Feed Your Focus

“I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just… DO things.” - Joker, The Dark Knight

Maybe it's the times that we live in, two years of sitting inside through a pandemic, or as I age, I’m getting a sense of my own mortality, but I find that I've been spending a lot of time thinking about time, focus and priorities.

The big takeaway I've had is that it's ok to say no. It is. I talked a bit about this a few weeks ago in the post "Dont Do It".

This week, I shifted into a different gear on why you say no. Here's a clip from Steve Jobs on focus:

"We try to focus and do very few things well. Focusing is hard because it doesn't mean saying yes, it means saying no. We decide not to do a lot of things, focus on a handful of things and do them well."

We all have a different pressures to do all kinds of things that we want (or don't want to do). All the things that you think you should do. Or something that others expect you to do.

It's draining. But you can't focus on what matters if you spend time on things that don't.

One of the best insights I've put into practice is from the excellent book Essentialism on that "if it isn't a clear yes, then it's a clear no."

The way of the Essentialist rejects the idea that we can fit it all in. Instead, it requires us to grapple with real trade-offs and make tough decisions.

The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage.

The way of the Essentialist is the path to being in control of our own choices. It is the path on which we enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

Maybe it’s just easiest to think of it this way: you shouldn't focus on what you have to give up; it's about what you want to go big on.

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Forward Thinking

I'm sure by now you've seen the Wheel of Fortune mishap that happened with "Another Feather in Your Cap."

While it reminds me of the Tom Hanks skit from Saturday Night Live, what I wanted to call out here was the response to the clip that went viral on the Internet from its host, Pat Sajak.

From his twitter:

It always pains me when nice people come on our show to play a game and win some money and maybe fulfill a lifelong dream, and are then subject to online ridicule when they make a mistake or something goes awry.

Last night's "Feather in your cap" puzzle was a case in point. Sitting at home, it seems incredible that they couldn't solve it, but I knew in real time what was happening.

The first attempted solve was "Feather in your hat" which, by the way, is how a lot of people say it. So all three players thought it was a good solve, and were stunned when I said it was wrong.

Now imagine you're on national TV, and you're suddenly thrown a curve and you begin getting worried about looking stupid, and if the feather isn't in your hat, where the heck can it be? You start flailing away looking for alternatives rather than synonyms for "hat."

And, of course, when it's solved, you want to crawl in a hole. I've been praised online for "keeping it together" and not making fun of the players. Truth is, all I want to do is help to get them through it and convince them that those things happen even to very bright people.

But mocking them online and calling them names? These are good people in a bad situation under a kind of stress that you can't begin to appreciate from the comfort of your couch.

Good-natured laughter is one thing. Heck, they laughed at themselves. But, hey, cut them some slack. Unless you're there, you have no idea how different it is in the studio.

I have fun with players and I tease them occasionally, but when things go wrong, I feel for them, and I try to salve the wounds on camera and off. So, yeah, it was an oddly entertaining puzzle and it's okay to laugh at the situation. But have a little heart.

After all, you may be there one day. And no one wants to be trending on Twitter.

Wise words, Pat.

Thought of the week

Latest obsession

I recently purchased the book How to Live from Derek Sivers.

Described as:

There's a great book called "Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives." Each chapter is a different short story about what happens when you die. But what I love most is the format. Each chapter disagrees with the rest!

I got inspired to write a book called "HOW TO LIVE" in that same format.

27 different answers to the question of how to live your life.

Each chapter disagrees with the rest.

But in this case, they're all true, so how can you reconcile it?

You'll see.

I'm looking forward to reading it soon, but it seemed so interesting, I thought I would share it right away.

Here are a few of the articles and videos that resonated with me over the last week:

  • For those that have been reading Makoism for some time, you know that I am a massive fan of Tim Urban's writing. "How Covid Stole Our Time and How We Can Get It Back" is my favorite read this week; it's an opinion piece for the NYT that covers lenses many of his past writings starting with Depressing Math and how it's changed us - More
  • In this weeks'crazy but fascinating' tools - the author made a tool that strips out everything but the questions in a piece of writing. Check out "The Power of Seeing Only The Questions In A Piece Of Writing" - More
  • Here is an excellent reflective piece on "How to live the rest of your life." Lots of sound advice in this one - More
  • "Die With Me" is a chat app you can only use when you have less than 5% battery. 'Die together in a chatroom on your way to offline peace'. - More
  • A mistake I've seen over and over: people staying too long at their jobs, no matter how unhappy they are. "How to waste your career, one comfortable year at a time" explores how complacency and a misplaced sense of loyalty keep people locked into unhappy jobs - More
  • "The days are long but the decades are short" is another post detailing the author's reflections on how time is spent as he turns 30 - More
  • "When Nothing/Everything (Actually) Works..." explores the trap teams get into when they are comfortable, and things are working, and how "exploring new shiny things" can be the trigger for a 'wicked loop' - More
  • "Microvacations Can Help Prevent Burnout" is a good read on how to explore simple ways to get away on 'boredom days' - More
  • I had to reference this article a few times this week: "Everyone Thinks They're Managing by Outcomes. Here's How to Do it." An excellent read from Teresa Torres on the struggles of managing towards outcomes - More
  • I found this article when I was reading more on the Zodiac killer, but follow a former journalist, known as "The Serial-Killer Detector," who helped develop an algorithm that finds patterns in crime by using AI and the most extensive collection of murder records in the country - More


I ran across this fantastic video of a 16-year-old Jason Bateman making his first appearance on the Tonight Show. Enjoy the nostalgia.

Be well. ✌🏻