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I'm about as anti-school as anyone can get. I dropped out of college and can't begin to convey the joy and relief I felt when I knew that I'd never go to school again. The costs of school have risen to such absurd heights that it now represents a poor value for more people than ever.
I think that it's important, though, to not look at things as either black or white. School isn't bad, it's just not always worth the time and/or money invested in it. Just like everything, it has its pros and its cons, the weights of which could be valued differently for anyone.
So in the spirit of seeing the other side of the coin and evaluating things on their entirety, I thought I'd share some of the things about school that I think are very positive and how I would use them if I were going to school.
The best thing about school, to me at least, is the social group. It's the easiest possible time to make friends because most people don't have fully formed social groups, you're around a bunch of people with some commonalities, and you're in an environment that lends itself to being social. If I were in school I would dedicate a huge amount of time and effort to making the best possible social group. I'm not good friends with too many people I met in my three semesters of college, but I did meet one of my best friends, Todd, there.
If you were the guy sitting in 29F yesterday, I really hope you're reading this.
I'm generally unflappable and not easily annoyed by people, but that goes out the window when I'm traveling by airplane. I imagine the frustration to be the same as Gordon Ramsay might feel if I was his sous chef. I travel many many days per year and am very good at it, which is obviously not normal.
You may not travel as much, so let me share some suggestions from someone who's way at the end of that bell curve to help make the experience better for you and everyone else in the plane.
1. Know in advance how to go through security and prepare for it before getting in the line. Do you need to take off your jacket or shoes? Do you need to take things out of your bag? Do you still have liquids in there that you will insist you don't have until the TSA agent shows them to you? The x-ray machine is for minimal staging. Be ready in advance. If there is an empty space ahead of you on the conveyer belt, you messed up. The checkers are slower than anyone unloading should be. If I see an empty space I cut the line, drop my single bag, and go through security.
Two friends and I went out scuba diving against the recommendation of the local divemaster. This was a very stupid idea and I knew it going in, but was frustrated that the conditions weren't good and really wanted my friends to get to scuba before they left. So we went out.
The main issue was the waves crashing against the lava rocks on the shore. We noticed, though, that they came in sets and figured we could get in safely if we just waited for a lull. Once we got out there it would be fine. No one really thought much about getting back in.
I went first, as I had been to this site several times. I timed the waves well and got in quite easily. I swam out a few dozen feet away from the rocks and waited for my friends. They dropped in with no problems as well and we went under. The turbulence of the 6-10 foot high waves had churned the bottom up so much that visibility was next to nothing. We were only a few feet away from each other at the surface, but couldn't find each other underwater at first. I found one friend and had him wait so that I could find the other friend. Once reunited we swam around a little bit, but the dive was pointless. Other than a turtle or two you couldn't see anything.
We decided to scrap the dive and went back to the surface. We bobbed up and down in the waves and realized two things very quickly. The first was that we weren't exactly sure where we were supposed to swim towards to get out. We knew the general area, but couldn't see the narrow passageway that led to the small cove where it was easy to climb in and out. At any given time there was a tall wave obscuring our view. The second thing we realized is that there was a rip tide pushing us away from the area to which we needed to swim. At maximum kicking speed we barely made progress against the ocean floor.
Superhuman 3 is coming in October to Las Vegas!
I sent an email out to the Superhuman Vegas mailing list last week, but still have some spots available, so I'm announcing the event over the blog. For those of you who aren't familiar with Superhuman events in Vegas, the general idea is that we all meet for a weekend and you leave with connections and friendships with other amazing people as well as direct actionable advice from me. Here are a few testimonials from the last group:
Over a year ago I was driving my Bentley in Las Vegas and a car ran a red light and drove straight into the side of it, sending it first into a sideways slide, and later to the body shop. The body shop repairing the car is extraordinarily slow. At first this bothered me and I was constantly checking in with them to see when it would be done. Then I bought a minivan and no longer cared. I still don't have the car back, after almost a year and a half.
I'd say that my family had a minivan since I was little, but really my dad had a minivan. He loved that thing. And then after ten years or so it died and he bought another, and another still when that one reached the end of its life. He was a carpenter, and his minivan could hold a 4x8 sheet of plywood in the back with the seats removed. I've followed in his footsteps in that I also do projects all the time, and being able to carry a 4x8 sheet is pure magic.
All minivans are pretty good, but the Dodge Grand Caravan, also known as the Chrysler Town and Country, or now the Chrysler Pacifica (not to be confused with the crossover they stopped making which was also called a Pacifica), is the best one to buy. The primary reason for this is a patented feature they have called Stow-n-Go seating.
