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The importance of AND thinking

I’ve been dismayed by many things over the past months of political reality television. But perhaps most of all, I’ve been disappointed in both the left and the right by their desperate grip of black and white, frequently extreme, thinking.

In nearly any complicated discussion, the most accurate view point tends to be an AND…

Globalization and free trade has been great for overall American wealth AND it hurts a portion of our society.

Capitalism is (arguably) the best system we’ve found for large scale societal organization AND, when combined with debt, it is inherently a paperclip maximizer that needs to be regulated.

Healthcare should not cause bankruptcies AND we need to have some difficult discussions about health care consumption  and personal responsibility as a society.

Diversity is good for meritocracy AND there are very real (and innocent) losers when we increase diversity.

The freedom of speech needs to be defended, especially when we don’t like what the person has to say, AND it is our responsibility to ensure that everyone is treated with the respect and dignity deserving of a human being.

White men are responsible for many of societies greatest achievements AND white men are responsible for many of societies greatest ills.

There are population level gender differences (and age, race and height for that matter!) AND women are under represented in leadership and under paid in the workplace.
note – I don’t think that the author got the population level differences right, but that’s not to say that there aren’t any.

There is significant bias against some populations AND the people who are biased are often innocent: they don’t desire to be biased and are unaware of their bias.

We have to stop shouting about only one side. Its more complicated than that.

I’m tired and weary of the extreme positions that completely miss the muddy middle. It might not be sexy, but at least its real.

Finding Your Sweet Spot

When I want to do something hard, I try to find my sweet spot: long enough to be impactful, short enough to be do-able.

My friend asked me about how to work on his relationship with booze, especially after the holidays. After a conversation, he’s decided to do a sober January: long enough to have a real impact on his health, his emotional coping skills and his relationship with alcohol… but short enough to feel do-able.

When I was writing my first book I was absolutely daunted at the prospect. So I tried to just write a chapter. But that wasn’t my sweet spot, still too daunting. Rather, at that point, my sweet spot was just a page. I could get through a page. And enough pages strung together makes a very crappy first draft! Win.

In general, I’m a big fan of 30 day trials as sweet spots. Sometimes thats too much, sometimes not enough, but its quite often just right.

When something feels like too much to tackle, search for your sweet spot.

Big enough to be impactful.
Small enough to feel do-able.

Go fast: push Go Far: pull

I know how to push. How to talk negatively towards myself. How to fear failure more than anything. How to just make myself do it.

I’m afraid I won’t be as good / go as far / be as successful if I quit pushing.

The tough news is that I might be right in the short term: I won’t be as successful if I don’t push. I can probably lose more weight on a crazy 4-day crash (read: push) diet than I could on a 4 day “pull” diet.

But successful long term change comes from pulling. From honoring your deep desires. Those same diets over a year? No competition. Pull will knock the socks off the crazy push spree.

And for even more honesty, there are times that we need a break from the push.

Pulling can feel like cheating. But, its hardly always easy. The hardest thing about pulling is making sure that you actively remember what it is that you really want.

I want to feel light and energetic more than I want this donut. I want to have extra energy, so I want to go weight lift today. I want to feel accomplished tonight, so I want to send this uncomfortable email now!

Its not always easy, but it is simple & effective.

When you want to go fast, push… when you want to go far, pull.

I strive to play the long game in life: I aim to pull myself towards my goals.

I use my ability to push as a tool to sprint.

It’s powerful (and smart) to use all the tools in your arsenal.

Fighting the same battles

We all have our battles.

Many of which we fight time and time again.

I was reminded of this yesterday, as I perused the archives of this site. Over the years, despite my efforts not to, I’ve repeated several articles. Different words, same exact themes. The same battles.

It reminds me to keep fighting the good fights. And that I am not alone in repeating my battles.

You’re not alone either. Keep going. Keep practicing. Keep fighting.