What does winning look like?

The world as we know it has dramatically changed in just the past six to eight months. Let's take stock of factual events. In January, we had a World War III scare in the beginning of the year, where Iran launched ballistic missiles at a U.S. base. This doesn't happen too often. This was part of the larger friction in the Persian Gulf. Oh yeah, the President got impeached, I forgot about that. We also had an unusually intense wildfire season in Australia:


There's the coronavirus outbreak that started in March, still going strong. There's the protests over police killings that are still going on, and the U.S. government stockpiled live rounds in D.C. to be used in case of emergency a la Tiananmen Square. So that's nice.

more wildfires

troops in dc

brazil mass graves

change we can believe in

This year isn't over, and I'm not saying things will always be bad, but I do think it's important to consider the future given some hard truths. I don't think it's appropriate to add my personal projections to the suite of things that may happen, but the truth is unless we plan our lives to grow stronger around uncertainty, we will most likely have significant risk exposure in the coming years to Black Swan events of a more frequent and intense nature.

How do you plan your lives around that? How do you live your life with confidence? I struggle with this question, even as my life passes me by.

What I've come to realize is my happiness derives from my relationship to the truth. For the longest time, I thought that the truth was my friend. But friends care about your feelings. The truth does not. So now I don't think the truth is my friend, but at times it does work for me. So if I'm going to be happy, I need to make the truth work for me, instead of being at its mercy. When your truth lines up with your mindset, and your values, happiness can shine from within.


So now we boiled down our dilemna from "how do we remain permanently unaffected by everything going around us" (which is impossible) to "how can we make the truth work for us". There's a number of things I'm doing:

  • Practicing a strong bias for action: If you can build and ship things faster than the world can destroy them, you possess an inherent logistical advantage. If you can hunt and forage and farm faster than people can eat, you don't need to worry about food security. If you can build and crew tanks faster than the enemy can blow them up, you don't need to worry about winning the war. If you can build and ship software faster than people can need it, you don't need to worry about pivoting to serve customers. Boiling it down on this axis makes a lot of insurmountable problems look like the same mammal.

  • Retrieving information about the state of the world: Having quality information streams may not result in smart choices, but without quality information smart choices are impossible to make. I find searching and if necessary paying for information and insights to be well worth the effort. For tech, that's many first-principles sources like mailing lists or high-quality technical documentation / articles. Otherwise, I store knowledge and information in books or online repositories.

  • Set a North Star: There's no point in existing if it isn't for a higher purpose. My North Star, the goal in my work, is people: myself, family, friends, and the family I hope to have in the future. As long as I have that to work towards, the challenges in my life seem much easier to overcome.

The only easy day was yesterday, but that doesn't mean today can't be enjoyable.