Sunday Links: backwards law, limitations, and content strategy template
Share only the best you have
It’s been a while since my last edition with the best findings. But as they say, it’s never too late. I believe it’s better to respect your readers, post less frequently, and bring more value. Your attention, my friend, I value the most.
The books and articles you never read have more value than the ones you read. Everything you said “no” to free up time for something valuable.
Over the past two months, I’ve surfed through hundreds of links and read three books. Here are three of my most valuable discoveries during that period.
Findings I’ve enjoyed this week
The backwards law. Many times in my life I noticed this: the more your strive, pursue, and long some things, the further they become. And vice versa, the less you want something, the less you care about having something, and the more likely you’ll have it.
For a long time, I was sure that I was the only person on the planet who noticed this. I was confident that there must be a law describing this phenomenon. And guess what? There is one! It’s called the backwards law.
We pathologically want more than we need driven by the incessant sense of lack. That’s why we believe that obtaining external items will set us free. But it works the other way around.
We could say that we seek happiness, but what is it? Nobody really knows the answer. Everyone understands and describes happiness in their own way. However, the fact is that we don’t know what we truly want because we can’t define it. There are two reasons for that:
You already have it.
You don’t know yourself because you never can.
The Godhead is never an object of its own knowledge. Just as a knife doesn't cut itself, fire doesn't burn itself, light doesn't illuminate itself. It's always an endless mystery to itself. © Alan Watts
When we begin to pursue something we only reinforce the fact that we lack it in the first place. Striving for a wealthy lifestyle, dreaming of a big yacht, or wishing to have a successful business will make you feel even more desperate and poor. Appreciating what you already have is the best shortcut to fulfillment and harmony.
When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink, you float. © Alan Watts
The backwards law proposes that the more we pursue something, the more we achieve the opposite of what we truly want and the more disappointed we feel. Or simply put: the harder we try, the less likely we’ll succeed. On the flip side: when we stop trying, we’ll have what we want.
In one of my previous editions, I wrote about my trip to Ufa. Fighting the negative experience only made me suffer twice. But as soon as I accepted that negative experience it turned into a positive one. The same comes for my business and personal goals. The more I try, the worse the result, the less perfect my life becomes compared to what I was striving for.
Paths not taken. I spent the past five years managing different projects in digital marketing, design, and commercial writing. Through my experience, I now see that the main reason projects fail is the word “and”. Managers and founders doom their products trying to stuff them with as many features as possible.
Seth Godin warns about this trap, and recommends being careful when “and” appears in your speech of a manager or a founder:
Managing a project is the craft of picking this ‘or’ that. ‘And’ isn’t often welcome because ‘and’ is a trap.
Instead of taking the path of feature creep, it’s more productive to use constraints as guiding lines that help you keep focused on the real value of your product. Here’s what Seth says about constraints and their essence for the project:
Instead of focusing on what we’re building, we focus on the paths that are no longer open. If we’re going to create anything at all, if we’re going to ship the work, the positive path is to look for the constraints and grab them. They’re the point. No constraints, no project.
I’ve seen a lot of situations when managers underestimated constraints, neglected, avoided, and even feared them. Big mistake. The first thing you should teach your manager is to love the projects with limitations and avoid those that have none.
The lack of limitations is harmful to the project and the team. When everything is possible, when there’re hundreds of ways out, it’s hard to tell what will work best and which one to take. Restrictions narrow the field for finding solutions and motivate the company to grow, to do something that hasn't been done before.
If your project has no limitations, make them up. Fix the budget, set a deadline, pick up three most needed features for the initial version of the product instead of ten. Then there’s a chance that the design, text, or app you’re working on, will see the world.
Timestripe content strategy & tone of voice. As you may know, I consult the team of Timestripe on content strategies and help them manage external brand communication.
A few weeks ago I wrote and published the Timestripe tone of voice guide on Twitter. It's a fundamental document outlining our vision of a content strategy for the product. It describes the crucial ideas and principles of our approach to content creation and external communication.
The idea of sharing it to the public came up as I was presenting it to the team. Sergey, one of the co-founders of Timestripe, said, “These slides are so cool we have to turn them into a thread.” No sooner said than done, the next morning I published a huge Twitter thread with beautiful slides.
Feel free to share this thread or simply copy my Google Slides presentation to create the ToV for your product. It’s free to use and distribute.
We’re not very good at predicting the future. The world is erratic and we don’t like it. We long for predictability and feel safe when notice its signals of it. However, this way of living and surviving is tiresome, though. I prefer to stick with another strategy.
Live for the moment. The future will take care of itself. If you go through your days squeezing every last bit of life out of every minute, you need not fear failure.
Hope you’ve found this email thought-provoking. If you have, share it with your friends and people who may like it. I’ll appreciate your support and feedback.
Tyumen, 4 September 2022
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