The leader of the team

The leader of the team is not the one who takes charge, wants power, nor necessarily the one who gets elected. The leader of the team is the one who takes responsibility for the team.

I just got back from Florida with our swimming team where they go each January for their training trip. It’s a grueling, eight-day, five-hours-a-day practice schedule–stress and distress inevitably run high.

There was one person who, every time someone struggled, was there to make sure they were okay, regardless of if she felt kinship with them or not. That’s the alpha of the group. That’s the leader of the team, emerging spontaneously.

Advice to my younger self

I remember, at age twenty-three, confessing to a priest that I was it the pits of despair about what to do with my life. The anxiety was overwhelming. I started crying.

I have no memory of what he said, except “Every day I wake up and say a little prayer that I be able to show love to others.” I’m sure I didn’t follow his advice because of all the ensuing and needless anxiety, but it was what I needed to hear, and the advice I ought to have followed.

I’m on record saying that the advice you’d give your younger self is probably the same advice you need today.

Breaking records

“Also, people seem to pursue honor in order to be convinced that they themselves are good.” ~Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (Chapter 5, lines 27-28).

Pursuing honor is better than pursuing pleasure according to Aristotle (“Now most people show themselves to be completely slavish by choosing a life that belongs to fatted cattle,”) but it cannot lead to happiness, what Aristotle claims to be the highest good, because people who seek honor seek it from people who possess virtue, a quality that comes from being intrinsically happy, or intrinsically good.

Michael Phelps. Tiger Woods. Ben Simmons. We can list the fallen athletes all day who sought honor and power over virtue and goodness.

“Power shows the man. Put somebody in authority; give somebody a lot of resources; and all of a sudden you’ll find out a lot about them.” ~Larry Arnn

It might be said differently that doing honorable things is good, but seeking honor is not.

Career anxiety

Skills and credentials matter, obviously, but a university cannot predict what skills employers will demand in five years, let alone in fifty.

Better, I think, to follow your curiosity where it leads you. As an anxiety-ridden twenty-three year old I remember writing a quote in my journal that went something like “Follow your curiosity, and if a future arrives when what you know is in demand, there you are.” There’s no certainty in a quote like that, but certainty doesn’t exist anyways.

Walk onto a university campus and it feels like half the student population is majoring in business, not because they give two shits about business but because they’re all terrified about making money in the future. They want to be successful without having the first idea of what success is. This strikes me as a terrible way to live, and a cowardly way to run a university. Indeed business majors tend to make more money right out of college, but give it ten or twenty or thirty years and the chemistry, English, math, physics, and philosophy majors have all caught up with or surpassed them, and the later students are more likely to possess knowledge that future societies will actually find useful.

Call this a defense of traditional liberal arts and sciences.

Don’t drink

Tyler Cowen, admittedly not a health expert but a brilliant person, reveals his #1 long-term investment in health:

1. Don’t drink.  It is fine or even beneficial for most people, but terrible for 10-15%  That might be you.  And even for those who are not “problem drinkers,” I’ve had plenty of people write me and tell me their lives are much better since they stopped drinking.  Stop treating “drinking” as a default.

Especially if you’re college-aged or younger because you’re too young to know how alcohol will affect you as an adult.

Most students emerge unscathed, but if one or two out of every ten young people become problem drinkers–and even those who don’t could have their lives improved by not drinking–what happens every Saturday night (and Friday night; and Thursday night; and Wednesday night) in college towns starts to look like a massive waste of human time and energy.

The path of greatest love

Call it a mental model, a means to discern right action.

Not like, “Do I love popcorn or cheesecake? Do I love this person or that person? Do I love being a supermodel or an accountant?” Not helpful.

More like, “How do I show love to the person right in front of me? How do I speak in a way that reveals that love? What is the right thing to do, right now?” Asking is enough.


Do not date a person if you are not prepared to marry. Do not date a person if you cannot see yourself marrying that person.

Do not hook up. Do not “hang out.” Do not “talk.” Make your intentions clear by going on dates.

Do not seek happiness where it cannot be found. Do not fear loneliness but wait in joyful hope. Do not seek fulfillment in a person or else that person will be your undoing.

The process of coupling is also the process of self-discipline.

Inequality of effort

Effort is unequal, and effort compounds.

I get that this does not justify every form of inequality, but I can hardly listen to arguments about inequality that refuse to acknowledge that effort is unequal, and often stunningly so.

Alexis de Tocqueville: “Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.”


Omicron is not chaos. Human irrationality is chaos.

The opposite of chaos is order, and order is built in the human heart before it is built in the world.