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The Problem With “But Also”

The phrase “but also” is the enemy of all achievement. Anybody who tells you:

“Do X but also do Y”

has literally told you nothing. Because he hasn’t helped you make a decision (remember, in terms of its Latin etymology, to decide is to cut (decision/incision) and to kill (decide/homicide) — so decision always involves negation, subtraction); he has not helped you to cut out (however temporarily) other options.

You see, success in getting used to a language (among other things) does not come from moderate, milquetoast behavior. It comes from immoderate behavior — because even to do small, apparently mediocre things for a long time is immoderate (just think of how the time flies by while scrolling through Netflix and Twitter and PUBG and YouTube and all those other addictive thingies).

Like a well-balanced kanji or a Hokusai painting, it’s a question of negative space. Knives cut because of where they are not.

Pressure = Force / Area

The wider the area of the knife blade, the more blunt it is and the less well it can cut.

Similarly, hoses are powerful because of all the places they do not allow water to flow. By interdicting the flow, it becomes more powerful. Within reason, you don’t need more water pressure, just a narrower hole.

…That doesn’t sound dirty at all…

You don’t need more power. You don’t need to be smarter (I’m certainly not). You don’t need more force, just less area. You don’t need more time or energy, you just need to not do more. As Steve Jobs was fond of both pointing out and putting into action, subtraction is more powerful than addition.

Concentrate your forces — your time, your energy. Subtract your area of operations (your goals, etc.). Win you a beachhead. Just one. And use that one to win another. Just one. And then another.

Narrow the area of your focus. More area, less pressure. Less pressure, less breakthrough.

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