One of the reasons that I'm so optimistic about our future is that we, as individuals and as a collective species, are nowhere near the point where we've tapped our full potential. How could we be when billions of people are getting by on dollars per day and we still don't have ubiquitous access to broadband internet and electricity? But it goes beyond economics and technology. Here's a quick, top of mind list of every area of life that still has huge, upside potential.
I fell in love with poetry while I was completing my BS and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering. It was more than just an escape valve from the stress of my technical studies. It was my way of exploring life through words. Trying to capture a powerful human emotion, a memory, or a scene in a Haiku format became a fun game. And like any creative endeavor, once you started the flood gates continued to open up. I found myself needing to keep a journal with me at all times, and would often stop several times along my bike commute to campus to capture ideas, phrases, or sentences.
- "I wake up at 3 AM so that I can get a few hours of studying in before work."
- "I bike 14 miles on work days and 40 miles on my days off."
- "I'm the only pharmacist with a medical board certification."
- "Yeah I'm a few years from retirement, but I plan to work into my late 70s."
I never missed an opportunity to visit Samuel Adams gravestone whenever I walked along the freedom trail in downtown Boston. Like many of the founding fathers, I deeply respected the principles he stood for and lived by. And yet his tombstone did no justice in representing the impact that he made upon the world. If it wasn't for the nearby placard, his entire existence would be summarized by a name and his birth and death year.
Among the other tombs, the stories of everyone's life were condensed down to a name and two years. What a pity, given the richness that each one offered.
Forward progress is made through a combination of steps and leaps.
Steps are the smallest possible actions necessary to keep moving. They build and maintain momentum. They are the daily and hourly actions that create and reinforce habits. They are the unglamorous daily grind, sometimes resulting in reaching the intended destination and sometimes resulting in getting stuck in a rut.
Ben Barkin is a smart cookie. Years ago, I had the pleasure of watching him plant the seed for what later became a very successful business (HomeHarvest - Edible Landscapes) that now employs a solid team of employees and contractors. If you're in the greater Boston area and want Ben and his crew to create a fantastic garden for your property, Ben is your man.
I'm not a psychologist, but I've always had a fascination with human psychology because it has such a massive influence on how we approach life. Recently, I was listening to an episode of the Tim Ferriss Podcast featuring Tony Robbins when the subject turned towards analyzing one's first memory as a means of understanding one's current view of the world.
What is done? If the question involves software, the answer depends on your area of responsibility. A developer may define done as the moment the application works the very first time. An operations engineer may define done as the moment it's launched to a customer and currently available. The business may define done as the last moment in time the last end-user is still alive and using the application.
It's been a few months since I publicly announced my upcoming book. While there are plenty of things to button up prior to an official launch, there has also been forward progress the entire time. It's particularly gratifying to go back and read it with fresh eyes only to get re-inspired by this project and the impact that it could have on the world.