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Avoiding Fake Deadlines, The Benefits of Daily Reading, Directing Empathy Towards Yourself, Creating as Critiquing, Day Trading with Dreams, Investing in Being Smart, Wisdom versus Intelligence, & How to Start Writing (Reading/Study Notes 5.22.18)

Resource: A must do for entrepreneurs: use real deadlines.


“You´ve heard the phrase: ¨It will be ready this summer¨, ¨I´ll have it by december¨or ¨it will only take one year¨ All this is B.S. This common misuse of deadlines is nothing more than our lizard brain playing with us. It´s our resistance to fulfill that task. Our fear that it might not launch as planned. That it might have mistakes. That it will be a failure.”

“The next time you have to create a deadline about a project, a book you are writing, a hire you need to do, please do me a favor: write up an exact date, as specific as possible. Something like December 30th at 12pm.”

“Don´t come up with fancy terms like ¨late fall¨ or ¨late december¨. They sound nice on your marketing campaign but won´t do you good.”


A deadline isn’t real unless it’s specific. And “specific” means “give a date and time.” Everything else is a form of hedging.

Setting real deadlines is scary, but it improves your ability t get things done. Moreover, by holding yourself accountable to giving real deadlines, you force yourself to think critically about what you really want to achieve. If you can’t get yourself to give it a real deadline, then do you really want it to happen?

Resource: Why you should read every day


3 rules to do more reading:

“I have three simple rules. (1) The first one is to not go to sleep if I haven’t read at least one page of a book. It’s something you can realistically commit to. (2) The second rule is to read at least 50 books per year. And the (3) third one is that when I wait in lines or anywhere else, or when I’m in an idle state somehow, I read.”

The power of daily reading:

“I can honestly say that reading is probably the number one thing that changed my life to the better forever. If there are only two things I have to recommend to anyone in this world, they would be exercise and reading.”

Take advantage of your brain by feeding it daily:

“You have one of the most capable computers in your head available for use, a product of billions of years of evolution. Next to that, you have most of the knowledge ever created by humankind available only with a single click on the mouse. Why would you use your brain and the internet for browsing funny pictures of cats?”

“The most important reason to read (non-fiction) every day is regular maintenance and updates for your brain.”

How your brain is “buggy” and how you can change it:

“Imagine your body is a piece of hardware and your brain is the organ that runs the software to operate your body and how you experience life – from making everyday decisions to how you feel about certain situations. Even if the brain is a remarkably powerful organ, the software it runs among neurons is quite buggy. Extremely buggy, actually. Brain bugs come from many different sources, like suppressed traumatic experiences, cognitive distortions, limiting beliefs, lack of awareness, false knowledge transmitted from others (the Earth is flat?), and so on. Now here’s the awesome news. By reading, listening to lectures, talking to people, observing different situations, reflecting and other similar situations, you can update your software to be less buggy.”

“You have the ability to make your software more powerful, more capable, more accurate and with fewer bugs. In other words, you become more intelligent when you regularly update and maintain your software.”

“Reading opens new perspectives and angles to you, it enables you to familiarize yourself with how other people see the world, it enables you to acquire skills, improve your communication abilities and much more. You can understand the world and yourself much better.”

On the importance of processing and applying:

“only (1) downloading knowledge makes no sense, if you don’t (2) process it and then (3) run it or apply it. It’s like downloading a program on your computer and not installing it, much less using it. That’s why you also need to process knowledge and put it to use….Thinking about it is not enough. Only reflecting is also not enough. You have to change your behavior in the end. Download, process, apply. But reading is where you most often start.”

On how reading is like working out:

“Regular reading doesn’t only mean fresh updates for your brain; it also means regular brain maintenance…Reading is the workout for your brain. You have to take care of your body and your mind.”

How reading aids future learning:

“The more you learn, the more synaptic pinpoints you have for the new knowledge to be at your disposal faster and more permanently. When you read, you’re making your hardware and software more and more capable. The benefits accumulate.”

How reading helps generate creative ideas:

“Better imagination leads to more creativity and ideas. If I need more ideas regarding any subject in life, the first thing I do is to read as much as possible on the topic. When I read a critical amount of ideas, views and knowledge, new ideas start to pop up. So, if you feel stuck with ideas at any time, start reading and reading a lot, and ideas will come naturally.”

