Intentional naïveté (Ricky Weekly #80)
This is where I share 3 things every week with my friends and anyone else interested.
A picture from my life:
I randomly decided to get basketball training since I’ve never done it before. It’s kind of crazy how much time I’ve spent playing this game but never practiced this deliberately. Two sessions in I’m already feeling like I’ve unlocked the cheat code.
A thing on my mind:
I got two things today.
I was watching an interview in Chinese, and the person said “說白了就沒意思了.” It means, “If you’re too honest/frank then it’s not interesting.” But sounds more poetic in Chinese because it uses the character 白, which means “white,” So, to be honest is to make the color “white,” as opposed to something more interesting and “colorful.” It acknowledges that there’s value in keeping the “color” in our conversations.
I’ve been thinking about my tendency to be too honest. I have a desire to be “real” and “authentic”? I don’t know where it comes from. It might be from being exposed to a lot of BS growing up, and then building up a defense mechanism to always “see through” everything so I don’t have too high expectations and therefore can’t get hurt. For example, “follow the money” explains almost all behavior, but constantly pointing this out is a bummer for everyone. People need better stories than just money/power/fame to be more hopeful about the world, and the winners are usually the better storytellers. So, I’m learning to tell better stories instead of being the bummer BS detector / truth-teller.
I saw this on my friend Tom Currier’s Facebook:
I think there’s a huge advantage to time-boxed periods of suspended disbelief (intentional naïveté) followed by a brief period of intense reflection/analysis.
Among my now older and wiser set of friends I’ve heard multiple times that they think it’s worse being a second-time startup founder. I think those thoughts are connected to this idea of “intentional naïveté.” Future pain avoidance, if you know how much pain there is, takes away your ability to be naive. On the other hand, if you’re young and you don’t know what you’re getting into, naïveté is the default. If you’re thoughtful, intense reflection usually follows anyway, especially if things don’t go your way.
I think you can fix this. First you have to simply value naïveté and discount your experience. I think that’s pretty easy in startup land because there are lots of examples of winners without prior experience. The best experience is the new experience you accumulate as you go, and speed is the name of the game precisely because you shouldn’t overthink and over-index on past experiences. If you have that, then I think you just have to get better at the motion of deliberating once, then committing hard for a period of time before you reflect. Here are two blog posts that I found helpful:
Deliberate Once by Nate Soares
The correct response to uncertainty is *not* half-speed by Anna Salamon
A piece of content I recommend:
Extraordinary Attorney Woo - Netflix
I’m only three episodes in and I think I can recommend it already. Protagonist is autistic, touches on mental health, religion and LGBTQ issues that are probably quite progressive in Korea, and has a bit of Sherlock Holmes while still a cheesy K-drama. That mix of elements should be intriguing enough for anyone!
Bonus: Flow Club in the New York Times
My startup Flow Club was in the New York Times on Friday as part of a larger feature on virtual co-working, but I’m pretty annoyed because this is a clear case where the editor wanted a clickbait headline to stir up controversy, but ended up diminishing the power of the piece. The stories we hear everyday are about people feeling supported by the Flow Club community and becoming more productive and hopeful about the work they do as a result. Back to what I was talking about at the top of this newsletter, I can’t say I was that surprised by the editor’s actions, but hopefully this will help me tell an even better story to rally everyone to our cause!
As always, you can find out what I’m thinking in more real-time on Twitter and my essays are on my website. My primary focus (and where I focus) is on Flow Club.
Thanks for reading Ricky Weekly! It’s free because I write for fun.
Ricky - Hey, the NYT piece was great, white or with color! The meaning came through, they spelled your name right.... what more could you want? And indeed, it was an interesting article. Congratulations!