“I’ll ride that wave where it takes me.” — Eddie Vedder
Any moment now, your life is going to change.
Hopefully for the better. But maybe not.
We never know what waits for us around the bend, but we know it’s headed our way.
All we can do is brace for impact, trust it will take us where we need to go, and try to enjoy the ride.
Now, on to this week’s ideas…
1. NINE HABITS THAT MAKE IT EASY TO COME UP WITH GREAT IDEAS
“Idea generation is fueled by consumption, not creativity. The more ‘things’ we have to connect, the better our ideas will become. This means the quality and quantity of things we consume is a crucial factor in our ability to come up with a good idea. If we consume junk, we can’t expect to create quality.”
I’ve been told I have a knack for coming up with good ideas so I thought I’d try to explain how I do that.
I believe the key to coming up with good ideas is to develop a set of habits that enable you to do so. Those habits include to consider what you consume, think macro, study opposite takes on the same idea, and capture ideas when they come.
2. 12 TRUTHS ABOUT LIFE AND WRITING
“There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of lasting way, unless you’re waiting for an organ. You can’t buy, achieve or date serenity and peace of mind.”
A few days before she turned 61, writer Anne Lamott wrote down everything she knew for sure.
In this TED Talk, she shares those 12 truths about life and writing including that almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a couple minutes (including yourself), that our help is usually not very helpful, and that creative success is something you have to recover from.
3. HOW TO BECOME THE BEST IN THE WORLD AT WHAT YOU DO
“With a few tweaks, you’ll quickly drop through a wormhole placing you in the top 5–10 percent in your field. The challenge then becomes to move from there to the top — which movement is the real contest. Getting to the top 5–10 percent merely requires a change in lifestyle. Getting to the top 1 percent requires a fundamental change in your being.”
It may be simpler than you think to become one of the best in the world at what you do. Not easy, but simple.
Benjamin P. Hardy offers a step-by-step guide to becoming the best in the world at what you do that includes advice on how to stop living the broken rules that everyone else is living, structure your life to optimize your performance, and embrace fear and suffering.
4. HOW TO ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS AND STRENGTHEN YOUR FOCUS
“Our main finding in this study was that, interestingly, older adults [focus on] relevant information as well as 20-year-olds. Where older adults suffered a deficit was in suppressing the irrelevant information…We discovered that their main attentional issue was that they are more distractible than younger adults.”
The book The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World features some interesting observations about attention — specifically that our ability to pay attention actually relies on two different skills.
Those skills are enhancement (the ability to focus on things that matter) and suppression (the ability to ignore things that don’t).
In this post, Nir Eyal digs into the book’s findings and suggests ways to eliminate distractions and improve your focus including to play video games and avoid multitasking.
For more tips about focus, you can check out my own suggested eight ways to improve your focus.
5. HOW TO CONQUER YOUR FEAR LIKE A HIGH-WIRE ARTIST
“Assemble weapons to destroy fear. Start by reacting to fright not by burying your head in the sand but by burying your mind in knowledge; then follow with specifics.”
Philippe Petit is a world class high-wire artist who you may know from the documentary Man on Wire, which details his infamous high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974.
He’s also a guy who has thought a lot about fear.
His essay in Lapham’s Quarterly is an exploration of how to conquer fear in which he breaks down his own approach to dealing with the body language, taste, and music of fear and shares his belief that fear is an absence of knowledge.
6. TO LIVE AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE, YOU HAVE TO GIVE UP A NORMAL ONE
“People who prefer to live a ‘normal’ life don’t want to pay most of the costs of an extraordinary life.”
If you want to live an extraordinary life, you have to be willing to make some sacrifices.
Anthony Moore suggests there are three things you need to sacrifice to live an extraordinary life including security and certainty, fear of judgment, and other people’s definition of success.
7. CAREER ADVICE FOR A 40-YEAR-OLD FROM A 60-YEAR-OLD
“Work is a team sport. You are not going to reach your objectives unless you help other people reach their objectives. Make time to make other people successful.”
Tina Seelig, author of Insight Out: Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World, thinks there’s enough career advice out there for recent graduates already so she took a different tact in this post.
She shares seven career tips she wishes she knew when she was 40, including that there isn’t only one time to launch a career, it’s important to identify advocates, and that you must approach your work with a clear intention.
8. HOW TO CRAFT THE PERFECT SOCIAL MEDIA POST
“Think about the purpose of your post before you add any hashtags. If you’re looking for this post to reach new audiences or trying to boost engagement, a hashtag or two can make sense. But if you’re looking for clicks from your existing audience, it could be best to not use hashtags at all.”
I know that’s a compelling headline, but I have to admit it may be a bit misleading because I personally believe there’s no such thing as the “perfect” social media post.
That said, this Buffer post about how to craft an effective social media post is worth your time.
It breaks down suggestions for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram including how to write copy and choose the right image sizes.
9. FIVE WAYS TO BECOME MORE SELF-AWARE
“Though it’s relatively common to see self-awareness as clarity about our inner workings (things like our values, our goals, and our ideal environment), true self-awareness also requires that we turn our gaze outward to understand how we are seen.”
Here’s an interesting stat: 95% of people think they are self-aware, but only 10–15% actually are.
Quartz offers five ways you can become more self-aware by seeking out candid feedback about yourself from others.
The suggestions include to be picky about who you ask, provide parameters, and give yourself some space in the process.
10. THE PROBLEM ISN’T FAKE NEWS — IT’S TRUST AND MANIPULATION
“Trust is the longer-term problem — decades- or even a century-long. But if we don’t grapple with the immediate and urgent problem of manipulation, those institutions may not live to reinvent themselves and earn the public’s trust back with greater inclusion, equity, transparency, responsiveness, and honesty.”
Media pundit Jeff Jarvis has given a lot of thought to the current state of journalism and suggests the hype about fake news is missing the larger concern.
He explains why trust and manipulation are the real problems the media and society face and breaks down how we got to this point and what we can do about it moving forward.
His suggestions include to build awareness of the manipulation, starve the manipulators of economic support, and learn from them so their techniques can be applied to spread quality journalism.