Philosophy

Here’s the deal: we live in a strange, rapidly changing, hyper connected world which is making some of us intensely miserable in ways we don’t fully understand. 

Our ability to control our own attention is diminishing at an alarming rate.

Technical monoliths are making us feel exposed in ways people never used to have to worry about.

And our opportunities, while still limited, seem limitless in the face of everybody else’s success.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. We are sensationally adaptable creatures.

Brilliant people all over the world are constantly discovering fascinating things, many of which can inform our way forward through this jumbled mess.

Whenever it gets too much, remember that all you can ever be held accountable for is everything you do.

If the world outside is so overwhelming in scale and implication, how tiny our own short lives must be.

And if the prospect of being responsible for your every living breath is so overwhelming, how small and insignificant the rest of the world must be.

The world, and your roll in it, is neither too large or too small.

It just is.

Realise this and you might just do away with half the troubles our new world brings with it.

There’s no such thing as making up lost time because we don’t lose time, we spend it.

Just because we spent in poorly, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t ours to spend.

Making up lost time is just scrambling to get done what you didn’t get done when you were supposed to.

Struggling through an all nighter to meet a deadline or pushing your body to the limit to squeeze out one last burst of speed at the end of a race are not signs of strength.

There’s no heroism there. It’s just poor management.

Live the present moment as fully prepared for the next as you can.

Time lost is irrelevant. Focus on siezing the time still ahead of you.

When people get lucky breaks, it’s easy to dismiss as pure chance. They were just in the right place at the right time… right?

But what if there was an art to being in the right places at the right times?

What if it took hard work and determination to put yourself in positions where your chances of a lucky break increase?

What if you could cultivate serendipity?

Jason Roberts thinks you can.

He believes that luck is governed by a pretty simple formula;

Luck = Doing x Telling

What does this mean?

It means that if you start doing something, you’re going to get better at it. You’ll continue to get better at it the more you do it and after you’ve done it for a long while, and got pretty good, your chances of having a lucky break get better also.

The other side of the equation is telling, and it’s as simple as you think it is. The more you tell people about what you’re doing, the better your odds are that someone is going to swoop in with a serendipitous offer or opportunity.

If you want your project to take off, Roberts suggests you focus on maximising your luck by doing more and telling more people about what you’re doing.

Copyright © 2010 Jason C. Roberts

The shaded rectangles in the above diagram represent what Roberts calls your luck surface area.

The more surface area you have, the more likely you are to succeed (or get lucky).

Doing without telling might lead to isolated genius, but it’s no way to sell your album.

And telling everyone what you’re doing even though you’re doing nothing at all is the trademark of a perpetual procrastinator.

Doing and telling are each necessary because they magnify one another.

Figure out which you do more often, and work on the other.

If it feels too good to be true, it’s too good to be real.

There’s always a catch and the grass is cut from the same roots.

But that’s okay.

It might not be as good as the person who’s trying to sell it to you says it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good.

Sometimes the things people tell you are life changing are just good enough to change the course of a day.

And a day changed for the better is not insignificant.

Not every deal which is too good to be real is a bad deal.

Just ensure you know what you’re giving away.

Was there a day this week where you went to bed dissatistied with the way you spent it?

How many days was that the case?

If that number is hard to deal with (which at times it most certainly has been for me), one of two things are wrong.

Either the way you’re spending your time isn’t aligned with the stories you want to tell about yourself, or your expectations aren’t in line with what’s reasonable.

This worst is when it’s a combination of the two.

We all deserve to love what we do.

But sometimes loving what we do requires us to work hard at loving it.

When it comes to finite play, the way we approach games has much to do with how well prepared we are for surprise.

Speed, trickery and deception are all most difficult to deal with when they can’t be anticipated.

True mastery is being adept enough at the particular game that nothing comes as surprise.

“A true Master Player plays as though the game is already in the past, according to a script whose every detail is known prior to the play itself.”

James P Carse

Further, being prepared for surprise and bracing for surprise are entirely different things.

“To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is the be educated.”

The goal then, when playing any finite game, should not necessarily be to win; it should be to become so educated in the given game that you no longer experience surprises which result in loss.

In such a situation, surprise would not be met with any resistance, as it would only be a detail in script which already resulted in victory.

Play not to win; play to continue playing, all the way to mastery.

We’re at our best when we’re creating.

We create at our best when we’re connected.

We’re most connected when we surround ourselves with brilliant people who care.

And we attract those people by being brilliant ourselves.

Next time you’re wondering what to do, think about what you have to give.

Then give it.

We experience flow when tackling a challenge in the sweet spot of our ability to overcome it without excess anxiety or boredom.

(Diagram accessed via Researchgate)

All games demand flow. When our experience becomes too challenging or too easy, we stop playing optimally (or altogether).

The secret to growth in infinite games is to only play finite games within your flow channel.

Don’t challenge a chess master to play and expect to win and don’t look for intimate connections at bus stops. These are games you’re not going to have fun playing.

If you find that your channel is too narrow to allow enough finite play, perhaps it needs expanding.

Our tolerance to failure and our ability to process it productively are directly linked to the range of flow experiences available to us.

Widen the channel far enough and no game is too boring or worrying to play.

Winning and losing ceases to matter – the point of playing becomes the continuation of the play.

If you find games you can play under any and all circumstances and still improve, you’ll live in flow forever.

Minus the obvious, terrifying, life threatening fears which demand immediate attention, most of the stuff we’re afraid of really isn’t that scary at all.

Spiders don’t often actually want to bite you, food is generally fine to eat the day after its use by date, and being high up doesn’t mean you’re going to fall.

Fear is a signal. It’s a choice to pay it mind. Unless it’s the unavoidable, terryfing, immediate kind, there is always something you can do.

Clear up the cobwebs in your house. Organise your fridge better. Learn some breathing exercises.

The same applies for fears about the future.

There’s always something you can action immediately which can aid to mitigate your fear – the question is whether you’re willing to do the work?

Rejecting fear is a short road to more fear.

Instead, we have to dance with it.

Even if that entails exhausting, detailed and repetitive work.

Peace doesn’t always mean everyone agrees with you or does what you’re comfortable with them doing.

Sometimes peace means walking seperate and opposite paths to those with which your path is incompatible.

It’s the crossing of opposing paths which breeds disdain.

Peace isn’t a lack of disagreement. It’s a lack of conflict.