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Putting Respect First, The Value of Keeping a Diary, & What to do When You’re Behind (Reading Notes 6.13.18)

Resource: Being Liked vs. Being Respected


You don’t need to be liked by your coworkers, but you do need to be respected.

Don’t confuse being disliked with being respected. Being respected is the result of value-creation, not being a jerk.

Don’t lead with being liked. People can learn to like you if they know they can count on you.

If you let others down or create problems for your customers/colleagues by being unreliable or unworthy of their respect, it can easily undermine their ability to like you.

You can’t sustain respect through titles and accolades. If people don’t respect you for your character, consistency, and competence, they’ll respect you even less as your accolades increases.


“I’ve worked with people everyone loved but had little respect for and people everyone respected but didn’t like. Everyone would rather have a beer with the former, but everyone would rather work with the latter.”

“People you work with do not need to like you. People you work with need to respect you.

“The most effective teammates and certainly the most effective leaders are liked and respected. I would argue, however, that one of the primary reasons they are liked is because of how respectable they are. The likeability can grow on people. But if you lead with being liked it doesn’t tend to morph into respect over time.”

“Respect must be earned through a reputation of value creation. It doesn’t come with titles or business cards or corner offices or degrees or years of experience. If they don’t respect you now, they’ll respect you less when you get the promotion. To them, you’re the same person but in even further over your head.”

“being disliked is not the same as being respected. Don’t assume you are respected just because everyone is afraid of you or thinks you’re an a**hole. Yes, people thought Steve Jobs was an a**hole, but the causality doesn’t run that way. Most a**holes are not value-creating highly respected leaders. Never take pride in being disliked by those you work with.”

Resource: Celebrated Writers on the Creative Benefits of Keeping a Diary


Keeping a daily diary can help you become a freer and more honest writer.

The way we express ourselves in a diary is more risky, transparent, experimental, and creative than what we allow ourselves to say when writing for an audience.

Even though the quality of what you write in a diary may be poor, it improves the quality of what you write for others.

The things you record in a diary can be used later as building blocks for future stories and essays.

Sometimes we should be take less seriously, not more, for what we say in our diaries. For starters, we are creatures highly subject to moods. What we say or feel in one moment may be entirely different one day/week/month/year later. Diary entries can be deceptive in that they give permanence to feelings that are rather transient. Diaries also are written under the presumption that no one will see them. Paradoxically, that can make us less honest at times. It’s easy to assume that we are always more honest in private, but sometimes it’s the reverse.

Doing one small thing every day can radically change your life. That one activity may be small, but it gives you a sense of mastery and self-confidence that readily spills over into other areas of life. This relates to the concept of non-zero days. Doing one thing a day brings great order to your life. It’s an organizing force for your entire life.


“Keeping a Diary all my life helped me to discover some basic elements essential to the vitality of writing….Of these the most important is naturalness and spontaneity. These elements sprung, I observed, from my freedom of selection: in the Diary I only wrote of what interested me genuinely, what I felt most strongly at the moment, and I found this fervor, this enthusiasm produced a vividness which often withered in the formal work. Improvisation, free association, obedience to mood, impulse, bought forth countless images, portraits, descriptions, impressionistic sketches, symphonic experiments, from which I could dip at any time for material.” -Anaïs Nin

“The habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments. Never mind the misses and the stumbles.” -Virginia Woolf

“I note however that this diary writing does not count as writing, since I have just re-read my year’s diary and am much struck by the rapid haphazard gallop at which it swings along, sometimes indeed jerking almost intolerably over the cobbles. Still if it were not written rather faster than the fastest type-writing, if I stopped and took thought, it would never be written at all; and the advantage of the method is that it sweeps up accidentally several stray matters which I should exclude if I hesitated, but which are the diamonds of the dustheap.” – Virginia Woolf

“For someone like me, it is a very strange habit to write in a diary. Not only that I have never written before, but it strikes me that later neither I, nor anyone else, will care for the outpouring of a thirteen year old schoolgirl.” -Anne Frank

“Superficial to understand the journal as just a receptacle for one’s private, secret thoughts—like a confidante who is deaf, dumb, and illiterate. In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could do to any person; I create myself. The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it.” -Susan Sontag

“I grumble at having to perform this task, but why always be indignant at my weakness? Can I spend a single day without food or sleep? So much for my body. But my mind the evolution of my soul are to be destroyed because I do not want to owe what is left of them to the necessity of writing. Nothing is better than having some small task to perform every day. Even one task fulfilled at regular intervals in a man’s life can bring order into his life as a whole; everything else hinges upon it. By keeping a record of my experiences I live my life twice over. The past returns to me. The future is always with me.” -Eugène Delacroix

“Nothing is better than having some small task to perform every day. Even one task fulfilled at regular intervals in a man’s life can bring order into his life as a whole; everything else hinges upon it.” –Eugène Delacroix

“Indeed, if there is one thing I’ve learned about diaries, both by having read tens of thousands of pages of artists’ and writers’ journals and by having frequently revisited my own from the distance of time, is that nothing written in a diary is to be taken as the diarist’s personal dogma. A journal is an artificially permanent record of thought and inner life, which are invariably transient — something the most prolific diarist in modern literary history articulated herself in her elegant defense of the fluid self. We are creatures of remarkable moodiness and mental turbulence, and what we think we believe at any given moment — those capital-T Truths we arrive at about ourselves and the world — can be profoundly different from our beliefs a decade, a year, and sometimes even a day later.” -Maria Popova

Resource: How far behind?


Technically, you’re always behind because your life started long before any project or endeavor you take on. Technically, you could have started yesterday.

The important question is not “Am I behind?” The important question is “Should I quit? And if the answer is “yes,” your reason shouldn’t be “because i’m behind.” If you quit one thing to start another thing, you’ll just be behind on the new thing. So there’s always some sense in which you’re behind. Your reason for quitting or continuing should be based on the value of what you’re doing. The question you should be asking is “Is it worth it?”

This is related to the Sunk Cost fallacy. The money already spent is a sunk cost. You’re not getting it back. So you shouldn’t base your decision on how much was already spent. You base your decision on what’s the most valuable thing to do right now.


“Quitting merely because you’re behind is a trap, a form of hiding that feels safe, but isn’t. The math is simple: whatever you switch to because you quit is another place you’re going to be behind as well.”

“It’s not a race, it’s a journey. And the team that scores first doesn’t always win.”

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