The Middle Way
The Middle Way
🏗️Why We Need the Right Structures for Our Success 🏗️

🏗️Why We Need the Right Structures for Our Success 🏗️

🔥Welcome to Volume #00108!🔥

I’m Christian Champ. This is ☯️The Middle Way Newsletter ☯️. It is a place where I write, explore, share, and invite you along for the journey.

If you enjoy the newsletter, please share it with your friends.

🏗️Why We Need the Right Structures for Our Success 🏗️

Stockdale came up with a plan. He gave the group some rules: "we must all take torture before we do this and this and this." By "this" he meant a confession or submitting to what is false. And what was the threshold for that? "Not less than significant pain." The group grew tighter because it felt like they were fighting back. Their lives started making sense. They had a sense of purpose. - Michael Gibson, Paper Belt on Fire 

What do you do stuck in a decrepit prison with death knocking on the door? Your stomach aches. Your body hurts, and danger, death, and despair surround you. 

You live in fear. Fear of death. Fear of disappointing those you love. Fear of hiding secrets and throwing away everything you believe in and fight for. 

Stuck in prison with their world crumbling, Admiral James Stockdale created a way to fight back by giving people agency, meaning, and purpose.

He saved his own life and those around him by creating a lifeline. 

He introduced structure. 

We need structure to make sense of the world. 

We need structure to make our days fulfilling. 

It holds true if we sit in air-conditioned, comfortable homes or a POW camp. 

An agreed-upon code of conduct unlocks a sense of understanding and unity. 

It allows us to see and feel a path to follow. 

Our days work when we create a structure around them. 

We can be thoughtful and prescriptive about our structures or let life circumstances create them. 

Either way, we get structures that create habits, routines, and rituals. We get to see the structures and help mold them, or they get forced on us.  

When we break down our day, we see structures everywhere, from how we make our meals and eat to how we prepare for bed. Our mornings, interactions, workouts, and work days all start with the structure we help put in place. 

Life is a series of structures. We add systems and processes inside our structures, but the shell of it all is the structure. 

We get to create better structures by asking the structure's purpose. Like laying a foundation for a house, structures are the foundations for what we want to do and accomplish. 

We get to put structures in place that serve the life we want. 

How do we need to think about our structures? 

  • What do we want to accomplish? 

  • What does this structure push us to focus on? 

  • How do we align incentives around our structures? 

  • Do we change the structure when it no longer serves us?

  • Did we create this structure, or did circumstances create the structure for us? 

Structure starts with an understanding of what we want to accomplish. 

Structure creates the container for the story, our story. We align the day's beats and then play them out.

We adjust as necessary. When we forget to change our structures, we autopilot a structure that doesn't support where we want to go.

When we create structures and know them cold, we can break them. It works as long as we replace them or only break them when it serves. 

Remember, we shape our structures, and they help shape us.

🧠Things to Think About🧠

Energy Creates Time by Mandy Brown

Mandy wrestles with high performers and helps them create “more time.” The challenge is that we can’t create more time but can create structures, rituals, and routines that give us more energy.

She reminds us we can change our energy to change our time.

But there’s something else I want to suggest here, and it’s to stop thinking about time entirely. Or, at least, to stop thinking about time as something consistent. We all know that time can be stretchy or compressed—we’ve experienced hours that plodded along interminably and those that whisked by in a few breaths.

Find the things that give us more energy, and that gives us more time. I like to ask people what puts them in flow. Find those things and more of them. If stuck, go to your flow triggers. What makes you feel most alive? Make sure you are doing it.

It turns out, not doing their art was costing them time, was draining it away, little by little, like a slow but steady leak. They had assumed, wrongly, that there wasn’t enough time in the day to do their art, because they assumed (because we’re conditioned to assume) that every thing we do costs time. But that math doesn’t take energy into account, doesn’t grok that doing things that energize you gives you time back. By doing their art, a whole lot of time suddenly returned. Their art didn’t need more time; their time needed their art.

Ed Batista on Why We Don’t Get What We Deserve

Life isn’t fair. There is no scale to even out what people deserve or what they receive. We can see terrible people end up on top and watch bad ideas crowd out good ones. That is life.

Ed reminds us that we need to negotiate better. That is what drives many outcomes.

But empathetic listening has its limitations, and when we reach those limits in a given conversation, I'll remind my client of this fundamental truth:

We don't get what we deserve. We get what we negotiate.

Negotioans don’t need to be zero-sum. The best negotiations are win-wins or perhaps win-less (which beats a lose), but life is always trade-offs.

But we need not assume that negotiations require a zero-sum, winner-take-all attitude, or that they're characterized by distrust or rancor. This is a caricature, one that enables people who are uncomfortable with negotiating to justify their discomfort. And yet in my experience very few negotiations benefit from this approach. (Some do, of course, but not many.)

Ed then offers some articles on ways to deal with moving forward from a situation that feels unjust or unhappy.

