3 Ideas

  1. It’s not about what you want; it’s about what you’re willing to suffer through.

    It's easy to look at someone who's super fit or founded a company or ascended the corporate later and think they're talented and just wanted it, so they got it. But in reality, what they achieved was a result of all the things they were willing to suffer through.

    Wanting to be fit is great for your health. But you have to suffer through hours in the gym. Wanting to start a company is a noble ambition. But you'll have to work through long hours and maybe give up a salary for a bit. What we get isn't what we want. It's what are willing to suffer for.

  2. Social media is the extremes. What life really is is the normal.

    What sells in the media are the extremes. The best tech writer, the highlights and lowlights from sports games the night before. What's forgotten is the average, mundane life we live day-to-day.

    When we forget that most of life is the normal stuff we do everyday, we over-compensate by self-aggrandizing and feeling entitled to make us feel like we are part of the extremes, which counter-productively prevents us from being part of the extremes and achieving something great.

  3. Knowing yourself leads you to be scared of all the things that make you not know yourself

    A lot of self-help books talk about knowing yourself. But the idea of knowing yourself is static. You know who you are, so you avoid everything that contradicts the idea of who you think you are.

    As a result, you end up passing up all the opportunities to discover and grow. Who you are is constantly changing, only if you face those opportunities.


  1. On getting what you are willing to suffer through:

    Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who run triathlons and have chiseled abs and can bench-press a small house. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who fly to the top of it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainties of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.

  2. The contradiction of achieving greatness:

    The rare people who do become truly exceptional at something do so not because they believe they’re exceptional. On the contrary, they become amazing because they’re obsessed with improvement. And that obsession with improvement stems from an unerring belief that they are, in fact, not that great at all. It’s anti-entitlement. People who become great at something become great because they understand that they’re not already great—they are mediocre, they are average—and that they could be so much better.

1 Takeaway

Honestly, all these self-help and business books have the same message, just different ways of saying it. Greatness comes from focusing on one thing for a long time. It’s what Bezos calls his obsession, what Phil Knight calls your calling, and Jim Collins calls your Hedgehog concept.

The takeaway for The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is no different, but has an interesting take on the root of greatness. Greatness comes from believing you’re not great at the one thing you give a fuck about and being obsessed with improving to become great at that one thing. Because without that sense of entitlement, you’ll work harder than anyone, struggle for greatness, and eventually become great.

Aspiring to build your own startup?

Subscribe to Thought Bytes to get lessons from my journey as Edith's technical co-founder delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday.


Thought Bytes #51

April 30th, 2020

Thought Bytes #53

May 14th, 2020