Successive Approximations

TAG: Aphorism

Areas of Influence

The smaller area you try to improve, the more effect and influence you can have. You are a tiny sliver of your country, but you are a tenth of your team at work, a quarter of your family, and one half of your marriage. You are also, of course, 100% of your own self.

Being on the Inside

One of the advantages of being early in your career is that you're on the outside of things. People talk to you and tell you the truth because you don't have any power.

When you have power, people would tell you what they think you want to hear. Sometimes you'll get someone who will tell you just the right things to try to manipulate you into exercising your power to further their goals. Neither is particularly helpful.

But early on, you don't have to worry about that.

One of the perverse realities of life is that the more success you have, the more authority you get, the more decisions you make, and the less perspective you have.

The closer you get to the center of something, the less you can see the shape of it.

Taking A Risk

Pushing someone to do better requires wagering some or all of your relationship capital with them.

If you're wrong, you could lose your whole stake. If you're right, you could double your bet.

But this requires that you built up the relationship capital before deciding to use it.

Moving In The Right Direction

Satisfaction and happiness comes from moving in the right direction, not being in the right place.

No matter where you are, if you try to linger there, you will eventually stop being happy. You have to keep moving in the right direction to keep being happy and satisfied.

Likewise, no matter how far you feel you are from a good place, you will feel better as soon as you start heading the right way, even if it feels very far away.

Learning to notice that feeling of moving in the right direction (usually the opposite of what feels good in the moment) is very helpful.

Knowing Yourself

You think you can make good decisions for yourself because you know yourself better than anyone else knows you.

But you also have the greatest conflict of interest. It is easy to convince yourself that what is easier is also better. But in the long run it rarely is.

Thus, surround yourself with trustworthy people who want what's best for you, not what is easy. And listen when they speak.