Maverick’s Notes - Issue #1

This is the first issue of my weekly email. It includes: a new article about taking cold showers, an update about my vacation, thoughts on note-taking, perfectionism, and four attitudes people have in an organization.

Maverick’s Notes - Issue #1
Photo of the week - Marshlands of The San Francisco Bay Area

Hey everyone. This is the first issue of my newsletter. I'm just starting to experiment with the content, so please let me know what do you think by replying to this email.

What's happening in my life

I have accrued too many vacation days and according to Google's policy, I need to take some time off. I plan to spend this time improving my writing pipeline:

  • Organize my notes in Obsidian, including transcribing voice notes, digitizing my handwritten ideas, and organizing my text notes in various folders.
  • Improve my main website Maverick's Quest. Last week, I created it, and I'm still working on pages, typography, and content.
  • Create my first newsletter. If you are reading it now - it means I succeeded.

I'm considering joining the Building a Second Brain course in November. This course is a "Ph.D. in note-taking" that will help me take my personal information management to the next level.

New essays

This week, I published an essay about my experience of taking cold showers:

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Cold Showers!
Every morning after waking up I go straight to the shower, turn on cold water, and stay under for 2-3 minutes. The cold shower helps me wake up, trains my willpower, and gives me an energy burst for the rest of the day. This story is about how I got there.
I decided to go fast before changing my mind. I took off my outer clothes and left only a swimsuit. I ran over the ice surface towards the hole. The ice was so cold that the moisture on the bottom of my feet was freezing to the surface. Without letting myself have second thoughts, I went down a ladder.
The water was beyond cold. It didn't feel like typical "cold water" but an entirely new type of sensation. My body didn't know how to react. It was like a thousand micro-needles pierced into my skin, and my limbs started vibrating. I think I screamed. I hope it sounded more like a battle cry rather than a crying dog. But I can't be sure.


Thought 1: Note-taking vs. Note-making

I recently took the Write of Passage course by David Perell to improve my online writing. David proposes an approach "writing from abundance" where you collect highlights from various sources that you already consume and use the highlights to inspire your writing and make you "unstuck." This approach is loosely based on Building a Second Brain course. You build a consistent note-taking system and use progressive summarization to create original content by remixing your saved highlights.

There's another approach called "Note making," Instead of highlighting passages in the original text, you re-formulate ideas with your own words. Jordan Peterson also suggests this approach in his Essay Writing Guide. The Note-making process is much closer to me because I like to take handwritten notes on my iPad or with a pen and paper when I read books. Taking analog notes helps me summarize the book and engage with the content on a much deeper level. For example, here's a page from my notes for The Courage to Be Disliked:

However, it has three problems with note-making:

  • Writing your thoughts on a subject takes more time rather than quickly highlighting a passage and moving on.
  • If you take notes digitally, it's much better to do it on a computer, so the process is much less casual than just reading articles on your phone.
  • If you write notes with your hand, they are not searchable.

My current plan is the following:

  • For articles that you read casually, without much commitment, you can highlight and save some memorable excerpts and import them to your note-taking app using Readwise.
  • For books that you want to internalize, you need to make notes to understand them deeper. So I'm currently flip-flopping between digital notes in Obsidian and handwritten notes using Good Notes on my iPad.

Thought 2: Perfectionism

Another thing about the Write of Passage is that it helped me to discover my perfectionism. Now I realize that I struggled with it for years, and it was one of the most significant limiting factors that slowed down my professional progress.

I started having suspicions a few sessions into the course and bought a book by Stephen Guise, How to Be an Imperfectionist. The book is fantastic - it talks precisely about my situation.

A few key points from the book:

  • Perfectionists create impossibly high standards that prevent them from doing the activity in the first place
  • Perfectionism is essentially a fear of putting yourself out in the world and discovering that you are not good enough.
  • Perfectionism is never good. When someone says with pride, "I'm such a perfectionist," it is like someone says, "I'm so awesome - I have arthritis!"
  • Perfectionism makes us never take action and miss a chance to become better eventually.
  • The opposite of perfectionism is striving for excellence. When you start small imperfect steps, you have the opportunity to see the impact of your actions, correct them, and over time become an excellent performer.
Copyright Michelle Rial

Thought 3: Four attitudes you can take in the organization

This idea came from my discussion with Philipp Tretyakov.

When you are working in an organization, you can take these four attitudes towards your job. A particular person can combine these attitudes and change them depending on the team.

You are a straight shooter. You do what you were asked. You follow the process. When your boss is asking you to do things that don't make sense, you do them and trust their judgment. If you disagree, you roll your eyes and do it anyway. You expect that the company will take care of you. And sometimes they do.

You are a real pain in the ass. You don't like your job. You do the bare minimum. You always have an excuse for why things are not working well. You don't like your boss because he is stupid. Whatever he is doing, you see only mistakes. When the boss criticizes, you get defensive. You see only your own point of view and think that your boss just can't get your situation. You are the person who changes teams often and finds a way to hate each of them. You don't expect the company to take care of you. You will change jobs before they have a chance to do so anyway.

You always have a plan. You like your boss, at least at the surface. You answer your superiors' emails in less than 1 hour. You know who has influence, and you are a friend of those people. You jump on your boss's projects with eagerness, even when they don't make sense. Your look at your actions through your boss’s eyes, you try to understand his motivation and the context. You take the career into your own hands, and you're moving up the ladder much faster than your peers.

You see beyond the company. You don't focus on your boss's requests; you focus on the customer, the market opportunity, and (sometimes) on moving humanity forward. You are an egalitarian; you only respect your boss if they deserve respect. You think on the level of your boss’s boss or even the CEO of the company. The company is just a vessel to drive forward your agenda. Your ideas may help the organization, but if the organization may become too small for your ambition. At this moment, you leave this company to start your own.

Which of them are you?

Thanks a lot for reading my first newsletter!
Mikhail Turilin