Newley.com

Newley Purnell's home on the web since 2001

Tag: life

5 Questions That Will Help You Figure Out Your Purpose in Life

I came across this video, embedded above and on YouTube here, and wanted to share it.

But first, a caveat: I belive that “follow your passion” — or worse yet, follow your bliss — is often terrible advice for life and careers.

What if following your passion provides no value to the world? Or if doesn’t make you enough money to support yourself? Or what if you’re just not very good at your passion? Or, like many people, you just don’t really have a single passion?

For an alternative take on such issues, I suggest reading a book by Cal Newport called “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.”

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, on to the video.

In this ten-minute TEDxMalibu talk from 2013, movie producer Adam Leipzig says five questions can help you define your life purpose — provided, of course, that you know what you’re good at, why it’s valuable, and who you do it for.

They are:

  1. Who are you? 
  2. What do you do?
  3. Who do you do it for?
  4. What do they want or need?
  5. How do they feel as a result? 

This is a really helpful way, as Leipzig explains, to envision your professional output in terms of who your audience is (or who your clients, or users, or readers, etc. are) and how you can help them.

In a post on Leipzig’s blog, he explains how these questions came to be, and why they matter, especially to creative professionals:

For my talk, I decided to adapt a series of questions I’d developed in my business consulting practice, when I work with companies finding their way and developing new products and services. For these companies, the challenge is to get out of their self-enclosed bubble and reach out to their market. Would the same approach work for creative entrepreneurs? Because artists need such congruence between their life purpose and their work, they can become too inward-facing, more focused on their own process than on their audience, and audience that hungers for brilliance, passion and the sublime.

This is, I think, a really useful mental framework.

Richard Scarry, 1963 vs. 1991

2015 11 12 scary

These photos from Flickr user alan taylor show how editions of the popular book for children, “Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever,” changed between 1963 and 1991.

Males in the kitchen, less overtly obedient kids, fewer “handsome” airline pilots, the addition of menorahs, gender neutral professional titles and more.

A fascinating study.

Via Kottke. There’s more over at Fusion.

Productivity Tip: ‘Iterate Toward Perfection,’ But Forget Perfection Exists

Matt Might, whose account of having a disabled child I mentioned previously, also has an interesting post on productivity tips for academics.

The advice can be applied to people working in many professions, though, not just academia.

I really like this bit:

Iterate toward perfection

Treat perfection like a process, not an achievable state. Perfectionism is crippling to productivity. I’ve known academics that can’t even start projects because of perfectionism. I know some academics that defend their lack of productivity by proudly proclaiming themselves to be perfectionists. I’m not so sure one should be proud of perfectionism. I don’t think it’s bad to want perfection; I just think it’s unrealistic to expect it.

The metric academics need to hit is “good enough,” and after that, “better than good enough,” if time permits. Forget that the word perfect exists. Otherwise, one can sink endless amounts of time into a project long after the scientific mission was accomplished. One good-enough paper that got submitted is worth an infinite number of perfect papers that don’t exist.

Yes.

Moving Account of Having a Disabled Child — and What’s Important in Life

This post from University of Utah Computer Science professor Matt Might is very much worth reading.

Might saw a question on Quora from a 16-year-old who said he wanted to have a successful career in computer science or medicine, but feared getting married and having a disabled child.

Might wrote:

First, your question is trivial to answer: to minimize the risk – to zero – that you’ll have a disabled child, don’t have a child.

Any attempt to have a child will incur risk, although you can take measures described in other answers to lower it.

But, let me tell you a story – my story.

I am the father of a “disabled child,” yet I’m a professor in computer science at the University of Utah, and also currently a professor at the Harvard Medical School.

Hopefully I’ve just dispelled your fear that having a disabled child is not compatible with “a strong career in computer science or medicine.”

In fact, what if I told you that much of what I’ve done was the result of my having a disabled child? Because I too (naively) believe in love, and love my wife and son dearly?

Read the whole thing.

Ann Friedman’s Visual Guide to Dealing with Criticism

2015 07 22 matrix

Journalist Ann Friedman created this excellent graphic, which she calls the “Disapproval Matrix.” It helps determine how you should deal with criticism based on who’s giving it.

