It is a beautiful realization, to see that every human around you, different as they may be, experience the world in a fundamentally similar way. We are all constrained by a lack prescient knowledge. None of us know the future, and this means that your boss, you, and every human on this earth is on level ground. There are of course differences in knowledge and leverage between people, but when compared to prescient knowledge, it's insignificant. This is what allows young hackers to topple corporations. We are all working with information, trying our best to adapt to a world that no one truly understands.
For me, working with this belief has both increased my empathy and empowered me. In this framework, the world is your oyster, at least as much as it is someone else's. Don't wait for people to tell you what to do, think. What are the opportunities at present? How can we be impactful? What leverage can I use?
After starting to do this, you'll be surprised to see many people you looked up to are doing the same thing. It's not prescient knowledge, but an honest effort from humans to lead and adapt.
As we introspect, the world separates from us. We start asking, what do we want? We almost dehumanize those around us. But if we open our eyes, we start see expressions on people's faces. We start to sense the emotions they feel, when they wonder what we're thinking. At that moment, it's almost silly. Wow, how together we really are, how much of the human experience we really share.
I notice within myself, that when I am focused on myself, nothing goes the way I want it too. It's easier to become resentful, the world will warp to our problems. The antitode is to look outwards. For what purpose do we work? How can we help others?
When you build a system, you don't just stop when it works once. The complexity comes from building fault tolerance, scale, both in features and usage, as well as reliability. We need to apply to that our lives. I often find myself always at the beginning stage of building a system -- 'Okay, now I will work out every day and wake up at 5am and rainbows all around'. What will happen if I don't? What will happen when it's a bad day?
I can be a bit of a loud speaker. Especially when I get on a skype call and have headphones on. One of the things I dread the most is when someone shushes me. I almost always react back, and essentially say 'deal with it'. This always makes me feel quite bad. The reason is that I honestly knew that I am imposing, but I also felt that it is rude of them to talk to me in the way that they do. When I react, it isn't congruent with the type of person I want to be, and I feel off long after. One time, a man interrupted me as I was sittings outside of a cafe, and I told him, 'I am sorry, though it is outside'. He misheard me, and thought I said 'I am sorry, but we are excited', he laughted and empathized. I realized, this was the secret -- from now on, instead of reacting back, make light of it. It saves face for both of us, and is congruent with who I am. This kind of lesson applies throughout life -- instead of getting angry, taking it lightly, empathize.
When we look deep within ourselves, and re-examine our values, we wake up. We realize that the standards the world sets of us, are lower than the standards our values set for us. No one will complain to you if you are okay at something, but your values demand art. No one will complain to you if you are nice, but your values demand realness.
When procrastinating, give yourself a hard rule -- you can only produce. No more consumption. You don't have do what you're procrastinating about, but you do need to produce.
I sometimes jokingly say to friends, 'always be on the attack', or 'be like a tiger'. It is in jest, but the root of it is about proactivity. Focus on what you can control
I reflected recently about the moments where I felt the happiest. The moments where I saw the largest gain, or experienced person growth. During these moments, the one constant was that I was thinking about something greater than myself -- family, team, friends.
Then I thought of the moments where I was the closest to causing irreparable damage. In these moments the constant was that I was internally focused, worried about myself, anxious.
Bertrand Russell once wrote a piece that I am about to bastardize, but it has been hugely impactful for me since I read it. He said, when working on complex problems, think as hard you can about it, then stop, and go about your day. Be okay with not being able to produce an answer, or do something right away. Let your mind think it over, the answer will come