Debbie Millman on sensitivity and rejection

“I have noticed a pattern in my life of being very easily hurt by an initial rejection, so much so that it thwarts any other attempt at making something like that happen for a very long time. I am extremely sensitive and any rejection takes me off of that path for a very long time. It takes me a long time to recover.”

“I am somebody that has a very hard time taking ‘No’ for an answer. It takes me a long time to recalibrate and get my courage back to continue to keep trying.”

Damn. Is she talking about me or herself? I never considered myself the sensitive type – but this pattern Debbie is talking about, that’s me. And maybe, just maybe, it might be about you too. If so, this other part where she talks about what to do about this pattern might help us:

“Don’t ever accept that first rejection ever. Give yourself options. The timeliness of those options or the timeliness of those retries – do at your own pace. You are not in competition with anybody but yourself.”

From Tim Ferriss’s podcast interview with Debbie Millman – #214 – How to Design a Life – Debbie Millman


The Romance of Tangents

index

A tangent is a line which meets a circle at one point and one point only – the poignant point of tangency, and never ever meets the circle again, even if extended.

Can you hear the tangent singing James Blunt’s “You’re beautiful”?

“And I don’t think that I’ll
See her again
But we shared a moment
That will last ’til the end”

You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
It’s true”


The Creative Bubble

“When I look back on my best work, it was inevitably created in what I call “The Bubble”. I eliminated every distraction, sacrificed almost everything that gave me pleasure, placed myself in a single-minded isolation chamber, and structured my life so that everything was not only feeding the work but subordinated to it. It is not a particularly sociable way to operate. It’s actively anti-social. On the other hand, it is pro-creative.”

Twyla Tharp in The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

What is your version of “The Bubble”? What is your deep work philosophy?


The Philosophies of Deep Work 1

In his book “Deep Work“, Cal Newport formulates a few different ways we can engage in deep work.

Book cover of Deep Work by Cal Newport

But first, what is “Deep Work”?

Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.

Our creative work also falls under this “Deep Work”

So how do you develop a deep work habit?

The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition into and maintain a state of unbroken concentration

Among other things, they’ll ask you to commit to a particular pattern for scheduling this work and develop rituals to sharpen your concentration before starting each session

You must be careful to choose a philosophy that fits your specific circumstances, as a mismatch here can derail your deep work habit before it has a chance to solidify

What are these philosophies of deep work then?

  1. Monastic Philosophy

    This philosophy attempts to maximize deep efforts by eliminating or radically minimizing shallow obligations. Practitioners of the monastic philosophy tend to have a well-defined and highly valued professional goal that they’re pursuing, and the bulk of their professional success comes from doing this one thing exceptionally well. It’s this clarity that helps them eliminate the thicket of shallow concerns that tend to trip up those whose value proposition in the working world is more varied.

  2. Bimodal PhilosophyIn this philosophy, you have some clearly defined stretches of time dedicated to deep work. The rest is open to everything else.

    During the deep time, the bimodal worker will act monastically—seeking intense and uninterrupted concentration. During the shallow time, such focus is not prioritized.

    During the deep time, the bimodal worker will act monastically—seeking intense and uninterrupted concentration. During the shallow time, such focus is not prioritized.

    So the minimum unti of time for deep work for the bimodal philosophy is one work day.

    Those who deploy the bimodal philosophy of deep work admire the productivity of the monastics but also respect the value they receive from the shallow behaviors in their working lives.

  3. Rhythmic Philosophy

    This philosophy argues that the easiest way to consistently start deep work sessions is to transform them into a simple regular habit. The goal, in other words, is to generate a rhythm for this work

    … that removes the need for you to invest energy in deciding if and when you’re going to go deep.

    Another common way to implement the rhythmic philosophy is to replace the visual aid of the chain method with a set starting time that you use every day for deep work.

  4. Journalist Philosopy

    …you fit deep work wherever you can into your schedule

    Isaacson was methodic: Any time he could find some free time, he would switch into a deep work mode and hammer away at his book.

    – about Walter Isaacson.

    This approach is not for the deep work novice.

So, what is your preferred approach?

I would love to be monastic – but at this stage in life, that is not an option available to me. I have tried the rhythmic approach – but I work best, naturally, in the bimodal approach – once I start working on something, I tend to work on that the whole day.


Opinion and suffering

“Everything depends on opinion; ambition, luxury, greed, hark back to opinion. It is according to opinion that we suffer. A man is as wretched as he has convinced himself that he is.”
Seneca in Letter 78, Letters from a Stoic (On the Healing Power of the Mind)

How easy!

Once we decide to be unperturbed, we take most things in our stride.

Once we decide you are “busy”, every little task added to our workload becomes an insurmountable addition.

Once we decide we like rainy days – the week of pouring rain, which was dismal, irritating, annoying last week, becomes a chance to enjoy hot chocolate, hot pho and petrichor – the heady sensuous fresh smell of rain in the air and the wet earth.

The acquaintance, once we decide is “my kind of person”, becomes a good buddy.

How easy and how profoundly difficult – to actually change our opinion.