3 New Ideas 💡
The Scarcity Mindset 🍽
Last week’s edition talked briefly about the resource-scarce algorithm that humans have been evolutionarily hard-wired to run on.
A byproduct of that thinking is the scarcity mindset which tells us that we simply don’t have enough: enough time, enough stuff, enough control over our life.
Doing anything to close this gap of deficiency between where we are and what we want, the scarcity mindset causes us to live in a permanent state of dissatisfaction as we chase our goals with the belief that we’re always coming up short. In addition, Khe Hy references his time in Wall Street (where coworkers would fight over bonuses) to explain that this belief that we live in a fixed-pie (or zero-sum) world can also cause individuals to put others down to claim their share of the pie.
Instead of approaching life with this limiting mindset, Khe recommends we come from a place of abundance, accepting first that we have enough, and constantly working to expand the pie to elevate ourselves and those around us in the process.
This shift in approach has helped me look back with less guilt at the shortcomings of this week and is something I’ll carry forward, knowing that if I come at things from a place of abundance, passion instead of fear will continue to drive me forward.
Central Strivings 🔥
In the early 2000s Michael B. Kaufman sought to answer a question that was central to the way he had lived his life: does the pursuit and realization of competitive success deliver on its promise of a good life?
Building off a fifteen-year longitudinal study of well-being started in 1964, he tracked down and interviewed 40 Harvard alumni - who were now approaching the age of 60 - to determine what success and achievement means over the course of a lifetime. The results of these interviews - which Kaufman discusses in his book Redefining Success in America - identified that the largest predictor of satisfaction in the long run was the nature of one’s central striving.
Kaufman describes a central striving as the set of motivations that one bases their life and pursuits around. Those who adopted what Kaufman deemed a self-repair striving in which they lived to make up for some deficiency they saw in themselves (Kaufman gives two examples: (1) a student with a poor upbringing pursuing the dream of climbing the socioeconomic ladder and (2) a student who spent his life trying to match the success of his father and earn his approval) were less satisfied due to their dependence on uncertain outcomes.
On the other hand, those who had positive goals where they sought to live true to a set of core values were more in control of their measures of success, embracing challenge and failure without the fears of a fragile ego.
Kaufman’s work tells us to question the nature of our motivations and consider the core values we center our lives around.
Young’s 5-Step Ideation Process 🎨
In the 1940s, a marketing executive by the names of James Webb Young wrote a guide to his “5-Step Ideation Process” which said that creative ideas came from: (1) exposing yourself to new material around a problem and its related fields (2) directing focussed thinking towards the insights from that material and experimenting with fitting ideas together in creative ways (3) taking time away from the problem to do something else (4) having a solution hit you when you aren't expecting it and (5) improving on that solution through iteration and feedback from real-world testing.
Creative thinking is something I think about a lot as it has become a fundamental skill across all areas of my life. Young’s process is a reminder that creativity is something that can be developed and that our systems and processes can help us arrive at solutions that we might initially find hard to see.
3 Favourite Saves 💾
Don’t Start from Scratch is an essay from James Clear who tells us that creation is not about starting from scratch and that instead, it's about building on the ideas that have withstood the test of time and drawing connections to produce something whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Clear’s reference to Thomas Thwaites’ Toaster Project is a great example of the multi-generational iteration that everything in our complex world is built from and a reminder that creativity is not an isolated process.
Signalling as a Service is an essay from Julian Lehr who describes an emerging business model that capitalises on the power and reach of social networks to amplify signals of status beyond what was once possible in the physical world. Building from the premise of The Elephant in the Brain - that every one of our choices can be boiled down to signalling whether acknowledged or not - Julian explains how the internet builds on the last two of the three stages of signalling (signal message, signal distribution and signal amplification) to sell users the chance to make their signal louder than the rest. Combining two of the things that are most interesting me now - technology and social behaviour - it’s a great read to think more about what forces are shaping new products and services.
The Chainsmokers are an electronic DJ and production duo whose songs have topped international music charts time and time again. In this interview for Justin Kan’s podcast The Quest, Drew and Alex talk about the series of events that made them the huge success they are Today: going all-in and believing in their craft, growth-hacking their way up the Hype Machine leaderboards, blowing up with the song Selfie and pivoting away from that success to focus on the work they were passionate about. I love this interview because it’s yet another reminder of the fact that ‘overnight’ successes are built upon years of hard-work, dedication and relentlessness that create opportunities for anomalous events to be a catapult towards bigger things.
3 Quotes to Think About 📝
“If you started absolutely from scratch you could easily spend your life making a toaster.” - Thomas Thwaites, The Toaster Project
“Mundane as it sounds, that’s the most powerful motivator of all, not just in startups, but in most ambitious undertakings: to be genuinely interested in what you’re building” - Paul Graham, Billionaires Build
“What we see before us is just one tiny part of the world. We get into the habit of thinking, This is the world, but that’s not true at all. The real world is in a much darker and deeper place than this, and most of it is occupied by jellyfish and things” - Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
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