Easy, difficult

These things are easy:

  • Doing homework
  • Studying for an exam
  • Lifting weights
  • Running
  • Recording a podcast
  • Writing a blog

Everyone knows how to run (it’s like walking, but faster). Everyone can look at a book. Everyone can pick up some weights. If you can talk, you can host a podcast. And if you know how to type, you know how to start a blog.

These things are hard:

  • Discipline
  • Resilience
  • Patience
  • Attention management
  • Saying no
  • Choosing what to work on
  • Humility
  • Perseverance

Homework is easy. You sit down with a book and a piece of paper, and you do the homework.

Discipline is hard. By ‘doing’ discipline, you fight back against your primal desires to watch television instead of practicing long division. And fair enough; there’s no such thing as a long division problem more exciting than an episode of Breaking Bad.

We can choose to embody these qualities. We can be the kind of person who says no to a night out at the bar when they’ve got a newsletter to ship the next morning. We can be the kind of person who has the discipline to do their homework. But instead, we choose not to. We choose to say yes to stuff we don’t want to do, to please people we don’t like. And we do that because it’s easier than running laps around the park.

Someone with all the above qualities is a rare sight to behold. But when we see someone embodying these qualities, we take their hard work for granted. We become like the guy at the museum, staring at a Mondrian, saying, “I could have painted this.”

Well, you didn’t paint this. Pier Mondrian painted this. And if it looks so easy, so simple, so rudimentary that you could have done it in your sleep, then why didn’t you paint this?

They had the discipline to get better everyday. They had the resilience to deal with rejection. They had the patience to deal with setbacks. ‘No’ became their favorite word. They had the humility to improve. And they had the perseverance to show up everyday despite how nice it would feel to stay in bed.

The Penguin Latte Podcast #12: Shelby Smith on Lessons From Failures, Language Learning, and Having the Courage to Get What You Want

Today I’m joined by the bold and adventurous Shelby Smith.

Shelby Smith (@CoShelbySmith) is head of user onboarding for LingQ. She’s also a writer who discusses leadership, language learning, self-development, and why it it’s important to stand up for yourself to get what you want.

Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Watch on YouTube

Talking Points

  • Shelby’s backstory with the entrepreneurial spirit (2:30)
  • “I’m a day one listener of The Tim Ferriss Show” (6:00)
  • Action is the missing ingredient / Life in Ecuador (9:00)
  • Learning from having a failed business (15:00)
  • “I wrote that I was psychic” / How to handle job interviews if you never went to college (18:00)
  • Suggesting what companies do wrong (35:00)
  • What it was like to go for a year without social media, and all the unexpected changes that came from doing that [I can’t believe this is even a talking point] (41:00)
  • “Build a personal relationship with your ideas” / Experience with Write of Passage (1:00:00)
  • Shelby’s guiding principles (1:07:00)
  • On learning languages (1:15:00)
  • How we elicit meaning in language (1:25:00)
  • What’s the work you do that feels like play? (1:30:00)
  • When was the last time you were in flow? (1:35:00)
  • When do you feel dissatisfied? (1:38:00)
  • The final question (1:42:00)

Books

The Four Hour Workweek

The Art of Learning

Deep Work

Principles

Discipline Equals Freedom

People

Tim Ferriss

Jocko Willink

Josh Waitzkin

Samuel Hulick

Cal Newport

Ray Dalio

Richard Turner

Other

LingQ

Duolingo