Discipline Equals Freedom

Jocko Willink’s ‘field manual’ to living.

“When negative people talk behind your back, ignore and outperform. They’ll focus on what I’m doing wrong, I’ll focus on what I can do right. When you look around and realize where you are and where I am, you’ll realize you have nothing to talk about. Outwork and outperform.”

Great reminder that the obstacles that most often stop us are self-imposed. Humans are incredibly resilient, and as such, anything that’s stopping you can be overcome.

“Stress is generally caused by what you can’t control. The worst thing about incoming artillery fire is that you can’t control it. You have to accept it. If it’s something you can control, that’s a lack of discipline and ownership. Get control of it. Solve the problem. Relieve the stress.”

“Discipline is the way.”

Reminds me of: ‘Tribe‘ by Sebastian Junger

Hurry Slowly – Tyler Cowan


The Quiet Dangers of Complacency’ from the author of ‘The Complacent Class

“Apps like Yelp stop you from walking through a neighborhood and exploring. It makes intuition almost underrated.”

I’d like to try and rely more on my intuition when I travel. As a huge user of apps like Yelp (and more and more, Instagram) when traveling, I’m sure that there’s so much I miss because I’m making a beeline to the thing that got 400 5-star ratings. That’s complacency.

“The purpose of moving is self-transformation“ – James Jasper

As time goes on, people are becoming less likely to move to a new state for opportunity. That seems backwards.

“Complacency is in many ways extremely pleasant and people like it.”

The thing that keeps you scrolling on Twitter or Instagram instead of doing something is the same force which has much larger ramifications on your life. The reason that it wins? You like it.

“We say we’re busy, but things like social media are what’s making us harried. That’s not true busy-ness.”

I am often guilty of this. How many days have I felt frenzied, only to write my todo list down and realize that I could get to it all in a few hours? The ‘harried’ feeling comes from the noise, not the need.

“Change will lead to insight more often than insight will lead to change.” – Milton Erickson

Love this quote. I need to read some Erickson.

“Music is much less culturally central than it used to be. Same as movies. Social media is obviously more central, and encourages complacency. So does television, they stick with a series even if it isn’t great. It also keeps you in the house.”

I think this is worth chewing on. How do you make art in a culture of complacency, that’s not only popular but incites change?

Reminds me of: ‘The Inevitable’ By Kevin Kelly

Holy Heritics – Brian Zahnd

A podcast with the author of ‘Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God‘.

“The Bible itself is on the journey to discover the word of God.”

Jesus himself reinterprets texts to suit his own needs. We just need to follow his interpretation.

“To repent is to rethink. If we’re going to talk about who’s following Jesus, some must repent of their understanding of the Bible.”

“Repent” is a word worth repenting from.

“The wrath of god is a metaphor for the self-inflicted suffering that we endure when we go against the grain of the universe that is the grain of love because God is love.”

If we understood love and wrath, our lives would be different.

“Once you push Jesus out of being Lord and give someone else rule of this world, Jesus gets demoted to Secretary of Afterlife Affairs—but salvation is best understood as some kind of belonging. The word salvation is virtually never used by Jesus. He talks about the kingdom of God, announcing and enacting the new arrangement of human society that comes from heaven to earth. Paul rarely talks about the kingdom of god but he always talks about salvation. Here’s the thing: They’re talking about the same thing. Salvation is our own participation in the kingdom of God.”

“The kingdom of God” is at hand. It’s you.

Reminds me of: ‘A New Kind of Christianity‘ by Brian McLaren

A Pattern Language

A Pattern Language’ is an absolutely fascinating tome from the 1970s, intended to be a ‘working document’ for architecture.

Instead of coming at it from a highly technical perspective, the book is instead of composed of chapters which take on an oddly beautiful abstraction.

Some examples:

Magic of the City (10). “There are few people who do not enjoy the magic of a great city. But urban sprawl takes it away from everyone except the few who are lucky enough, or rich enough, to live close to the largest centers.”

Every aspect of the city (from its whole structure down to each storefront) should be considered to provide the magic to all.

Old People Everywhere (40). “Old people are so often forgotten and left alone is modern society, that it is necessary to formulate a special pattern which underlines their needs. Old people need old people, but they also need the young, and young people need contact with the old.”

A city that forgets to connect generations and provide for each, then, is a failure.

Holy Ground (66). “What is a church or temple? It is a place of worship, spirit, contemplation, of course. But above all, from a human point of view, it is a gateway. A person comes into the world through the church. He leaves it through the church. And, at each of the important thresholds of his life, he once again steps through the church.”

I love this concept of what a church is in modern society. Where we have turned it into a place to attend a weekly service, this book wisely understands that it is a holy place to mark life’s most important moments.

Sleeping in Public (94). “It is a mark of success in a park, public lobby or a porch, when people can come there and fall asleep. In a society which nurtures people and fosters trust, the fact that people sometimes want to sleep in public is the most natural thing in the world. But our society does not invite this kind of behavior. In our society, sleeping in public, like loitering, is thought of as an act for criminals and destitute. The fact is, these attitudes are largely shaped by the environment itself.”

It’s fascinating to see a city planner see the homeless not as a problem, but an opportunity to provide goodwill.

