My friends were extremely surprised by my unexpected good results at Sunday’s half marathon. Hey, even I was impressed. After one week of lying in bed, knocked down by a high fever, I couldn’t even breathe properly and had to run with my nose drops and paper napkins in hand. Setting a personal best was obviously off the table – or at least that’s what I thought.
This takes me back to one of the many reasons why I love running: it’s mostly under my control. I can make it less about luck – no matter if it’s sucky weather or a forced break, and focus on the lead measures towards my goal.
If I’m disciplined, if I train smart and hard enough, sleep well, eat the right things, I know the results will be visible. They are just the lagging measures of all my good habits that add up in time.
This is also why I’ll sometimes prefer the mental comfort of reading sports biographies instead of business ones. In sports, the factors of hard work and deliberate practice are the most important ones, while in business I’m always left with mixed feelings due to the huge amount of lottery luck involved, and how sometimes ‘faking it until you make it‘ is good enough to actually make it. In sports you can’t fake anything.
So I’m struggling to apply the same stoic philosophy on the entrepreneurial side as well, although the outcomes are more dependent on the luck factor than they are in sports, with the luck being a random number between 0 and… infinity?
I have to constantly remind myself that I don’t control the world around me, but I can choose how I respond. I can focus on the measures that have a direct impact over my goal and make sure that I don’t leave any opportunity on the table, while keeping an eye on the long term perspective.
Oh, by the way, if I’ll sometimes be repeating myself in these Friday emails, that’s probably because I need to learn (or remind myself) the same lessons over and over again.
Now off to this week’s food-for-thought articles.
Cristina’s Friday Read #39
Just ignore the clickbaity title and read the article – it’s about what sets the elite players apart, in tennis and business altogether.
An article about habits, radical transformation and focusing on long term goals vs short term. Written by a dear friend of mine who’s a food coach and has to fight on a daily basis all the ‘get fast results’ illusions sold by magazines, gym trainers and other ‘beach body oriented’ products or services.
„A forced ranking brings status along with it, because, apparently, if you care enough or are rich enough to have the best, then you must be the best.”
Loved this article from Seth Godin about people who want to fit everything into rankings and ignore all the variables. Life doesn’t work that way.
This is why I cringe at all the list-based articles on „best books about X” that don’t offer any context. There are no universal best options, it all just depends. The best books for Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos might not be the best books for you, no matter how much you’d want to be as successful as Musk or Bezos one day.
That’s also why I won’t ever set foot in the top restaurants in Bucharest (the city where I’m based). I’m a vegetarian, I don’t consume any kind of processed sugar or wheat, so I have nothing in common with all those places praised by the masses.
In a trip down the rabbit’s hole (which I’ll sometimes call work research ), I ended up re-reading Brad Feld’s 2013 article about depression in entrepreneurs’ life. He openly talked about the five month long challenging episode he went through – pair it with the follow-up article where he explains the two root causes.
Context: Brad’s one of the investors and entrepreneurs I admire, mainly because of the transparent way he chooses to share his experiences and personal thoughts. It takes a lot of confidence in oneself to be able to publicly expose yourself this vulnerable way.
Although we live in completely different corners of the world, our lives have nothing in common, and he’s been working ever since before I was even born, I’ve often found myself in his writings. Actually, scratch that part about how we have nothing in common: he’s also a long-distance runner, avid reader and introvert.
An interview with Nassim Nicolas Taleb recently published in Esquire.
You probably know by now that Taleb’s one of my favorite authors, even though his books make me feel like I’m getting a brain upgrade and, at the same time, remind me of how stupid I actually am (I always need to re-read his words four or five times, just to make sure that I understand what he wants to say).
P.S. if you want more, here’s a longer interview with Taleb.
Until next Friday. Contradict yourself.