I’ve heard some discussion in the press lately about whether or not a certain politician is “playing chess, while everyone else is playing checkers”. Whether or not that’s true – it got me to thinking about some people I know that probably think that about themselves. If I’m honest with myself, I’m sure I thought that’s what I was doing at times (or at least what I was trying to do).
It’s seductive to think that you’re operating on a completely different level than everyone else. Unfortunately, I think you’re usually just outsmarting yourself, not everyone else. Are you really going to be able to figure out a way to do this better than any one else has before? Occasionally – yes. Most of the time – no.
In many cases, I think this is looking for a shortcut as opposed to just doing the work. You’re probably better off just trying to get better at playing checkers.
I’ve noticed that a couple of non-fiction books I’ve read recently have really short chapters – frequently just a page or two. My initial reaction was “I didn’t know you could do that.” But I’ve realized – it’s good to make your point and move on.
As Jerry Seinfeld said – “Showmanship, George. When you hit that high note, say goodnight and walk off.”
I heard the always insightful Seth Godin say something along the lines of – great writing makes you feel like ‘That’s what I think. That’s what I meant to say. She just said it better.” (I can’t remember the exact quote, but that’s close enough for my purposes here.)
That’s how I feel about a book I just discovered – Unsubscribe by Jocelyn K. Glei. I had just written this post when I heard Gayle Allen’s Curious Minds podcast where she was talking about the book. If email is running your life (like most people), this is a great read.