How reading can teach you to structure things:

“Every (non-fiction) book has a body of knowledge that’s structured in a specific way. If, before reading a book, you analyze how the book is structured and why that is so, why the author decided to structure knowledge in such a way, it helps stimulate your analytical skills a lot; especially after you do that with hundreds of books. You learn how to structure things quickly and logically.”

Reading begets reading:

“The more you read, the more you see what you don’t yet know, the kind of cool updates you can install to your brains and how unlimited your imagination is, the more you will want to read, the more you will want to know.”

“You’re never alone when you’re reading a book.” – Susan Wiggs

How reading builds consistency:

“If you read at least one page a day, self-discipline and consistency will help you do the same in other areas of life as well, from sports to meditation, and so on.”

Why it can be useful to measure your reading:

“Interestingly, when I talk to people, I’ve noticed that most have a problem admitting that they don’t read at all or read very little. I guess you come up as more intelligent if you lie to yourself and others that you read a lot. It’s one of the brain bugs. Make sure you don’t have this brain bug. You don’t want to only appear intelligent and fake intelligence; you want to actually be intelligent and smart. Thus it may make sense to follow some basic metrics for how much you read in a specific period, and you should also set some limits (minimums) to make sure you do meet your daily, weekly and monthly goals.”


The list of benefits for reading are endless. Reading makes you smarter, it helps you develop empathy, it helps you generate creative ideas, it keeps your brain in shape, it increases your self-knowledge, it helps you develop discipline useful in other areas of life, it helps you increase your income potential, it makes it easier for you to connect with others, it expands your perspective on life, and so on.

Because of the social benefits that come from being seen as a reader combined with the difficulty we naturally have with seeing ourselves as we truly are, it can be easy to lie to ourselves about how much we read. It’s easy to say “I’m a reader” or “I love books” without actually getting any reading done. One way to help with this is to commit to a specific metric for daily reading. Some example of metrics would be a certain number of hours per day/week, a certain number of pages per day, or a certain number of books per week/month. The important thing is to find something that works for you and stick with it.

The more you read, the more you will want to read. Reading will stimulate your hunger for knowledge because it will point you towards the promises and potential rewards contained in things you don’t yet know.

The more you read, the easier it becomes to read. Reading is like running. It’s hardest when you first start, but your body adapts to it and eventually craves it.

Resource: Hey, how are you feeling in your shoes?


“What I have discovered though is that it’s not enough to “walk in another’s shoes”. Because for many people, their problem is not only that others don’t see them, or don’t walk in their shoes. The problem is also that they are not comfortable walking in their own shoes. And until they can accept that their own shoes were custom made for them and that their inner peace can only come when they fully accept and are comfortable in their own shoes.”

“Once they are comfortable in their own shoes, they will automatically feel their own beauty, their own attractiveness and their own uniqueness. They will love what they do and they will no longer have the craving for others’ permission or approval. They will no longer need someone else to be in their shoes.”

“I wonder if instead of looking outside ourselves to check if our shoes fit, whether it would not be more effective to find the tools and practices to help us look inside ourselves to find the right view to love the shoes we have already got?”


Self-acceptance is the basis for empathy. You can’t appreciate what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes without having knowledge and respect for what it means to walk in your own shoes.

Empathy isn’t just about relating to and appreciating others. It’s also about relating to and appreciating yourself.

By practicing self-love, you not only improve your capacity for empathy towards others but you also feel less dependent on others showing empathy towards you.

Resource: Before and after


“When you put the right idea into the world, people can’t unsee it. It changes our narrative. The existence of your product, service or innovation means that everything that compares to it is now treated differently. Once the fax existed, mail seemed slower. Once email was around, the fax seemed hopelessly analog.”


the narrative behind your service or product doesn’t just affect you. It affects the existing world. When you create, you also critique. Once you show the world how to do something differently or at least convince them that something different needs to be done, the world can’t go backwards from there.

The very attempt to change things changes things. We overlook this because we tend to see success only in terms of our success at getting the credit or making profits for our work. But your efforts to innovate, even if they eventually fail, will contribute to a larger pool of possibilities than can’t be unseen.

Resource: Are you day trading?


