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💬 Reality has a surprising amount of detail
Your weekly dose of new ideas & inspirations
Hey, Pritesh here.
We’ve reached post #101 in this journey of discovering new ideas & inspirations.
Here’s a quick glance of today’s post:
🧠 Reality has a surprising amount of detail
📚 How to treat your to-read pile
🤷 How to handle incompetent but nice people?
🤔 How to design a sabbatical?
And much more…
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And with that, let’s dive in.
1. Reality has a surprising amount of detail
In “Reality has a surprising amount of detail”, John Salvatier tries to answer why even the best experts in any field can be intellectually stuck. He claims the reasons lie in details - yes in the gory details. And most of the time in those that we were not able to recognize or accept. Here’s how he put this:
Before you’ve noticed important details they are, of course, basically invisible. It’s hard to put your attention on them because you don’t even know what you’re looking for. But after you see them they quickly become so integrated into your intuitive models of the world that they become essentially transparent. Do you remember the insights that were crucial in learning to ride a bike or drive? How about the details and insights you have that led you to be good at the things you’re good at?
This means it’s really easy to get stuck. Stuck in your current way of seeing and thinking about things. Frames are made out of the details that seem important to you. The important details you haven’t noticed are invisible to you, and the details you have noticed seem completely obvious and you see right through them. This all makes makes it difficult to imagine how you could be missing something important.
So true, right? John has a suggestion to avoid such issues. In his words, “If you wish to not get stuck, seek to perceive what you have not yet perceived.”
Think about it.
This is a rerun from post #59. I revisited it on the recommendation of a podcast, more on that in the coming week.
2. The problem of Too Many Needles
If you have a large pile (or digital equivalent) of books or articles you've been meaning to get around to reading, plus maybe a long queue of podcast episodes to which you'd love to listen, then Oliver Burkeman has a fairly simple advice - Treat your to-read pile like a river.
This may seem like a first world problem, but we’re getting pulled into this everyday. Oliver has a plausible explanation for the same.
In a world of effectively infinite information, the better you get at sifting the wheat from the chaff, the more you end up crushed beneath a never-ending avalanche of wheat.
Finally, here’s why he recommends visualizing the solutions in terms of a river & not a bucket.
To return to information overload: this means treating your "to read" pile like a river (a stream that flows past you, and from which you pluck a few choice items, here and there) instead of a bucket (which demands that you empty it). After all, you presumably don't feel overwhelmed by all the unread books in the British Library – and not because there aren't an overwhelming number of them, but because it never occurred to you that it might be your job to get through them all.
(via YC’s Newsletter)
3. Better vs More
Seth Godin explains how bad systems get replaced by bad systems using a metaphor of parking meters.
When a system is new, few are watching, so a handful of people with intent can design it and optimize it. As it gains in scale and impact, it calcifies at the same time that new tech arrives to codify the decisions that were made when the conditions were very different.
The next time you pose for a photo, keep in mind that we pose for photos because the speed of an exposure used to be so long that if you didn’t pose, the photo was blurred. We changed the tech, but baked in the cultural expectation.
Sometimes, we need to take a deep breath and go for better instead of more.
4. Incompetent but Nice
In “Incompetent but Nice”, Jacob Kaplan-Moss shares a simple rubric to evaluate your team-mates. The “good at their job” x “nice to work with” map is a simple and relatable one.
Jacob wrote this post to share the most difficult situation you face in such a mapping - What do you do about someone who’s really nice but can’t seem to do the work?
It’s a tricky situation for most; Firing them feels wrong; keeping them on feels wrong.
How do you handle such a person?
(via YC’s Newsletter)
5. On Sabbatical
If you ever thought about taking a sabbatical but have not been able to do it, then you’re not alone. I am with you and so are thousands others.
When I think of my own experience, it’s a scary thought. I’ve not been able to muster the courage to take the step. When I read Tobi Ogunnaike’s essay “How to Design a Sabbatical”, I felt like he had read my mind.
Like they say, the first step for solving a problem is to recognize that there is one. And he does a fantastic job in helping do that.
He does not stop at that, but helps assess these fears closely and segregate them correctly. I have not found a better answer to most of my questions on this topic. I am not looking for a sabbatical right now. But whenever I do plan for one, this essay is going to be my first resource to refer to.
I highly recommend bookmarking this one, if you’re ever going to think of a Sabbatical (and if you’re like me then you should surely think of one sooner than later).
6. Quality and Craft
In post #81, we had covered Stammy’s essay on how to elevate product quality. He talks about well-made, high-quality products and why shipping quality is hard. It’s a beautiful read and gives a good primer for how to build a culture that champions high quality outputs.
George Kedenburg’s “The Cost of Craft” is a worthy followup on the topic. It further decodes the challenges involved in keeping the craft spirit intact as the organization evolves (and scale). He argues that the cost of craft rises with each additional person. And so, a small talented team is the secret sauce in nurturing craft.
It feels that ‘staying small’ may not be a feasible solution given the way consumer products scale. Kedenburg agrees and shares some inputs on how to manage the journey better.
I’ve been thinking about this challenge and find this articulation highly useful. If you think of high quality as craftsmanship, then these two essays are great resources to help structure your thoughts better.
(via Startupy Newsletter)
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
Watching Chris Firger make those beautiful paintings is like a therapeutic experience (via Dense Discovery)
A Thai lesson in gastrodiplomacy. Interesting story on how Thai restaurants have mushroomed all over the US (via Considered by Jared)
Point of contact - a short history of door handles (via Stoa Daily)
The Oral History Of Michael Jordan’s Legendary ‘Flu Game’ (via One Daily Nugget)
How are you doing? A journey of emotional awareness, where we uncover the power of naming and visualizing your feelings. Another gem from The Pudding.
The title of today’s post is inspired from John Salvatier’s post.
Before we sign off, here’s a quick poll for you.
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
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