As I wrote in What Lasts, classical music performances are an excellent place for me to think and tune out distractions. In addition to the suggestion that ideas are the durable commodity of our time, during that cello concert, I had another thought that was interesting to me.
Matthew is a twenty year old, and he's an excellent cello player. I have no idea if he's excellent amongst the field of professional cello players, but I mean that he's excellent in that he can play complex cello pieces well enough that they sound perfect to an amateur like me.
It's an interesting thing, learning to play cello. People have been learning to play cello for hundreds of years. It's an old trade. Some might even call it an antiquated trade.
Another antiquated trade is small-farm tea growing. I spent a couple days on a tea farm in Fujieda, Japan last year. The family that ran the farm ranged in age from mid twenties to mid eighties. Everyone worked. I asked about this arrangement, and they told me, with audible sadness in their voices, that they were the exception to the rule. Most younger members of the family were going to the city, leaving the tea growing to the older generation. When they died, they said, the tea farms usually closed or got sold to the conglomerates making crappy tea-in-a-bottle.
Most people these days want office jobs. I don't really even know what all of these people are doing in offices, but my guess is sales, paperwork, reports, presentations, and management. Stuff like that. That's what the would-be tea farmers are doing. Probably the would-be musicians, watchmakers, and furniture makers, too.
I think that's a mistake. It's following the pack to the middle, which is bulging with available talent, dragging the rewards down with every new competitor.
As I sat and listened to the cello concert and thought, it occurred to me that the biggest benefits were probably at the extremes. Learn a very very new trade or a very very old trade.
On the old side, your competition is fleeing every day, making a sucker's trade. If you produce the best smalll batch tea, you'll always have job security. You won't become rich, probably, but neither will the office workers. If you're a stellar Cello player, you'll always have job security. Maybe you won't make the most money in the world, but you're in a field that is becoming rarer every day. If you choose wisely, you'll probably only become more in demand.
Besides making money, you become a more interesting person. What you have to share with others is something unique. If you handcraft furniture, I'd love to hear about what you do. If you shuffle papers in an office, I hope we'll find something else to talk about.
The very very new is also valuable, because, again, the competition is thin. If you're an intelligent person and a fast learner, you can get way ahead of the curve and keep your competition behind you. The new probably gets paid better than the old, but you have to constantly stay on the bleeding edge to keep getting paid well. The old pays less well, but offers more security without as much improvement. Like the old, he who does the very new is interesting because he can share knowledge that others aren't likely to have yet.
One conclusion I often find myself coming to is that there's great benefit in being extreme. I used to wonder if I was being extreme just for the sake of being extreme, but the more I think about it and rationally think through it, the less I think that's the case. The core principle behind this is that you don't want to compete with the masses. Not because they're great (they aren't), but because there are so many of them. By definition, whatever the masses are doing becomes a commodity. The work they produce isn't worth much, not because it's not useful, but because those doing it can be replaced like cogs in a machine. The experiences tailored for them are bland because they must be catered to the lowest common demominator of a very large field.
The extremes are where the value is. Not always, but as a heuristic. Look to the extremes. When we started working on SETT, we used pretty standard off-the-rack technology. That was my preference, not Todd's. I've come to believe that if it's not an outright mistake, it has its downsides. We recently switched to Bootstrap and LESS (two fairly new, yet easy to implement technologies), and the benefits have been huge. I can't help but think that we should have looked for a more bleeding edge database solution (like Redis). On the other end of the extreme spectrum, I spend my time learning somewhat antiquated (or at least declining in popularity) skills like memorization, writing, violin, and speaking difficult languages. That's what people used to do five hundred years ago.
Look to the extremes. That's where the good stuff is.
Picture is the interior of my RV (extreme!) through a fisheye lens that I bought just to make a good RV tour video. That's coming in August.
Finally someone who validates all the weird (extreme) stuff I've been doing! ;-)
Thanks, I'll do a bit more of it!
Hmm ... what if you really like to do something that has sadly become a commodity and a thing for the masses? I am a software engineer and I have been fascinated with computers and programming languages since a very young age. When I was younger, I do not think that there were nearly as many software engineers around and during the dot-com boom it was easy for me to get jobs doing pretty much anything I want. I remember being offered jobs from big companies at technology conventions when I was barely 16. Now, I have recently quit my job with Microsoft of five years, disappointed with large-company politics and the race to the bottom (or at least mediocrity). Although the field of software engineering has changed a lot since my early days as a (semi-professional) software engineer, I think there are still great engineers out there doing great things. At least, I do not want to give up hope that there are - ever - because I could never imagine being anything else than an engineer. Will I be the best engineer ever? I don't think so. I can, however, be the best engineer that I can be. Maybe, if I do become the best one day, despite all odds, wanting to be the best I can be will keep me improving, even at beyond that point. I hope I did not misunderstand the idea you were expressing, but maybe you don't need to look for a different trade altogether, but change the way you are doing. It would be sad if the true masters in this world could be so easily crowded out by companies peddling mediocrity and a watered down experience in their own fields. Sure, it is harder to still stand out in an area as crowded as software engineering is today, but I'm not so sure anymore if a trade is less worth pursuing and your successes any less rewarding because of how you would compare to others in the field. If you need to earn your living with it, I'm afraid you may have little choice or if you do have choice among several trades you equally value, you may want to choose a trade with less competition. I just think that for now I want to get by with less and do more of what I truly value.
