I’m going to spend the next 30 days away from writing.

Instead, I will use the space I normally hold for writing to do some much-needed reflection on foundational questions like:

how do I want to put myself out in the world?

what do I want to express?

where do I want to express it?

and does writing have to be it, or are there other outlets worth trying out?

before I part, let me leave you with a quote from Helen Frankenthaler that’s been on my mind: “There are no rules, that is one thing I say about every medium, every picture . . . that is how art is born, that is how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules, that is what invention is about.”

See you June 15th.

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how well we understand something is predicated, at least in part, on our ability to ask good questions about it.

basic, but foundational questions like:

  1. why is this interesting?
  2. if it seems like a problem: why is this a problem?
  3. of the things that seem true, why do they seem true?
  4. of the things that seem false, why do they seem to be false?

the question ‘why?’ opens up an infinite number of doors for exploration.

the more you question — especially the stuff that seems self-evident — the less sure-footed you will feel about your understanding.

this is good because it’s with this kind of humility that you will be able to learn the most.

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In 2008, John Cook shared a powerful example of queuing theory:

If you have one bank teller, an average of 5.8 customers per hour, and an average of 10 minutes required to serve each customer, customers will have to wait almost five hours — an entire afternoon — before being served.

What happens if you add two tellers? Cook explains, ‘… with a second teller, it’s not likely that even two people will arrive before one of the tellers is free.’ As a result, the average wait time goes all the way down to 3 minutes.

This is the power of having slack in a system.

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There’s no such thing as perfect decision making — there are just the decisions we make with the best knowledge and judgment we have available to us at the time.

If you’re spending what feels like too much time deliberating about what to do, it’s because you’re trying to accomplish the impossible task of zeroing out risk.

Everything has risks. There’s no removing it — only managing it, accepting that we can’t be 100% certain, and adapting when things don’t go according to plan.

It’s much easier to move, learn, and improve quickly with this frame of mind.

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You may not be able to control what others do, but you can always choose to add kindness to the world instead of hate.

You can choose compassion instead of disdain — remembering that everyone is fighting their own battles.

You can choose constructive words instead of callous criticism.

You can choose to raise others up in earnest instead of bringing them down.

One kind word, one extended hand, one smile, one generous act at a time — that’s how you can make the world better.

There’s nothing stopping you from doing this.

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William Liao

William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (ephemera.photography)