Merhaba! Welcome to this week's digest. This week is a very special "My highlighter ran out of ink" edition, because there are three pieces of content to share that have *so* much to offer us. I tried to keep it short and sweet for you, and definitely failed (learning moment!) :D
This week's topics include choosing process over outcomes, living from first principles, and learning from the past. Enjoy!

If you like this, share the digest with a friend, barbecue in the name of freedom, and / or whale watch in Cape Cod. If this e-mail was forwarded to you,  join 310 other subscribers. xoxoxo <3
"This first epiphany is about humility. Humility is by definition a starting point—and it sends you off on a journey from there. The arrogance of certainty is both a starting point and an ending point—no journeys needed. That’s why it’s so important that we begin with 'I don’t know shit.'" ~ Tim Urban

PODCAST - The Reboot Podcast #86: How Have You Lived Your Life? with Parker Palmer & Jerry Colonna - Jerry and Parker's conversation offers many thoughtful arguments for focusing on process over outcomes in how we choose to direct our lives. The heuristic of "Good Work. Done Well. For the right reasons." resonates so strongly with me - life can really be that simple. We all struggle to different degrees to make the short and long-term trade-offs in living a good life, whatever that means for us. I have learned from experience that when I am process-oriented in my actions, and act in-line with my values and principles, I can take the lumps of the inevitable variance in outcomes; but when I am outcome-oriented in my actions, perhaps ignoring some values or principles for the sake of perceived better odds of success, that is when I am filled with regret when the outcomes don't go my way. And I am at a point in my life where I want to choose the pain of failure over the pain of regret (while enjoying and appreciating whatever successful outcomes come my way).

My highlights:
  • I was obsessed with what I would call the relation between means and ends... I had to calculate, figure out actions that I could take, things I could do, that would result in positive outcomes for myself and other people. Over the years, when that's your calculus... life will break your heart if you cling to that means / ends thing too tightly. Life is way too complicated to predict what's going to happen when we toss a certain piece into the maelstrom and then wait at the other end of the tube hoping and anticipating that that result will come out as we predicted. Lot of intervening variables along the way.
  • Over the years what I've searched for is an equation that keeps me at it, and of course makes me wish for results, but doesn't leave me to bet the farm on getting the results that I desire. Instead the measure tends to be: Am I giving myself to something that is worth giving myself to? Is it life giving? And can I hold even defeat or disappointment or despair in a way that becomes life giving for me and ultimately for others?
  • I refuse to conspire in my own diminishment... That's a reliable guide to living, day by day by day: Am I making choices that are life-giving for me and other people? Or am I making choices that involve me conspiring in my own diminishment? In which case I am robbing the world of the only gift that I really have to give, which is the fullness of myself.
  • There's a setup in the entire equation... A lot of the external forces and messages are actually antithetical... They will use something like salary as a metric of meaning. Or they will mistake a notion of frenetic motion for meaning. Or they will mistake a sense of external validation, that in the startup world may come from someone anointing your company with a large valuation... I have been subject to all of those forces, I have striven to be a Prince of New York... And the only thing that I can really speak to, not by way of advice, is to simply say, How have you lived your life?
  • We often speak of "Good Work. Done Well. For the right reasons."
  • I had this stunning insight that, call it what you will, the universe, the cosmos, was utterly indifferent to me, and utterly accepting of me, or forgiving of me. And I think I learned in that moment that indifference and forgiveness, indifference and acceptance are just breathing in and breathing out, they are two sides of the same thing. I am not special the way I like to think of myself as being special. I am one thing among many... And while it may be a struggle for my ego to give up my belief in my specialness, the liberating side for me is that it allows me to give up my belief in my awfulness at the same time. And from that place... it doesn't matter to know whether or not you have meaning, it matters to know whether or not you have served. Who serves best doesn't always understand.
  • When we get hooked on outcomes, what happens time after time after time, is that we take on smaller and smaller tasks, because they're the only ones you get outcomes on.

BLOG POST - Wait But Why: The Cook and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce by Tim Urban - Tim's epic and delightful work offers almost too much to think about in terms of how and why we live our lives the way we do, viewed through the lens of innovators like Elon Musk and first principles reasoning. My Sensible Living document (linked below in 'Additional Resources') was my narrow attempt at first principles based living, but even that does not go nearly deep or broad enough. If I am really honest with myself, there are *countless* mental models and constructs that guide my choices in life, yet exist without any thoughtful interrogation. I gave up on asking Why? in many important areas. It's funny, because that feels like an insanely difficult journey which is dangerous, and scary, and humiliating, and exhilarating, and has no clear end... and yet once that journey is revealed as an opportunity, it feels like there is simply no other path to take.