“The volatility of bitcoin turns the people who own it into addicts. At any given moment, it’s up $100 or down a thousand. When it’s up, you think you’re brilliant, that you somehow had something to do with it. And when it’s down, the world is about to implode. Most people don’t day trade bitcoin, but all of us day trade something. We’re hooked into something volatile, easily measured and emotional. We overdo our response to news, good or bad, and let it distract us from the long-term job of living a useful life. Your SEO results, your Facebook likes, the look on your boss’s face when she gets back from a meeting–all of these things are rife with opportunities for day trading. It’ll be volatile with or without your help. Better to set it aside and get back to the real work of making a difference instead.”


Don’t approach your daily process like a daytrader by making too big of a deal about short-term wins and losses. On a day to day basis, life is volatile. The best approach to personal development and success is to find something you believe in, bet on it for the long-term, and get back to doing meaningful work without being obsessed with the day to day trends.

Resource: How much is ‘smarter’ worth?


“How much is smarter worth? In my experience, smarter is almost always a bargain, something you can buy for a lot less than it’s worth.”


There are few opportunities with a lesser expense than ones to get smarter. Information is everywhere and it’s cheap. The opportunity to reflect is as near to us as our own thoughts. the opportunity to try new things is there every day. Nothing pays off more than the investments we make in becoming smarter versions of ourselves. Make it a point to get smarter every day.

Resource: Is It Worth Being Wise?


Wisdom and Intelligence as different shapes on the performance curve:

“Neither of the conventional explanations of the difference between wisdom and intelligence stands up to scrutiny. So what is the difference? If we look at how people use the words “wise” and “smart,” what they seem to mean is different shapes of performance.”

On the essential distinction between wisdom and knowledge:

“The distinction is similar to the rule that one should judge talent at its best and character at its worst. Except you judge intelligence at its best, and wisdom by its average. That’s how the two are related: they’re the two different senses in which the same curve can be high. So a wise person knows what to do in most situations, while a smart person knows what to do in situations where few others could. We need to add one more qualification: we should ignore cases where someone knows what to do because they have inside information. [3] But aside from that, I don’t think we can get much more specific without starting to be mistaken.”

Why the word “wisdom” is misleading:

“This explanation also suggests why wisdom is such an elusive concept: there’s no such thing. “Wise” means something—that one is on average good at making the right choice. But giving the name “wisdom” to the supposed quality that enables one to do that doesn’t mean such a thing exists. To the extent “wisdom” means anything, it refers to a grab-bag of qualities as various as self-discipline, experience, and empathy.”

How our understanding of wisdom and knowledge have changed:

“In the time of Confucius and Socrates, people seem to have regarded wisdom, learning, and intelligence as more closely related than we do. Distinguishing between “wise” and “smart” is a modern habit. [5] And the reason we do is that they’ve been diverging. As knowledge gets more specialized, there are more points on the curve, and the distinction between the spikes and the average becomes sharper, like a digital image rendered with more pixels.”

On our modern bias for intelligence over wisdom:

“Society seems to have voted for intelligence. We no longer admire the sage—not the way people did two thousand years ago. Now we admire the genius. Because in fact the distinction we began with has a rather brutal converse: just as you can be smart without being very wise, you can be wise without being very smart. That doesn’t sound especially admirable.”

On the relationship between wisdom and happiness:

“For both Confucius and Socrates, wisdom, virtue, and happiness were necessarily related. The wise man was someone who knew what the right choice was and always made it; to be the right choice, it had to be morally right; he was therefore always happy, knowing he’d done the best he could. I can’t think of many ancient philosophers who would have disagreed with that, so far as it goes.”

“The superior man is always happy; the small man sad.” -Confucius.

In defense of discontentment:

“Whereas a few years ago I read an interview with a mathematician who said that most nights he went to bed discontented, feeling he hadn’t made enough progress. [8] The Chinese and Greek words we translate as “happy” didn’t mean exactly what we do by it, but there’s enough overlap that this remark contradicts them. Is the mathematician a small man because he’s discontented? No; he’s just doing a kind of work that wasn’t very common in Confucius’s day.”

“To me it was a relief just to realize it might be ok to be discontented. The idea that a successful person should be happy has thousands of years of momentum behind it. If I was any good, why didn’t I have the easy confidence winners are supposed to have? But that, I now believe, is like a runner asking “If I’m such a good athlete, why do I feel so tired?” Good runners still get tired; they just get tired at higher speeds. People whose work is to invent or discover things are in the same position as the runner.”

How wisdom work differs from intelligence work:

“Advising people and writing are fundamentally different types of work. When people come to you with a problem and you have to figure out the right thing to do, you don’t (usually) have to invent anything. You just weigh the alternatives and try to judge which is the prudent choice. But prudence can’t tell me what sentence to write next. The search space is too big.”

