Philosophy Tuesday

I heard this interview on NPR recently about a new book that compares Charles Dickens and Prince (the musician).  Which on its face does seem quite odd… but the main tie that the author makes in the interview is regarding their prodigious creative output, for both were art production powerhouses.  And they were able to be so because neither were perfectionists.  In that kind of “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” kind of way, they were so excited to explore and create more that they wanted to finish what they started and move on.

Which, interestingly, also turns out to be a brilliant way to get even better at creating.

Hank Green mentioned once his 80% Rule (which to be clear is very different from the usual and oft quoted 80/20 rule aka the Pareto Principle).  His idea was, when creating works, to pull hard on them until they reach about 80% of how good you think they can be.  Then declare them complete and move onto the next one.

The beauty of this lies within another oft quoted truism:  The first 90% of the work takes 90% of the time, and the last 10% of the work takes the other 90% of the time.  To which I bet many of us have experienced this firsthand… to get something “perfect” ends up taking a huge amount of time.
We may well have produced two, three, or even four works within that same amount of time.  And the kicker is that our growth, our development in our self-expression as an artist, is more dependent on completed works and wrangling things to that 80% level than what we might learn in getting it “perfect.”

So, by being mindful of our perfectionist tendencies and instead aiming ourselves towards the 80% rule, we complete much more work that not only is amazing in its own right (able to touch, move, excite, and inspire others as well as be fulfilling and self-actualizing), but as we complete these works our skill grows and grows, such that soon our 80% is of higher quality than our “perfect” would be if we made each work “perfect.”  Which is pretty darn cool.

 

* I have also used this in my preparations for running RPG games, prepping things to 80% of the level of quality and intricacy that I think they could be and moving on, leaving me mentally fresher and more flexible when running the game, both of which tend to actually make for a better session than if I’d been “perfect!”

Architecture Monday

Another adaptive reuse!  This time in Amsterdam, with a rejuvenation of a former mercantile exchange.  While the outside’s been brought back to all its turreted pointiness, it’s the addition of the glass geodesic-like dome on top that caught my interest.

It’s not much of a presence from the street, and it’s not trying to be.  It even cuts into itself to avoid impinging on the turrets (while, as a bonus, creating an outdoor gathering space).  But it’s one wicked, column-fee space inside, a soaring crystal cover whose diagonal rib work offers dynamic windows onto the world.

And then, in one of those turrets, is this very cool time-infused room…

Sweet work.  The Diamond Exchange Capital C Amsterdam by ZJA + HEYLIGERS

Architecture Monday

In keeping with the recent somewhat-theme… a home with a courtyard!  But with a circular twist… so even better it’s a tower/courtyard theme mashup…

But it’s not a round building.  The perimeter is fully rectangular to fit the site and the surroundings.  Only the wedge-shaped carport with rounded fence and the equally angular window on the front façade gives any hint of what’s within.  (Nicely, the box also is a rich grey stucco that both hides the wood within and the wedge cutout once again gives it away.)

Add in a few double height spaces and a few choice changes in levels to create different conditions within, all splaying from that central atrium, and you’ve got yourself a nifty little house.  Cool stuff.

The aptly named 360° house by YUUA Architects

Wonder Wednesday

How could this not be about the SLS launch last night?  Despite the rocky road to flight (prime being Boeing’s perhaps willful incompetence) and a changing rocketry landscape that now surrounds it, it is always exciting to see a new vehicle leap to the heavens, especially the largest lift vehicle that has ever flown.  Doubly especially one that uses massive solid rocket boosters and their insane flame gouts — when I saw my first Falcon 9 launch, it was daytime and the brightness of the flame was astounding.  This SLS has to be orders of magnitude even more insanely bright.

I was supper giddy and cheering at the livestream as I watched SLS launch.  So exciting to see it soar upwards and help start a new era of space exploration.

Amazing photo of the launch with the moon in the background (click on the photo above to see it, and it’s not composited, this was an actual shot.  You can tell by the pressure waves from the rocket exhaust warping the bottom of the moon).

Great shot of the moment SLS went supersonic!

8 million pounds of thrust….

