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The Tinkered Mind
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May 1st, 2019
Things take time.
It’s certainly one of the wisest statements we have floating around. Our perception of time and our understanding of how things grow and evolve through time is grossly under developed. Two weeks of working out appear to have no results. Meanwhile the individual who has been tinkering with weightlifting, cardio, diet, fasting and sleep for years is far more likely to know what works, and what doesn’t, and more importantly, just how much time things can take.
So many endeavors fail to really get going because of this aspect of our perception of time: we take action, and there don’t seem to be any results, so why keep doing the same thing expecting a different result? This is a casual definition of insanity that has little thoughtfulness behind it. And yet it persists and guides many people in ways that are ultimately less interesting, less productive and potentially even deleterious.
A way to think about these beginning moments is with dominos of varying sizes. A domino can hit another domino that is 1.5 times it’s size and it will fall. It can’t however takedown a domino that is twice it’s size. If we abide by the first case, a tiny domino can take down a gargantuan domino if there is an appropriately sized and ordered set of dominos between the two. And this distance between the tiny domino and the huge monolith can be seen as time expressed in a visual sense.
So often, our attempts to begin things are like a tiny domino trying to knock down a brick wall. We fail to remember that our efforts need to compound and scale and that this process most often takes time. Time where nothing seems to be happening. Our skills scale and compound as we practice, and if we are smart, the results of our practice can also compound symmetrically in accordance to our practice.
Just to put this in perspective, if we line up dominos starting with a normal sized domino that fits in the palm of a hand, and then increase the size of each succeeding domino by 1.5, the twelfth domino will be 125 times the size of the first. (Check out this videos here)
But there can be a gross mismatch between the scaling improvement of our skills and the scaling expression of that skill in the real world.
For example, an author can toil away in obscurity for years, scaling their skills at the craft, and yet the results of such effort might lack all expression in the real world because such an author eschews petty concepts like marketing, network effect and exposure.
The problematic concept of Passion for a given profession or endeavor often carries along with it martyr-like implications that most likely have bad effects on the ways we think about what we like to pursue.
A painter who paints every day and posts their art everyday on Instagram, however, might be fortunate enough to see a concurrent scaling of their skill and the effect that their paintings have with the public exposed to such art.
This can be the virtuous effect of followers on any given platform, however if twitter or Instagram were to suddenly shut off tomorrow, the artist or writer who has worked hard to improve their skill is still going to have the most important aspect of their scaled efforts, unlike some people who have harvested the network effect of such platforms without scaling their own abilities in accordance with whatever following they happen to garner.
The digital world simply speeds up the network effect that also happens organically outside of the digital world, but practice still carries as much weight as is put into it, unlike the digital platforms which none of us own nor control and may be taken away at any moment for any number of unforeseeable reasons.
In light of such possibilities, its best to invest in our own selves and scale our abilities as much as possible.
This episode references Tinkered Thinking’s all-time most popular Episode 6: What’s Your Passion?