3–2–1; Sfumato — Reaching Creative Potential
3 Ideas, 2 Quotes, 1 Question.
Inspired by James Clear’s ‘3–2–1’ Newsletter, author of Atomic Habits.
3 IDEAS 💭
I. Always Say Less Than Necessary
Judgement; “When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinx-like. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.”
Law 4, from Robert Greene’s bestseller, The 48 Laws Of Power.
You must always say less than truly necessary.
Words are a dime a dozen, and often, we make grave mistakes when we would’ve been better off staying quiet.
Train yourself to speak much less, and prioritise choosing your words carefully.
There are great risks associated with over-speaking, such as;
- Making terrible blunders that could’ve been avoided
- Exposing a great secret
- Being laughed at and humiliated
The more you say, the more chance you have at making a mistake.
Not to mention that, if you say something particularly humiliating, there’s a great chance that people will remember it.
You can never take words back.
In turn, we are led to the only solution; always say less than necessary.
Choose your words carefully, and stop yourself before you begin to ramble.
There are great advantages in saying less,
- You learn more by listening — because you are able to take in information from other people.
- You can observe more — Saying less gives you the chance to observe body language, and other actions that may have gone unnoticed.
- You can think before you speak — by always saying less, you can be sure that you’ll choose your words far more carefully. This also will ensure that you never give out too much information.
- You command respect — the person who only speaks when they have something powerful to say is always well-respected.
II. The Mind Is All Yours
“You have been formed of three parts — body, breath, and mind. Of these, the first two are yours insofar as they are only in your care. The third alone is truly yours.”
— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 12.3
Marcus Aurelius outlines the 3 parts that we are formed of — body, breath and mind. Only the third component, the mind, is truly in our control.
The body is not truly ours. It is simply in our care.
The body can become disease ridden or beat down due to intense labour.
The body can be imprisoned, or subject to vicious torture.
No matter how hard we try, the body is not fully ours.
The breath is not truly ours. it is simply in our care.
The breath can cease, and we can fall into the slumber of death.
Or, we can run out of it after vigorous exercise, and it can grow laboured.
No matter how hard we try, the breath is not fully ours.
The mind, on the other hand, is ours. Until the very end.
The mind and all things relating to it are not just in our care, but they fully belong to us.
With the notion that the mind fully belongs to us, we must treat it well.
We cannot afford to let it grow old and lose it’s brilliant abilities.
We must care for the mind. We must strengthen it.
A sense of control falls into these three components.
With the first two, body and breath, we lack control over them. They can fail us at any minute.
With the mind, however, we do control that.
We have the ability to train it, test it and strengthen it.
Take time to strengthen your mind, care for it and use it.
III. Sfumato — Reaching Creative Potential
Sfumato is a willingness, an eagerness even, to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty.
The literal translation in Italian is ‘going up in smoke’ or ‘smoked’.
Da Vinci 👨🏻🎨
Da Vinci, a great painter, anatomist and scientist, practiced this idea in all aspects of his life.
He took great note of the benefits of Sfumato, of embracing change and differences.
Within his life, as he also valued experience and curiosity, he would stumble across new ideas and uncertainty all the time. It was an essential part of his life, something that he couldn’t fear.
Rather than shying away from it all, when confronting the vast unknown directly, he practiced keeping an open mind and not letting fear cloud his judgement.
On Reaching Creative Potential
To reach creative potential, it is evident that we must be willing to embrace change, paradox and uncertainty.
This idea of change, when things differ from what they once were, is at the very foundation of creativity, success and happiness.
Things will change, there’s no way around that.
Your responsibility is to be not just accepting of change, but to embrace it also.
To reach full creative potential, you;
- You must be accepting of new ideas, different ideas.
- You cannot stay restricted to just one set of ways, you must explore and search for new ones.
- You are to practice straying from your set ways, experimenting and trying out different things.
2 QUOTES 🗣
I. On Life
Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman on falling in love with what you do, but more generally, life itself.
“Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don’t think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn’t stop you from doing anything at all.”
Source: The Feynman Lectures on Physics
II. On Opinions
Marcus Aurelius, a great Stoic philosopher, on the fact that you don’t have to have an opinion.
“We have the power to hold no opinion about a thing and to not let it upset our state of mind — for things have no natural power to shape our judgments.”
— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.52
1 QUESTION ❔
What are you thinking too much about? What would be better if you just took action instead?
Thanks for reading!