Good Work—Edition Nº 13

A hand-curated newsletter devoted to exploring how we choose to spend the 90,000 hours that will make up our careers.
Andy Sparks
▪︎ 5 minutes read time

🎶 Happiness is Not a Place by The Wind and the Wave

Journey before destination. There are always several ways to achieve a goal. Failure is preferable to winning through unjust means.Brandon Sanderson*

There’s this Jim Beam commercial I love. It’s called Bold Choices. It’s the best commercial I’ve ever seen. Yes, it’s a commercial advertising an alcoholic beverage, but it’s also a beautiful reminder that our lives are not on a strict path from birth, and the bigger the risks you take, the farther you could end up from where you started. No matter how many people we talk with, no matter how many alternatives we consider, our decisions are ultimately ours. We have to live with how we made them and who else they affected Figuring out why we make the choices we do can be the hardest work of all.

Twice in my career have I faced decisions where, when I consulted a web of usually reliable parents, friends, and mentors, I was left feeling morally dehydrated at the prospect of taking their advice. Everyone was telling me to do one thing, to act in my interest, to be strong, to be decisive. But something didn’t feel right.

In these moments, I asked myself whether I was suffering from confirmation bias or falling prey to sunk costs. After writing about it, thinking about it, the best I could do was feel pretty sure I was thinking clearly. But all these people who had been in tricky situations were telling me to look out for myself only. What did they know that I didn’t and how much would I regret not listening?

In both of these moments, I was out to find proof that there’s a more effective way of doing things that doesn’t involve stepping on others or solely looking out for myself. Because so many of our choices involve the systems we move through, advice from others, and what we’re exposed to, I don’t believe that a few decisions define who you are. But we are defined by the way we reflect on our choices and whether, moving forward, we can connect the how to our why. This week, when reading Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, I realize that’s the journey I’m on. No matter what you do for a living, I hope you take a few minutes this week to remember his words:

“Journey before destination. There are always several ways to achieve a goal.”

This Week

Bold Choices

  • [18m] I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much of a mess Google and Facebook have become. The push to break up Big Tech, explained, by Matthew Yglesias, is a good read on the current climate of big tech.
  • [5m] Every time Zuck cries, “Facebook is not a media company,” something inside me dies, which is why you should read Why Tech Platforms Need to Be Built on Journalistic Values by Gabriella Schwarz
  • [11m] What if we’re looking at work the wrong way? My favorite line from In Praise of Work by Rusty Guinn? “The problem isn’t that we derive too much of our worth and value from work. The problem is that our jobs are becoming increasingly abstracted from work.”
  • [14m] On the theme of choices, The Risk Not Taken by Andy Dunn is one of my favorite pieces on making a big life decision. I like to reframe this one as “the risk of the risk not taken.”
  • [11m][Some Thoughts on the Real World by One Who Glimpsed it and Fled](, the transcript of a 1990 graduation speech by Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes), is a terrific example of someone deciding to do things their way. Watterson famously made sure the likeness of Calvin and Hobbes couldn’t be commercialized.

That’s Good Work for this week. Looking forward to what’s next.

Andy and the Holloway Team

Good Work is written and curated by Andy Sparks, Courtney Nash, Dmitriy Kharchenko, Hope Hackett, Joshua Levy, and Rachel Jepsen.

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