To Be And To Last #28
This week we explore deep work, surprising historical parallels, and the shared challenges of British tailors and Malaysian granite carvers.
620 miles across Japan
The ceiling was an improbable 25 feet above me with a glass ceiling. Sunlight flooded the room. The sink was black marble. And in the middle of the otherwise whitewashed space was a simple, beige toilet. It was the most ridiculously and gloriously presented toilet I had ever seen. Imperial. It was an imperial toilet.
I’ve been a fan of Craig Mod for a while, so you can imagine my excitement when Tim Ferriss shared this wonderful story of Craig’s 620 mile walk across Japan.
Delightful descriptions aside, a central theme of Craig’s story is the outsized rewards that are only accessible when you do something to a ridiculous level. You can walk a mile a day for 620 days, but it will never be the same as walking 620 miles in a few weeks.
Active avoidance is the key to success
Is procrastination actually a productivity aid?
Walking 620 miles like Craig Mod isn’t the hard part. The hard part is all the other pressing things Craig chose not to do during those days of walking.
In Deep Work, Cal Newport shows how shallow work (emails, meetings, etc) is the enemy of deep work (creative work, strategy thinking). In the short-term, shallow work offers more immediate rewards, but this actually comes at the cost of more meaningful long-term rewards from committing to deep work.
And the secret is actively avoiding shallow work whenever possible.
Oxford University is older than Machu Picchu?
I found unreasonable enjoyment in this thread putting historical events into perspective. We often study history within the context of a single country, so connecting the dots across different places makes for some fascinating comparisons (yes, Oxford University was actually founded ~350 years before Machu Picchu was built).
The future of custom suits
I’ve rarely moved beyond athletic gear in the last 9 months, and I haven’t worn a proper suit in longer than I can remember. I’m not the only one.
Even before COVID-19, custom suit tailoring was a struggling trade, and 2020 hasn’t done the industry any favors. David Segal meanders through the history of London’s iconic Savile Row and looks at a few possible futures for this unique craft.
Echoing similar notes to Malaysia’s last traditional Muslim tombstone carver, these high-craft industries seem to be suffering both from competition (mass manufacturing is “good enough”) and from talent (young people don’t see a promising future in learning granite carving, for instance).
Do we need UNESCO World Heritage industries?
To Be And To Last: Thinker Nate Desmond’s weekly roundup of long reads, contrarian thoughts, and hidden jewels that aren’t getting enough attention.
You likely joined on NateDesmond.com or BuckFiftyMBA.com.
Got thoughts? firstname.lastname@example.org.