Scott H Young

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The Competence Trap (and Why it Keeps You From Trying New Things)

A reader asked me recently whether I thought there was a limit to how much math you could learn, based on your intelligence. As in, if your IQ was too low you’d get stuck at algebra or calculus and be unable to learn any more math. This seems highly unlikely. The way deep subjects like math are learned is through a process of increasingly abstract...

What’s Beyond Self-Improvement?

For many, perhaps most people, life is full of struggles. Your career isn’t where you want it to be. You’re a bit out of shape and really need to start eating better. Your relationship status is complicated. True, the promises of self-help books are often inflated, get-rich-quick schemes turn out to take a long time and not all of life’s problems can...

Life of Focus: Now Open

The first session of Cal Newport and my new course, Life of Focus is starting now. We will hold registration until Friday, September 4th (midnight Pacific Time). Click here to join Depth is something we all crave, yet is hard to find. Our work often feels busy and hectic. We’re inundated with emails, meetings and shallow tasks. We know that...

Take Control of Your Time

The following is the third and final lesson from Cal Newport for Focus Week. Click to read the first and second lessons. On Monday, Cal and I will be opening our new course, Life of Focus. We’ll send registration information then. In the meantime, I’ll leave it to Cal for the lesson… In the first lesson of our Focus Week series, I suggested that...

Rediscover Depth

This is the second of a three-part series from Cal Newport called Focus Week. (See the first lesson here.) After the third lesson, we’ll be taking a select group of students in our new course, Life of Focus. The course will take you on a three-month, guided training to build a deeper life. I’ll turn things now to Cal… When I was a young graduate...

Give Your Brain Some Breathing Room

This is the first lesson in a three-part series from Cal Newport called Focus Week. At the end of the week, we’ll be taking a select group of students through the first session of our new course, Life of Focus. I’ll let Cal take it from here… I opened my book Digital Minimalism with an excerpt from an Andrew Sullivan essay, published...

Returning to a Life of Focus

Cal Newport, my friend, frequent collaborator and best-selling author, has written the following post. During this week, I’ll be sharing three more lessons written by Cal, in anticipation of our new course together. I’ll let Cal explain more… Last fall, Scott Young and his team flew down to Washington D.C., to join me in a Capitol Hill film studio...

I’m 32

Today is my birthday. Continuing a tradition I’ve had on this blog since I was 18, I use this opportunity to write about myself. If you’re a new reader, or otherwise uninterested in my self-indulgence, feel free to skip it and I’ll have more useful writing next week. Side note: Cal Newport and I are launching the first session of our new course,...

Two Types of Excellence

I spend a lot of time thinking about how to get better at things. I agree with Aristotle that excellence itself, rather than money or status, is the aim worth pursuing. Recently, I’ve been thinking that the concept of excellence itself hides a subtle distinction. That is, there are different ways something can be considered great, and knowing which...

The Value of Spare Capacity

The height of a tree depends on not just the seed, but the size of the pot you plant it in. Without space to grow, you’ll only end up with a shrub. Similarly, the amount of progress you’re able to make depends on your spare capacity. Without time and energy to invest in growth, your life will stay as it is. Spare capacity is a surprisingly neglected...

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