Discover more from Seeing What Sticks
Lions & Tortoises & Hares, oh my!
How to think about how to work
Yeah, I know that’s not how it goes. Dorothy would be appalled.
But it’s how I’ve started to think about how to work lately and it makes for one hell of a title.
It’s been a while since I’ve published anything here. The desire to get back to posting regularly has made me seek out new strategies to consistently put out work that matters to me. Clearly, the “process” I had before wasn’t working. So, I started thinking more about how to work. Here’s the rabbit hole.
Naval Ravikant has this great quote about work:
“Work like a lion, not a cow. The way people tend to work most effectively, especially in knowledge work, is to sprint as hard as they can while they feel inspired to work, and then rest. They take long breaks.
It’s more like a lion hunting and less like a marathoner running. You sprint and then you rest. You reassess and then you try again. You end up building a marathon of sprints.”
This sounds like the optimal way to work in the infinitely leveraged internet age we live in. Obsess over something for days, weeks, or months. Ship it to the masses. Then kick back on the Savanna while the profits roll in. And tell everyone you know you’re like a lion.
This was my newly adopted framework for getting things done…
until reading a cardboard book to my 7 month old…
Naval’s lion sounds eerily similar to Aesop’s hare. You know, the hare that dilly dallied, ate some food, and took a nap in the middle of a race it eventually lost to the tortoise?
Most interpretations of Aesop’s fable would have you believing that slow and steady wins the race. Won’t the lion that sprinted then rested eventually get passed up by the tortoise?
At this point I didn’t know how to think about pacing my work. Which one is worth striving for? Should I work more like the tortoise or the lion?
My hunch is that it’s neither. And both. At the same time.
If that doesn’t make any sense, it shouldn’t. Let me explain.
I’m no Einstein, but I did just come up with a Theory of Workitivity that illustrates my point: the rate of perceived effort of work and the rate at which it’s accomplished depends on your frame of reference.
So, the speed at which something is accomplished and how hard it looked to accomplish depends on where the observer is looking from.
To a marathoner, a 3 mile run is a walk in the park, but that may as well be a marathon to someone just getting into running. To a professional writer, penning 1000 words is nothing, but this would feel like an epic novel to a 6th grader learning how to write essays. To a seasoned entrepreneur, a 10 hour day of meetings and emails light work, but a college intern would view this as an incredibly long and draining day.
The marathoner, writer, and entrepreneur would view themselves as the tortoise. Plodding along, doing the work, and ready to do it again the next day. The novice runner, 6th grader, and college intern would look at them and see lions sprinting to accomplish an enormous amount of work in a short period of time.
In each case, it’s the same amount of work, just different frames of reference.
But here’s the kicker: your own personal frame of reference is always changing.
Because you’re always growing, the work of a tortoise for you today once looked and felt like a lion effort and the work that looks like it can only be accomplished by a lion will become tortoise work for you in the future.
Because your frame of reference is continuously shifting, you should strive to work both like the tortoise and the lion and like neither the tortoise or the lion at the same time. You should continuously commit to doing the inching forward work of a tortoise knowing those inches will stretch into lion sized strides.
In practice, for me, this means committing consistently experimenting and publishing.
From the lab
The goal of this newsletter is to document the experiments on my way to becoming healthy, wealthy, and wise. Shoutout Ben Franklin! Here’s an update on those experiments:
I’m on day 46 of 75 Hard. It’s my second attempt and I am cruising. It’s still a grind but knowing what to expect definitely helps. More on this to come.
I have a fledgling ecommerce store. Even though I don’t have much proof, I’m still unwilling to let go of the idea that there’s something to it. I mean $200k in revenue over 2 years has to mean something good right? Ramping up some experiments here. More to come.
I started a niche newsletter (not the one you’re reading right now). I’m still fascinated by this idea that writing words on a screen can earn a significant income. And I’m inspired by what Shaan Puri has going on. He went from 0 to an 8 figure exit in 10 months with a crypto newsletter he started. Now, he’s helping his personal tainer start a newsletter biz, and I want to tag along and see if I can do the same. From the outside looking in, it looks easy enough that an idiot like me could pull it off. So I’m going to try and imitate everything he’s doing with the new newsletter for my specific niche and see what happens.
Still grinding away, trying new things at my day job as a startup PM.
Wise (read happy)
Need to come up with some experiments here. Reply to this email if you’ve got any ideas! Meditation, phone lockbox, sunlight in the eyes first thing in the morning a la Huberman style… Let me know if you think of something!
Thanks for reading Seeing What Sticks! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.