🌈 🦋 vol. 15 / driving with no windows / reframing progress / lone-wolf myth ++

I've grown better at fighting monsters and hopping over the blocks, but the unnerving silence — how do I cope with that?

vol.15 / driving with no windows

Love means to learn to look at yourself 
The way one looks at distant things 
For you are only one thing among many.

Czeslaw Milosz

Hello, beautiful people —

I was running on a treadmill yesterday and forgot about time. The treadmill stopped as the session timer ran out; only then I noticed that my legs were shaking.

Jogging, alongside with the pain that comes with it have become comfortable for me, like an old friend who shows up at your door with all their beauty and flaws. I didn't even bother paying attention — we take old friends for granted.

I felt guilty. I've been feeling this way recently with many of my pursuits as they're becoming a bit way too familiar — I no longer take the time to celebrate the wins or mourn over the losses.

Like driving on a long road without windows, I can't see how fast I'm moving or whether something might jump out of the bushes and get in my way. I've grown better at fighting monsters and hopping over the blocks, but the unnerving silence — how do I cope with that? Hardships, temptations, discoveries, and victories form the shape of a heroic epic, but not the quiet sail on an boundless open water.

I gave myself a diagnosis that I'm undergoing something I coined as the creators' blue (cheaply inspired by the runner's blue). It's different from a creative block, as a creative block can usually be overcome by showing up and keeping at it; creative blue, on the other hand, is a lot more elusive, like fighting off the weight of nonexistence.

I know my feelings are merely a state, and only by breaking down this state into problems I can solve them. I quickly jot down on my notebook some usual suspects:

  1. I don't short circuit my reward system.

  2. I'm using the wrong metric to measure progress.

  3. I'm not spending enough time talking to others.

  4. I haven't been venturing out of my comfort zone.

Right next to these problems, I bullet point some solutions.

  1. Celebrate your small wins: get some Oat Milk Cappuccino™️ every time you send out an issue of your newsletter. Indulge yourself with some pointless creative projects.

  2. Switch my metric: it's not just about consistency and frequency of creating or the number of people that are involved (readers of my writing, users of my product, etc.), but also how my creation is emotionally impacting others, including my friends and family? How do they feel?

  3. Talk to others about my work: I tend to avoid talking about my work because I'm honestly more interested in what other people are working on. But being heads down making stuff can make you oblivious of why you do it in the first place.

  4. About comfort zone: The danger of a routine is that it sometimes eliminates my desire to try out new things... and I think it's probably healthy to do so. Any recommendations of some unusual experience?

Just by reframing an emotional state into problems to be solved, clarity emerges — what a designer thing to do. Maybe you can try it out too. By the end of the day, I may have been running in place on a treadmill, and all the mileage may be an illusion. But the motion itself is making me stronger.

Stay real,


Speaking of the creator's blue, one way to change of frame of mind is by traveling.

Hopper is a Montreal-based mobile-only app that just took home $100 million in funding to build out its AI algorithms and expand into international markets. Hopper is to build its competitive edge with an AI framework that not helps people find good deals, but also discover trips they may haven't known they wanted. And of course, like any other algorithms, the more you use the app, the better it understands your preferences and interests (perfect for someone who hates planning for travel like me).

The mobile app's design is friendly, delightful, and very easy to navigate. Great UX is becoming table stakes as our generation gets spoiled by beautiful digital experience. (I experience hair loss when using any website designed prior to 2015).

It's also interesting how Hopper is the first large scale attempt to bring the $1.3 trillion industry to our mobile device, and we've been talking about the "mobile" trend since Wechat's empire; it hardly sounds like a new concept. There is still a lot to be changed and done.

I'm gonna to use this to book my next trip.

I mentioned how I reframed my state of the creator's blues into problems that can be tackled.

Sometimes we hold onto dysfunctional beliefs that prevent us from finding the careers and the lives I want. For example, I once unconsciously believed in the lone wolf entrepreneur narrative that decided I couldn't date anyone — that was stupid also a story for another time.

The book "Design Your Life" by Bill Burnett introduced in details the technique of reframing in details. He gave a few examples:

👿Dysfunctional Belief: We judge our life by the outcome.

🌈Reframe: Life is a process, not an outcome.

👿Dysfunctional Belief: I should know where I’m going!

🌈Reframe: I won’t always know where I’m going – but I can always know whether I’m going in the right direction.

👿Dysfunctional Belief: Life is a finite game, with winners and losers.

🌈Reframe: Life is an infinite game, with no winners or losers.

The biggest reframe is that your there isn’t just a singular path in life, that are actually many possible versions of your life you get to choose. You have more control over your choice than you think if you look internally instead of externally.

Photograph by Orlando / Three Lions / Getty

The Organization Man

I've been reading the book that many have recommended. Published in the 1950s, "The Organization Man" did extensive interviews with CEOs and Executives at major American corporations like GE and Ford asking what had changed throughout their career.

Whyte argues that America had been overhauled by “the Social Ethic,” a belief that organizations were able to make better decisions and benefit society more. The Social Ethic “of himself, [man] is isolated, meaningless; only as he collaborates with others does he become worthwhile, for by sublimating himself in the group, he helps produce a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

The Protestant Ethic that shaped America, the idea that the “pursuit of individual salvation through hard work, thrift, and competitive struggle” was threatened by the new "social ethic" as an organization man enjoys being one... Think about the risk-averse executives who suffered few consequences for their actions and could expect security for life.

I strongly recommend the book. It points out problems that remain relevant today. Some thought-provoking quotes:

“The union between the world of organization and the college has been so cemented that today’s seniors can see a continuity between the college and the life thereafter that we never did. Come graduation, they do not go outside to a hostile world; they transfer.”

“Most are interested in the philosophical only to the extent of finding out what the accepted view is in order that they may accept it and get on to the practical matters.”

“There is one kind of couple that in matters of money remains conspicuously faithful to the Protestant Ethic of eighteenth-century America. They are the first-generation children of foreign-born parents."


“Someday soon, every place and thing in the real world—every street, lamppost, building, and room—will have its full-size digital twin in the mirrorworld. For now, only tiny patches of the mirrorworld are visible through AR headsets.”

3 Creative Exercises to Make Change Stick in 2019

Some cute self-help exercises through the lens of ~ design thinking ~ I’ve heard many times about how effective visualization is. Maybe we should try it out.

Career Planning Tool from 80,000 Hours

This career guide is well-known for helping people discover high impact careers that work for them. They now make a Typeform as a tool to make planning easier. Alert: this requires a lot of self reflection. If you’re not ready to have an existential introsepction, maybe save it for another day.

👋🏻 That's all.

If you haven’t noticed, there are some changes that are happening. I’ve moved to Substack from Mailchimp (which I won’t be able to afford soon). This seems like a more lightweight platform with less customization.

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