Mixed Signals: The unreasonable outsider

No. 28 – 20th of March, 2022

Being an outsider isn't easy.

It's something I'm familiar with. Starting a web design company at 14. Building a travel company in my 20s. Becoming a single foster parent to 3 kids in my 30s.

These aren't the behaviours of an insider. I know.

Yet each time we head outside we begin to feel more comfortable there.

The things that made you weird as a kid – make you great today.

When the game no longer requires conformity, you can really begin to play.

Being an outsider is still scary when you look back. You wonder what would've happened if you had been realistic, reasonable. What if you had stayed inside?

Here's to stepping outside. To being unreasonable. To being a bit weird.

On with the links...

01. Building a second brain

I've long been obsessed with the idea that tech can help our brains. A digital calendar, a task manager, and a notetaking app are logical starting points. They help with productivity, sure. Where they really help is in freeing our brains to do other wonderful things... be creative, do 'deep work', switch off.

Few people are doing more brilliant work in this area than Tiago Forte, and this recent video of what we can learn about productivity from the world's top chefs is a great example.

+ This week, Tiago hosted the 'Second Brain Summit'. You can watch all the talks here.

+ It's important to take the emphasis off the tools, and think more about the systems you have in place. I've been implementing Tiago's PARA method and it's massively helpful. Looking forward to his book (out in June).

02. The genius of routine

Despite my obsession with routines, sometimes I get sick of them. I take a few days (or weeks!) off, and just go with the flow. It usually doesn't take long for me to come crawling back. I become miserable, less healthy, and more overwhelmed. Thinking lots about your routines make a lot of sense. As Greg McKeown explains in this podcast episode... the genius of routine.

+ Routines can sometimes feel restrictive. How can we be creative if we do the same thing every day? Jocko Willink's motto, discipline equals freedom, really helps me on this. As does this quote (mentioned in the top chef video above):

"Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work." – Gustave Flaubert

03. The great outsider

You should Find More Ways to Be an Outsider. And this guy knows a few things about being an outsider... he moved to a foreign country at 25, where he didn't speak the language, and where he only knew one person (who he would later marry).

"A mountain of evidence shows that in the long run, being an outsider predicts well-being and emotional strength; it may even protect against depression."

+ And while you're being an outsider, why not also be unreasonable?

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." – Man and Superman, a play by George Bernard Shaw

+ Hear what kids think about learning in this powerful short film.

+ Maybe combining phones with gambling isn't such a good idea?

+ Lisa Feldman Barrett debunks some myths about the human brain that just won't go away.

+ I enjoy this changing room illusion every time I see it.