The Einstein Paradox
Being Awesome While Completely, and Utterly, Alone
I hope you’re on a path to a healthier, wealthier, and wiser you. If you’re a Path Nine newbie, welcome, and thank you for your joining!
Before we dive in, I want to acknowledge the elephant in the room — the last two newsletters, or lack thereof. I’ve let you down, and I know it. Other items interfered with the regularly scheduled newsletter and I’m genuinely sorry.
Alright, enough with the dressing down. Let’s move on to better things.
Alright, let’s dive in.
The Einstein Paradox - Being Awesome While Completely, and Utterly, Alone.
3 min read
- written by Kevin Kirkpatrick
For some, the idea of working alone is a dream scenario. You skip the commute, avoid the pointless meetings, and are pleasantly unconcerned with the hassle of wearing pants. Furthermore, you have the opportunity to build a distraction-free work environment for yourself by setting up the ideal workspace that allows for maximum productivity.
But ideals rarely measure up to reality. Personally, as someone who has worked with distributed teams for nearly a decade, I can confirm there is a challenge to being productive in an isolated work environment. Despite the emails, Zoom calls, and the exhaustive amount of social media options, however, we are ultimately, by ourselves - alone. So how can we stay productive when isolation borders loneliness?
Find Your Tribe
Even Einstein was not immune to the emotional and mental toll of working in isolation. How did he push through? The short answer is: Einstein found his tribe.
“Although I am a typical loner in my daily life, my awareness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has prevented me from feelings of isolation."
As evidenced in the quote above, Einstein never denied the isolation of working alone and the pressure that came with it.
Like Einstein, we are all building invisible communities as more and more creative work moves digital. Whether it's for personal or professional reasons, creating opportunities to be with friends, family and colleagues can secure a connection to your tribe and increase mental and physical resiliency.
Find Your Sacred Space
Nikola Tesla also notoriously worked in isolation at his Experimental Station in Colorado Springs, CO. His workspace was specifically built to study the use of high-voltage, high-frequency electricity in wireless power transmission. While most of us aren't able to create such an elaborate workspace, we can learn from Tesla's approach to hyper-productivity. By creating a purpose-driven space, he was able to focus not only on his creative efforts but his time. Like Tesla, if we want to do our best, we must create purpose-driven spaces that support peak performance.
Find Your Time of Day
In 1735, Ben Franklin popularized the phrase “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
But what if you’re a night owl?
Although many of us are required to work the standard 9-5 schedule, some find those hours to be the least productive. In Daniel Pink’s book “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” he theorizes “our cognitive abilities do not remain static over the course of the day” suggesting the “fluctuations are more extreme than we realize.” Whereas the common 9-5 demands we are productive and energetic within those hours, working alone affords us the opportunity to respond to our energetic impulses.
Rather than try to accomplish all of the work as it arises, it’s important to be aware of your energy level and match the work accordingly. If you are a “morning person” then be most productive in the morning by tackling the most taxing work.
2 min read
“Being smart doesn't make you an outcast in elementary school. Nor does it harm you in the real world. Nor, as far as I can tell, is the problem so bad in most other countries. But in a typical American secondary school, being smart is likely to make your life difficult. Why?”
“When people feel afraid, they want someone who claims to be strong. Law-and-order candidates rise when confidence in regular order ebbs. Richard Nixon had much more going for him in 1968 than Donald Trump does in 2020—most of all that Nixon, as an outsider, could campaign on everything that was wrong with the country, while Trump, as the incumbent, must defend his management and record, which includes record unemployment. But protests and fear of disorder—especially fear of angry black people in disorder—drew people to Nixon as the law-and-order candidate in 1968, and he clearly knew that.
Donald Trump could not put that point as carefully as Nixon, but he must also sense that backlash against disorder, from people he has classified as the other and the enemy, is his main—indeed, his only—electoral hope. Trump promised in that inaugural address that “American carnage stops right here, right now.” Now, crassly, he seems to be trying to make it worse.”
Driven by super-human forces and undaunted by the powers of nature, artist Simon Beck (previously) trudges across sand or through knee-high snow to create massive geometric drawings left behind in his footprints. From sandy expanses on the shore of New Zealand to frigid outlooks in the Swiss Alps, any pristine surface that stretches for hundreds of meters can work as a suitable canvas for Beck’s designs.
<1 min read
Readwise makes it easy to revisit and learn from your ebook & article highlights.
How often do you finish a book, only to forget the key ideas two weeks later? We don't remember things by just reading them once.
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The future has a way of arriving unannounced.
— George F. Will
<1 min read
Try convincing me to stop overanalyzing decisions and trust my gut; I dare you.
I’ll admit this was a pretty hard sell for me, as I’ve spent years believing that logic and reason were the end-all-be-all for decision-making. And yet, as it turns out, most of our decisions are largely based on an unconscious process that we lack significant control over. But that doesn’t leave us helpless and without agency. Instead, it offers a valuable insight not only into the decision-making process but into the narratives we use to justify our decisions.
If, like me, you’ve been accused of overanalyzing important decisions, I encourage you to spend some time reading this book. It’s a short, enjoyable read that is definitely worth the time.
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Thanks for reading, and see you next week,
— Kevin K.