When I read the headlines in the tech news, sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough. There are so many people working on world-changing projects that reading about the amazing things they’re attempting to do and doing is humbling.
Upon deeper reflection, the feeling of humility relative to the goals and outcomes achieved by others in the tech community cedes its place to a feeling of gratitude for all that they’re doing. When producers produce, it’s primarily consumers who benefit, so I’m grateful to all the producers.
Finally, the feeling of gratitude cedes it way to questioning why I am not contributing more.
A great way to test whether you’re doing enough and thinking big enough is to ask yourself whether, if done well, the projects you’re working on will also be featured in the headlines.
Rather than read the headlines, your life gives you the opportunity to make them.
In the past, I used to treat books as objects that needed to be kept as close to their original condition as possible. I don’t know how I arrived at this line of thinking, but as a result I wouldn’t take notes in the margins of a book or underline the text.
A few months ago, I started to question this assumption. If your goal is to learn from what you read, underlining the text’s key passages and articulating your takeaways from the reading as they emerge help you progress towards your goal. Keeping a book in its original condition doesn’t. I therefore started to read with a pen in hand, taking notes in the margins and underlining text as I go along.
Although I have yet to try them out, there are also tools that let you take notes and highlight text while reading on the web.
It’s been about 3 months since I started using this approach and I feel like I’m internalizing the key takeaways of what I’m reading to a greater extent than in the past.
When you read a story, you get to apply your imagination to the author’s storyline. You decide what the characters look like, the details of how the events described by the author actually play out, and what parts of the story to focus on.
On the other hand, when you watch a story in the form of a movie or show, you’re immersed in the director’s specific interpretation of the storyline. You have less room for variability in how you interpret a movie or show than a written story.
That’s one reason why I enjoy reading stories more than watching them. There’s certainly room for both, but the former lets you exercise your imagination and draw your own conclusions to a greater extent than the latter.