Breakfast Notes #35 (Creation, Tedcore, Greatness)
Good morning friends. I just watched Top Gun: Maverick. It is honestly amazing to see how Tom Cruise, at the ripe old age of 59, is still putting his body through gruelling training to inject a little realism in today's C(G)inema age.
The One Day Rule of Creation
Please follow this rule if you want to write, paint, code, or create anything ambitious.
Dedicate a whole-ass day to it.
Paul Graham says it best,
Don't your spirits rise at the thought of having an entire day free to work, with no appointments at all? Well, that means your spirits are correspondingly depressed when you don't. And ambitious projects are by definition close to the limits of your capacity. A small decrease in morale is enough to kill them off.
When we allow ourselves to half-ass ambitious projects, we are effectively bailing on them. Soon enough, reality catches up to our efforts.
I find that on the days that I dedicate my entire day to just doing ONE thing - be it writing an article or preparing a presentation - I tend to outperform the weeks where I dedicate tiny chunks of time to the project.
Visualization Of The Day
This is how the actors trained up for Top Gun 2. Trust me, it's not for the faint-hearted.
The Rise of Tedcore
If you have been paying attention to the bestsellers list (like I have), you will realize that self-help books dominate them. Books like Atomic Habits, Dare To Lead, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fck* have become household names and Instagram props.
In a witty commentary on The Guardian by Steven Phillips-Horst capturing my genuine disillusionment with self-improvement books in general, he calls out such books as Tedcore,
Most of these authors have given Ted talks, and much like the popular conference series, these books are accessible yet vaguely highbrow, prone to presenting the mundane as revelatory.
Reading their books can feel like watching a Ted talk. You feel inspired and motivated on the first run, excited to tackle the world. But, as you deconstruct, analyze and study the content- you realize that much of it is either half-baked or self-apparent ideas.
When you are done with the book, where do you go? You probably get stuck with sub-atomic habits and still have to give a F*ck while not daring to lead. Then, they upsell you into a course that costs $299/yr that you don't probably need (because you already read the book!)
I might not have offered you a solution, but I hope I gave you a healthy pinch of salt so that you would be ready to be cynical the next time anyone offers to solve your problem with a book.
Making The Role Great
These days, we want to become the centre of attention. We are no longer content with playing a supporting role. The current culture wants us to be the CEO, the leader, the main character, and the founder. We glorify these positions and, in some cases, even fetishize them.
Glen Powell, the actor cast as Hangman in the latest Top Gun movie, is a case in point. He confessed that he almost rejected participating in this mega-blockbuster film because he felt the role he was offered was too insignificant.
What Glen thought was the recipe to the 'Tom-Cruise' type of success was choosing great roles. Thankfully, Tom Cruise intervened and gave him the best advice we could all learn from. He said, 'I choose great movies, and I make the roles great.'
Indeed, if you watched his earlier film appearances - he played minor roles, but boy, he played them well. (Watch Steve Randall from The Outsiders if you don't believe me)
The lesson is instructive - it's a fool's errand to find roles that are custom fit to our strengths, but it would be wise to land in excellent organizations where we can then maximize any role given to us.
To become good, we must first begin at the lowest of lows. Not only should we strive to climb up the ladder rung by rung, but we must also endeavour to shine every step of the way.
Thank you for reading, and may the sun shine upon your face,