Successive Approximations

AUTHOR: Ben Berry


When you experience discomfort, your natural response will be to ask "How can I stop this most quickly?"

Instead, challenge yourself. "What would it take for me to reach my limit of this? Am I already at it? Can I go five minutes without showing a sign of weakness? Five minutes after that?"

Never pass up a chance to admit being wrong

I spent the better part of an hour today in a Slack discussion with coworkers about how to implement a feature ticket. We went back and forth, and fundamentally saw the issue two different ways. I didn't really see any way we could reconcile the two views. Either one of us or the other would have to just accept the opposite perspective to move forward.

We kept drilling down into examples and use cases, and

The Power and Danger of Identities

Part 1

I was talking to a friend recently, and discussing the fact that he's managed to stick with one hobby (learning Japanese) while having another hobby that used to consume much of his time go untouched for years (recording music).

What I realized as we talked, and what I said to him, was that we don't really do things because we want to, or because we have goals. We do things because we want


Today is my birthday. I've had a few of them before, but for some reason this one feels different. Of course, this is the first birthday I've had since becoming a father, but this feeling, I think, is larger than that.

The best way I can describe it is synchrony. Things feel to be happening at approximately the right time in various areas of my life. I don't feel like I've waited too long to

Healthy Societies Are Built on Competiton

Eric Hoffer's The True Believer was published in 1951, six years after the end of World War II and two years before Stalin's death. Yet it presaged the current moment of identitarian tribalism (both on the woke left and the MAGA right) better than anything else I've read. Pardon the extensive quotes, but properly setting the stage of the problem to be solved is necessary to understand the solution below (emphasis mine):

For men to

Folding Your Hand

Re-reading the notes I wrote while reading Skin In The Game a few years I came across this, in response to something in the first chapter:

Roman emperor charging into battle to face certain death is meaningful only in a setting of honor and institutions. It is folding your current hand so that the next guy that takes your seat will have a fresh start and a strong hand. It only works if your sacrifice,

Thoughts on "A Bright Shining Lie"

After finishing About Face by David Hackworth, my friend Gary renewed his recommendation of A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan. (I ended up with a copy that appears to be the first paperback edition, printed in 1989, with a sticker in the front declaring it withdrawn from Bowdoin College Library. When I got the book it showed no signs of ever being read.)

It was a very