🎶 Little By Little, by Lane 8
This week’s Good Work is by guest author Paul Millerd, a solo creator driven by curiosity, learning, and teaching others. He is most concerned with the puzzle of how people can design a life doing things that matter to them in the modern world. He is based in Taiwan and also happens to write a weekly newsletter on work.
A wealthy man thinks that he owes it to public opinion to devote his leisure to some kind of industrial or commercial pursuit, or to public business. He would think himself in bad repute if he employed his life solely in living.Alexis de Tocqueville on America*
Why are we so bad at understanding what we want from life and why does work seem to be the thing that distracts us from trying to answer that question? When I was in business school, I would hear people talk about plans to pursue an intense 60+ hours a week job after graduation, typically in an investment bank or consulting firm. “Only two years,” they’d say. The lack of even an eyebrow raise at such statements confirmed the accepted wisdom: trading time for future success is a good decision. Is it that clear? People who have already achieved the success that my peers aspired to seem to be categorically screaming back at us, “Don’t follow my path!”
In an interview with Kara Swisher, Venture Capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya shares: “I had been exploring why, after the accumulation of all of these things… more this, more that, more everything—why am I not more happy?” What makes his confession profound is that he seems to have diagnosed the fundamental problem. He goes on, “I’ve actually really bastardized some core relationships in my life.”
In the spirit of this newsletter, I believe that being able to define “good work” is a necessary step to get back to the real business of life-figuring out what matters. Borrowing from Chamath then, perhaps we can define good work as work that does not bastardize what matters. Relationships. Love. Beauty. Spirituality. Your Kids. Caring For Others. Whatever it may be. While we may never be able to fully answer that question to satisfaction, at least we can realize that good work never distracts us from what matters.
That’s Good Work for this week. Looking forward to what’s next.
Paul and the Holloway team
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