Ramblings about self-improvement, productivity, ethics

Zuzana K • December 26, 2019


Over the past few weeks, I spent quite a lot of time reading and listening to things about philosophy, ethics, self-improvement, productivity. All these are topics I am already familiar with. In fact, they were the reason why I studied psychology at university. I have always been fascinated by human nature and behaviour, how we think, how we are, and what we can do to be even better.

Life got busy over the past few years, and I neglected self-development for web development. However, I realised that to be a well-rounded person, I cannot ignore the soft skills for hard skills. I need to keep the balance between the technical knowledge and philosophy, psychology and spirituality.

I thought I'd note down some of the most inspirational things I heard or read over the past few weeks, things that really resonated with me. I take notes because I forget a lot of what I read, no matter how important or inspirational it seems to me right at that moment. It might not seem related to technology or web development, but since development on the web is what I do, everything I read - I read through the lens of being a web developer, earning money from web development, and hoping to become a better web developer.

Naval Ravikant

Naval is the founder of Angel.co and an incredibly inspirational person. Some time ago, he published a series of tweets titled How to get rich (without being lucky). Everything Naval says is a gem, full of deep insight and hard-earned knowledge.

Pick a specific knowledge and work on it until you become the best in the world at it. Keep redefining what you do until this statement becomes true. Keep a short feedback loop so that you can improve a little bit every single day. Ethical wealth creation is possible - embrace accountability, and society will reward you. Keep a good company - don't partner with pessimists lest you become one of them.

When talking with Joe Rogan, Naval also spoke about:

Positive thoughts disappear from your mind quickly, negative thoughts linger. Hence, work through every negative judgement you have until you see the positive side in it and until this becomes second nature. Watch your own thoughts like you watch nothing else in the world. Stop rehearsing and trying to sound smart.

Naval also did an interview with Shane Parrish on Farnam Street podcast. Most of Naval's interviews are quite long - around 2 hours - so there is a lot more to be unpacked from them than what I wrote down here.

What I really like is that all that Naval says are real steps to success.

If you want to be successful in business, you need to have a clear, calm, collected mind. The clear mind leads to better judgements, which leads to better outcomes.

Watch your thoughts.

Make yourself to see the positive side in everything, even if it doesn't come naturally. Keep doing it until it becomes second nature.

Peace is happiness at rest, and happiness is peace in motion.

Embrace accountability.

Keep a good company.

Know that ethical wealth creation is possible.

Austin Kleon

Another inspirational book I finished just the other day was Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. This book is about what it says on the tin - showing your work!

It is a short book, full of drawings and quotes. It can easily be read in one sitting, but I'd advise against it. This is the sort of book that I had to ponder over, I read a few sentences over and over until I really understood.

My main takeaway from this book is this:

You don't have to know everything but share something small every day. Teach what you learn. Be prepared for criticism, and don't let it put you off. Work is never finished, only abandoned. Be authentic, work hard and pay it forward.

Austin's message really is about sharing your work. About connecting with your others by sharing stories about your work, about your process, about yourself.

This is one thing I really struggle with. Sharing my work. Not because I think it's super-secret and I don't want anyone to know my secrets. It's because I don't think I have anything to share. I don't know enough. I make mistakes. People will think I'm a fool or a fraud.

But as Austin says, you don't need to be a genius to share your work. It doesn't need to be perfect. It doesn't even need to be finished. People love stories, and people love learning about other people. Think process, not product. Talk about the messy process, be authentic and share something small every day.

Teach what you know, even if it is just a little.

Pay it forward. Give credit where credit is due.

Don't be a ****.


This post is not about becoming rich, at least not in the ordinary sense of the word. Being rich is not just about money, a person can just as well be rich by being happy.

This post is about moving forward. Growing, improving, making an impact - an ethical impact - on the world.

It has not been easy to publish on this post. It feels very personal - sharing with the world what I find inspirational and what touched me. But I am following what both, Naval and Austin, said: share what you know and be authentic.

The things I learned over the past few weeks have a very deepy meaning, something that I need to ponder over until it becomes the thread of the tapestry of my psyche*.

* This beautiful metaphor is by none other than Naval Ravikant - from his interview with Shane Parrish

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