🎧Things to Listen, See, and Watch 🎧

How AI Could Save (Not Destroy) Education

It feels like a Neal Stephenson novel, but it is where we stand.

Everyone can have their own personal tutor, and every teacher gets their own personal assistant.

Real-time Khan Academy can be used for calculus, physicals, and chemistry at Cal (because schools are dropping the offering for “equity” reasons).

One of Caltech’s alternative paths is taking Khan Academy‘s free, online classes and scoring 90% or higher on a certification test. Sal Khan, academy founder, said Caltech’s action is a “huge deal” for equitable access to college. While Caltech is small — only 2,400 students, about 40% of them undergraduates — Khan said he hoped its prestigious reputation would encourage other institutions to examine their admission barriers and find creative solutions to ease them.

The Pasadena-based institute, with a 3% admission rate last year, boasts 46 Nobel laureates and cutting-edge research in such fields as earthquake engineering, behavioral genetics, geochemistry, quantum information and aerospace.

“You have one of the most academically rigorous schools on the planet that has arguably one of the highest bars for admission, saying that an alternative pathway that is free and accessible to anyone is now a means to meeting their requirements,” said Khan, whose nonprofit offers free courses, test prep and tutoring to more than 152 million users.

The Wicked Mush of In-Between

Bonnie breaks down the current crises.

  • What happens when you think about crises in your imagination?

  • We might notice we are uncomfortable with the unpredictable, but life is a predictable bubble right now.

  • Liminal states —> We don’t want to be stuck between being a butterfly or a caterpillar

  • Our crisis is that we are stuck in gooey mush right now.

  • This is an opportunity to do something extraordinary to live through this and put a stake in the ground.

  • The affordances and constraints are new, and we get to play with them

  • We are at a time between worlds.

  • What is unique at this moment that people will want to know about?

  • We can’t understand when things are in between. Education as we know it is dead. We can’t bring it back.

  • What is possible in a very large counterfactual? That is the thing we need to line up in our kids.

  • There is no better time than now! —> this is a strong Middle Way theme to always evoke.

Matt Bateman on The Hannah Frankman Podcast

1. Parenting is hard work, but providing a better education for your child is worth it.

2. The world is malleable and buildable, and individuals have the agency to shape it to their liking.

3. Teaching the idea that the world is malleable and that children are agents is crucial in education.

4. Creating uninterrupted periods for children to choose what they work on helps develop their focus.

5. Montessori is a new approach to education that combines structured academics with child-centered and voluntary learning.

6. Parents (homeschooling) often underestimate their ability to provide their kids with a great education but struggle to find the right resources and information.

7. Homeschooling offers a unique and customizable approach to education, allowing for personalization and flexibility in curriculum and teaching methods.

8. Education is value-laden and inseparable from culture, and a good education provides a carefully crafted culture that emphasizes certain values.

9. Education is about highlighting and filtering out specific values to make them accessible to students, emphasizing agency and creativity.

10. Education should gradually expose children to the wider world so they can live independently.

💣Words of Wisdom💣

"And I think that’s huge for people to be able to live in an environment where they believe that they can accomplish things. That it’s not strange to accomplish things." (Jeff Tweedy, Let's Go)

“When luck plays a part in determining the consequences of your actions, you don't want to study success to learn what strategy was used but rather study strategy to see whether it consistently led to success.” (Michael J. Mauboussin, The Success Equation)

"A leader's responsibility is to identify the strengths of the people on their team, no matter how buried those strengths might be." (Will Guidara, Unreasonable Hospitality)

"It's hard to know when to let go if you're trying to raise the bar every single second." (Bob Odenkirk, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama)

"The source of true power is not individual authority. The source of true power is buy-in." (Sally Jenkins, The Right Call)

"The greatest gift you can give a person is to see who she is and to reflect that back to her. When we help people to be who they want to be, to take back some of the permission they deny themselves, we are doing our best, most meaningful work." (Bernadette Jiwa, Meaningful)

"What the river is saying is, the change that you think is never going to come has been here and gone while you’ve been making that argument. So, this urges us toward preparedness. And the best preparation for being prepared is to be alert. To pay attention." (Barry Lopez)

"If your business involves making people happy, then you can't be good at it if you don't care what people think." (Will Guidara, Unreasonable Hospitality)

"Society itself is a codified hero system, which means that society everywhere is a living myth of the significance of human life, a defiant creation of meaning." (Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death)

"You have the time for the important things just as soon as you push the less important things down your list of priorities. Remember that time is simply a matter of choice and allocation. Almost everyone is blessed with a certain amount of free time each day." (Matthew Dicks)

🙏Thanks for Reading🙏

What structures do you need to put in place, perfect or change?



It’s always fun to see the creative artwork of characters that an author brings to life. The background photos on the wall are from Mawi’s books “Inner Hereos". A collection of stories that teach valuable lessons and my kids love.

The Middle Way
The Middle Way
The Middle Way helps us learn, unlearn, relearn, and get unstuck.