As she writes:

The general rule of thumb? When you receive negative feedback that falls into one of the top two quadrants—from experts or people who care about you who are engaging with and rationally critiquing your work—you should probably take their comments to heart. When you receive negative feedback that falls into the bottom two quadrants, you should just let it roll off your back and just keep doin’ you.

Sounds like good advice to me.

On the Importance of Kindness at Work

Longtime Facebook employee Andrew Bosworth tells the story of how he learned he needed to be more respectful of others:

So why was I being sidelined? I demanded answers. Dustin did not disappoint.

He gave me a single sheet of paper. On it, in a dull monospace font, were anonymous quotes about me from my coworkers.

“Boz is one of the better engineers at Facebook” one read, and then the next “I would have a hard time working with him.”

These two statements struck me as incongruous. If I was a good engineer, why would it be hard to work with me? Of course that question was the very foundation of my problem.

“He is most interested in the truth…but more inhibited members of the team avoid any discussions with him.”

The realization hit me hard. In short, I thought my job was to be right. I thought that was how I proved my worth to the company. But that was all wrong. My job was to get things done and doing anything meaningful past a certain point requires more than one person. If you are right but nobody wants to work with you, then how valuable are you really? How much can you realistically expect to accomplish on your own? I was “winning” my way out of a job one argument at a time.

Gay Talese’s Decades-Old, Intricately Maintained Address Book

This is fantastic. Embedded above and on YouTube here: “Gay Talese’s Address Book.”

Via Kottke.

College basketball’s oldest player

NY Times: “A 73-Year-Old Gives Basketball a Second Shot

Before Sunday’s basketball game, Coach Yogi Woods gathered the junior varsity at Lambuth University. Watch out for 73 on the other team, he said. He did not mean the player’s number. He meant his age.

The visitors, Roane State Community College, had a septuagenarian guard, Ken Mink, college basketball’s oldest player, who has started a second career after his first ended a half century ago with a mysterious shaving-cream incident.

If the 6-foot Mink was good enough to play, he was good enough to be guarded, Woods told the Lambuth players. Then he turned to the freshman Kendrick Coleman and said: “If he goes in for a layup, don’t let him have it. If he scores on you, we will never let you forget it.”

Read the whole thing. Great story.

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google

TIME: Detroit's Big Gamble

Google’s new LIFE photo archive is an impressive online collection of recently-digitized images dating back to the 1750s.

A search for “1975,” the year I was born, yields some interesting results. Some notable TIME covers from 33 years ago that prove there’s nothing new under the sun: “Can Capitalism Survive?” (see: the global money crisis) and — better yet — “Rebates and Smaller Cars: Detroit’s Big Gamble,” pictured above (see: the the proposed Detroit bailout).

Same with 1948, the year my parents were born.

And I’ve also enjoyed perusing the images from 1920, my 88-year-old grandmother‘s birth year. A few pics from that year that caught my eye include:

— “Typical 1920s big city street…
— “Three women in classic 1920’s attire…
— “The 1920 Yale News Board magazine edit staff…
— “Model wearing fashionable satin dress and coat very indicative of 1920’s style.
–“3rd Ave. elevated railroad running alongside the Bowery.

You can find more info about the LIFE photo archive on the Google blog:

The Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination; The Mansell Collection from London; Dahlstrom glass plates of New York and environs from the 1880s; and the entire works left to the collection from LIFE photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt, Gjon Mili, and Nina Leen. These are just some of the things you’ll see in Google Image Search today.

We’re excited to announce the availability of never-before-seen images from the LIFE photo archive. This effort to bring offline images online was inspired by our mission to organize all the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. This collection of newly-digitized images includes photos and etchings produced and owned by LIFE dating all the way back to the 1750s.

Only a very small percentage of these images have ever been published. The rest have been sitting in dusty archives in the form of negatives, slides, glass plates, etchings, and prints. We’re digitizing them so that everyone can easily experience these fascinating moments in time. Today about 20 percent of the collection is online; during the next few months, we will be adding the entire LIFE archive — about 10 million photos.

(Emphasis mine.)

Maya Angelou on Adversity

Maya Angelou on adversity:

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

(Via Kottke.)

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén