Opportunities for Distraction

Opportunities come to us most often when we aren’t looking for them. Opportunities for more busy work, to meet new people, make new connections, collaborate on a project, or to build something we’ve always dreamed existed. Opportunity is really an invitation to invest your time into something. But too many opportunities can start to become something you never wanted them to be. Like drinking from a firehose, it can quickly become too much of a good thing. Now these new endeavors have moved from opportunities to distractions.

We as humans are often terrible at saying no. We’re intrinsically afraid of rejection so we’ll over-commit ourselves with opportunities that will eventually distract us from the opportunity we hope will come one day. What if we’re making ourselves too busy to actually do what matters? What if, instead of doing what is most important, we’re wasting our time doing what is simply urgent.

It’s easy to waste time on something that is easy to accomplish. It’s predictable, it’s quick, it’s achievable and the goal is in sight from the get-go. On the contrary, doing something new, something risky, something exploratory often has a hopeful but unknown outcome, it can be daunting to begin when you don’t know how it ends. But if we only did things that were safe, we’d miss out on a lot of potential growth. After all, life is best lived outside of our comfort zones. Anything worth doing is often a risk. That big leap, asking out that girl for a first date, a new city, a hard conversation, a pouring out of your soul, taking on that project you’d not done before.

It’s terrifying. It’s vulnerable. There will be failure involved at some point along the way. But one thing’s for sure. Life is best lived as a journey, not a series of destinations. Where are you heading? What are you doing today that’s going to change your tomorrow?

Choose your opportunities.


The ABC of Architects

This is beautiful. An alphabetical list of the most important architects with their best known building.

I love the style, timing, and kinetic fluidity. Not to mention he’s wise in starting out with already beautiful subject matter. Brilliant work from Federico Gonzalez & Andrea Stinga

Concept and Animation: Andrea Stinga, Federico Gonzalez
Art Direction: Federico Gonzalez
Music: The Butterfly from Eugene C.Rose and George Ruble, (Creative Commons)
you can download it here.


Ways of Reading

Some insightful thoughts on the process of reading and writing and how they are meant to work together in tandem. I’ve always thought to read things in their entirety, perhaps discuss them with a friend throughout, then write my own editorial thoughts in some form post-completion. This article (which I’ve quoted below) from A Working Library by Mandy Brown is an eye-opening peek into a few methods and reasonings for reading differently—perhaps more intentionally—than I’d considered before.

Always read with a pen in hand. The pen should be used both to mark the text you want to remember and to write from where the text leaves you. Think of the text as the starting point for your own words.

Reading and writing are not discrete activities; they occur on a continuum, with reading at one end, writing at the other. The best readers spend their time somewhere in between.

Reading must occur everyday, but it is not just any daily reading that will do. The day’s reading must include at minimum a few lines whose principal intent is to be beautiful—words composed as much for the sake of their composition as for the meaning they convey.

A good reader reads attentively, not only listening to what the writer says, but also to how she says it. This is how a reader learns to write.

If a book bores you, or tells you things you already know, or is not beautiful, do not hesitate to discard it. There are better books awaiting you, just around the bend.

Every book alights a path to other books. Follow these paths as far as you can. This is how you build a library.

A single book struggles to balance on its spine; it pines for neighbors. Keep as many books as you have room for.

Read voraciously, many books at a time. Only then will you hear the conversation taking place among them.

The best library contains both books you have read, and books you have not. The latter should grow in proportion as the library expands. A working library is as much a place for the possible as it is a record of the past.


iPad Mini

Why Yes.
I will have that. 

I gotta be honest, I’m rather excited for this. I’ve refrained from buying the current new iPad with the hopes of finding just the right reading device. I had the first generation iPad and loved it, but always felt it was a bit much as an investment for me who primarily used it for reading. The kindle made more sense, but was just not as full featured as the iPad, plus the iPad just fit so well in my iPhone/Mac ecosystem. I can read quick little ditties on my phone, but ultimately it’s just a bit small for long for reading.

This just might be the step I was looking for, and I’m quite excited it’s at a slightly higher pricepoint than I’d hoped, but not unfathomable.

Looking forward to it.


Grit & Stick-to-it-iveness

Photo Credit • Standard Grit Flag

Grit is something that I’ve heard a lot, but not something that I’ve really taken the time to unearth its true meaning. After listening to my fine friends Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann talk bout it on episodes 87 and 88 of their podcast Back to Work, I began to have a better grasp of what this concept really is.

Grit is essentially what makes you do something when you don’t want to do it. It is the descriptive word we use when describing someone who is motivated to see a goal carried out, even when it sucks to be doing so, because the end goal is enough of a motivation to press on through the crap.

Paul Tough Describes this concept vis–à–vis children in his book How Children Succeed. In his interview on an episode of This American Life he discusses the struggle that children have with the traditional ways we measure intelligence and cognitive ability, but is that really giving us a true picture of what children will succeed?

They talk about the focus on cognitive abilities, conventional “book smarts.” They discuss the current emphasis on these kinds of skills in American education, and the emphasis standardized testing, and then turn our attention to a growing body of research that suggests we may be on the verge of a new approach to some of the biggest challenges facing American schools today. Paul discusses how “non-cognitive skills” — qualities like tenacity, resilience, impulse control — are being viewed as increasingly vital in education…

With that in mind, how are we setting up children to succeed in a world that isn’t going to think for them? I fight this same struggle of hearing that life is supposed to be easier, more relaxing, more comfortable, yet anything worth doing is a lot of work and discipline. Anything worth doing requires a level of “stick-to-it-iveness” that many of us (myself included) don’t just have by default. We have to overcome our nature to be successful.

This whole concept begs the question: Can grit be learned or is it merely something you have or you don’t? Discipline is something we look to others and uphold, but how do we measure the potential for that in ourselves?

I don’t know the answer, but I do know that whatever it takes to do more than I’m doing with more purpose, I want to be constantly pursuing that.