Tynan - new Rialta owner/lover here. What you have done with yours is more than inspiration. Questions on solar - have you made any mods since your initial install from what looks like your first Rialta video (2 years ago???) It looks like you have. I've been trying to research what is the most efficient use of space/weight/etc but ATM you appear to be most guru. If you were going to do a solar mod right now from a 1999 Rialta with your floorplan what would you do - if you give me the complete specs I would trust you and I would trade - I have some really good recipes that cook well on a small stove and I am familiar with some amazing BLM spots worth a visit :)
There's however also a huge cost to being extreme. I've noticed you recommend it regularily, for example in the guest-post where you stated that it's a rule of yours to either buy "the best" or else a cheap intermediary thing, i.e. a $10 or a $1000+ watch, but never a $100 one.
This would mean either living in a tent, or else in the best house that exists in your city. Wearing second-hand worn-out clothes, or the most exclusive clothing existing. Sleeping on the coach all day - or train 35 hours a week to win the next ultra ironman.
Most of the time that's bad advice, not good. Going to the upper extreme means paying a lot extra, for questionable benefit, while going to the lower extreme means sacrificing a lot for almost no savings.
If you live in a $10 second-hand tent, then upgrading to a $10K mobile home is a *huge* upgrade. If on the other hand you already live in a $1M mansion, then there's no noticeable difference at all in "upgrading" to a $1.01M mansion. In short, upgrading your sucky stuff gives more bang-for-the-buck than upgrading your already-good stuff.
What computer do you buy ? A $50 second-hand one or a $20000 ultimate one ? For most people, both choices are dumb. There'd be substantial benefit in upgrading the $50 computer to a $1000 one, but the $20K one isn't noticeably better than the one costing a quarter, meanwhile downgrading it would save $15000 while upgrading the $50 one to a $1000 one costs only $950.
Same for sports. If you do nothing, the health gains from doing a moderate amount are huge. If you are already well-trained, then the costs in time and effort to be even better are huge, and the health-gains are questionable or non-existing. (doing sport 3 hours a week is *much* healthier than zero. But doing sports 50 hours a week is not healthier than 10)
Where is the facebook like button? I think you're missing out on a lot of traffic when you leave little things like that out. A lot of your posts (like this one) would get passed around like wildfire.
It's coming... I just hate the cluttery way most blogs do it, so we're going to do something a little different. If you happen to know any sites that have a really nice implementation, I'd love to see them as references.
I think you should worry less about it being out of the way, and more that it's visible and easily usable but not distracting from the article.
Have a look at how postmasculine.com does it. One of it's articles (http://postmasculine.com/america) went viral the other day just through facebook likes.
That exact same question "Am I being extreme just for the sake of being extreme?" has been on my mind for about half a year.
I've come to the
conclusion that there are two types of extreme: extreme goals and extreme
Extreme goals is
what this post is about. Becoming a pickup artist, quantum physics, living as a
nomad, perfecting handwriting, etc.
I couldn't agree
more: it's more fun on the edge xD.
The second, though,
can have it's negatives. That's setting yourself huge first steps (approach 100
girls a week, go from homeowner to minimalist nomad in month, etc.). These
goals are great for getting you off to a running start, but you'll often fail at
them (and burn out if you push too hard).
The solution that's
worked for me: care not at all if you fail (only if you quit), and set up
scheduled burnout days (like Tim Ferriss' cheat days) so that you're never
Or just dial back
and start small instead (much less stressful).
Cheers to life on the edge.
P.S. My gawd your RV is beautiful. And I laughed again with the memories seeing your subwoofer gave me.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb has been making similar remarks on Facebook these days: The longer something last, the more likely last in the future. So floppy disks, invented relatively recently, are already gone. One the other hand, whereas books might become less common, it's a good chance that my grandchildren will also have books, if not as many as I do.
I hadn't thought about how careers might show a similar pattern. Prostitution and farming look like good bets as careers go!
Ok, so this is not going to be related to the post, but it is related to pic! :)
If you bought a rv now, with the knowledge and experience you now have, would you buy the same model you have, or would you go for a different make/model?
If there's something I'm known for amongst friends and acquaintances, it's that I tend to do things to extremes. I can't just do speed dating, I have to work my way to the top of the pickup food chain. Instead of moving in to a smaller house, or even a big RV, I buy the tiniest RV I can. I can't take a week long vacation to Thailand, I have to get rid of everything and go full nomad for years. Cutting out fast food isn't enough, I cut out everything that's remotely bad for me.
What I write about less are the counter extremes. I was an introvert who was terrified of girls. I lived in my own house with a whole room dedicated to warehousing my stuff. For years I didn't leave the US. Before I began eating healthy, I went to McDonalds so much, and brought my friends so often, that they actually stopped charging me for food AND giving me winning Monopoly pieces to get free food elsewhere.
I do this with just about anything. The other day while writing a post, I wrote, "I don't do everything in a weird way. For example, I..."
Sometimes, I like to think about what my life will be like in a few years. There are two extremes that I seem to dwell on more often than not.
In one extreme, I will be a hermit living in a very remote and secluded location, far away from the spoils of man. Every day, I work in my little vegetable garden, and in the afternoons, I sit at my piano for hours on end playing my songs. I take long quiet walks into the countryside and spend time drawing plants, animals, and flowers. Books are devoured more than they are just read. It is a calm existence.
In another extreme, I am travelling constantly performing shows or in whatever occupation/capacity I will inhabit by then. Every new city is more vibrant than the last, and every person I meet has a name that I have to try to remember among hundreds already. I try to eat some local dish in each geographic location without becoming a sizable bovine beast. I stare out of airplane windows, car windows, and hotel windows endlessly, not really looking for anything but just absorbing the views. I take note of local habits and sensibilities, all of which serve a stark contrast to my own nomadic livelihood.