Making Oxygen Choices | Whiteboard

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Insight 19 | October 27, 2016

Making Oxygen Choices

by Nick Blackmon
For every decision there is a tradeoff. Not only does time spent doing one thing represent an opportunity cost on doing another, but it also represents a real loss of time and you only have so much.

 

Key Messages


01

Making Oxygen Choices

02

Each movement must be more deliberate than the last.

Inhale. Step. Step. Step. Step. Step. Exhale on the fifth. Step. Inhale on the sixth.

Just a few hours before, you passed to an elevation well beyond the tree line, the line on the mountain where life was still supported, where trees still grew. And now each movement must be more deliberate than the last.

Each breath held longer, each step counted.

Exhale on the fifth, inhale on the sixth.

You talk yourself through this because with each breath, less air actually enters your lungs. With less air in your lungs, less oxygen makes it to your blood, and to your brain, creating a dizzying effect that fatigues you more the higher you go. Each breath must count.

Exhale on the fifth, inhale on the sixth.

Due to the thinness of air at higher elevations high alpine mountaineers have to make decisions with the recognition of the trade off of each. Oxygen choices. How will my breath be spent? Each movement must be considered, nothing can be wasted. Even with an oxygen canister attached to a mask, there is still only a limited supply.


03

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” - Annie Dillard

04

For every decision there is a tradeoff.

Just as mountaineers have to make deliberate choices regarding oxygen, so we must make deliberate decisions about how we will use our time. Each movement must count, each decision holds weight.

I’m not even talking here about the fact that each of us will one day die. I’m just talking about the fact that there are so many things that seem worthy of our time and attention, but there are only so many things we can actually devote ourselves to.

There are only so many hours in the day, days in a year. And…

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

So of course, the decisions we make about how we use our time, bear upon how we will use our lives.


05

According to actuarial science, each hour spent watching TV can be equated to a loss of 30 minutes of life expectancy.

06

Everything we do, requires something of us.

According to actuarial science, each hour spent watching TV can be equated to a loss of 30 minutes of life expectancy.

Clearly, I wouldn’t be a good “numbers” guy in the office if I didn’t point out that there are likely other correlations like a primarily sedentary lifestyle, over-eating, etc. but perhaps it is worth considering that not only does time spent doing one thing represent an opportunity cost on doing another, but it also represents a real loss of time, never to be regained. In the very least, it has been invested, and investment comes with risk of gaining a return.

You only have so much time.

Now the point I am trying to make is really more of a challenge. I’m not really wanting to remind us of our mortality, but rather challenge us to question, and consider,

“How am I using my time?”

The reality is, it is easy to let time pass you by.

It is much easier to sit and binge watch Sherlock (guilty) than it is to draw, write, read, create, build, cook, or engage in conversation.

Everything we do, requires something of us.

Time spent doing one thing is time spent not doing another, and there are many things worth doing.

A boy hears a man playing the violin so beautifully it brings him to tears. He approaches the man after his performance and says, “You play so beautifully, sir. I would give my life to play like that.” The man responds, “Son, I have given my life to play like this.”


07

10,000 hours.

08

10,000 hours to become a master, or so the myth goes.

“The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great because they paint a lot.” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

giphy-5

10,000 hours to become a master, or so the saying goes.

10,000 hours, an hour a day would be 27 years. But perhaps it is something you really love, and are feeling really motivated to master. So we can maybe venture to say 3 hours a day, bringing the time till your mastery to 9 years.

I don’t know about you, but I rarely am actually bored and unsure of what I can or should be doing. Even after cutting out all of the junk we could enjoy, and setting aside all the seasons of Sherlock worth watching, this still becomes hard to put into practice. There are still so many things worth pursuing.

We are talking 3 things at most, over the course of your lifetime that you can master, and if you want to continue to be the master of those things, it whittles down to 1, I’d say.


09

You Have to Put Years Into Those Walls

010

“If you’re going to do big things in Yosemite you have to be there for long amounts of time. You have to put years in those walls if you want to be a Yosemite climber.”

This wouldn’t be a very good sort of follow-up talk if I didn’t talk about how climbing is going.

I did 2 more v6’s. It felt great, bringing it to a total of 3 which I had never done before, and I got close to finishing about 3 others. However, there is always a new level to push to, and it requires more and more time and resources to keep pushing to that next level, more training, more discipline.

I don’t have years that I want to put into climbing. Or at least not with everything else that I want to do. So a few weeks ago, I weighed my options and cancelled my climbing membership. Deciding I had attained my goal but didn’t want to put more time than I had been into the sport. I decided that climbing at an average level for the rest of my life, would be enough for me.

This was a tough decision, and one I did not make lightly. But…


011

For every decision, there is a tradeoff.

012

“Stop investing time into things that don’t contribute to your mastery.”

For every decision, there is a tradeoff.

For every hour spent climbing, it was an hour I was not spending reading, writing, playing guitar, composing music, spending time with friends, running, cooking, praying and many other things that are also important to me. And so I made a decision to cut something out.

“Stop investing time into things that don’t contribute to your mastery.”

Jonathan said this once, in a talk? Maybe. Not sure. Either way he is on board with it.

If you don’t have an over-arching purpose, find one. If you can’t answer the question, “To what end, am I pursuing this?” then find an answer.

To draw from a book many of us have read, Ed Catmull, the author of Creativity Inc. and president of Pixar, was driven by one desire for many years, to create the first completely digitally animated full length motion picture. He turned down better jobs that would get him off track from his goal, and even helped to invent technology to make it possible, until finally, Toy Story was born.

Afterwards he got hit with the “Now what?” syndrome of achieving your dreams and finally decided his new calling was to dedicate himself to leading and fostering an environment where more Toy Story’s could be born. Where he could enable others to build on his ceiling.


013

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” - John Lennon

014

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

Priorities change. Life happens, new opportunities arise, old dreams deepen and take roots in ways you didn’t expect. You reach dreams and move onto others, to bigger ones even. You marry, you buy homes, you have children, you move to new cities, meet new friends, and find new things you never thought you’d love.

The only “right” way to use your time is intentionally.

For every decision there is a trade-off, an opportunity cost, and time lost to never be regained.

But time is never wasted, just re-allocated.

It is invested, and the things we consider worthy of that investment will change as we ourselves do, or deepen as we do.

I’m not gonna share a story about a mountaineer who lost a leg and kept climbing, don’t worry this isn’t that kinda talk. This talk really is about me I guess.


015

Nailed it.

016

The "Why" Still Rings True

And I, well I used to wanna be a Chinese restaurant owner. When asked why I told my mom, “Because people love Chinese food.”

Brilliant. I had it figured out.

Do I still want to own a Chinese restaurant, not so much. But I love cooking more than I ever have before. I also used to wanna design video games, because I wanted to build things I loved for a living. I’m not so big into gaming anymore but the “why” still rings true. And on and on it goes.

Final Thoughts

For me the way that this idea of making oxygen choices works itself out is taking a relentless inventory or my life, my activities, my assets, my relationships, my hopes, my dreams, my disappointments and deciding, “What do I want?”, and then committing to the things that I prioritize for that season of life.

Nick Blackmon, Growth Hacker


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