If you can’t explain your idea to a five year old, you don’t understand it as well as you could.

Some say that those who can’t do, teach – and this might be true of some poor teachers.

What seems more likely to me is that those who can’t teach, can’t really do.

Perhaps they can perform in a vacuum, or regurgitate quotes and information they’ve been incentivised to memorise. But when it comes to passing the baton, they flounder.

True masters tend to be excellent teachers.

Why?

Because excellent teachers tend to be excellent students.

If follows that when playing any infinite game the teachers and the students come out on top.

Make a habit of breaking down the things you do and the things you think know into the tiniest details.

Fail to do so, and you might find yourself trapped in a cage of ideas too grand for your even your own comprehension. A sad place to be.

Become fluent in the language of that detail, and you’ll be able to share what you know with anyone.

One plus one doesn’t always equal two.

Sometimes, if the elements are suited to one another, a system can become more than the sum of its parts.

Eggs, flour, sugar and energy aren’t worth nearly as much as a cake.

Two construction workers will almost always accomplish more working together than they would combined in isolation.

And two people just right for each other can squeeze a whole lot more out of life than anyone possibly could alone.

This is synergy; the magic of turning two ones into more than two.

How do you know when you’re ideas are great? And what makes them great in the first place?

For an idea to be great it has to be exciting. There needs to be something about it that arouses emotion and anticipation.

Which is why, “Hey, do you want to go for a drive?” might not feel like a great idea.

While, “Hey, do you want to go for a drive and get some ice-cream?” almost always sounds like a great idea.

Not all exciting ideas are great though. If we already expecting to be asked out for ice-cream, the idea doesn’t feel nearly as interesting.

They also need to be possible. Asking someone if they want to drive to get some ice-cream if you’re on a sailboat in the middle of the Indian Ocean isn’t necessarily a great idea. It’s far more likely to be a signal that you’re not coping so well.

Great ideas arouse excitement and inhabit the space between possibility and expectation.

Ideas which fit into this category are powerful; they motivate and mobilise people and allow us to rethink the way we see and experience our world.

Finding ways to cultivate them is essential because without them, we’re nothing.

Do Something Great neon sign

Gimlet Media is a podcasting network responsible for a number of high quality shows including one of my faviourite podcasts, Reply All.

(A recent episode of Reply All investigates the wild hog crisis in America. It’s hilarious and insane.)

The longest running podcast on Gimlet is a show called Startup, which follows Gimlet’s founder, Alex Bloomberg, as he works to get the network off the ground (meta, he knows).

Alex spent the majority of his working life prior to founding Gimlet as a producer for This American Life, which is a well renound radio show and podcast which centres on compassionate investigative journalism.

Gimlet was Alex’s first foray into entrepreneurship and Startup is a raw display of the struggles, successes and lessons he experienced along the way.

Being busy is easy.

So easy that you can live in a perpetual state of busyness without actually doing a whole lot. To stay feeling busy, just make sure that you’re always focussed on at least two tasks.

Productivity requires the opposite. It doesn’t feel as good to tell people how little you’ve been focussing on, but focussing purely on a few important things, one at a time, will get you much further.

When people ask how I’ve been, I’m often guilty of responding with, “Busy, but good.”

“Oh, that’s good.” Is what people usually say. But it’s not good. Being ‘busy’ is a waste of the two most valuable assets we have; our time and our attention.

Protect them from the distractions which would prey on your productivity and feed your sense of busy at all costs.

That which Fortune has not given, she cannot take away.

Seneca

Fortune gives and takes as she sees fit.

Sometimes our actions can protect us from her grasp or prepare us to capitalise on her grace, other times there is simply nothing we can do to predict, prevent or postpone the struggles implied by a life aware of it’s own mortality.

Separating out these times and focussing our energy solely on the thoughts which have the potential to affect change is the path to a life free of regret.

A life spent wallowing in the sufferings one cannot change is not a viable life at all.

Luckily, if you’re reading this it’s unlikely that you belong to the group of people for which a life full of such suffering is unavoidable.

The time, energy and focus you are able to exert on these words indicates that you probably aren’t fighting for your next meal.

If this is true, you have been graced with a life with more security than hundreds of millions of other, happy people.

If those surviving daily precarity can build and foster happy lives, surely there are actions you can take to construct the same?

Fortune has favoured you, but it will not last forever.

Save yourself the trepidation of future pain by committing to the actions within your reach.

Release that which you cannot control.

Seize that which you can with vigor.

Bad days are a natural part of any meaningful pursuit.

There will be days when the things that normally fall into place just don’t. The writing doesn’t flow, your technique doesn’t work or the weight simply won’t go above your head.

It’s easy, and natural to feel exhausted and defeated; like progress rests on the other side of a swamp you might drown in before you cross it.

I had a bad Jiu-Jitsu day today; my body felt weak and slow. I felt as if I was two steps behind every one of my training partners. It was hot, and I felt like vomiting for most of the session.

Times like these are a valuable reminder that sometimes growth feels like drowning, and that’s okay – as long as you keep showing up.

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I’ll be back at the gym at 6am tomorrow, and I’ll have every opportunity to find my feet again. If things still aren’t working, there’s always the next session, or the one after that.

Losing finite games only becomes a problem once you stop playing the infinite ones.

It’s hard to do, but so are most things that matter.

Newton’s law of inertia states that if a body is at rest or moving in a straight line, it will continue to stay at rest or move in its straight line until it is acted upon by an external, unbalanced force.

Essentially: things tend to continue doing what they’re already doing until something interferes.

A car in motion will continue in motion until; brakes are applied; air resistance and friction with the road bring it to a gradual standstill; or it collides with something.

Like cars hurtling down the freeway, our lives are in a state of inertia too. We are so engrained in our habits, our little rattles and splutters, that until something stuns us into change, we usually don’t.

Yesterday, for the first time in recorded history, there was no rainfall over mainland Australia.

Meanwhile, New South Wales is literally on fire.

The overwhelming scientific consensus is that human action is directly responsible for the climate crisis which is now ravaging the lives and homes of Australian people.

If this doesn’t wake our country up to the potential dangers of climate inaction, what will?

Some have lost their homes, others their lives, but at least the suffering families have our Prime Minister’s thoughts and prayers to keep them safe.

Illustration by David RoweAustralian Financial Review

What good they’ll do is yet to be determined. Hopefully, they translate into action.

Aligning what we care about with what we do is probably the most fundamental building blocks for a fulfilled life.

Pouring energy into anything you don’t really care about is a slippery slope to misery.

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress: Working hard for something we love is called passion.”

― Simon Sinek

This applies in work and in life. Be generously selective with you time. It’s all we have, and we don’t get to spend it twice.