Peak Blog and Changing Gears
Inspiration and tapping back into your creativity
I’m spending a week in Big Sur, California staying at a friend’s cabin in the woods, and am going to use a different gear in this post.
Writing my usual coaching and advising posts, like the ones I have on deck, “Embracing the Pivot: Why, When, How” and “Tired of So Much Winning” (about high-conflict) takes me several weeks each to create and refine.
Here, in the spirit of this land of social experimentation, home to Henry Miller and Esalen, I’m going to post something more spontaneous and personal. As always, I’m happy to hear your thoughts in the comments or email.
Peak Podcast, Peak Blog
A few years ago, we started using terms like Peak Oil, Peak TV, etc. to denote a period when a something reaching an apparent apex.
In the last year we’ve experienced Peak Podcast and Peak Blog.
Platforms like Substack and Medium have amplified the reach of voices outside traditional media, freed from gatekeeper-controlled soapboxes, unallied with companies’ central curation and control. It seems like half my day is now spent reading and listening to high-quality writing and audio by individuals at the edge who can reach and monetize audiences at scale for the first time.
I’m sure you’re finding the same, and I’d like to call out a few creators who I’m getting ideas from and am enjoying. Comment with your recommendations and I’ll add your suggestions to this post.
I’m only going to say a word or two about each. They’re all, IMHO, entertaining, insightful, and often hilarious. Start the first article that comes up on a link and decide if the subject and voice intrigue you.
Some of the content might have a partisan bent and perhaps isn’t for you. But, in general, these writers tend to think more out-of-the-box than to one side or the other.
For my week in Big Sur, I brought along an electric travel guitar. I intended to work on much-postponed lessons on finger-picking technique. I also brought along expectations of making progress on the articles I’m writing.
For the first four days I did neither. I spent all my time hiking, biking, cooking, and listening to Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary with my wife. I felt constant background anxiety—I wasn’t meeting my expectations of how I’d be using my time here productively.
Kara points out here that I could focus on being on vacation, stop listening to the aforementioned podcasts, practice yoga and have a fallow period. Sound advice, ok.
When I don’t have a different expectation of myself, I can somewhat do that. But otherwise putting things off makes them more oppressive and becomes procrastination (on which Tim Urban has the definitive explanation).
Coming off a roll of performing at a high level and suddenly feeling drained of attention, enthusiasm, and creativity, of being burned out, comes up a lot in my coaching practice.
When discussing hitting a wall in productivity and motivation, clients and I explore framings and similes like “pacing,” “running a marathon not a sprint,” and “background processing”—the mind’s being at work even when we’re not consciously thinking about something. Sometimes we need to work in a different direction before we can progress in our original one.
Richard Feynman wrote about being burned out after the Manhattan Project and re-focusing on the simple curiosity and pleasure that had initially drawn him to physics. That got him curious about the phenomena which led to work for which he won the Nobel.
We all sometimes need another gear, as I did climbing against a headwind on Highway 1 below. Writing this post was a change of gear from my usual writing, to one better suited to the terrain I’m in. And that’s freed me to pick up the guitar and just play along with the evening music.
Marc Meyer is a long-time Silicon Valley technologist, founder (6 startups, 4 exits, 1 IPO), engineer, executive, investor, advisor, teacher and coach. He has invested in and advised over 140 companies. He advises and works with accelerators and funds including Alchemist, 500 Startups, HBS Angels and Berkeley SkyDeck, where he chairs the Advisor Committee. He has an Executive Coaching practice helping leaders travel towards their greatest potential.