There are no shortcuts

“If the answer was more information, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” -Derek Sivers

If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I tend to favor infomation over action. When given a task, chances are I’m going to spend more time thinking of the optimal way to complete it than just jumping into the weeds and arduously working my way through it.

Anecdotally, however, I’ve found that I learn more by doing the latter instead of the former. On the surface, this makes sense. Researching things allows you to passively pick up the best of what people already know. You don’t have to go through the painful process of discovery to figure things out, so you don’t feel as wed to what you learned as you would if you came up with the discovery yourself.

But this process of picking up the best of what other people already know falls short in places where action and execution matter more than the right idea.

In other words, there are games decided by action, and games decided by information. It’s your job to figure out what the right combination is for the game you’re playing, and move on from what you favor once you hit a point of diminishing marginal returns.

As an example: people close to me know that I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. Ahead of my thru-hike, I read books here and there about how to prep, and spoke with former thru-hikers about things they would have done differently. But I would’ve been crazy to think that more information was all that I needed to get from Georgia to Maine. At some point you have to start walking.

I used to think that “Everything I want to know I can learn through some combination of Googling and reading”. But I’ve come to realize that simply isn’t true. At some point you have to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

There are no shortcuts.