Exposing my fragility saved me from breaking

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Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

Speed. Efficiency. Multi-tasking. A race against the clock.

These are the concepts that defined my early life, always feeling one step behind the continually ticking second hand. Class in the morning, a flight home from Europe, my best friend’s birthday — I slid in just in time, packing more discrete moments into each preceding minute.

We all have a set amount of hours in this life, but not everyone makes the same use of each hour.

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” was the cocky motto of my childhood.

Not surprisingly, I felt myself going further quicker: hitting the right marks for the best schools, or working at peak job performance to squeeze in a daily side hustle. …

Doing nothing might just be the most productive thing you can do.

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Photo by Carolina Pimenta on Unsplash

My parents gave me a nickname when I was young: mini-Martha, named after my Type A, efficiency-obsessed aunt.

We shared common habits like filling our schedules with activities for self-improvement, and wanting vacations to be planned down to the minute.

Why then would I center my career around the idea of doing nothing?

It was an idea embraced by my first boss and one of the most innovative thinkers I know. We worked at a research and consulting firm, solving problems for Fortune 500 companies when it exceeded their capacity to do so.

A trained anthropologist, she taught me the art of ethnography: spend hours — even days — on end with little-to-no agenda just… observing. Observe the typical life of a subject. Observe how customers naturally interact in stores, on devices, with their friends. …

If you want a better world, then work for it.

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Photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash

I’m a philosopher by nature, and by practice. In college I enthusiastically showed up to each class ready to debate the metaphysical reality of nature or our moral obligation to each other in a society.

I always gravitated to the most probing of all questions — Why?

But it wasn’t until graduation came that I realized I hadn’t ruminate on the most important ‘why’ then facing me — Why work?

Why work?

If it seems like a question with an obvious answer, then you’re not paying close enough attention.

An entire new generation — determined to “retire” early — is questioning the value of titles, fancy offices, and climbing the corporate ladder.

Perhaps it was seeing their parents generation hit ‘retirement’ age only to be plunked back into work through the recession. Or being told to ‘follow your dreams’ from a young age. Or perhaps it’s the inevitable outcome of a decline in religiosity, associated with the Protestant Work Ethic. …



Ethnographer. Strategist. Storyteller. | Philosopher. Neurohacker. Flow State Advocate. | Mind, Brain, Behavior @ Harvard

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