Lessons Learned from Public Introspection

I’ve been giving this blog a great deal of my mental space over the last couple months, and it’s been extraordinarily valuable. Here are a few of the lessons I learned:

  1. On Wealth: To have more doesn’t mean other must have less. Wealth is neutral: it can arise out of competition or out of creation. Creating wealth is a worthy goal.
  2. On Time Scarcity: Whatever we feel we lack captures our thought processes and forces us to blindness. Just as people get into negative spirals of debt and low income, I was in a negative spiral of time debt and “never enough time”. Time investments are immensely powerful.
  3. On the Fixed Mindset: perfectionism, procrastination, blaming others, and fear of making mistakes, all have the same root cause: the belief that our intelligence/strength/personality are fixed and cannot be changed. Whether we think highly of our abilities, or feel inadequate, doesn’t matter. Whether we think we can change those abilities or not makes all the difference.

Investing in Focused Time

A few posts ago, I also made a commitment to action. In order to fully do this however, I needed to address the two largest recurring time commitments I had:

Customer Support for Subscribers Only

Gingko’s user base grows daily and steadily. I love talking to all my users, helping here and there with what I can. But there is something I could not deny about this process:

It takes a great deal of time,
and drains my energy.

The energy drain is especially pronounced for an introvert like me.

Our experience with customer support has been shaped by a lifetime of interactions with massive corporations. It’s hard to provide the same level of service we’ve come to expect (and that I love to provide), when I’m also splitting my time with developing the product, and soon, in marketing it as well.

So I decided to provide direct support only to paying Gingko customers. I believe this is only fair, and in the end will lead to a better product for everyone.

A nice bonus from this change, is that we now have an active Gingko community discussion forum. To be honest, for me the primary goal in setting this up was to allow free Gingko users to help each other. However, I’ve been surprised with the quality of the interactions so far, and it’s only just begun.

Reduced Blog Post Scope

And finally, this blog has been a recurring energy and time drain for me. I loved writing extensive posts, trying to dig deep into issues, often stumbling and failing, and sometimes reaching important insights.

However, the scope of the posts I’ve been writing is out of line with my primary focus:

To create better software.

The lessons I learned will help with that, but I believe that phase is complete, and I need to cut back on the scope. I will continue to write weekly, but my posts will be much shorter, and will be written in my afternoon “Processing” times, not my morning “Focus block” time.

Reinvesting The Time

With my two largest time and attention drains drastically reduced, I will turn to the two areas where my work can have the biggest impact: growing Gingko’s subscriber base, and improving the product.

My focus will be on sequential effective action, and not on parallel efficiency. That means that I will be doing only the few critical things that truly matter, one at a time, until they’re done. Many small things will slip through the cracks, but if it means I get the big important things done, then it will all work out in the end.

It All Begins With Writing

“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”
– E.M. Forster

I will continue to write, every day, as the first thing I do. But this writing will be for myself. Some of it will find its way into blog posts and newsletters, but much of it will be private musings.

No matter what creative field you’re in, you need to begin with writing. It’s not so much the medium that matters, it’s just that writing allows you to have a conversation with yourself.

Reading Self-Reliance daily is my way of learning to trust myself.
Writing daily has been my way of learning to know myself.
These are the basis for the most important step:
Action, as a way of changing myself.


Notes and Further Reading:

  • Sean Wes on how “It All Starts With Writing“.
    He writes “a couple thousand words”, but I recommend a mini-habits approach
    (one Gingko card of journaling = success).
  • A brief summary of the “Morning Pages” concept from the point of view of a skeptical hard-nosed journalist.
  • We look at the successful companies or artists that inspire us, and we want to do what they do. I want to build a multi-million user product, and an inspiring blog.
    I thank Amy Hoy for reminding me, in this inspiring post, that things take a long time. Jason Fried launched Basecamp with this 20 word blog post in 2004.
    It received 7 comments, 6 of which were spam:
    Screenshot - 15-05-18 - 07:37:57 AM

4 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from Public Introspection

  1. Looks like your mission is crystal clear now Adriano!

    I’ve started Journaling daily. In snippets. What I’m doing now in an outliner is tagging anything I might find as particularly relevant for future reference…

    For example, something I wrote to myself which was pretty insightful on #procrastination, #clutter, #CatcherInTheRhye (you can guess as to that tag!)… the tags can relate to technical or reflective writing.

    Then I have a header list of those same tags, which when I filter for individually, will show me all tags for a specific area – a condensed treasure of *select* inspirational thoughts on a particular issue/ topic.

    Of course, I set my writing up by month and day nodes.

    This beats having to read/ sift through my daily writings to find those gems. Tagging is great because I don’t necessarily want to find all instances of a keyword.

    Just thought I’d mention this, since a big point put forward in your post was “It all begins with writing” or having a conversation with yourself.

    In a short space of time I’ve found tagging of select snippets to be of immense value. This may be of interest you you 🙂

    1. Thanks Frank. I can see how tagging can be useful for this.
      When I have an idea that might come in handy later during my writing, what I’ve been doing is to simply write it out where it’s most relevant.
      Blog/writing ideas are in a different branch of the tree that contains my journal, so I can go on at length there if I feel like it.

      Usually I find that chronology and time is important when discussing events and surroundings, but ideas are timeless, so keeping them in the journal flow isn’t as important to me.
      In the journal I write “Got an idea about some-such-thing” and then elaborate on it elsewhere, in context.

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