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We troubleshoot and optimise our lives like microwave technicians, checking the manuals and unscrewing the parts, shopping for replacements, for new fixtures, for shinier surfaces.

Maybe sometimes the best approach is not to try to fix what we see as broken, but rather to double down on what we know is working.

Fixing what’s broken is an efficient, economical, reductionist approach. It cuts to the chase, it short-circuits the problem.

It’s often effective, particularly in business, when plugging a hole could leave more in the tank for better things.

But it also assumes that there’s always a problem to be…


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We tend to underestimate the amount of energy it takes to stay alive.

To keep the balance, to maintain the status quo, to tread water, to keep the wheels turning.

You are the perfect example of this: frequently you must be fed, watered, cleaned, rested, renewed. Maintenance is your biological necessity.

The rest of the world is no different. …


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In Down and Out in Paris in London, George Orwell writes about being dirt-poor.

He says:

It is altogether curious, your first contact with poverty. You have thought so much about poverty — it is the thing you have feared all your life, the thing you knew would happen to you sooner or later; and it is all so utterly and prosaically different. You thought it would be quite simple; it is extraordinarily complicated.

Indeed.

Poverty is one of those things we often romanticise — the simple life, the primal problems, the fundamental pleasures.

As it happens the things that…


The world is running out of a crucial resource, and it’s an environmental and human rights disaster. Mirjam Mai is working on a solution.

Photo by Keith Hardy on Unsplash

It’s 2021 and we are facing a problem that threatens the very foundations of our planet. The funny thing is, you probably haven’t heard about it.

The problem? We are running out of sand.

Sand makes the glass in your cars and windows and computer screens. It makes paints and toothpastes, dinner plates and kitchen sinks, tiles, showers, toilets and computer chips. It filters water, casts metal, pulls oil and gas from the ground, and distills chemicals. It makes cleaning products, cooking oils and cold drinks. It processes food, mixes soaps and dyes, bolsters cosmetics and sunscreens, and lines athletic…


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It’s not for the ego boost, the soundbites, the quick takeaways, the conversation-droppers.

It’s not for book counts, not for full bookshelves, not for curbing screen time, not to change your brain, not to be like your favourite CEO.

You should read because you like to read.

The problem with modern reading habits is our obsession with takeaways and actionable items, with next steps and my top five lessons.

Practicality is useful, and knowledge needs to become action at some point, but in over-practicalising brilliant works of words, we lose some of their magic.

We don’t look at a painting…


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There seems to be a point at which, overnight, you move from seemingly having all the time in the world, to having no time at all. For every person this will happen at different times; for the hyper-anxious it will happen early, and it will be equal parts helpful and damaging. For the unaware it will happen late, and it will be probably destructive and possibly life-changing.

If you still have all the time in the world, think about what would happen if you compressed your deadlines into a really short space of time. What would have to change? …


(And, consequently, the most important life advice.)

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The only thing I know about investing is that you must think in decades, not days. In cycles, not in straight lines.

Maybe some people trade with only days in mind, but most will need to think beyond that.

When you focus on days, the ups and downs toss you around and trip you up. Even when you focus on weeks, months, and handfuls of years, every event feels unique, every flip and dip and turn of the cycle feels like the first time and seems like the last time.

Everything feels permanent…


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They are exhausting, these waters we tread.

In the time of microwave dinners, inverted pyramids and algorithms that preference brevity and quantity, we have lost an appreciation for quality. For depth. For the wholeness of a full experience.

All we seem to care about is same-day delivery and two for the price of one and How I read 100 books in a year.

And it is exhausting.

The fatigue that comes after too much time doing too many things at the surface — too much time spent in the shallows — can only be cured with total immersion.

If you…


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You need to fall in love with human beings.

The Minimalists say love people, use things. Tony Robbins says fall in love with people, not your product.

Falling in love with a product is cold and hard and unrewarding. Falling in love with people — with your customers, with any other human being — will allow you to loosen the reins on what something should be, and make it what it needs to be.

This is not about selling out; it is not about trading in your soul. Which is more genuine: loving and serving, or gathering and hoarding? Working…


(And Why It’s a Good Thing You’re Not as Cute as You Used to Be)

Photo by Blake Meyer on Unsplash

There is a photo of me at seven, tiny arms tucked into an oversized school shirt, athletics carnival ribbon pinned to my chest, the top of my shoulder-length hair pulled back in a half-bun. I am objectively, universally, undeniably cute.

My cuteness is no longer objective. In my adult years some have found me cute and many have, presumably, not. …

Amelia Zimmerman

Life lessons every morning 🌤 http://thefirstthing.substack.com

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