The simplicity and maturity of wisdom:

“Recipes for wisdom, particularly ancient ones, tend to have a remedial character. To achieve wisdom one must cut away all the debris that fills one’s head on emergence from childhood, leaving only the important stuff. Both self-control and experience have this effect: to eliminate the random biases that come from your own nature and from the circumstances of your upbringing respectively. That’s not all wisdom is, but it’s a large part of it. Much of what’s in the sage’s head is also in the head of every twelve year old. The difference is that in the head of the twelve year old it’s mixed together with a lot of random junk.”

“The wise are all much alike in their wisdom, but very smart people tend to be smart in distinctive ways.”

Why traditional schooling fails”

Most of our educational traditions aim at wisdom. So perhaps one reason schools work badly is that they’re trying to make intelligence using recipes for wisdom. Most recipes for wisdom have an element of subjection. At the very least, you’re supposed to do what the teacher says. The more extreme recipes aim to break down your individuality the way basic training does. But that’s not the route to intelligence. Whereas wisdom comes through humility, it may actually help, in cultivating intelligence, to have a mistakenly high opinion of your abilities, because that encourages you to keep working. Ideally till you realize how mistaken you were.

On how wisdom can interfere with intelligence:

“(The reason it’s hard to learn new skills late in life is not just that one’s brain is less malleable. Another probably even worse obstacle is that one has higher standards.)”

The role and delicate balance of the teacher:

“A teacher has to walk a narrow path: you want to encourage kids to come up with things on their own, but you can’t simply applaud everything they produce. You have to be a good audience: appreciative, but not too easily impressed. And that’s a lot of work.”

The path to wisdom versus the path to intelligence:

“The path to wisdom is through discipline, and the path to intelligence through carefully selected self-indulgence. Wisdom is universal, and intelligence idiosyncratic. And while wisdom yields calmness, intelligence much of the time leads to discontentment.”

How we might be able to change our relationship to discontentment:

“Perhaps if we acknowledge that some amount of frustration is inevitable in certain kinds of work, we can mitigate its effects. Perhaps we can box it up and put it away some of the time, instead of letting it flow together with everyday sadness to produce what seems an alarmingly large pool. At the very least, we can avoid being discontented about being discontented.”

“If you feel exhausted, it’s not necessarily because there’s something wrong with you. Maybe you’re just running fast.”

A demystified account of wisdom:

“People seeking some single thing called “wisdom” have been fooled by grammar. Wisdom is just knowing the right thing to do, and there are a hundred and one different qualities that help in that. Some, like selflessness, might come from meditating in an empty room, and others, like a knowledge of human nature, might come from going to drunken parties. Perhaps realizing this will help dispel the cloud of semi-sacred mystery that surrounds wisdom in so many people’s eyes. The mystery comes mostly from looking for something that doesn’t exist. And the reason there have historically been so many different schools of thought about how to achieve wisdom is that they’ve focused on different components of it.”

How to identify wisdom:

“When I use the word “wisdom” in this essay, I mean no more than whatever collection of qualities helps people make the right choice in a wide variety of situations.”


My own formulation of the distinction between wisdom and intelligence —

Wisdom is philosophical. Intelligence is scientific.
Wisdom deals with fundamentals. Intelligence deals with facts.
Wisdom address the core of an issue by either relating it to meaning/values or by sourcing the answer from contemplation of meaning/values.
Wisdom seems to come from one’s inner depths. intelligence seems to come from an ability to think quickly or from a storehouse of acquired knowledge.

Resource: Letter of Advice to a Sixteen-Year-Old Girl Aspiring to Become a Writer


“If you write what you yourself sincerely think and feel and are interested in, you will interest other people.” -Rachel Carson

“All I know is that if you are interested enough, and care enough, then you concentrate. But nobody can tell you how to start writing.”

“My advice to “up and coming writers” is, don’t write at first for anyone but yourself. It doesn’t matter how many or how few universities one goes to, what matters is what one learns, either at universities or by oneself.”


You are your own first audience and you can’t afford to put that one to sleep. If you’re bored with yourself, the rest is irrelevant. Consider others beyond yourself, but not at the exclusion of yourself. Start with that’s interesting to you.

Where you learn it from is never as important as what you learn and why you learn it.

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