Sunday Links: Bukowski's philosophy, positive difference, and 37signals
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It’s been a while since I sent something to you. So there’s some news.
Last month I was on the road a lot. My wife and I have decided to relocate to the Caucasus for the winter. I left for Tbilisi to make some arrangements: find an apartment, open a bank account, and others. All that is done now, so I’m back to writing and posting for you.
Let me share the best findings of the past three weeks.
Findings I’ve enjoyed this week
The philosophy of Charles Bukowski. The phrase "Don't try" was a core pillar of Bukowski's work and life. When he died, these words were carved on the tombstone. Here’s the story on the origin of “Don’t try” from Bukowski himself:
“Somebody asked me: ‘What do you do? How do you write, create?’ You don't, I told them. You don't try. That's very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks, you make a pet out of it.”
This philosophy is very familiar to me. I write only when I can't keep quiet, when I have something to say and share, like these emails. I believe we don't choose our calling, it chooses us. It seems that the more we crave for something, the further it sails away from us. And the less we ponder about something, the faster we get it.
Bukowski himself explains his philosophy best in the poem called “So you want to be a writer?” You can read it on my blog, but here’s an excerpt from it that I love the most:
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody else,
forget about it.
The manifesto of 37signals. I admire the products designed by the 37signals team, but more than that, I’m an adherent of their philosophy and the ideas fundamental to their brand.
Their website is simply a list of the principles that help them run their business, launch products and stay on the market for over 25 years now. The first version of the 37signals’ site is still on—their worldview hasn’t changed much since that time. On the contrary, it proved they were right about those things.
Here’s one of my favorite signals:
Err on the side of do. The tendency to put off, push away, or otherwise delay is strong. No. Act and move on. And act again if you have to — most decisions are temporary, anyway.
It resembles a lot to the words of Benjamin Franklin, one of the authors of the US Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution: “Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today”. Read other signals, they’re totally worth it.
Marshall Goldsmith: The Essentials of Leadership. I had been avoiding podcasts for a long time, but someday I thought to myself: “Well, I’m writing in English now, I should listen to the live speech of native speakers to catch some ideas, constructions, and vocabulary, too. Why not try podcasts?”
But there was a problem: I didn’t have time for sitting and listening to two people talk for 45 minutes straight. In two minutes I came up with a solution: I would listen to podcasts while cleaning the apartment on Saturdays. That’s how I started listening to podcasts, and one of the creators I follow for over a year is Shane Parrish and his “The Knowledge Project Podcast”.
His conversation with Marshall Goldsmith is a great combination of wisdom, humor, and experience. His attitude to being wrong and right is incredible. He says the following:
“Our mission in life is to make a positive difference, not to prove we’re smart and not to prove we’re right. We are not here on earth to prove how smart we are.”
This mindset allows to keep moving forward to your goals even though there’s still a possibility of failure as it also leaves some space for success. I listened to the episode with Marshall three times, and every time I found new ideas, new meanings and situations I can apply those principles to. Great mentor, great teacher, great leadership philosophy!
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.
See you next week! Get ready for another edition of “Russian Rules”.
Tbilisi, 14 November 2022
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