Liftoff beauty shot…

And a frikk’n amazing tracking shot at the moment of booster separation!

Architecture Monday

Is this a house for Rapunzel?  Sure, why not… but it’s even cooler than that!  Take a restored hull of and old mill as the literal core, add an airy addition to one side to compliment the heavy brick construction of the mill on the other, and you have a most intriguing place to live.

 

Not surprisingly given both living in a tower but also its smallish size, the tower, there’s a lot of vertical division going on within, with the library on the first floor, the bathroom on the second, bedroom on the third, and crowned with an office (with a view!).  All accessed by a sweeping stair that travels along the outer edge and punctuated with arched windows.

This photo shows off much of what I love here, including the way the heavy texture of the brick plays off the slickness of the floors and the steel and glass addition.  And the fun of tower living!  But also how much that arched opening into the brick tower it looks like a giant pizza oven…

Adaptive reuse, tower living, libraries, and more.  Great stuff.

House Wind by Architecten De Bruyn

Wonder Wednesday

When I visited the Amager Bakke, the power plant + ski hill (no, really!) in Copenhagen, besides the ski slope not being open yet (we unfortunately visited just a scant month or so before completion), there was this other odd thing they were adding to the side of the building.  I didn’t realize what it was at the time, but turns out it’s a giant climbing wall.  And I do mean giant.  The building is tall enough for a ski slope… so this thing is 85 meters (280 feet) tall!  It’s so tall it’s a 4 pitch lead/sport climb only, and requires a multi-pitch certification just to climb it’s 4 lanes (8 routes total).  Amazing.

Check out more, including route topos, videos, and more at https://www.dbkk.dk/amagernordvaeg/vaeggen and https://www.copenhill.dk/en/aktiviteter/klatring

Philosophy Tuesday

“What do you define as success?” This a question sometimes gets posed in conversations with people of note or, perhaps somewhat bizarrely, in job interviews.  However, leaving aside the second one especially, and taking it on in a mindfulness context, this can be one of those laser focused questions that cuts through our everyday autopilot to prompt some actual reflection and thinking.

Because when we look at it, we often discover that we’ve never really chosen it for ourselves.  Often, we find we’re just living into the default view and measurements about success and what success is that we inherited from our context (including our upbringing, community, colleagues, etc).  Or if we did choose, we may have accidentally slipped back into those typical contexts after we’d suffered a setback or two while in pursuit of our desires.

So in giving it some reflection and thought, it’s common to notice that what we’ve been pursuing under those default contexts – often some variety of money, and/or status or fame, and/or control and/or some material items and/or some family/social unit or activity – isn’t actually aligned with what we truly want, such as love, connection, peace of mind, fulfillment, joy, excitement, making a difference, aliveness, beauty, gusto, wonder…

And sure, money and the like may provide some pathways towards that which we truly want.  But even beyond the long-held truth that money can’t buy happiness, when we focus on those reductive measures of success like money we can very much forget what we’re actually aiming for.  We get stuck on the default treadmill, aiming for the tool rather than the thing we want to create.  To bring back a quote from an earlier post, “It’s easy to confuse what is important with what is easy to measure.”

Which is also why when we attain those default measures of success, they rarely leave us fulfilled or satisfied.  And, rather nefariously, because we’re absentmindedly stuck on the treadmill pursuing those default measures, we fall into another pitfall of, to quote yet another previous post (one of the earliest!), “I gotta get a bigger hammer!”  In other words, we surmise that if these haven’t brought satisfaction yet (and everyone is saying they should), it must be because we haven’t gotten enough of “it” yet.

So we stay on that treadmill, our eyes firmly off the real prize.

Which brings us back to that laser-guided question we can ask ourselves “What do I define as success?”  With mindfulness and care and creation we get to choose that which will leave us delighted, radiant, and fulfilled.  And then we can align ourselves and our activities towards attaining that, including right-sizing our focus (or whether we choose to engage with them at all) on those default measures of success.

And with this clarity of success, we empower ourselves and those around us towards living the lives we want.

(And if we need a good starting point in designing our measures of success, Ben Zander’s “shining eyes” is a great foundation.)