#62: Dangerous Creation, $400 College Courses & Slow Learning
What is it that you have always wanted to create? Will college be disrupted?
August 17th, 2019: Greetings from Taipei! This is me a couple weeks ago having instant noodles and incredible fresh mangos in the mountains in Taiwan.
🧠 I’ve re-started learning Chinese with an online tutor via a cool site called italki and have started taking classes in an online coding academy Launch School. I’m excited to go deeper over the next few months.
📰 I updated my media diet article with tools and some of my favorite newsletters as well as why I stopped reading the day to day news headlines and cable news.
❓ I launched an FAQ tool created by Ryan Kulp on my website this week. I answered a question about ROI of my podcast, where I want to travel to and what I appreciate about other countries. Ask or read the responses here.
🙏 Thank you the the many people who offer a small gift each month like Rob, Andrew, Jonny, Rachel or Martha as a vote of confidence for me to keep going with this newsletter and journey. If you’ve like to join them, you can do so by hitting subscribe at the bottom or joining them on patreon.
🎨 We all have a craving to create and express ourselves
Continuing on the themes presented at my workshop in Connecticut a few weeks ago, I wanted to share the third belief. I’m trying to pull these out in development of my course with the working title: Reinvent: Create Courageously, Find Your Tribe & Do Work That Matters (weigh in here and get early access).
One of my favorite questions I’ve stumbled upon is:
What would you do if money didn’t matter and you couldn’t tell anyone about it?
I like this question because it helps remove prestige and status from the equation. However, when thinking about getting started, people stumble in two areas:
First, most of us think about creativity as something we need permission to do. We need to get accepted into a job before we can create something. We need to be formally part of certain organizations.
While there are still some gatekeepers, you don’t need permission to publish your own book, publish your own music, share your writing or thoughts, sell your crafts or even offer your services. You can even become a cab driver via uber or lyft.
Second, people are terrified of putting something out there. There is that internal voice that says “what will people say?”
I can’t cure this for you. In fact, I still feel like a fool every time I hit publish or share. This is from George Leonard in Mastery:
The early stages of any significant new learning invoke the spirit of the fool. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll feel clumsy, that you’ll take literal or figurative pratfalls. There’s no way around it. The beginner who stands on his or her dignity becomes rigid, armored…
The only way to overcome this is to get started. This is what I did when a career coach challenged me to e-mail 100 people I knew in 2015 and tell them I was taking the leap to become a career coach. That small step was one filled with terror and a feeling I can' only describe as peak feeling like a fool.
I still feel silly, but I’ve done a number of experiments over the last five years as you can see by some of my below average logos:
All of these experiments started simply - typically with a conversation where someone was excited about the same thing or asked me “why haven’t you done this?” My rule is that if three people ask me to do something, I probably should. Despite a number of experiments under my belt, launching my podcast in December 2017 was was still a nauseating thing to do.
Each of the experiments have been valuable. Some have turned into things which help support my life. Others have helped me realize what I didn’t want to do. This is my mental model for creation:
There are some hacks for getting started. In Bali earlier this year I challenged a group to a 1-hour podcast launch. We did it in 70 minutes, but it is amazing what happens when you rally some people together. My all-time favorite hack for getting started is called the Most Dangerous Writing App. If you stop typing, everything disappears. Try it out for 5 minutes and let me know what you think.
While you may be thinking you have nothing to share, nothing to create I bet that deep down there is something there. If you are subscribing to this newsletter, you probably have a small drop of creativity waiting to be released. David Whyte offers some powerful questions about where to look:
What is the work that brings you alive?
What are the places that bring you alive?
What are the conversations that vitalize you?
In who’s presence simply by being in their presence do you find becoming your best self?
Life & Work Beyond The Default Path
🏫 #1 The Future Of Education - $400 a course, no fee if you fail (link)
The co-founder of MasterClass is launching a new initiative called Outlier and they are offering intro to psychology and Calculus I for $400 with credits that can transfer to college. A quick back of the envelop calculation would mean that 40 classes for a college education might only cost $4,000 a year for four years.
I’m not sure if there will ever be a tipping point for how people think about college and university education in the future, but it seems like I am seeing more and more options emerging.
⏺ #2 Are you the Dabbler, Obsessive or Hacker?
From a book “Mastery” by George Leonard that I read this week. Each of which are modern personas that avoid the true, painful path to mastery
The Dabbler loves new jobs, new offices, new colleagues. He sees opportunities at every turn. He salivates over projected earnings. He delights in signs of progress, each of which he reports to his family and friends. Uh oh, there’s that plateau again. Maybe this job isn’t right for him after all. It’s time to start looking around. The Dabbler has a long resume.
The Obsessive starts out by making robust progress. His first spurt is just what he expected. But when he inevitably regresses an"d finds himself on a plateau, he simply won’t accept it. He redoubles his effort. He pushes himself mercilessly. He refuses to accept his boss’s and colleagues’ counsel of moderation. He works all night at the office, he’s tempted to take shortcuts for the sake of quick results.
The Hacker has a different attitude. After sort of getting the hang of a thing, he or she is willing to stay on the plateau indefinitely. He doesn’t mind skipping stages essential to the development of mastery if he can just go out and hack around with fellow hackers. He’s the physician or teacher who doesn’t bother going to professional meetings, the tennis player who develops a solid forehand and figures he can make do with a ragged backhand. At work, he does only enough to get by, leaves on time or early, takes every break, talks instead of doing his job, and wonders why he doesn’t get promoted.
This book was required reading for the coding academy I started at Launch school. They embrace the “slow path of learning” as opposed to the typical “50 hours to become a coder” approach.
I’ve definitely been a bit of a dabbler and hacker in my life and have enjoyed the fact that being self-employed forces me to be honest with my own past avoidance of true learning.
Which one are you?
🐌 #3 The Slow Path
This excerpt from this post on the slow path of learning was pretty cool
Chaucer (1340-1400) complained "the lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." Hippocrates (c. 400BC) is known for the excerpt "ars longa, vita brevis", which is part of the longer quotation "Ars longa, vita brevis, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile", which in English renders as "Life is short, [the] craft long, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult."
A Final Thought Or Reflection To Leave You With
A Poem from Chinese Zen master Layman P’ang
My daily affairs are quite ordinary;
but I’m in total harmony with them.
I don't hold on to anything, don’t reject anything;
nowhere an obstacle or conflict.
Who cares about wealth and honor?
Even the poorest thing shines.
My miraculous power and spiritual activity;
drawing water and carrying wood.
👋 Hey there! I'm Paul Millerd and I write Boundless each week. I typically sit down for a few hours on Friday or Saturday and share what I’ve been thinking and interesting things I’ve read as well as use this as a space to work out half-baked thoughts which may or may not go anywhere.
I left my fancy corporate consulting career behind in 2017 to experiment with working as a freelancer. That experiment turned into a longer journey where I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t default to designing my life around work.
Here are some projects and other things I am working on:
✍Boundless is where I share lessons on building a life beyond the default path,
🏫 StrategyU is where I run a digital course and do in-person workshops teaching people strategy consulting “secrets.”
🙋♀️I have a few no-agenda curiosity conversations with people each week.