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Positive Traction

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Positive Traction

Post by David on Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:30 pm

"No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.” - Tyler Durden

 Resources play a larger role in our lives than the credit they receive. Yet, life is not stationary; we are moving through life. Positive traction means that 1) expended effort is implemented efficiently 2) no other effort contradictory effort is being expended.

 So, we are given feng shui esque statements like “let it slide” without any context to apply this supposed wisdom. A little thought given toward the opening quote results several observations. If we are to let which does not matter truly slide, what we notice is the creation of a void. It gives us: space, time, energy. But, for what? It doesn’t say. However, if we have let that which does not matter slide, then what we find are more resources which can be applied toward that which does matter. Thus, let it slide is a negative way of saying, “Do what you want.”

 This simple dichotomy would be enough for the armchair philosopher, but for one who is actually gathering empirical knowledge “letting it slide” feels more like a singular process within some other unsaid process. My findings are that the larger process in question is called Making Positive Traction, and it involves several alchemical processes in which “letting it slide” is only one.

 In thinking in terms of positive traction, and keeping in mind that we are finite beings with limited lifespans, wealth, caloric output per diem, etc., much can be learned by watching the mechanics and dynamics of any type of racing, hunting, or activity that requires fast acceleration.

 1) Single pointedness: Look at the focus of the stalking cheetah. It’s attention is locked onto its pray. It’s brain is observing the herd, looking for signs of weakness. It uses its entire body, crouching down and working its way through the high grasses. Everything has culminated in it’s life to this one act, doing what it was born to do, the cheetah is focused like Bagger Vance while “seeing the field”. By will alone it bends the crooked route from points A and B into a straight line.

 2) Choosing your battles: In Nascar, rivalries are a thing of the past. Competition has become so fierce that each driver cannot hold a grudge for long because the battle will cost them in the long run. It may seem like critical thought, in choosing to win over teaching another driver a lesson, but competition also calls for conflict with the guy trying to take your position and the car whose position you are trying to take. Battles haven’t stopped, they’ve just gotten faster, smaller, and more efficiently placed.

3) Waste reduction: Nasa has had trouble with funding for decades, yet never thought to redesign the external fuel tank on the shuttle. While the solid propellant tanks would fall back to earth and be recovered, the larger, liquid filled tank in the center was allowed to disintegrate and sink in the ocean. If their air locks were breached and the cabin was losing oxygen as fast as the antiquated design of the fuel tanks being replaced for every launch was jettisoning money into the black void, they would have redesigned. Thankfully SpaceX is working on the issue and figures at this time are $.5 M refurbishment costs compared to complete replacement of $60 M.

 4) Signposts: One commonality between all those who get a lot done is that everything you can find on them is what they’ve done. There are scant mentions of dreams, ambitions, goals, etc. It’s like these individuals live in a field of action. Yet, many people I’ve met on-line are the exact opposite. They are always starting, becoming, thinking about, etc. If you can’t see trees and buildings go by when looking out the window, then you’re not moving. Even the most subjective of ambitions can be framed in such as way as to give quantifiable evidence of completion. Saying you want to play the violin better is meaningless. How will you know if you are making improvements, an epiphany years from now? That is a form of agreement, and can be muddled by acceptance. Why not frame it as, “I want to get good enough at playing the violin to.. X”. X here would be a goal like playing in a live orchestra, performing live, or selling some recordings you’ve made.

5) Using the right tool for the job: It doesn’t take a sledge hammer to crack a nut, neither can one claim to be working on something indefinitely like carving a totem pole with 500 grit sandpaper. Sometimes it becomes a matter of using the correct form of potency, as in you wouldn’t pull strings to have someone fired when a simple conversation would suffice. Yet at other times the appropriate amount of potency is a key factor. In positive traction as it relates to racing, there is always a crux or a place where the rubber meets the road. This is optimally exploited to insure efficiency.

6) Learning and the next step: Every competitor watches footage of their performance. They are looking for places that need improvement. They do so not to emotionally badger themselves; the focus is on learning from mistakes and getting better from them. It’s easier to see a mistake when reflected by a rival. Why waste advice in making your competitor stronger when you can follow your own advice and have an advantage? Often times they missed the mistake you found because they were finding one in you that you didn’t notice in them. Hopefully, such revision and peer review will generate more questions, more projects, more skills etc. that can be used for growth. As with the cheetah, going to bed without supper is the best meditation for a failed hunt.

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David
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