Secret Place (204). “Where can the need for concealment be expressed; the need to hide; the need for something precious to be lost, and then revealed? Make a place in the house, perhaps only a few feet square, which is kept locked and secret; a place which is virtually impossible to discover—until you have been shown where it is; a place where the archives of the house, or other more potent secrets, might be kept.”

The appeal of this book is the secret places that it encourages, the secret places that it reveals. I will always think of this pattern language whenever I create or design a space going forward.

Reminds me of: ‘Walkable City‘ by Jeff Speck, ‘The Past and Future City‘ by Stephanie Meeks, Gretchen Rubin’s episode on The Tim Ferriss Show (where I heard about this book)

The Florida Project

The Florida Project is my favorite film that I watched in 2017, by a director who’s intent on highlighting the ‘hidden homeless’ of America.

Highlighting the families that live in a rundown motel in the middle of Orlando, the movie manages to be bleak and uplifting all at once. You can understand a lot about these residents through a single line the six-year-old main character tells her friend as they walk through the property:

”The man who lives in here gets arrested a lot. The woman in here thanks she’s married to Jesus.”

…and the way that a woman explains her own living situation which two young children as she moves into the motel:

”These aren’t mine. Well, they’re mine now. My daughter made me a grandmother when she was 15. So I’m looking after them until she stops acting like her stupid father.“

The movie never loses it’s hope, though. The young girl takes her friend to her favorite spot in an Orlando park, and says this:

”You know why this is my favorite tree? ‘Cause it’s tipped over and it’s still growing.“

We’re all still growing.

Reminds me of: ‘Tangerine

Several Short Sentences About Writing

This is the best book I’ve ever read on the subject of writing.

Author Verlyn Klinkenborg’s book takes on a poetic form, breaking paragraphs into sentences to make you (reader and potential author) understand how important each and every one is. The book makes it clear that the rules you know about writing are bad rules:

Consider the bad habit of typing, preliminarily, two or three words—
A natural start to the sentence, you think—
And then waiting for the rest of the sentence to reveal itself.
But after two or three words the sentence is already foredoomed,
Its structure predetermined.
Two or three words, and you’ve already reduced the remaining choices
To a small, depressing handful.
It’s shocking to realize how quickly you become wedded to those two or three words,
How hard it is to abandon them for an alternative.

What do you do once you’ve wrangled the art of the good sentence? Well:

So revise toward brevity—remove words instead of adding them.
Toward directness—language that isn’t evasive or periphrastic. Toward simplicity—in construction and word choice.
Toward clarity—a constant lookout for ambiguity.
Toward rhythm—where it’s lacking.
Toward literalness—as an antidote to obscurity.
Toward implication—the silent utterance of your sentences.
Toward variation—always.
Toward silence—leave some. Toward the name of the world—yours to discover.
Toward presence—the quiet authority of your prose.
And when things are really working,
That’s when it’s time to break what already works,
And keep breaking it
Until you find what’s next.

Reminds me of: ‘The War of Art‘ by Steven Pressfield, the ‘Smooth Soup’ episode of Wonderful (where I heard about this book)

Erykah Badu: In Conversation

A fantastic interview with Erykah Badu on Vulture.

Erykah Badu has never been one to shy away from making a provocative statement. When asked in this interview about how she feels about the current allegations against many artists, she sidesteps it and decides to tells a story around Barabbas.

Jesus is standing on one side, Barabbas is standing on the other side, and the people have to choose which one of them could go free. Some people started yelling, “Barabbas! Barabbas! Barabbas!” Then so many people were doing that that the others found safety in numbers, and they also started yelling, “Barabbas! Barabbas! Barabbas!” People walked up who didn’t even know what was going on and they also started yelling for Barabbas to go free. I always think about that. It’s so important to me.

I think it’s important to understand that Badu isn’t trying to undermine any allegations against any artist, but instead is fighting for the recognition that it’s important to think for yourself. She continues that thought out a bit further:

The people who got hurt, I feel so bad for them. I want them to feel better, too. But sick people do evil things; hurt people hurt people. I know I could be crucified for saying that, because I’m supposed to be on the purple team or the green team. I’m not trying to rebel against what everybody’s saying, but maybe I want to measure it. Somebody will call me and ask me to come to a march because such and such got shot. In that situation I want to know what really happened. I’m not going to jump up and go march just because I’m green and the person who got shot is green.

We should have strong opinions. We should not have those opinions because others told us too. Badu gives us insight into how she holds her own, referencing (of all things!) Star Wars: The Phantom Menace:

There was one scene where they were fighting, and they got to these doors that would close and then open up 30 seconds later. So at one point, (Qui-Gon Jinn) turned and flipped and he and Darth Maul were on opposite sides of a door. So you have Darth Maul standing there, ready for that door to open, and Qui-Gon Jinn does this (Badu briefly kneels on the ground with her eyes closed just for a few seconds), then he gets up. He took a deep breath and then started back fighting…I fell in love with that. Whenever I’m afraid, I do that: Take a minute and breathe. No matter how scary something is, doing that helps it go away.

Take a minute, and breathe.

Reminds me of: ‘The Phantom Menace