In one of those ubiquitous end of the year posts, Joshua Brown (financial advisor) and all-around fun guy (at least from what I can gather by following him on Twitter) wrote:
The news is mostly not news. Believe me, I traffic in this stuff online and on-air every day.
But let’s say it was all “real news”…then what? It isn’t as though you’re able to react to it, at least not all of it. In fact, the less of it you react to, the better off you probably are. My friend David Merkel talks about making as few decisions as possible, thus limiting the amount of bad or forced ones. This is the kind of advice that sounds so simple and obvious that it can’t possibly be true – but it actually is true.
Brown is writing this inside of a larger point — stay away from the news. His audience in this paragraph is specifically those who are stock traders, but I think, with some minor tweaks, we can expand the audience to everyone (or at least a lot of people). It’s pretty hard to create things, if you’re always consuming. If you’re endlessly following the news on Twitter or reading what’s going on in the world around you, it makes it quite a bit harder to make something yourself.
In an interview with Esquire magazine last year, Ricky Gervais (!) made a plea for people to be creators*:
You should bring something into the world that wasn’t in the world before. It doesn’t matter what that is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a table or a film or gardening — everyone should create. You should do something, then sit back and say, ‘I did that.’
I certainly think Gervais is right — we’ve each got something unique and creative to contribute to the world. Let’s tie this back into Brown’s point about staying away from the news. In fact, Brown includes a tweet that supports his point and I think exemplifies mine:
To have a chance to achieve something that will one day be in the news, we have to spend quite a lot of time away from the news.
— Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) December 11, 2012
Another place where this point is made, albeit in a longer way, is in a TEDTalk that Susan Cain gave last year. The subject was on introversion and it was very powerful. If you need more support for the point about “spending time away” from things, then I’d definitely watch her talk.
*Note: I realize that I’ve not linked to the Esquire Magazine article. Since I first came across this quote from Maria Popova, I wanted to link back to it on her site. She tirelessly works to curate an enormous amount of content. In this case, it felt right to link back to her site — especially because she includes a link to the Esquire interview.
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