Stow-n-Go seating means that every seat other than the front two can be folded flat into the floor in a matter of seconds. Lift up the cover to the storage area, pull a tab on the back, and the seat is flat. You can go from seven passengers to two with more cargo space than a truck in under a minute.
I like and spend time in several cities which are very different from each other. Las Vegas, Hilo (Hawaii), Budapest, rural Halifax (our island), and Tokyo. On paper it would be hard to draw many links between those cities, which of course led me to think about why I liked all of them so much.
What I realized is that each of those cities has extremely low friction.
San Francisco is a very high friction city. Everything is expensive there, so unless you are wealthy, eating out for meals feels a little bit stressful. Is it really worth $25 for a non-Chipotle dinner? Getting places is stressful because you have to take ubers to most places and they are expensive and exposed to traffic. The homeless problem has grown so out of control that you are almost certain to be confronted with feces and heroin needles during your visit.
New York is also very high friction. The subway is swelteringly hot during the summer and has none of the efficiency or thoughtfulness of systems in other cities like Tokyo. Real estate is expensive, so your living situation is likely to have a bit of friction. Like San Francisco, everything is expensive. Getting to the airport can take a couple hours or $80, depending on whether you take the train or uber.
Not every problem in life requires overwhelming force applied to it, but I find that the best way to resolve issues that keep cropping up is to go totally overboard and crush them completely.
I used to always try to post blog posts in the beginning of the week. Then that soft deadline slid to the middle of the week. Recently I've had a few too many weeks where I was scrambling to get something posted over the weekend.
This is only really a problem because it annoys me, but in my world that's enough to do something drastic about it.
My solution isn't to reset the deadline or to block out time to write blog posts. Those would be incremental solutions and would likely erode over time. Instead I have decided to write an entire year's worth of posts in two weeks and to queue them up.
I've gone through a lot of cycles of expansion and consolidation. I make a ton of progress, but then I circle back and solidify it, making sure that the gains will stay with me and that I'm unencumbered enough to do the next thing.
Now I'm in the curious position of having reached all of the goals that actually matter to me. Sure it would be great to have more money or to visit more countries or have more adventures, but I'm self-aware enough to know that each of those areas will produce diminishing returns.
My ongoing campaigns like coaching, writing, and CruiseSheet don't require huge amounts of effort. I could certainly spend a lot more time on CruiseSheet, and I do plan on ramping up to some extent, but it doesn't seem clear that I can fruitfully fill up months with CruiseSheet work.
So I'm thinking about doing something totally new. Here are my two ideas and why I am considering. I may do one or both of them, something totally different, or nothing new at all. I often consider things with no pressure or prejudice, just to think about what it would be like.
Recently I've had a lot of friends going through hard times. Not terrible times like great illness or financial loss, but times of growth like going through big life changes or breaking up with a significant other who you know isn't the right one.
It's nice to be able to provide some comfort or advice for a friend going through these sorts of things. If you don't know how, or aren't sure that you're particularly great at it, here are some ideas on how to improve.
Listen to your friend. Most people have the need to be heard, and it tends to be very important. Most people know the answers to their problems, if there's even a question at stake at all, and they just want to be heard. In other words, one of the greatest skills needed for supporting your friends is just shutting up and letting them talk.
This conveys to them that they're important and that their concern is valid.
I've now been coaching many people one on one for over 2 years. In that time all of them have had major positive life changes and a huge portion have already achieved goals that they had set for much longer time horizons. In some ways each person is totally different, but I've noticed some very strong trends in what causes people to have success.
The first thing I always try to find is the person's real goal. People usually know what their top goals are, but sometimes it takes a little bit of refining to get to the core of what's going on.
But the most important thing about their goal is that they have to really want it. This sounds obvious, but sometimes people have goals that they think they should want rather than goals they actually want. Thinking about why a goal is important and why you really want it is an important part of the process. Writing down a goal isn't enough.
Once a good important goal is set, I design a habit or process which will all but ensure success if they follow it. In designing these habits, I've found that by far the most important factor is that it is easy enough that they will follow it consistently. As long as the habit is on the path towards the goal, there is no difficulty level that is too easy. Start very easy and focus on perfect consistency, increasing difficulty only once perfect consistency is reached. As soon as someone is consistently following the habit or process for a couple months, I know that they are probably going to reach their goal faster than they think.