The Long Game 132: Process Over Outcomes, Wellbeing & Money, Struggling is Essential, James Dyson
🦾 Complete Grip Strength Guide, AI & Diplomacy, Hookup Culture, Larq, Elon Musk, Friendships, and Much More!
Hi there, it’s Mehdi Yacoubi, co-founder at Vital, and this is The Long Game Newsletter. To receive it in your inbox each week, subscribe here:
In this episode, we explore:
Process over outcomes
Well-being and money
Struggling is essential
Learnings From James Dyson
Let’s dive in!
🔨 Process over Outcomes
I found this research paper interesting and worth sharing, as I’ve made the mistake of focusing on outcomes too often in my life.
The performance and psychological effects of goal setting in sport: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Goal setting is widely applied in sport. Whereas existing reviews have addressed the performance effects of goal setting, less is known about the concurrent psychological and psychophysiological effects.
Therefore, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis that synthesised the effects of goal setting on task performance and various psychological and psychophysiological outcomes in sport.
Searches returned 17,841 articles, with 27 meeting eligibility criteria. A meta-analysis of the performance effects and a narrative synthesis of the psychological and psychophysiological effects were undertaken.
Process goals had the largest effect on performance (d = 1.36) compared to performance goals (d = 0.44) and outcome goals (d = 0.09).
No significant difference in performance was found between specific (d = 0.37) and non-specific goals (d = 0.72).
Process goals also had large effects on self-efficacy (d = 1.11), whereas studies guided by self-regulation theory (k = 5) produced the greatest performance enhancements (d = 1.53).
It was rarely possible to draw conclusions regarding the effects of goal setting on psychological/psychophysiological outcomes due to a lack of cross study evidence. Nevertheless, these findings provide important insights to guide research and practice on the use of goal setting to enhance performance and psychological/psychophysiological outcomes in sport.
Pair with: Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead & The Score Takes Care of Itself.
📈 Experienced well-being rises with income, even above $75,000 per year
We used to think happiness doesn’t increase past $75,000/y, but we were wrong. New research shows that well-being rises linearly with log income (and doesn't reach a plateau).
Past research has found that experienced well-being does not increase above incomes of $75,000/y. This finding has been the focus of substantial attention from researchers and the general public, yet is based on a dataset with a measure of experienced well-being that may or may not be indicative of actual emotional experience (retrospective, dichotomous reports). Here, over one million real-time reports of experienced well-being from a large US sample show evidence that experienced well-being rises linearly with log income, with an equally steep slope above $80,000 as below it. This suggests that higher incomes may still have potential to improve people’s day-to-day well-being, rather than having already reached a plateau for many people in wealthy countries.
🧠 Better Thinking
😓 Struggling is Key
I loved this reminder that struggling is an essential part of trying to do great work. You’re not alone.
When someone says my stuff is good, I want to believe them, but unfortunately, my default reaction is, “well, you probably haven’t read that much good writing then.” It’s a pretty mean thing to think, I know. I don’t like that I think it. But it’s where my mind goes.
I’m not sure how bad skepticism of yourself is, though. There’s an adage in personal finance: “if you’re worried, you don’t need to be worried, and if you’re not worried, you should be worried.” A similar framing could apply to good creative work. If you are worried about your mediocrity, then you don’t have to worry about mediocrity. If you aren’t worried about mediocrity, then you’re probably mediocre.
I don’t buy the advice that you should try to treat work like play or take it less seriously. Play is for amateurs. If you’re treating it lightly, it won’t be good. I have never, ever heard someone truly great describe their work as easy or fun or light. Moments of fun? Of course. But the greatness comes from pushing through the suck.
Imagine you care so deeply about someone that unexpectedly losing them would push you to the brink. You cannot imagine being happy for years if they were lost in a car crash. You would collapse and break down and wish it were you and not in some sappy movie way to show off to others but in the way where you actually truly mean it because there’s nothing else you can say to describe how awful you feel.
There is no true, deep love without opening yourself up to that pain. And you cannot truly love your work without its mediocrity or failure potentially destroying you.
Treating it lighter is letting fear win. It’s leaning away from love instead of leaning into it. But you also can’t let love and obsession destroy you. You have to find balance.
The only salve I’ve found is remembering I’m not alone. Everyone I look up to has examples they feel painfully inadequate against. Getting great comes with a suffering you must embrace if you truly care.
⚡️ Startup Stuff
🧹 Learnings From James Dyson
I’m trying something new. I’ll be reading only biographies for the next few months (or more.) I was persuaded to do this by the great David Senra of Founders Podcast.
There are thousands of years of history in which lots and lots of very smart people worked very hard and ran all types of experiments on how to create new businesses, invent new technology, new ways to manage etc.
They ran these experiments throughout their entire lives. At some point, somebody put these lessons down in a book. For very little money and a few hours of time, you can learn from someone's accumulated experience.
There is so much more to learn from the past than we often realize. You could productively spend your time reading experiences of great people who have come before and you learn every time.
I’m starting this phase with James Dyson. I’m obsessed with Dyson, and I really love James’ perspectives on building great products, what it takes and why he doesn’t trust experts.
