How to work on what matters
One thing I’ve been thinking about is what matters, especially when you look at the world as it is — A Pale Blue Dot.
The world is your oyster, but nobody cares about oysters. We care about Olivia Rodrigo, electric cars, robots, politics, Ed Sheeran, AI, SpaceX, FAANG, and Clubhouse.
What does it mean to matter?
What matters stands the test of time; what matters is “Lindy-positive.”
Let’s unpack that.
The ‘Lindy effect’ suggests that the longer a thing has been around, the longer we can predict it will stick around in the future. Unlike humans, the remaining expected lifespan of the thing increases as the thing gets older.
When something is Lindy-positive, it gains from time. Walking, barbells, Picasso are all Lindy-positive. Amazon, Google, Apple are also likely to be Lindy-positive. These things matter. They will stick around for a good amount of time.
But our work may not matter
Chances are we may be working on things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
This is okay. People don’t have to care about oysters for oysters to continue being oysters.
You don’t have to work on things that matter.
In fact, you should be very careful about choosing to work on things that matter.
- Olive farmers don’t get to reap olives because olives take 2000+ years to grow organically, without fertilizers.
- Cathedral-builders don’t get to see the cathedrals they built.
- The Taj Mahal wasn’t built in one day.
But olives, cathedrals, and the Taj Mahal all matter.
If you want to truly, truly work on things that matter, there are two cases: (a) Either you live long enough to see it fail, or (b) Either you die before the thing succeeds. (Imagine if you were to die one day before humanity cracks immortality.)
Yet, you can still work on things that matter, in the moment, and in the short-term. My framework is this:
- Pick the things that you’re exceptional at and that you genuinely care about.
- If nobody else will do these things, you must do them.
What simply won’t happen if you don’t do it is the biggest opportunity to work on what matters.
Work on what matters.
Until next time,
This week’s episode is about ‘Silicon Valley: A Home of Wealth and Poverty’.
Ali has grown up in Silicon Valley all his life. His schooling and upbringing have been surrounded by an environment of constant growth, innovation, and technological development. Yet it wasn't until 2 weeks ago that he began to recognize problems he didn't see. What is income inequality and why is it important for the future of the San Francisco Bay Area? Tune in to the episode on Spotify, Google, Apple, or our website.
Our Commonplace Book
Tune in to this video (or podcast) of Tim Ferris with Jordan Peterson:
Do watch this amazing video of Adam Grant, explaining his new book Think Again: