Themes for study and learning in February

The themes I wanted to work on  for January were:

  1. Continue with Presence and Deep Work.   I got a lot of reading done on this and some good work in January.  Going forward I’ll be experimenting with strategy and tactics for increasing my Deep Work time (and my presence with respect to Deep Work and, really, everything).
  2. Fascism and Totalitarianism.   Didn’t get far with this, since I wanted to start with Hanna Arendt and (surprise surprise!) it’s in great demand at my libary, so I haven’t risen to the top of the queue.  I’ll continue this thread in February
  3. The Body.   4HB was a bit disappointing on second reading.  Tim Ferriss is a great showman and he has all kinds of cool hacks, but for my Body scheme I’m moving forward with more classic approaches: Weight Watchers, YAYOG (You Are Your Own Gym), and the “Younger Next Year” approach to working (back) up to fitness. 

Themes for February

  1. Continue with Fascism and Totalitarianism.  Hopefully Arendt will become available soon at the library (or I may just have to spring for it).  Open to other suggestions
  2. PowerPoint innards.  I have a scheme to code a web app which will check your PowerPoint deck for “5 common Intelligent Pitching flaws” per my work on Intelligent Pitching over the last couple of years.  See back posts for more.
  3. Poker.  I’m in a regular poker game but not getting any better at it.  Time to buckle down and do some reading and deliberate practice.

Welcome your thoughts…

“Talent is Overrated” and Deliberate Practice

Just finished reading “Talent is Overrated”, by Geoff Colvin, which Ii read on the advice of Cal Newport.  It’s a great book for anyone who doesn’t have the stomach for turgid academic writing but wants to understand what the buzzphrase “deliberate practice” breaks down to.

SPOILER ALERT: For Colvin, deliberate practice, not talent or genes, is the secret to success in any field.  And deliberate practice is:

  1. Activity specifically designed to improve performance, often with a teacher’s help
  2. It can be repeated a lot (and must be!)
  3. Feedback on results needs to be continuously available
  4. It’s highly demanding of the mind and the body
  5. It isn’t much fun

The last one is kind of interesting, and answers the question of why so few people become amazingly good at anything.  But it raises a question of its own: if deliberate practice is so un-fun, why do people do it?

Colvin has an interesting answer to this, related to flow.  “Flow” (of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi fame is a rather pleasant state in which you are just buy enough to be not-bored but not so busy that you’re stressed.

Colvin’s thesis is that when you relax from a bout of deliberate practice you are in flow, and your ability to flow gets better and better the more deliberate practice you do, because deliberate practice makes you (slowly!) better and better at doing your stuff, which feels good.

In other words, Colvin believes that deliberate practice, like hitting yourself over the head with a hammer, feels good once you stop.

Themes for study and learning in January

The three themes I wanted to work on for December were:

  1. World of the Adjunct: I gave this one some thought and a little bit of study; I was able to clarify my feelings about being an Adjunct if nothing else
  2. Reaching Entrepreneurs: Just got started with this one, and most of the work so far has been practical: talking to people who work with entrepreneurs, finding out what “channels” entrepreneurs use and trust (to the extent this can be generalized about).  I’ll continue with this work in January, but doesn’t need explicit study
  3. Presence and Deep Work.  I’m still working on some of the readings I found for December, and will report on these as appropriate.

New themes for January:

  1. Continue with Presence and Deep Work (as above).  The greater my capacity to focus on Deep Work, the better things will go, and I need to augment my toolkit for engaging in Deep Work, well, Deeply.
  2. Fascism and Totalitarianism.  I had intended in any case to learn more about “Modern European Thinking” in 2017: Heidegger, Freud, Judt, etc.  But I’ll want to start with some reading on Fascism, Totalitarianism, and other forms of tyrrany.  Begin with Hannah Arendt “On Totalitarianism” and see where that takes us.
  3. The Body.  I kick off New Years (like most folks) with resolutions to have a better body in 2017, so I’ll want to read some more about this area, establish tentative comm with my body, etc.  I’ll start here by re-reading “The 4-hour body”, by Tim Ferriss.

Welcome your thoughts and comments…  Happy New Year.