I’m starting with Against the Odds: An Autobiography and Invention: A Life.
📚 What I Read
🤝 How Friendships Change in Adulthood
The saga of adult friendship starts off well enough. “I think young adulthood is the golden age for forming friendships,” Rawlins says. “Especially for people who have the privilege and the blessing of being able to go to college.”
During young adulthood, friendships become more complex and meaningful. In childhood, friends are mostly other kids who are fun to play with; in adolescence, there’s a lot more self-disclosure and support between friends, but adolescents are still discovering their identity, and learning what it means to be intimate. Their friendships help them do that.
But “in adolescence, people have a really tractable self,” Rawlins says. “They’ll change.” How many band T-shirts from Hot Topic end up sadly crumpled at the bottom of dresser drawers because the owners’ friends said the band was lame? The world may never know. By young adulthood, people are usually a little more secure in themselves, more likely to seek out friends who share their values on the important things, and let the little things be.
🇨🇳 How China Got Our Kids Hooked on ‘Digital Fentanyl’
TikTok is a national security threat.
In April 2019, the company signed an agreement with the Chinese Ministry of Public Security—which has played a key role in the Uyghurs’ internment—promising to promote the ministry’s “influence and credibility.” ByteDance also bent over backward to suppress news, on its platform, of the Chinese state’s repression of the Uyghurs.
Xinjiang, it turns out, was the testing ground for a much more ambitious and global surveillance campaign carried out by companies like ByteDance and the smartphone-maker Huawei. Today, Chinese data collection has spread far beyond Chinese borders.
In November 2021, Britain’s MI6 intelligence chief, Richard Moore, warned that China was laying “data traps” all over the world. “If you allow another country to gain access to really critical data about your society, over time that will erode your sovereignty—you no longer have control over that data,” he told the BBC.
The idea that apps violate personal privacy is something that many Americans now shrug off. The difference in this case is that the company that is doing the violating is an extension of the Chinese state.
🔨 Elon Musk Is Better Than You
People are complaining about Elon Musk more than usual after his takeover of Twitter.
At first, people complained that he was wasting money, since he could have instead solved world hunger for a fraction of the price of Twitter.
Later, people complained about the idea that “free speech costs $8 a month” and fretted about the threat to democracy of having a billionaire control a social media platform.
Let me explain why this is annoying and reflects badly on the complainers.
Note: I know that Musk is weird, and I’m sure he’s done some uncool things. Nevertheless, I find the critics more annoying.
🦅 How Online Mobs Act Like Flocks Of Birds
A growing body of research suggests human behavior on social media is strikingly similar to collective behavior in nature.
Our social media flocks first formed in the mid ‘00s, as the internet provided a new topology of human connection. At first, we ported our real, geographically constrained social graphs to nascent online social networks. Dunbar’s Number held — we had maybe 150 friends, probably fewer, and we saw and commented on their posts. However, it quickly became a point of pride to have thousands of friends, then thousands of followers (a term that conveys directional influence in its very tone). The friend or follower count was prominently displayed on a user’s profile, and a high number became a heuristic for assessing popularity or importance. “Friend” became a verb; we friended not only our friends, but our acquaintances, their friends, their friends’ acquaintances.
🍭 Brain Food
🤖 Human-level play in the game of Diplomacy by combining language models with strategic reasoning
Meta AI recently published a fascinating paper. Here’s the abstract if you want an idea of what’s coming with AI.
Despite much progress in training AI systems to imitate human language, building agents that use language to communicate intentionally with humans in interactive environments remains a major challenge.
We introduce Cicero, the first AI agent to achieve human-level performance in Diplomacy, a strategy game involving both cooperation and competition that emphasizes natural language negotiation and tactical coordination between seven players.
Cicero integrates a language model with planning and reinforcement learning algorithms by inferring players' beliefs and intentions from its conversations and generating dialogue in pursuit of its plans.
Across 40 games of an anonymous online Diplomacy league, Cicero achieved more than double the average score of the human players and ranked in the top 10% of participants who played more than one game.
AI has been overpowering humans in adversarial games, like Chess or Go, for a while. Now it is successfully outperforming humans at Diplomacy, as well as strategic lying. What’s next? 🤯
🎥 What I’m Watching
📉 Hook Up Culture Is Bad For The Boys Too
Pair with: The Girls Are Getting Tired Of Hook Up Culture & The Case Against the Sexual Revolution & this article.
🦾 Complete Grip Strength Guide
This a good video if you’re looking for ideas to implement more grip work in your routine. Since I got the FatGripz, I’ve grown obsessed with grip training.
Pair with: The Ultimate Grip Strength Guide!
🔧 The Tool of the Week
🚰 Filtered Water
I was tired of buying plastic water bottles, so we got this Larq Pitcher, and I love it so far. The water tastes good, and the product is very well-designed.
🪐 Quote I’m Pondering
I learned that the moment you want to slow down is the moment you should accelerate.
— James Dyson
Thanks for reading!
If you like The Long Game, please share it on social media or forward this email to someone who might enjoy it. You can also “like” this newsletter by clicking the ❤️ just below, which helps me get visibility on Substack.
Until next week,