My highlights:
  • A scientist gathers together only what he or she knows to be true—the first principles—and uses those as the puzzle pieces with which to construct a conclusion. Reasoning from first principles is a hard thing to do in life, and Musk is a master at it.
  • In our lives, the only true axiom is “I exist.” Beyond that, nothing is for sure. And for most things in life, we can’t even build a real scientific theory because life doesn’t tend to have exact measurements. Usually, the best we can do is a strong hunch based on what data we have... So after Musk builds his conclusions from first principles, what does he do? He tests the shit out of them, continually, and adjusts them regularly based on what he learns.
  • The first few times a kid plays the Why game, parents think it’s cute. But many parents, and most teachers, soon come up with a way to cut the game off: Because I said so. “Because I said so” inserts a concrete floor into the child’s deconstruction effort below which no further Why’s may pass. It says, “You want first principles? There. There’s your floor. No more Why’s necessary. Now fucking put your boots on because I said so and let’s go.”
  • People think of creativity as a natural born talent, but it’s actually much more of a way of thinking—it’s the thinking version of painting onto a blank canvas. But to do that requires brain software that’s skilled and practiced at coming up with new things, and school trains us on the exact opposite concept—to follow the leader, single-file, and to get really good at taking tests.
  • Dogma is everywhere and comes in a thousand different varieties—but the format is generally the same: X is true because [authority] says so... Dogma, unlike first principles reasoning, isn’t customized to the believer or her environment and isn’t meant to be critiqued and adjusted as things change... Only strong reasoning skills can carve a unique life path, and without them, dogma will quickly have you living someone else’s life. Dogma doesn’t know you or care about you and is often completely wrong for you...
  • People believe thinking outside the box takes intelligence and creativity, but it’s mostly about independence. When you simply ignore the box and build your reasoning from scratch, whether you’re brilliant or not, you end up with a unique conclusion—one that may or may not fall within the box.
  • ...we need to revert to our four-year-old selves and start deconstructing our software by resuming the Why game our parents and teachers shut down decades ago. It’s time to roll up our sleeves, pop open the hood, and get our hands dirty with a bunch of not-that-fun questions about what we truly want, what’s truly possible, and whether the way we’re living our lives follows logically from those things.
  • The thing you really want to look closely for is unjustified certainty. Where in life do you feel so right about something that it doesn’t qualify as a hypothesis or even a theory, but it feels like a proof? When there’s proof-level certainty, it means either there’s some serious concrete and verified data underneath it—or it’s faith-based dogma... And if thinking about all of that ends with you drowning in some combination of self-doubt, self-loathing, and identity crisis, that’s perfect. This first epiphany is about humility. Humility is by definition a starting point—and it sends you off on a journey from there. The arrogance of certainty is both a starting point and an ending point—no journeys needed. That’s why it’s so important that we begin with “I don’t know shit.”
  • Being a gamechanger is just having little enough respect for the game that you realize there’s no good reason not to change the rules. Being a trailblazer is just not respecting the beaten path and so deciding to blaze yourself a new one. Being a groundbreaker is just knowing that the ground wasn’t laid by anyone that impressive and so feeling no need to keep it intact. Not respecting society is totally counterintuitive to what we’re taught when we grow up—but it makes perfect sense if you just look at what your eyes and experience tell you.
  • We’re more afraid of public speaking than texting on the highway, more afraid of approaching an attractive stranger in a bar than marrying the wrong person, more afraid of not being able to afford the same lifestyle as our friends than spending 50 years in meaningless career—all because embarrassment, rejection, and not fitting in really sucked for hunters and gatherers... Doing something out of your comfort zone and having it turn out okay is an incredibly powerful experience, one that changes you—and each time you have that kind of experience, it chips away at your respect for your brain’s ingrained, irrational fears.

- The Lessons of History by Will & Ariel Durant (My full Kindle notes) - Will and Ariel's punchy book distills eons of human experience into a short and insightful read. His point that resonated strongest with me is the subjective nature of history, since we are dealing with selective data communicated through inherently biased lenses (a point illuminated incredibly well in The Fog of War vis-a-vis the US's WW2 firebombings of Japanese cities). Additional important takeaways for me include: (1) The seemingly insoluble clash between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome (this is my primary lens for viewing today's left/right US political divide); (2) The need for *intelligent communication* for democracy to thrive (ICYMI, our current media delivery models are not facilitating productive conversations on complex topics); (3) The potential for disaster when whole generations become unmoored from societal norms (perhaps via the questioning I recommended above ;D), norms that overcome individual biases and market failures to enable positive group action (i.e., enable us to move from sub-optimal Nash Equilibria to our Pareto Equilibrium).

My highlights:
  • Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice.
  • History smiles at all attempts to force its flow into theoretical patterns or logical grooves; it plays havoc with our generalizations, breaks all our rules.
  • Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies.
  • ...insecurity is the mother of greed...
  • We must remind ourselves again that history as usually written is quite different from history as usually lived: the historian records the exceptional because it is interesting—because it is exceptional.
  • Nature and history do not agree with our conceptions of good and bad; they define good as that which survives, and bad as that which goes under; and the universe has no prejudice in favor of Christ as against Genghis Khan.
  • We conclude that the concentration of wealth is natural and inevitable, and is periodically alleviated by violent or peaceable partial redistribution.
  • Democracy is the most difficult of all forms of government, since it requires the widest spread of intelligence, and we forgot to make ourselves intelligent when we made ourselves sovereign...
  • Somewhere, sometime, in the name of humanity, we must challenge a thousand evil precedents...
  • Caught in the relaxing interval between one moral code and the next, an unmoored generation surrenders itself to luxury, corruption, and a restless disorder of family and morals...
  • Have we really outgrown intolerance, or merely transferred it from religious to national, ideological, or racial hostilities?
You made it to the end! Legend :D Is there someone you care about who would enjoy this week's digest, too? They can join 310 other subscribers.
Is this showing up in your Gmail Promotions tab? Send my digests to your primary tab

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
TSD Ventures, LLC · 70 East Sunrise Highway · Suite 500 · Valley Stream, NY 11581 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp