309: Pruning

This is the Monday Medley, a newsletter that goes out, you guessed it, every Monday. I republish it here for sharing and referencing, but if you'd like to sign up you can do so right here:

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Happy Monday!

Quiet week this week. I put out the third part in my Tokenomics series last week, talking about token utility and how that impacts what's worth investing in.

And that's all, on to the Medley!


I'm not a gardener. I do love plants, and someday I'll binge all of Kevin's Epic Gardening videos. Maybe once I move into a space with more room for it.

What I do love from gardening now though is the metaphors it provides us.

"“Garden” is not a garden someone lives beside, but a garden one lives within. It is a place for growth, maximum spontaneity. Gardening is a horizonal activity... Infinite players understand that the more complex a garden, the more numerous its sources of change, and the more vigorous its liveliness. Growth promotes growth." - Finite and Infinite Games

I often think about life and work as a garden in which we are participating. We  decide what plants go in it, the size, the complexity, and we must tend to it as it grows. But we can't completely control it. It can get away from us.

We are each deficient in some part of the gardening process. For some it's selection. Instead of planting what you want to plant, you're growing whatever your parents or peers told you to plant.

For others, it's weeding. We get so caught up in all the little things popping up in our garden, obsessing over keeping those in order, that we lose the time we need to focus on growing the big things we want.

For me, it's pruning. I'm good at planting what I want to plant. And I'm good at ignoring weeds until they really need to be dealt with (maybe too good at this). But I'm very bad at pruning back the things I've planted to keep the garden manageable.

It is so ridiculously hard to say no to stuff. Everywhere you look there are incredibly opportunities to learn, or do, or try things. To contribute to something you're excited about. To get one more gig for your resume or bank account. To say yes.

But soon you have this hectic garden full of a bunch of plants you didn't really plan for. You got so excited about planting new stuff that you didn't think about how it would work with the stuff already there. Suddenly it's no longer joyful, and you have to figure out what to dig out to reclaim some semblance of peace and harmony.

I find myself in one of these periods right now. I've let too much stuff build up over the last couple years. Random projects, commitments, experiments, and the garden needs some pruning. But I think amongst all the pruning there's another useful lesson or realization here around growth.

The most successful careers have time for compounding interest to work it's magic. When you're starting out in your professional life, it makes sense to plant many trees to see what will grow. Sometimes you don't know what is going to grow until you plant it and watch it for a few months or years. And even if you think this plant over here is the one, you might find another one growing much better.

Since I started working in college, I've planted many seeds of careers. Tech entrepreneur, marketer, agency owner, course creator, programmer, YouTuber, writer. But writer is the only tree that's grown throughout, and the only one I know I want to keep growing.

The fun thing about writing is it gives me an excuse to explore lots of other things I'm interested in. Like crypto right now. It's kinda perfect for my ADHD "what's that shiny thing over there" brain. And that's a really helpful framework to have. The only things I want in my work garden are writing, and stuff that creates good writing material.

There's a phrase I picked up from a friend: "Learn in your 20s, Earn in your 30s." Another version might be: "Plant in your 20s, Prune in your 30s." You can spend a decade trying out various careers for 1-3 years at a time, and then once you find one worth committing to, focus on just tending the rest of the garden around that moving forward.

If we're constantly planting new things, trying to find the magic tree that grows super fast, we're never going to tap into that long term compounding growth. If we never create space for the core things that matter, they'll end up wilted and neglected. And if we never plant anything we picked out for ourselves, then we might still end up with a pretty sweet garden, but whose garden?

Alright that was a lot of garden metaphors, but if you're feeling any anxiety and overwhelm about what's on your plate right now maybe you just need to put the coffee down and say no to some things that aren't exciting you anymore. Create more space for what matters. It sucks in the moment, but it always feels better afterwards.

Then you can have coffee. And hey coffee beans are good for gardens too.

Have a great week,

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