Adonis Diaries

Sophistication of fear. The Lucky list. Are you Good at math?

Posted on: October 18, 2014


The sophistication of truth

A common form of complexity is the sophistication of fear.

Our work doesn’t have to be obtuse to be important or brave.

Long words when short ones will do. Fancy clothes to keep the riffraff out and to give us a costume to hide behind.

Most of all, the sneer of, “you don’t understand” or, “you don’t know the people I know…”

“It’s complicated,” we say, even when it isn’t.

We invent these facades because they provide safety.

Safety from the unknown, from being questioned, from being called out as a fraud.

These facades lead to bad writing, lousy communication and a refuge from the things we fear.

I’m more interested in the sophistication required to deliver the truth.




These take fearlessness. This is, “here it is, I made this, I know you can understand it, does it work for you?”

Make two lists

One list highlights the lucky breaks, the advantages, the good feedback, your trusted network.

It talks about the accident of being born in the right time and the right place, your health, your freedom.

It features your education, your connection to the marketplace and just about every nice thing someone has said about you in the last week or month.

The other list is the flipside.

It contains the obstacles you’ve got to deal with regularly, the defects in your family situation, the criticisms your work has received lately.

It is a list of people who have better luck than you and moments you’ve been shafted and misunderstood.

The thing is, at every juncture, during every crisis, in every moment of doubt, you have a choice.

You will pull out one (virtual) list or the other.

You’ll read and reread it, and rely on it to decide how to proceed.

Up to you.

Good at math

It’s tempting to fall into the trap of believing that being good at math is a genetic predisposition, as it lets us off the hook.

The truth is, with few rare exceptions, all of us are capable of being good at math.

I’ll grant you that it might take a gift to be great at math, but if you’re not good at math, it’s not because of your genes.

It’s because you haven’t had a math teacher who cared enough to teach you math. They’ve probably been teaching you to memorize formulas and to be good at math tests instead.

Being good at standardized math tests is useless. These tests measure nothing of real value, and they amplify a broken system.

No, we need to get focused and demanding and relentless in getting good at math, at getting our kids good at math and not standing by when someone lets themselves (and thus us) off the hook.

If you can read, you can do math.

Math, like reading, isn’t optional, it’s our future and it helps free us from our fear of creation.

Can an 8-inch square pizza fit on a 9-inch round plate without draping over the edge?” is a question that should make you smile, not one you should have to avoid.




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