Tag Archives: Life

No recognition

A good way to decide what to do in life is to think about what you would do if you were to receive absolutely no recognition for doing it.

Because chances are that, given the extent of competition and the role of luck in determining outcomes, this is what is going to happen.

However, counterintuitively, if you do such a thing with no desire for recognition, you just might do it well enough to be recognized.

Effort and entropy

I recently read an insightful post by James Clear on entropy.

I remember first coming across the concept of entropy in physics class back in High school. In that context, entropy is a measure of the disorder or randomness in the movement of the atoms and molecules in a thermodynamic system. And in any closed system, entropy increases over time.

What is insightful about the post is that it takes the concept of entropy as described in physics and applies it to our daily lives. Specifically, the post points out that, left to its own devices, each area of our lives also becomes more disorderly. Our health declines. Our personal relationships wilt. And our workplace teams disintegrate.

Fortunately, we can reverse entropy by exerting effort. We can keep our mind and body sharp by reading and exercising. We can retain the relationships we value by communicating and showing care. And we can achieve progress at work by defining clear targets, working towards these targets, and motivating our colleagues to do the same.

In other words, we can selectively choose the areas of our life where we put in the effort necessary to locally reverse entropy and create more order for a period of time.

Seen in this light, effort is a good thing. This in contrast to its treatment in economics. Economics was one of my majors back in college and whenever our economics professor would model an individual’s utility function, there was a cost assigned to exerting effort.

As the concept of entropy shows, reality is more nuanced. Not all effort is a cost.

In fact, our lives consist of applying effort to the areas we value in order to locally reverse entropy for a specific duration of time.

Thoughts of a Navy SEAL

Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL who participated in the Iraq war.

Former Navy SEAL’s are rarely public about their experiences but Jocko is an exception. He participated in a podcast interview with Tim Ferriss ┬áback in September 2015 and, likely as a result of the positive experience, has been hosting his own podcast on leadership┬ásince December 2015.

I have yet to listen to the podcasts on Jocko’s website, but I found his interview with Tim fascinating. His views on life, which are largely defined by the cruelties he saw in war, help put everything else (like business and politics) in perspective.

You can listen to the full interview between Jocko and Tim below.

Thankful for being alive

Some days, you just feel thankful for being alive. Today is one of those days.

The difference between being alive and not is so great that anything you add on top of being alive is small in comparison. Being alive and able to feel, think, and move, is like the cake. All that you do on top, like the people you meet and the goals you achieve, are simply the cherries on the cake. The cake is the 99%, the cherries are the 1%.

The cherries sometimes come, and sometimes they go.

Remembering how fortunate you are to, even if for this short period of time, have the cake feels great.