Too many people fail to recognise what good public speakers and comedians all understand: that success depends on knowing when to delay, and for how long. The important thing is not to do things first but to do them right. And doing them right often involves taking a bit more time.
Most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running every day. These are practical, physical lessons.
How much can I push myself? How much rest is appropriate—and how much is too much? How far can I take something and still keep it decent and consistent? When does it become narrow-minded and inflexible? How much should I be aware of the world outside, and how much should I focus on my inner world? To what extent should I be confident in my abilities, and when should I start doubting myself?
I know that if I hadn’t become a long-distance runner when I became a novelist, my work would have been vastly different. How different? Hard to say. But something would definitely have been different.
Q: What is the best training for writing? Courses in writing? Or what?
William Faulkner: Read, read, read! Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad; see how they do it. When a carpenter learns his trade, he does so by observing. Read! You’ll absorb it. Write. If it is good you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.
via This Recording.
Virtually all of the assumptions built into it about human beings and the world are false:
- It assumes that people are self-interested. Well, yes and no.
- It assumes that there is a common scale of value on which everything can be compared. There isn’t.
- It assumes that we can attach meaningful probabilities to outcomes. Sometimes we can, but life is not a roulette wheel or a series of coin flips, in which probabilities are well defined.
If we are to move toward societies of greater opportunity and justice, we need a more expansive notion of what it means to be rational than we will ever get from economics.
via Barry Schwartz.
The irony is that we know what makes companies prosper in the long term. They manage themselves as whole systems, look after their people, use targets and incentives with extreme caution, keep pay differentials narrow (we really are in this together) and treat profits as the score rather than the game. And it’s a given that in the long term companies can’t thrive unless they have society’s interests at heart along with their own.
So why do so many boards and managers, supported by politicians, systematically do the opposite – run companies as top-down dictatorships, pursue growth by merger, destroy teamwork with runaway incentives, attack employment rights and conditions, outsource customer service, treat their stakeholders as resources to be exploited, and refuse wider responsibilities to society?
The answer is that management in the 1980s was subject to an ideological hijack by Chicago economics that put at the heart of governance a reductive “economic man” view of human nature needing to be bribed or whipped to do their exclusive job of maximising shareholder returns. Embedded in the codes, these assumptions now have the status of unchallenged truths.