometimes I come up with these little thoughts and I get super excited about them, but have no idea where they came from. Sometimes me smart.

I love being right. Most people probably love being right. Being right means you’re not wrong. Being right means you know something. Unfortunately, sometimes being right makes you an asshole. It’s not the fact that you ARE right that’s the problem. It’s how you choose to be right. Following?

I remember being younger, and being incredibly self-righteous. If I knew someone else was wrong, and they were trying to convince others they they were right, I took pleasure in letting them down. Hard. I did this a lot when I first started dating. I did it in church a little too, when I was really convinced about my faith and how correct it was.

You know what? I hate when people are jerks about truth. It makes truth bitter. It makes you less likely to care what they say. Truth is truth, and it will be truth. Truth acts like truth. You don’t have to act right to prove truth. And that urge to show other people when they are wrong? Yeah, that’s actually insecurity or pride. Perhaps it’s insecurity about yourself, so you compensate by jumping at opportunities to be right. Perhaps it’s pride about how much you know and you need to reveal how much you know to others. Either way, it’s ugly.

I think opportunities to share and teach are better than opportunities to correct. I think encouraging others it’s a much more powerful tool than criticizing others. Dale Carnegie put it perfectly:

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do.

You should read his book, How To Win Friends and Influence People. It’s amazing.