highlights from kevin kelly’s 68 bits of unsolicited advice

A selection of my favorite/the most useful bits. Original list here.

• Being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points.

• A worthy goal for a year is to learn enough about a subject so that you can’t believe how ignorant you were a year earlier.

• When you are young spend at least 6 months to one year living as poor as you can, owning as little as you possibly can, eating beans and rice in a tiny room or tent, to experience what your “worst” lifestyle might be. That way any time you have to risk something in the future you won’t be afraid of the worst case scenario.

• The more you are interested in others, the more interesting they find you. To be interesting, be interested.

• To make something good, just do it. To make something great, just re-do it, re-do it, re-do it. The secret to making fine things is in remaking them.

• Separate the processes of creation from improving. You can’t write and edit, or sculpt and polish, or make and analyze at the same time. If you do, the editor stops the creator. While you invent, don’t select. While you sketch, don’t inspect. While you write the first draft, don’t reflect. At the start, the creator mind must be unleashed from judgement.

• You are what you do. Not what you say, not what you believe, not how you vote, but what you spend your time on.

• Anything real begins with the fiction of what could be. Imagination is therefore the most potent force in the universe, and a skill you can get better at. It’s the one skill in life that benefits from ignoring what everyone else knows.

• Art is in what you leave out.

• Buying tools: Start by buying the absolute cheapest tools you can find. Upgrade the ones you use a lot. If you wind up using some tool for a job, buy the very best you can afford.

• Following your bliss is a recipe for paralysis if you don’t know what you are passionate about. A better motto for most youth is “master something, anything”. Through mastery of one thing, you can drift towards extensions of that mastery that bring you more joy, and eventually discover where your bliss is.

• Over the long term, the future is decided by optimists. To be an optimist you don’t have to ignore all the many problems we create; you just have to imagine improving our capacity to solve problems.

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