What are 5 things about yourself that you would change to make yourself perfect?
My dad would hit me if I brought home a report card with one B. And even worse, I was a bad student.
It’s almost a cliche to say that “perfectionism is the enemy of perfect”. Particularly in a post about being perfect.
Because it’s true. If you only aim for perfection then you won’t take enough risks.
Risks are the cracks in your life where knowledge and experience can seep through and infection you.
And I hate to admit it about myself but when I love something, I want it to be perfect. When I throw my all into something, I want to win all the time.
But that’s just a set up for disappointment. I try very hard to go with the flow a bit more. Try my best and give up control over the results.
But it’s a practice and I’m working on it.
DON’T CARE WHAT PEOPLE THINK
Most of the time I don’t care. But then…sometimes I do. Last night I went on a podcast at the Comedy Cellar in NY. I had never been on their podcast before. I was afraid the other guests would judge me depending on how funny I was or not.
It’s hard to “be yourself” in every situation.
You know why? I suspect there is no such thing as “my self”. Depending on mood, chemicals, life circumstance, etc “myself” changes every day.
We can only do our best here. And even that is hard to do. There’s no recipe for authenticity.
I just try to be honest and say what’s on my mind without hurting anyone.
I am horrible at follow up.
This is how bad I am. I was asked to speak at the “Airbnb Open”. 15,000 people were there. I spoke.
It was fun. I went on stage with 100% of the things I own and I said, “Ok, I just moved to this stage. This is where I live.” Everyone laughed and that’s how it started.
Afterwards one of the FOUNDERS of Airbnb wrote me to thank me and said, “stop by next time you are in town.”
I didn’t write back!
(moving onto the Airbnb stage with all of my belongings)
And this is normal for me. I am so bad at following up. This happens every day of my life. And then people get upset at me and forget about me and so on.
If I was just a tiny bit better at follow-up over the past 20 years my “network” would be 100x bigger. And it’s already pretty big.
The good news is this: I realized that if I follow up even years later, 90% of the time people are even more surprised and happy than if I followed up right away.
Or maybe this is just wishful thinking.
In any case, I wish I were better at this.
[ See Also: How Minimalism Brought Me Freedom And Joy ]
I read a lot. I love to read. I read non-fiction, biographies, literary fiction, thriller fiction, and books about games.
Almost every day I read a little bit from all of the above.
And I’m blessed in that I have a podcast. So if I get confused on a book, I can call up the author and say, “come on my podcast” and I get to ask all the questions I wanted.
But then I forget. My memory has gotten worse with age. I thought I was coming down with early-onset Alzheimers.
One time I read a book and wrote my podcast producer and said, “Let’s have this guy on the podcast! He wrote a great book.”
And she wrote back: “James! You already read the book. He already came on the podcast! And we released it a month ago.”
Well…never mind then.
So I asked Stephen Dubner, who wrote Freakonomics, how much he remembers when he reads a book. He reads 100s of books per year to research his own books and podcasts.
I thought he would say 50%.
He said, “maybe 1%”
So here’s the key:
- Read the book
- Talk about it with peers. For me I also try to write “10 things I learned from X”. I do this on books, podcasts, people I meet, and even songs I like. Anything.
- Teach what I learned. Maybe in a talk. Maybe by living it. Maybe by writing it. I try to do all of the above.
Unless you pour your life into a piece of knowledge, you will never drink fully from it.
BEING A GOOD FATHER
I am ok at it. Ok enough that I know my kids love me and learn from me and I think I am a positive in their life.
But somehow when I think about it, I feel a little bit sad. Like I can be doing more.
And I try. But I don’t know…I could try harder.
It’s such an important job, to hand off to the world better adults than I was. That’s how the world can get better.
That’s the compound interest of the planet.
Ok, I’m going to call my kids right now.