I don’t know any babies going around with a list of priorities. Why do adults need them?

We can get a lot done by trying. Whether it’s sales, tennis or cooking, when we show up and do our best, things get done.

And so, we get greedy. More impact, more sales, more results, less time, less money, less effort.

As we seek to do more with less, we discover that powering through is simply not enough.

We get stressed. Day after day, this compounds to a long-term feeling of coming short. And so we run even faster, squeezing water out of rock. And finally, our body goes to a stop.

Prioritising is taking a hard look at our lists of desires. And deciding what is more important than the other, in this moment, season and month. Ranking our desires.

The next time we are running short, we look at this list of priorities and know what’s next.

Not run faster, in circles.

Art is creating something new, that might not work, to change people for the better. What change do you seek to make?

It’s not art if you know it’s going to work. That’s management. That’s a manual. That’s people at Daifun, China who paint copies of Picassos.

It’s not art if there’s no intent. When you do it because you feel like it, that’s a hobby. A hobby can produce artefacts that look like art. And it could even make you rich and famous, that’s luck. That’s not art.

As you can tell, the way I define art have nothing at all to do with painting or sculpture.

A chef who wants to change how people look at sandwiches, by playing with flavour, pricing and business model. They are making art. That’s could be David Chang, Danny Meyers or your 15 year-old son.

The scientists who banded together during the pandemic, found the vaccine and gave it for free. That’s art.

A receptionist who gives you the inside scoop on the person you were meeting. So you feel prepared and relaxed before you walk in. She’s making art.

An entrepreneur, a sever or a barber. They can all be artists.

You too, if you choose to.

Objections are healthy. But if you learnt the wrong lesson, it could turn into a massive waste of time and effort.

You won’t get to add the right feature that’s keeping your prospects from saying “yes.”

You won’t get to pivot and pursue the right market.

You won’t get to tell the right story to gain the trust you need.

Here’s a neat question to avoid those costly mis-learnings, “If I can give it to you in this ___, would you pay for it right now?”

And if the answer is “No,” or another set of objections show up, you just learnt the difference of an excuse (your prospect is “being nice”) from a useful lesson.

How long did it take you to create your LinkedIn profile?

“This is how I look. This is how I can be useful. These are the topics I like.”

But that’s not entirely true, is it?

We grow into a career, titles and the stories we tell ourselves.

And so we fall into a trap. We believe this is who we are. We are fixed.

In the face of a disruption, we are blind to opportunities because it doesn’t resonate with the person we are in the moment.

One way to define our identity is as someone who is fixed. Another is to violently refuse any labelling because deep down, we know that we are flexible. We contain multitudes.

The online profile that says who we are, it’s simply shorthand for others to know how we might be useful at this moment.

And when we decide to change how we want to show up, we simply update our profile.

Beliefs are the undercurrent that drives actions.

The late-night studies for the university, the investments for an early retirement, the exercises we do for our health, our political stances or the roles of a romantic relationship.

We have good reasons why we are doing the things we do.

But what if those reasons that come to our mind so easily are not the cause of our beliefs? Those rational and irrefutable arguments are not how we decide in the first place.

The way that the mind works, very frequently, is that we start from a decision, or we start from a belief, and then the stories that explain it come to our mind.

And worse, our belief is sold to us because of someone’s agenda, not what we wanted in the first place.

The way to test if those beliefs hold water is by inquiry. Two good questions to start:

1.Why? Why is that? Why? And why is that? Why? (x5)

2.What would I need to see to change my mind?

I hope you’ll be surprised by how hard it is to answer those questions. And how easy life would be after shedding ideas that are not yours in the first place.


Being emotionally intelligent certainly can be useful. It is to use these rich data set of emotions (about yourself and others) to make informed decisions.

It may very well be that you don’t think you have feelings and that you are a machine. But it’s entirely possible you have them and you are pushing them aside to “be productive”.

We get frustrated when we don’t understand why people act the way they do.

Hint: frustration is an emotion too.

But until you can accept the existence of emotions, you will not have access to this set of information, to make informed choices.

Chances are, you are working with humans, not machines. And you might be a human too.

Martin Lindstrom shared an incredible story of a simple trick that reduce hundreds of emails a day and creates an upward spiral of change.

Here’s the story.

“So we work for one of the largest banks in the world, and I had this workshop with around 800 executives in the meeting. And one guy said to me, “I’m so frustrated working as a banker.”

I said, “What frustrates you the most?”

He said, “What frustrates me the most is emails. I get 800 emails every day.”

I said, “Would you like to change that?”

And he said, “Absolutely. I’d like to get rid of it.”

So I said, “Are you aware there’s a direct correlation between the number of emails you send and the number of emails you receive? So here’s my idea: Why don’t we get rid of the CC button and the reply all button in Outlook?”

