Fast is not always straight

One day, I will turn this essay into a concise and digestible artifact—something that flows. That day is not today because, well, I need to get the thoughts out first (so that one day I can re-arrange them into something _easy_ to understand. But this essay is me EXTERNALLY PROCESSING).

Most people reading this do not really know me. I mean sure—you could read a good chunk of the million words I am writing and have an ~IDEA of my brain—but you do not KNOW me. For if you knew knew me, you would know I am DIRECT. Or at least, I like to be direct. Like, I would prefer to live in a world where people TOLD ME WHAT THEY THOUGHT. This is the story I tell myself and it is the story I choose to believe. It is the truth? Well, it is hard for me to say. Because, as I have learned OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER (hyperbole because I want you to know that I have learned this lesson SO many times), THE WORLD IS NOT DIRECT.

No matter how much I beg the world, it will not conform to be direct. No matter how much I ask people and disclaim to people and plead to people—there is a large chunk of the planet (outside of Israel, I would say this is an EXTREMELY LARGE CHUNK, THE MAJORITY CHUNK), that will PRIORITIZE social nicety over directness. No matter how much I ask them to change, they do not. People will not be direct with me (there is likely and probably an inverse correlation between HOW MUCH YOU ASK PEOPLE TO BE DIRECT and how likely they are to be direct…funny isn’t it? I think it has to do with if they feel _unsafe_ being direct, then they are unlikely to be direct. And, well, when you ask them, it may cause the environment to feel weird and a bit edgy/unsafe).

Directness is another way—or at least the way I am using it—of saying what you think. Authenticity is perhaps another word for this. Directness does not mean being an asshole. It just means saying what you think.

So okay, the thought above, written in clearer english: is that being direct with your words is ~fine (do whatever you want) but EXPECTING THE WORLD to A) be direct with you and B) respond well to directness is SILLY/STUPID/INEFFECTIVE.

Will focus on the last word—ineffective—for the majority of this essay but a digression on the silliness.

The silliness is/was reinforced to me most clearly in reading this book: I am a strange Loop. It kind of indirectly addresses this issue by talking about abstractions and how we as humans use abstractions to understand the world. It made me think…who am I, really, to be the judge of directness? My level of directness—in saying what I think—is _really_ just what is convenient for me. It is not a law of nature or necessarily factually the absolute form of directness. It is not like I speak in perfect directness. I use social abstractions—language—to refer to objects at a level of clarity that I can understand and feel comfortable with (as opposed to say referring to physical objects by their atomic structure).

Okay so back to ineffectiveness, and yes this is probably obvious to the others of society, but being direct and expecting the world to respond uniformly well is INEFFECTIVE.

This took a long while for me to accept. Why cannot people at minimum aspire to lean towards directness?

They will not. No matter what you beg. They will not. We established that above. So if you accept the theorem that HUMANS ARE IRRATIONAL BEINGS — corollary, a bit of a stretch but think of Heisenberg’s law of uncertainty in quantum physics applying to humans — it would actually be irrational to assume that humans were totally rational. A bit of a strange loop if I say so myself.

Anyways, if you accept the above “laws,” then you can also accept that the path towards effectiveness is not obviously (and actually unlikely) to be a DIRECT line. The more likely path is jagged—something that accounts for the fluctuations of HUMAN BEHAVIOR.

If you are playing chess, going directly for the queen is a strategy that very likely sets you up to lose.

If you are lifting weights, lifting as quickly as possible to exhaustion is not exactly (not at all) how you build muscle.

What the “brute force approaches” miss out on is an element of TACT. Tact or craft or finesse or english—whatever word you choose—that is what is needed. And this is obvious—using a bit of craft can help you get the outcomes you want.

This is what works for me.

Acknowledging that I care far more about getting the outputs than I do about any particular input, let alone the style of the inputs. And then working backwards from the outputs to come up with the method of input, likely involving a level of craft, in order to achieve my desired solution.

There will always be a human tax involved in coordinating with other people. The human tax is how much IRRATIONAL EMOTIONAL BEHAVIOR you have to put up with in solving a problem (as a group of humans). The question in my head, often, is what is the acceptable quantity.

The answer is actually not that mysterious. At least in theory. The answer should be “the benefit of having a large group” AKA LEVERAGE should be greater than the tax…

There are some people out there who contribute very little to the human tax of problem solving. There are some who contribute greatly (they are emotional af!!) but provide you with so much leverage that you accept it. You make them feel important and heard as dog treats and remind yourself that you do—in your heart—really value the leverage. You will never be able to reduce their human tax. You accept that. You have tried. But you have failed and will fail because you know that fundamentally changing human behavior—especially adult human behavior. Especially HIGH PAID ADULT HUMAN EGO, well that is hard and above your pay grade for any particular task you are working on. So rather than do that, you simply accept the tax. Pay the toll. And you keep going.

If you can, choose to work with people who provide leverage and contribute little to the human tax. These people are rare and valuable. It is unclear to me that you can hire very many (100+) of these people in any short term time horizon. Fine. But if you find them, give them what they need, and they will pay you back ten times over. Agnostic to industry or seniority—they are valuable.

These are good reminders to myself. I find I forget these things some times.


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