PHRONETIC is a daily blog about mastery, strategy & practical philosophy, written by Matthew Sweet.
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A message for every entrepreneur and creative
Something I’d like all creatives and entrepreneurs to realise: We’re not fucking warriors. 

A warrior is someone who confronts their own mortality, who stares down death, who endures unimaginable suffering without a whimper.

The height of bravery isn’t publishing something. You’re not a hero because you drag yourself out of bed at 5am to do some painting. Going on a social media blackout to increase your productivity doesn’t make you special. 

So can we please stop pretending that these and similar acts require immense amounts of strength and courage.

They don’t. 

But you know what does? Want to know who a real warrior, a real hero is?

The Germans and Russians in World War Two, who, because of the bitter cold, pissed on their own hands to stop them freezing. The Allied soldiers who stormed the beaches or died trying. The American soldiers who endured torture in the Vietnamese P.O.W. camps. 

They were warriors.

The little girl going through chemotherapy who still smiles when her family walks in the room. She has more strength than most of us will ever have.

The woman who is raped but rebuilds her life and has a family. She knows what courage is.

The little boy in India who supports his family by scavenging in a landfill because his dad is dead and his mum can’t work. He’s a hero.

I get it. Art is war. Building a company is hard. But we glorify it. We turn it into some righteous crusade. We goad each other on with words like “brave” and “courageous”. We congratulate one another on fighting and struggling every day to do the work we must to do.

Great. We shouldn’t stop this. But I think we need some perspective. I think we need to extricate our heads from our own asses.

The risks we take, the work we do, the time and energy and attention we pour into our careers are not insignificant. But they are in comparison to what a real warrior is, to what a real hero has to do
If you liked that, check these out...
Highlights from around the web
+ Scott Adams explains the power of being good at multiple things. If this is the only career advice you ever received, you’d do well.

+ This piece, called “The secret rules of the internet” was fascinating and disturbing. One of my favourite passages: 

“In other words, users are not so much customers as uncompensated digital laborers who play dynamic and indispensable functions (despite being largely uninformed about the ways in which their labor is being used and capitalized).”

+ You may not be a journalist, but it’s interesting to see some of the tactics they use to research and construct their stories. 

+ Think you’re unbiased? Believe that you can hold an objective view of a situation? Read this and remember Richard Feynmann’s words: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.”

+ “We tend to think of heretics as contrarians, individuals with a compulsion to flout conventional wisdom. But sometimes a heretic is simply a mainstream thinker who stays facing the same way while everyone around him turns 180 degrees.” If you think science is honest, read the rest of this article. Pair it with this picture which compares a 19th century scientist to a to 21st century scientist.

+ Some interesting ways to look at the time you have left on this planet.

+ Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, has an idea: eliminate email. His point is that great work requires disconnection, detachment, and ultimately, long periods of uninterrupted immersion. Email is the antithesis to those things.

+ Maybe, by eliminating email, we’d have more time and energy. And perhaps, we could use some of those newfound resources to re-learn how to pay attention. This article gives you 20 ideas to help you see the world around you through a different lens.

+ A phrase I’ve been thinking about lately: It’s not a principle till it costs you money. This post from Bob Lefsetz about Bruce Springsteen cancelling a concert follows a similar theme. I know nothing about the situation, but it raises the question:

What does it take for you to walk away from a lucrative opportunity? What has to happen for you to leave money on the table?

+ Speaking of leaving money on the table, Tim Ferriss opens up about the inner workings of his podcast:  

“If I wanted to fully monetize the show at my current rates, I could make between $2-4M per year, depending on how many episodes (“eps”) and spots I offer.

So why “if I wanted to fully monetize?” Because “fully monetizing”–bleeding the stone for all it’s worth–is nearly always a mistake, in my opinion.

I want to convert casual listeners into die-hard, fervent listeners, and I want to convert casual sponsors into die-hard, fervent sponsors. This requires two things: 1) Playing the long game, and 2) Strategically leaving some chips on the table. As a mentor once told me, “You can shear a sheep many times, but you can skin him only once.”

So, don’t skin your fuckin’ sheep, kids”

+ A video tour of Umberto Eco’s library. Pair this with one of my favourite interviews: Umberto Eco and the Art of Fiction.

+ Another angle from which to consider the viability of a business or idea. Don’t think in terms of money to be made, think about the amount of time your creation can save others.

+ Mark Suster discusses Elon Musk and the Model 3 launch. The takeaway is that perhaps Musk is thinking wider, deeper and on a timeline longer than any of his competitors. Perhaps, they’re on the same field, but Musk is playing entirely different games.

+ If you don’t do Brazilian jiu-jitsu or any other martial art, this short video might make you reconsider. “Most people have never been involved in a physical altercation with a trained martial artist. They have no idea how vulnerable they really are.”

+ Charlie Munger’s operating system. These ideas aren’t controversial, but they are profound. One that particularly resonated: 

“Generally speaking, envy, resentment, revenge and self pity are disastrous modes of thought. Self-pity gets pretty close to paranoia, and paranoia is one of the very hardest things to reverse. You do not want to drift into self-pity. 

I have a friend who carried a big stack of index cards about this thick, and when somebody would make a comment that reflected self pity, he would take out one of the cards, take the top one off the stack and hand it to the person, and the card said, “Your story has touched my heart, never have I heard of anyone with as many misfortunes as you”. Well, you can say that’s waggery, but I suggest that every time you find you’re drifting into self pity, I don’t care what the cause — your child could be dying of cancer — self-pity is not going to improve the situation. Just give yourself one of those cards.”

+ Another thing plucked from Shane Parrish’s Twitter feed

“Colonel Graff: You have a habit of upsetting your commander. 
Ender Wiggin: I find it hard to respect someone just because they outrank me.”

+ And finally, I leave you with these words from Alain de Botton:

“Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.”
Thank you for reading.

One of the many benefits of writing is that I’ve got an excuse to meet interesting people and have great conversations. So if anything you see here has affected you, or if you’ve got something you’d like to share, just reply directly to this email.

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Until next time.

​©Matthew Sweet 2016  |  All rights reserved.

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