And of course, the folks in compliance said, “Oh, you can’t do it. No, we will always see the CCs,” and all this stuff.

I said, “Frankly, all you guys in this room, how many of you actually ever read those CCs?” And not a single hand was raised.

I’m not kidding. Not a single hand. So we did it for three months–ninety days. After ninety days, the number of emails had dropped from 800 to 362 emails per person on average. This is a true number, and it has zero complaints. And that became almost the first piece of evidence within the organization, that change is possible.”

What wasn’t shared in the story is the idea of the availability bias (What you see is all there is). That we are really not aware of the information that we don’t have. And that it matters enormously. For this bank, it is this little hack.

Our beliefs, choices and habits are made by options we are aware of. And because we think we know the answer. We stop looking.

Even if we know of the bias, it’s a struggle trading attention (which is in scarce demand) for a slim chance of making things better.

If you’re a change maker, it is the enrolment process. What do you need to do to help people see that’s it’s worth the effort to change their mind.

If you’re an agent of change, it is to know you are operating under imperfect information and perhaps the next idea might change your life. If you’re open to it.

This is the best way → this is the best way for me but it might not be for you

My way is the only way to solve the problem → my way is a way to solve the problem

You should not do that → I won’t recommend that because of these reasons

Oversimplification → Simple enough and accurate

Success by luck → success by understanding and skill

Because the law/society/parent says so → because I’ve examined it and believe this as a better way for these reasons

I am at the effect of people, circumstances and environment → I have the agency to change my reality

I’m in control of my reality → I’m in control of some parts but not everything

Feelings are useless → feelings are additional data for decision making

We should desire one main thing (happiness, money, success, sex) → we have many desires and sometimes they are in conflict

Being an adult is more complicated than you think. The good news is the sooner you embrace it, the more accurate you’ll be, the faster you’ll get to where you want to go.

Thank you for championing the adult development theory, Jennifer.

In this experiment, I attempt to stop over-eating.

Why: After a 20 hour intermittent fast, I’m really hungry, over-order and try to finish everything. This caused me to eat more than needed. Will mediation after meal keep me at the best shape of my life? What is the minimum effective dose?

Summary: Success. Meditated for 3min after a meal stops me from over-eating. I get to keep fit, keep calm and keep my money.

Experiment log [July 21]

First day: Fasted for 24h. I feel energise and hungry. Brought steak. Hang out with friends and chat. Did not mediate. Did not overeat. Success.

2nd day: Feel composed and calm. Ate fish, salad and leek veggies while listening to a podcast. Didn’t finish the fish. Meditate for 2min via the Oura app. Feel it was a bit short. Attended a zoom meeting right after.

Did not overeat. Success.

72.0kg → 71.3kg

3rd day: Ate a big meal of fried Ashton while listening to podcast. feel full before mediation. Did 3 mins mediation in the cafe. Felt sleepy. And don’t want to eat more. Success.

4th day: Eat while listening to podcast. Felt full after. Mediate for 3mins. Feel tired. Doze off a couple of times. Did not eat more.

5th day: Feel hungry before a meal. After meal, feel full but not bloated. Meditate for 3min. Feel my heart racing. Deep breathing during meditation calms me down. Didn’t want to eat more.

6th day: Cheat day. No meditation.

7th day: Feel full before meditation. Mediate for 3mins. Relaxing. Didn’t want to eat more. Success.

8th day: Feel stress. Left office to take a walk to City Square, 20mins. Feel hungry before a meal. Still feel hungry after the meal. Meditate for 3mins. Feel full after. Success.

9th day: Feel hungry when buying food at Farrer park. Almost wanted to buy the fried chicken. Brought a Stuff’d salad instead and chatted with a friend on the way there and back. Feel full after the meal. Meditate for 3 mins. Didn’t want to eat more. Success.

10th day: Feel hungry right before a meal. First meal. So full after the meal. Meditate for 3mins. Didn’t want to eat further. Success.

11th day: Brought food from Sim Lim after meeting Yue Hong. Feel hungry. Ate. Feel full. Meditate for 3mins. Didn’t feel like eating more. Success.

12th day: Mildly full after meal. Meditate for 3mins. Didn’t feel like I need to eat more after. Success.

You know what’s delicious when we taste it. But can you explain why?

It’s certainly not the ingredients (there are many terrible dishes with the same ingredients).

Nor it is the chef.

There are chefs who create amazing dishes, mostly by intuition. And if you are good at asking questions and deciphering answers, sure, you’ll learn something.

I’m not sure if any of the chef can teach as elegantly as Samin Nosrat.

A great chef might not be a great teacher. Intuition is not pedagogy. Similarly, a Pulitzer writer, a Nobel scientist or an olympian. Teaching is a whole different set of skills. It’s enrollment, empathy, flexibility and communication.

Choose your teachers. Choose your future.

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