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Infinity is a great idea, but unless you’re doing math, it’s mostly an idea.

Everything else in our world has limits. It’s the limits that make it interesting, the limits that give us an edge to the box, something to leverage against.

Instead of denying the existence of limits and the trade-offs that they bring with them, it might be helpful to begin with an understanding of what they are, or at least what other people think they are.

The stale green light

Coming down the empty road, you can see the light from a ways off. It’s been green for awhile, which means it’s due to turn red soon.

Should you speed up, so you can make it through before the yellow appears and is gone…

Or should you slow down, so you can safely and gracefully come to a complete stop?

It depends.

If it’s an actual green light, you should certainly slow down. It’s safer. It won’t take that much time. You have the engine of the car to do the work.

But if it’s a metaphorical green light, a window of opportunity, a shift in the culture you can feel disappearing, it might very well pay to speed up. Because that extra effort, done with safety on behalf of those you seek to serve, will compound.

It never pays to wait until a deadline, but when you see the world changing, it might be a good excuse to redouble your efforts.

In defense of non-interactive media

It doesn’t talk back. It doesn’t beep or update or invite a click. It doesn’t change based on who’s consuming it. It doesn’t interrupt you, and it begs to not be interrupted.

It’s rarer than ever before, and sometimes, we need it.

In or out

Often overlooked is how uncomfortable it is to sit on a fence.

Get in, or get out. Wasting time sitting on the fence wastes far more time and emotion than you’d expend committing to something.

Reality isn’t optimized

Falsehoods, spin and legends can be tweaked and tested and changed to exactly match the dreams and desires of the people they’re aimed at.

This is why manipulative stories are so much stickier than what really happened.

What reality has in its favor is that it’s generally resilient. Gravity doesn’t care who believes in it. It’s still here.

Happy groundhog’s day

Oh, did we just say that?

Every day is the same if you let it.

Of course, spiders, dogs and walruses prefer if the world doesn’t change. But humans are different. Change is fuel for growth and possibility.

It’s easy to lull ourselves into a media-fueled commercial stupor, digging an ever-deeper rut. Same job, same debt, same story, same drama, same …

But that’s a choice.

Tomorrow can be different in ways we’ve never even bothered to imagine.

[Simple hack: change things in your life to make things better for someone else. Generosity unlocks our passion.]

The trough of inefficiency

Successful organizations of just one or two freelancers have very high revenue per employee, effective labor utilization and few communications problems.

And significant organizations of a hundred or a thousand people also produce enormous amounts of revenue, profit and perhaps value.

In between, though, there’s a slog.

That’s because a successful tiny organization that adds people creates communication problems. Instead of each person knowing what to do, they need to meet about it. They also require people to support their people–HR, policies, etc.

The trough is characterized by nascent specialization, and if any specialist can’t deliver, the entire entity struggles, because there’s just one specialist for each category. Many mouths to feed, but fewer farmers per capita.

In that trough, many small businesses flounder.

They had the profit or the investment to grow, but they grew too much or didn’t grow enough. Either way, they’re caught in the trough.

The trick is to understand your industry well enough to know where the trough lies.

In temporary residence

They will outlast you.

Why are some industries so irrational (when seen from the point of view of the customer)?

So many things about college, funerals, real estate, hotels, weddings and the contractor trade are frustrating and opaque to customers. It almost seems as though they’re organized with a long-term, industry-wide focus away from customer satisfaction.

No one chooses to regularly have a party as expensive, isolating or stressful as a wedding is. We don’t view the pricing or activities of a funeral as natural or affirming. If someone tried to build an institution like college today, there’s no way it would be structured the way it is now. If you think about the rituals of most of these industries, they don’t make sense.

That’s because customers come and customers go. Sometimes quite literally, but always.

As a result, the customer is often a first-timer, in need of indoctrination. And the customer has far less power, because they won’t be back again any time soon.

In some ways, the connecting power of the internet reinforces this imbalance, allowing industry forces to coordinate and coalesce. But in other ways, each of these industries is open to radical shift because customers can get smarter and coordinate on their part as well.