Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier.
In honor of Kevin Kelly’s new book which has the same name as today’s blog post, I wanted to tell you why this intrepid soul has been a role model for me.
His storied career, including being the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and a former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Review, can be gleaned from his Wikipedia page. He also wrote the well-known essay 1000 True Fans fifteen years ago and has been a co-chair of The Long Now Foundation which helps us to consider how we can be better ancestors.
While he’s had an impressive career and is deeply networked, it’s his character qualities that shine so brightly. He’s an adventurous mensch, as evidenced by his half-century love affair with the nooks and crannies of Asia documented in his three-volume, exquisite Vanishing Asia set of books. He loves sharing his passions with others.
He’s also “optimystical,” optimistic about the future in almost a spiritual way which is unusual for a technologist. He believes in the power of humans (and something bigger than us) to create a better world which is a desperately needed cocktail in the pessimistic, polarized world we live in.
And, finally, he’s wise beyond his 70 years which is evidenced in this new book. He’s a perfect example of my definition of wisdom: “metabolized experience which leads to distilled compassion.” The book is full of hundreds of aphorisms that provide a design for living. Here are my 10 favorites from the book:
- To cultivate a habit, switch your language from “I can or can’t do” to “I do or don’t do.” You shift the weight from a wavering choice to an unwavering identity.
- In 100 years, a lot of what we take to be true now will be proved to be wrong, maybe even embarrassingly wrong. A good question to ask yourself today is, “What might I be wrong about?” This is the only worry worth having.
- In all things - except love - start with the exit strategy. Prepare for the ending. Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.
- Don’t ever work for someone you don’t want to become.
- Figure out what time of day you are most productive and protect that time period.
- Greatness is incompatible with optimizing in the short term. To achieve greatness requires a long view. Raise your time horizon to raise your goal.
- Ask funders for money, and they’ll give you advice; but ask for advice, and they’ll give you money.
- Pay attention to who you are around when you feel your best. Be with them more often.
- The purpose for listening is not to reply, but to hear what is not being said.
- The rich have money. The wealthy have time. It is easier to become wealthy than rich.