#28 If an alien ever immigrated to Earth, he’d be a social disaster
Doses of inspiration from an Admiral, Tim Urban and Coppola
In Make your bed, Admiral William H. McRaven shares.
Making my bed correctly was not going to be an opportunity for praise. It was expected of me. It was my first task of the day, and doing it right was important. It demonstrated my discipline. It showed my attention to detail, and at the end of the day it would be a reminder that I had done something well, something to be proud of, no matter how small the task.
This bestseller book is based on the commencement speech he gave in 2014 at the University of Texas at Austin. You can watch the speech here - a solid dose of ‘navy seal’ encouragement & inspiration in just 19 minutes.
Here’s some more stuff to rake your brain & nudge your curious cells.
Einstein said once - “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
Fair point! Given the kind of impact he has had on science, it is easy to assume he did a good amount of thinking. But for the rest of us mortals, staying out of solution mode is not that easy. We can jump to a solution from the get-go. And yes, we do learn on the way that it was not the wisest solution. Iterations and pivots come to the rescue.
Some time spent in problem framing could save some of this hassle and help get to a better solution. I've tried to spend more time getting to know the problem more and framing it correctly. And I must admit, it's not easy. This article shared some useful inputs on how to do better at this stage of problem framing. Here's how it defines problem framing:
Problem framing is not problem solving. It is challenging preconceived assumptions and considering different perspectives to a problem. Understanding the problem correctly makes solving the problem easier.
It recommends some simple tools like 5W and empathy mapping that can help in the process. Give it a read if problem-solving is a core part of your job description.
The Great Perils of Social Interaction is another masterpiece of Tim Urban’s trademark witty wisdom. There is so much that happens around us. But, it takes a curious mind to observe it & then make commentary like this. Here are just the first few words from the post. You will get what I mean. And trust me, this is just the start, the post keeps getting better from here on.
If an alien ever immigrated to Earth, he’d be a social disaster.
He’d try his hardest to learn by observing how humans behave, but it wouldn’t be easy—he’d see someone ask a stranger for a cigarette and he’d go ask for a sip of someone’s latte. He’d see a couple kissing on the street and he’d go try to kiss the policeman on the corner. He’d stare. He’d get food all over his alien face. And when he got tired, he’d lie down on the sidewalk.
Our alien immigrant wouldn’t last a day before being arrested. He wouldn’t be behaving correctly, and he’d quickly be forcefully removed from society.
Still not convinced, here’s a glimpse of another of his observations.
Great storytellers appear natural in their art. You give them the stage and they will mesmerize the audience. But that’s not how it works. Behind the scene, they build a strong backbone of pre-work, practice and feedback loops to master their art. The best comedians spend hours writing jokes and practising them till they generate instant laughter. So is the idea-practice-release cycle for a musician.
The Godfather Notebook is a great example of what goes behind. Francis Ford Coppola was methodical, well researched and extremely detailed in his notes. They eventually translated into the movie’s script. The snapshots from his diaries give a glimpse of the detail that went into creating this masterpiece. If you’re a Godfather fan, you will love reading this. Even otherwise, it’s a good look into a creative genius’s thinking process.
Trivia: Significance of Oranges in The Godfather trilogy.
Some random goodness from the internet:
Youtube: 11 man seating on a beam 800 ft above the city of New York. This is a brief story behind the 1932 photo - Lunch Atop A Skyscraper
Instagram: Dave Newman’s Instagram profile reads “Passionate / Amateur / Wildlife Photographer”. But his work says quite the opposite. That he took many of these during his lunch breaks just makes me go WOW!
List: Old bookshops and libraries are charming places. You can get lost in a different world. This post covers some really beautiful bookstores from across the world. Alas! I have not seen a single one of those :(
Twitter thread: Ranking every imperial Fabergé egg in the public record.
Before we sign off, here's a snapshot of a tweet worth saving.
That's all for this week, folks!
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Loved the piece on Tim Urban! I've been hearing about him from a number of sources so just check out his work.
On problem framing, a method I learned from Farnam Street and have found useful is to never accept a problem statement as handed to you. And then to ask two simple questions: 1) What would have to be true for the problem to not exist in the first place? Will fixing this problem stand the test of time?
The answers lead us to the root problem, instead of any consequence of the root problem. I have also written on the topic: