Issue Number 3

Issue Number 3

Welcome to the third edition of Idea Surplus Disorder – and the first on our new platform.  I’m Matt Homann, the founder of Filament, and I’m glad you’re here!

In this edition: why you're not behind, when to lose more debates, bad strategies, good dogs, flying cars, spacebars, no-go moments, and more!

Last issue, I shared a wonky link to our new website.  If you got a 404 message last week, check it out and let us know what you think!

Today at Filament: New Skills For Work

This afternoon (February 6, 2023), we're hosting our first New Skills For Work session in our new space in Cortex.  We'll cover our Filament Meeting Canvas and a brand-new Decision-Making Tool and teach simple meeting tips you can use in every meeting.  It's free to attend, and you can RSVP here.

Ideas + Insights

This question from Oliver Burkeman hit me like a ton of bricks:  What if you're not really behind after all?

What if you worked on the basis that you began each day at zero balance, so that everything you accomplished – every task you got done, every tiny thing you did to address the world's troubles, or the needs of your household – put you ever further into the black? What if – and personally I find this thought almost unthinkable in is radicalism, but still, here goes – what if there's nothing you ever have to do to earn your spot on the planet? What if everything you actually get around to doing, on any given day, is in some important sense surplus to minimum requirements?

Here's another shift in perspective from Derek Sivers that also has me thinking:  What if your goal was to lose every debate?

I don’t want to convince anyone of my existing perspective. I would rather be convinced of theirs. It’s more interesting to assume that they are right.

"Velocity" is one of our themes at Filament this year, so this idea popped up at the exact right time for us:  Consider velocity over speed.

Remember to not only consider the magnitude of actions — i.e. how fast you’re going, how much work you’re producing — but also the direction of your actions. When considering your actions, think about your trajectory, such as your learning goals, personal growth, opportunities for self-discovery, and wider impact.

We see lots of companies with "Binders of ToDo's" masquerading as strategic plans at Filament.  If you're up for rethinking your organization's approach to strategy, read this article on the perils of bad strategy.  This was particularly well said:

A second type of weak strategic objective is one that is “blue sky”—typically a simple restatement of the desired state of affairs or of the challenge. It skips over the annoying fact that no one has a clue as to how to get there. A leader may successfully identify the key challenge and propose an overall approach to dealing with the challenge. But if the consequent strategic objectives are just as difficult to meet as the original challenge, the strategy has added little value.

I'm wrapping up J. Storrs Hall's, Where Is My Flying Car? and was reminded that just because the future we expect doesn't arrive, it doesn't mean we haven't made progress:

[B]back in the 1950s we thought the future would bring us flying cars, electricity too cheap to meter, and vacations on the moon. But none of that has happened. What gives? The answer is prosaic: Forecasters in the 50s were wrong. It’s not that the future never arrived—it’s that the future brought us different stuff than we thought we were going to get. Our lack of flying cars simply doesn’t tell us anything about the pace of innovation.

Here's some more counter-intuitive thinking on the future: disruptive technology results in demand for things we never knew we wanted.

A technology is introduced — say, the car — and an existing sector is made irrelevant overnight (e.g., horse and carriage). In the short term, we’re fixated on how many horses will be out of a job. Harder to imagine, however, is how many jobs the car will create — as well as the different kinds of jobs it will create. It’s hard to envision radios, turn-signal lights, motion sensors, and heated seats. Let alone NASCAR, The Italian Job, and the drive-through window.

I feel this: The web needs a spacebar!

On the web, there’s no room to think, it’s a blur of ideas, a contextless void, devoid of all concept of time and space. Our minds, overflowing with information, lack context — the tools and scaffolding to make sense of it all. It’s not impossible, but it’s draining. And much like deciphering the homogenous blocks of early text, it’s not ideal.
It took centuries for writing to evolve the affordances to become a refined medium for thought. We need to develop the paradigms that allow us to do the same with the web. A medium to make sense of it all. A medium that doesn’t scatter our attention with a press, but consolidates it by giving us space to breathe.
We need a spacebar for the web.

People who don't make eye contact may be paying more attention than we think:

When we agree, we tend to lock eyes. When we don't agree -- or, more likely, when we're presented with something we haven't considered -- we tend to look away.  Not because we're rude, but because we're thinking. Which, first impression tips aside, is actually the sign of a great conversation. Because great conversations make us think.

Be a leader who laughs:

[E]mployees of “leaders who laugh” are 15% more engaged—and teams are 2x likelier to solve a creativity challenge.

Struggling with impulse control (like looking at your phone all the time)?  Try introducing No-Go Moments into your day:

Huberman has a simple rule for himself: 25 times per day, he will suppress the desire to take an action. He calls these "No-Go moments."  Something as trivial as having the urge to scroll through social media but refusing to pick up your phone can begin to train your No-Go circuit.  The idea is you resist any urges related to your phone several times per day (unless you are in danger, then by all means, grab your phone.). Neural circuitry is generic. A well-trained No-Go circuit will serve you in other areas of your life where you want to have greater self-control.

A Bit of Fun

An AI-powered dream interpreter.

A wonderful video.

Why do babies have an innate connection with dogs?


"Everything is temporary, and that's OK." – Dan Cederholm
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." – Eleanor Roosevelt
"The trouble is that most people want to be right. The very best people, however, want to know if they’re right." – John Cleese
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Getting mad at people for being who they are makes as much sense as getting mad at a chair for being a chair.” – Marshall Goldsmith
"The trick to viewing feedback as a gift is to be more worried about having blind spots than hearing about them." – James Clear
"A girl should be two things: who and what she wants." -- Coco Chanel

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