Pi is stupid

Circles are proof we don’t know anything.

We live such vibrant and data-filled lives that it’s easy to think everything has already been invented or danced or sung or written or painted.

Nothing is original and everything has been found. And there’s nothing left for you to discover or create for the world.

Fortunately, that’s just not true.

The truth is that we make a lot of noise about what we think we know, but ask any math professor what (π) is they’ll only be able to give you an approximation.

It’s a very accurate and useful approximation but it’s still an approximation.

A computer hasn’t figured it out yet after three months of trying.

That doesn’t mean it’s worthless — it’s accurate enough that we can send rockets to the moon and make incredibly well-rounded balls and engines that fit together oh-so-beautifully.

But that trillionth of a trillionth place is still unknown. (π) is still represents an anomaly. It’s just a letter we use to describe something we don’t understand or haven’t met yet. Something we don’t understand.

Don’t let anyone tell you there’s nothing left to do or find or make.

We haven’t even started.

A life in pulp fiction

When I was but knee-high to a grasshopper, Dad would often pop his head into whatever bubble I was in at the time and spin a battered and yellowing paperback onto my lap.

“Here, read that. You’ll like it,” he would say.

Then he’d wander off to build a homeless shelter or a school or a choir or whatever else he was crafting for the world at the time.

It wasn’t until many years later that I realize that he was crafting me too.

Those books prepared me for things I would encounter later in life that there are no lessons for; love, drugs, adventure, luck, betrayal, and death.

Those ageing and comically-fronted tomes of pulp fiction changed the way I thought about the world.

They opened my eyes to the possibilities and the madness and the complex, crushing beauty of it all.

And I wouldn’t be me without them.

How to be right a lot

People who are right a lot all do the same thing.

First, people who are right a lot listen a lot. They often read but they all know how to really listen. 

They also change their mind a lot.

Most people spend a lot of time trying to back-up their beliefs.

But people who are right a lot change their minds a lot because they’re always looking to prove themselves wrong. 

In other words: people who are right a lot work very hard not to be.

Simple, eh?

Even robots make mistakes

It’s impossible to ignore the rise of robots.

They’ve gone from ‘awkward factory joke’ to ‘overlords-in-training’ in a handful of years. And it turns out the breakthrough was teaching them how to make mistakes.

Our brains learn through trial and error. For many years, when a robot produced an error it would simply stop, shake, make weird noises, give up, and perhaps leak a little fluid — like many people.

Teaching robots how to accept and learn from errors instead of grinding to a halt completely changed the game. It even makes them more likable.

And robots are happy to make 1,000 mistakes an hour because they don’t have egos (yet), so you can bet they’re learning fast. Really fast. Here they are, practicing a dance to celebrate their global takeover. 

It would be deeply ironic if we wiped ourselves out by teaching robots to do the very thing we haven’t yet mastered: learning from our mistakes.

 

Ringing in your ears

Words are incredibly powerful.

These little sounds and symbols are programming for humans. Without them, our world falls apart.

Some words are so powerful they stick in our brains — ringing in our ears — and changing us forever. It becomes true.

The words we use to talk about ourselves are the most powerful because we listen to them all the time; they work a rut in our brain that’s hard to escape.

We never know when something we say will strike a chord and change behaviour — including our own.

That’s why we have to be so careful with what we think and say. And if we want to do something, we write it down.

Listen to the words ringing in your ears and ask if they’re in harmony with your goals.

If not, start to change their tune.

3 simple rules for success

There’s lots of advice out there these days, so it’s tough to hear the wisdom in the noise. But sometimes, you hear something that rings so loudly with Truth that it’s hard to ignore.

Whether they’re his or not doesn’t matter, because when the compelling Chris Voss uttered his ‘three truths of life’ they hit home:

Be curious because you’ll learn more.

Be nicer because you’ll get wounded less.

Be grateful because you’ll recover faster.

Any one of these alone will put you in a mindset where you’ll achieve more than you ever thought possible.

It’s hard to argue with that!

Take it with you

When we were children, we learnt to play the tin whistle.

It’s a shrill little instrument that probably blew out the eardrums of anyone who heard us practicing.

Years later, whenever I left to go travelling or university or to move country, my mother would thrust this cold little tube into my hand and say, “Take it with you — you never know when it might come in handy.”

I never took the whistle, but I took the idea to heart. Knowing that whatever happened, I’d be able to earn myself a meal by practicing in public.

It took me a while to work up the courage, though!

You never know when something silly might become useful later, when it merges with something else and that opens up the world.

Look at all you’ve learnt

You won’t remember being a loud and smelly and unbearably cute baby.

It’s hard even to imagine that once, all those years ago, you were tiny and helpless and literally couldn’t even wipe your own ass.

But look at everything you’ve mastered since then!

Every single skill you have today was once unknown to you.

And now you’re so good at most things that you don’t even have to think about it.

That’s not a fluke or an accident.

Your brain is a learning machine, and you’re doing a damn good job of using it.

Just keep on feeding it something new every day.