Jun 21 • 4M

🏴‍☠️Why We Need to Avoid Doing the Stupid Things!🏴‍☠️

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🔥Welcome to Volume #00088!🔥

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.

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🏴‍☠️Why We Need to Avoid Doing the Stupid Things!🏴‍☠️

Sitting on my black Evil branded bicycle, I watched the light like a hawk. 

I just left the office and hurried to an improv rehearsal.

It's 6 pm in downtown Chicago, and traffic is a mess. I skipped the bike lanes and attempted to flow with the lights.

When the light hit green, I wanted to jump across four lanes of traffic to set up my left turn. I was on a four-lane one-way street that ran into another four-lane one-way street. 

There is a flow state from perfectly timing the lights, a game that adds to the ride. 

I saw the other light turn yellow and began to push off.

Immediately I heard a horn and slammed on my breaks. At this point, I was beyond the point of no return. When I heard the honk, my heart fell to the floor, and I prepared for impact. I felt a hard sweat breakout on my back despite the mild temperatures.

A silver Audi A6 almost pressed its hood into my bike, potentially ending my life.

My breathing became labored, and time slowed down as I peered at the car, bracing for impact.

I got saved because of traffic. 

The Audi wanted to accelerate, but traffic-jammed his progression and saved me from a horrific accident. 

I watched the wrong light change! I almost met my demise. 

I confused myself because traffic wasn't moving in any direction due to cars stuck in the middle of the inner section. Or I just had a really, really bad gauge of directions for a 3-second interval. 

My saving grace was the car a couple of feet to my right, impeding the Audi from moving.

I never had a similar situation before or after, but this incident reminded me of Charlie Munger's advice to avoid doing stupid things. 

It is remarkable how much long-term advantage we have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.

— Charlie Munger

It is a principle to live by and one of the simplest to implement. 

The fact that I almost violated it terribly left me shook. 

Luckily, I avoided the Audi, leaving me filled with tire marks. 

All the benefits of riding a bike fall down if you jump in front of a car and get run over. 

Enter Charlie Munger's big idea. 

His strategy is to not worry about being smart and instead worry about being stupid. This powerful idea creates the conditions to live good lives. 

We take care of ourselves and do the hard easy things like eating right, moving, and practicing our breath. We avoid catastrophic errors. We stay away from situations with a tremendous downside. 

We avoid the spur-of-the-moment stupid actions and the compounding stupid actions born out of our day-to-day decisions. 

Showing up and avoiding being stupid is the Charlie Munger way. 


📓Things to Think About📓

What leaders can learn from F-1 pit crews by Shane Snow

Shane tells a story about a hospital (GOSH) running into issues handing over clients from the operating room to the intensive care unit. The hand-offs went poorly, leading to a high cardiac rate.

The answer came from looking at how others handle this problem, leading to the F-1 pit crew.

Right away the GOSH team observed several differences between the Ferrari routine and their own. The pit crew meticulously planned out every possible scenario of what could go wrong during a handover and practiced each scenario until it became habit; GOSH staff, on the other hand, handled surprises on the fly.

Ferrari crew members operated with lots of physical space between each other; the hospital staff constantly got in each other’s way—by virtue of the small space, they claimed. But a dozen grown men with power tools managed to gather round about as small a space during every race without bottlenecking anybody.

Lastly, Ferrari pit crews had a dedicated overseer who ran the show. This overseer, often called a “lollipop man,” would stand back to watch and direct the operation holistically. Only when he waved his flag would the car be allowed back onto the track.

The future is noisy by Michael Garfield

Noise is a gift and a curse. Micheal breaks down the positives and negatives of noise and why we ultimately need it.

Noise alerts us to phase changes.

This is the perennial refrain of People Getting Old. For centuries, “kids these days” have enjoyed music that unsettled elders whose ears had been trained on tamer compositions, simpler harmonic structures – more consonant, predictable material. The story can be traced back at least to the Catholic Church’s banning of the tritone in the 1600s, a dissonant interval it called “The Devil’s Chord.” Yet in the words of complex-systems-savvy historian William Irwin Thompson, “Evil is the annunciation of the next level of order.” The noise may well be understood as a harbinger of coming phase transitions, much like the way a pot of water boils at the boundary between water’s liquid and gaseous states.

Noise leaves the records of our civilization.

Noise, like water, arrives in waves – some smaller, some larger, some so great they threaten the fragile structures we erect upon the shores of the unknown. We can think of history as the fossil record left by these waves, and the records that they have erased.

History is filled with noisy moments.

The internet is certainly a noisy place, but it has precedent: both Niall Ferguson and Jamie Stantonian have drawn robust analogies between “the meaning crisis” of our time and the rift created by the printing press and its role in catalyzing an evolutionary arms race between pamphleteers, as well as the Protestant Reformation and The Thirty Years’ War.

Our children use noise to create and understand.

