Sunday, May 15, 2011

No Coasting

In the weightlifting world, there is an axiom that one is either getting stronger or getting weaker - the idea being that either you are regularly training and improving, or you are not, and you are sliding downhill. Over the years, I have refined this idea into "No Coasting".

The second law of thermodynamics tells us the universe tends towards maximum entropy over time. The only defense against this is literally putting energy (or work) into a system. I think about this a lot.

From a Facebook conversation with a struggling musician:
"Ultimately, if you are in the business of selling music, you (or someone in your "organization") have to be somewhat excited and willing to invest/work on the business part, not just the music part.
This is why many bands hire managers, agents, PR people, and the like. It's also why a lot of mediocre musicians succeed - they know they're not the best songwriters/performers/whatever, so they expend effort being the best marketers/salesmen/promoters.

You can't just sign up for TuneCore or drop CDs off somewhere and go "OK I'm done with that part!" any more than you can write your first 10 or 20 songs and say "OK, done with the songwriting part!"

You have to invest time and energy in constantly improving the business side and looking for promotional opportunities. You wouldn't coast as a creative person/artist, and you can't coast as a businessperson, either.

The artists who are most interesting keep challenging themselves by changing and improving their craft. The financially successful ones also continue to look for new business opportunities. Somehow much rock music got the idea into its head that doing that is a bad thing.

I also think about the problems of nuclear waste. In the wake of the Fukushima reactor problems, waste disposal remains a big issue. We need to think about the problem differently: Don't assume today's storage solution is tomorrow's storage solution.

Storing any kind of hazardous materials is seldom a "bury and forget" proposition. You do the best thing you can think of today, and you keep looking for a better solution and move it up as needed. It is ludicrous to assume that WIPP and Yucca Mountain are the best humanity can possibly develop over the next 10,000 years. It's just the best we have right now, and is far better than current temporary storage practices.

We must keep investing effort in the things that are important to us.

Today I have been married to my wonderful wife for 7 years. Every day I see her I feel like the luckiest man in the world. I am so fortunate to have her in my life.

It is easy to "coast" in a relationship, to stop trying to have new experiences, to stop making a bit of effort every day to make your partner's day special, to surprise them. But this is often the beginning of terminal relationship entropy.

Don't coast. If you bring your best effort and attitude to work or the projects you value most in life, why wouldn't you bring it every day to the things that really matter most? It is not a guarantee of success, but not doing this is almost certainly a guarantee of failure.

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