Reading books is one of the most common vanity metrics among adults. Don’t get me wrong. Reading has its importance. Like Tyrion Lannister says, “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” But reading like 50 books a year? For most people, that’s just feeding their insecurity.
So why do we act like intelligence is a function of the number of books we read? Well, we always chase vanity metrics because they’re visible. And they’re the easiest to work on. It’s not only books. We are watching conferences, listening to podcasts, and reading articles as if our next idea was hiding in there. As if after consuming thousands of hours of content, our brain would finally connect the dots and come up with the next big thing. Spoiler — it’s not.
Charlie Munger once said, “Take a simple idea, and take it seriously.” The odds are that if you study something for long enough, you will eventually make it work. Maybe not if you’re trying to break the law of physics. But even then, many became successful in physics by proving that the existing systems were false, so it’s not a 0%-success enterprise! Pick something you like, and get to it.
I very much like Julian Shapiro’s concept of creativity faucet. To quote him, “Visualize your creativity as a backed-up pipe of water. The first mile of piping is packed with wastewater. This wastewater must be emptied before the clear water arrives.” I’m confident that’s how creativity works.
Open the faucet; start creating. Even though the first results will look bad, that’s okay. You need to free your brain from these ideas. It will then be easier to reason about. You’ll start to identify what’s good and what’s not. From there, you can only improve.
So how do you maximize your chances to do it? Well, you start. I don’t want to sound like the “10 Things To Build A Successful Startup” guide, but that really is it — start before you’re ready. You’ll figure out the rest along the way. That is partly why I started writing daily: to be more creative. What do you want to do to start creating more?