Seeking is a compulsive praxis. Noise (as opposed to signal) predominates in the child’s brain; what childhood development researcher Alison Gopnik calls the “explore-exploit” tension, driven in part by dopamine, draws children out into the world, imagination and play, possibility and opportunity abound.

We need noise to reboot the system and help create the never-ending change.

In other words, noise is here to stay because making noise on purpose can jolt a system out of its rut. The fool in the king’s court or the heyoka at Sun Dance both keep the social system from settling into maladaptive complacency. When mass extinctions disrupt the byzantine symbiotic networks of mature ecosystems, fine-tuned specialists take the hit and loose, messy generalists that can catch as catch can – the raccoons, cockroaches, Lystrosaurs – misfit organisms that seemed forever out of place suddenly come into their own and help reboot the entire food web. It pays for the biosphere to keep these clowns around.


🎧Things to Listen, See, and Watch 🎧

I did a short video on three essential ideas for all careers for fassfoward. You want to 1. Be Curious, 2. Find the Others and 3. Just Do It.

Lex Fridman interviews Rick Rubin

I get excited about everything Rick Rubin. He is another mentor I’ve never met, but his ideas always resonate and are usable by all of us.

I listened to Panama while I created this newsletter riding the waves of his music and feeling the power of it that Rick mentions.

  • Music has the ability to bring us depth in our soul that is harder to access any other way. It is a window into something else and it gets us there quickly

  • Music is a connection between time and space. It can help us understand a place. We can resonate with the music and a place and not understand why

  • The best art is open enough that the artist has their experience and the audience gets to have their experience and they don’t have to be the same

  • He finds things like driving, where you can run on autopilot and it opens avenues for freeing your more creative side

  • A producer is like a coach can help anyone get to the next level and unlock…. but sometimes it is a bad fit

  • There are no answers for art. We are all trying experiments to see what works

  • He is trying to help the artist find the best way to get where they want to go

  • It could be the lineage for why people approaches things differenr. It could lead to more aggressive approaches, and different lineages work for different people. Rick likes to come at it from a collaboration approach

  • He listens by coming in blank and being a recorder that process before responding and trying to understand, not form an opinion. He asks questions and then finds out where a person is coming from. It is trial and error

  • He will always try someone’s idea to see what happens … need to test it and hear it. Eight times out of ten, it is not what he imagined and it is great

  • Everyone is there to make the best thing they can…. no other limits

  • Simplicity is beautiful… there is a sonic benefit to fewerc elements and more space to hear the personality. He always liked to reduce and get to the essence (he called him self a reducer not a producer)

  • Adding layers and building upon doesn’t always make the work bigger and, at times, makes it smaller

  • Ruthless editing is key

  • Rick thinks we are channeling ideas and vehicles for information… just some of us have good antennas to pick up the signal (see the noise article above by Michael Garfield)

  • Sometimes we need to tune our antennas to signals we want to hear

  • Rick feels like he isn’t part of any system and never bought in. If you conform you lose yourself

  • Rick likes making good things and being obsessed with it. He needs to find things to make better. When he got stuck in a corporate gig, he turned it on himself and lost a bunch of weight and changed his life

  • He went through a depression and is different now than he was before, but he doesn’t think he changed much through life. He is more grounded now. He was more confident before and he is still confident today. He is relates more to the artist that suffers and through their suffering it makes them great

  • He stays open minded. He believes we know close to nothing about anything

  • Rick says not to listen to anyone else and to make things that you love. Make the things for yourself, because you are the audience. You can’t make art with someone else in mind


💣Words of Wisdom💣

"Incentives matter greatly – underestimate them at your peril. People will navigate the shortest path to the incentive. The curious among us will pay particular attention to incentives, monetary or otherwise." (Laurence Endersen, Pebbles of Perception)

"Nothing learned from a book is worth anything until it is used and verified in life; only then does it begin to affect behavior and desire. It is Life that educates, and perhaps love more than anything else in life." (Will Durant, Fallen Leaves)

"Jezal had often observed that the ever so slightly stupid will act more stupidly in clever company." (Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself)

"I did not think of language as the means to self-description. I thought of it as the door—a thousand opening doors!—past myself. I thought of it as the means to notice, to contemplate, to praise, and, thus, to come into power." (Mary Oliver, Upstream)

"In other words, fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day." (Steven Pressfield, Do the Work)

“Learn to fear that which is fearsome….Brute strength is child’s play, the mindless strength of beasts….Have the strength of the true warrior…real courage….Life is precious.” (Eiji Yoshikawa, Musashi)

"Eros alone animates the organism. The same applies to society; excessive narcissism de-stabilizes it." (Byung-Chul Han, The Expulsion of the Other)

"Do not waste time on things you cannot change or influence. Just keep moving." (Robert Greene, Joost Elffers, The 33 Strategies of War)

🙏Thanks for reading🙏

What stupid things do you need to make sure you don’t do or stop doing?

Any thoughts or comments, please share!

Namaste,

Christian

Another belt ceremony… and my buddy and former co-worker Brian became another familiar face in the Dojo, joining us on the journey.