In real life, these things inspire us and leave us awestruck. So, by using them as our wallpapers we hope to capture a fraction of the same feeling. The same wonder.
Above my desk, I have four passages printed out and framed.
The first is from Shadow Divers:
“Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus and tenacity; compromise on any of these and you become average.”
“The modern Stoic sage is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into information, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.”
“No powerful mind stops within itself; it is always stretching out and exceeding it’s capacities. It makes sorties which go beyond what it can achieve; it is only half-alive if it is not advancing, pressing forward, getting driven into a corner and coming to blows; it’s inquiries are shapeless and without limits; it’s nourishment consists in amazement, the hunt and uncertainty.
“The Don considered a use of threats the most foolish kind of exposure; the unleashing of anger without forethought as the most dangerous indulgence. No one had ever heard the Don utter a naked threat, no one had ever seen him in an uncontrollable rage. It was unthinkable. And so he tried to teach Sonny his own disciplines. He claimed that there was no greater natural advantage in life than having an enemy overestimate your faults, unless it was to have a friend underestimate your virtues.”
My laptop. With pretty pictures as it’s wallpaper.
But the other day, I asked myself a question. “What use are pretty pictures?” They don’t make me a better person. They don’t help me think better. They don’t teach me anything.They don’t help me.
So I created eight different wallpapers. All based on ideas that are important to me right now. Below, I’ve included them and a brief explanation of their origin.
1) DEEP WORK AND STRONG FILTERS
“Strong filter” is a phrase I picked up from this post by Nassim Taleb, where he is discussing the success of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. It’s an idea I expanded on in a post called “Success is strong filters.”
2) ATTACHMENT OR HAPPINESS
3) DEAD VS ALIVE TIME
4) THE MASTERY FORMULA
But perhaps the most interesting part, is ego. The sum of those three things is divided by ego. The bigger the ego, the more it inhibits your level of mastery.
This divisive quality is motivated in part by Ryan Holiday’s new book, Ego is the Enemy.
5) VIA NEGATIVA
I’ve written more about this idea in a post called “The fastest way to wisdom.”
And when you realise that you don’t need anything else, you start to appreciate everything you already have.
7) HOW TO WIN
The second part is something that Marc advises all new entrepreneurs to do. Start building stuff.
I think of it as the simplest, most effective, no-nonsense career strategy.
8) TRUTH AND POWER
Speaking truth to power is both an ethical obligation and a strategic advantage.
It also reminds of the Karl Popper quote from The Open Society:
“If in this book harsh words are spoken about some of the greatest among the intellectual leaders of mankind, my motive is not, I hope, the wish to belittle them. It springs rather from my conviction that, if our civilization is to survive, we must break with the habit of deference to great men. Great men may make great mistakes; and as the book tries to show, some of the greatest leaders of the past supported the perennial attack on freedom and reason”
I created eight wallpapers so that I can change them on a regular basis. So that they don’t just fade in the background and become part of the scenery. So that I read them and think about them and use the ideas in my life.
Quotes and maxims are interesting and inspirational. But they’re useless if we don’t apply them to our time on this planet. If we fail to implement the ideas they speak of, they’re no more useful than the waterfalls and lakes I used to use as my wallpaper.