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How to Juggle, The Principle Behind Affection, & Early Career Mistakes (Reading Notes 7.5.18)

Resource: Throwing and catching


Seth reveals the secret to juggling: throwing is more important than catching. If you want to juggle, you need to throw the ball in a way that makes it easy for you to catch. If your throw is bad, you’ll need to be amazing for every catch. But if your throw is right, you only need to be a good catcher.

We spend most of our lives in the reaction/response orientation where we’re constantly putting out fires and adapting to changes that other people initiate. This is a life of catching. A life of throwing is when you establish routines and practices that make catching easy.

If you have to be amazing just to make simple catches, your throwing will eventually suffer.


“Emergency response is overrated compared to emergency avoidance.”

“We spend most of our time in catching mode. In dealing with the incoming. Putting out fires. Going to meetings that were called by other people. Reacting to whoever is shouting the loudest. But if we learn a lesson from jugglers, we realize that the hard part isn’t catching, it’s throwing. Learn to throw, to initiate, to do with care and you’ll need to spend far less time worrying about catching in the first place.”

Resource: Pioneering Feminist Philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft on Loneliness, Friendship, and the Courage of Affection


The novelty and flattery that characterizes relationships in their early stages eventually wears off. Lasting affection requires a well cultivated mind.

Affection is based on principle. If your life is guided by good principles of action, you sustain affection over the long-term. Most people, however, don’t have principles of action that are deep enough to produce this lasting affection.


“Friendship and domestic happiness are continually praised; yet how little is there of either in the world, because it requires more cultivation of mind to keep awake affection, even in our own hearts, than the common run of people suppose. Besides, few like to be seen as they really are; and a degree of simplicity, and of undisguised confidence, which, to uninterested observers, would almost border on weakness, is the charm, nay the essence of love or friendship, all the bewitching graces of childhood again appearing… I therefore like to see people together who have an affection for each other; every turn of their features touches me, and remains pictured on my imagination in indelible characters.”

“Affection requires a firmer foundation than sympathy, and few people have a principle of action sufficiently stable to produce rectitude of feeling; for in spite of all the arguments I have heard to justify deviations from duty, I am persuaded that even the most spontaneous sensations are more under the direction of principle than weak people are willing to allow.”

Resource: The First Five Years: Early Creative Career Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them


Always have people you can bounce ideas around with. Always be clear on what’s expected of you when you agree to accept money for work. Always be clear about how much time and money it will really take to do a job. Don’t be so zealous for money that you say “yes” to quickly to any opportunity that pays well or seems feasible.


“This is incredibly important: no matter where you go to school, you will never learn everything you need to know about running a design business.”

“Design is way more fun when you don’t try to do it alone.”

“As new designers, we didn’t really know how long it would take to complete most of our early projects. Our biggest screw up in the first year was a bid for the design of an enormous electrical and lighting parts catalog. We did some calculating about how long we thought it would take to design each page, multiplied by the number of pages, added a little time for surprises, and sent out the bid. The client immediately approved our proposal and fee. Fortunately, we are friends with many more experienced designers, one of whom looked at the project, looked at our fee, and told us we were off by an order of magnitude. She told us that we had bid about 1/10th as much as we should have, and from experience she knew that the project would take far, far longer than we thought — the design fee the client accepted would have completely bankrupted us. One incredibly awkward client phone call later, we were out of the project and had learned a valuable lesson.”

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