Spacing out, getting lost, and finding luck
A map is not the territory
Hiker Hillary ends up lost, the trail nowhere in sight.
“This can’t be!” She frets. “The map says there’s a trail right here!”
Hillary curls into a ball and waits for the trail to materialize.
A map is a useful abstraction of the territory, but it’s imperfect—it may be dated, insufficient, or just plain wrong. The “map” can be any artifact (data, documentation, mental models), and “territory” can be any form of truth (the physical world, a field of knowledge, human experience). The map is our understanding, and the territory is reality.
Like Hillary, holding false beliefs about territory is wishful thinking. Our thoughts don’t change reality.
Understanding the limits of a map makes one aware of their ignorance, whether it’s their assumptions, incomplete documentation, or bias.
Understanding (a map) isn’t reality (territory).
Changing a map doesn’t change the territory.
Accepting one’s ignorance enables one to keep updating their map to understand reality better.
Writing is more than words.
It’s how we present words.
Whitespace is a neglected element—not a passive background but an active ingredient for expressing a thought. Adding space to writing gives readers breathing room and makes content more palatable. Whether writing articles, emails, or text messages, whitespace provides clarity.
Four ways to use whitespace:
Variable sentence length. Too many short, choppy sentences are unprofessional, but too many long-winded sentences become overwhelming. Mix them up: Long, short, short, long, long, short. Like Morse Code.
Short paragraphs. Under three sentences per paragraph is a good rule of thumb.
Bullet-points and numbered lists. Need I say more?
Visual elements. Relevant charts, tables, and bad doodles break up the monotony of words.
Luck Surface Area
Leprechauns Patricia and Patrick collect lucky objects, such as rabbit’s feet and four-leaf clovers. But their approaches are wildly different. Patricia is a hard worker—spending 17 hours per day scouring fields for a four-leaf clover. She’s regimented, but she’s too busy to tell anyone about it. A friend could’ve pointed her to a quiet meadow teeming in four-leaf clovers. Patrick, however, won’t shut up about his project. He tells all his friends, informs strangers at the pub, and cold-calls horseshoe manufacturers around the globe. A helpful hunter once gave Patrick a special unicorn lasso, but Patrick’s been too lazy to use it.
Neither Patricia nor Patrick find success in collecting lucky objects.
They need to expand their Luck Surface Area. Any success involves some degree of luck, but it’s possible to unlock more luck. Consider this formula:
Luck = Doing x Telling
Patricia does a lot, but her effort is ultimately fruitless.
Patrick talks a lot, but he’s not putting in the effort, so nothing happens.
Are you giving yourself new experiences or socializing with new people? Without casting a net, you have no way for luck to find you.