Friday, October 9, 2020

Pragmatic Psychology: Life explained in 45 seconds

I recently had an opportunity give a young person a crash-course on Pragmatic Psychology.

Lesson One: The Three Ps

Priorities, priorities, priorities.

"But I want this AND that!" the young person objected.

"Welcome to adulthood. Being an adult is about making choices and enduring the consequences. As an adult, you have to make hard choices. Do you want to spend your next dollar on 'this' or 'that'? How about your last dollar?" I coached.

"But I want BOTH!" the young person wailed.

"I want to be a billionaire...but it is not going to happen" I replied. "Try to carry two eggs in one spoon and both will hit the floor."

We live in the world of "is", not the world of "should"

We don't have the option of changing the entire universe to conform to our whims. We have to deal with it as it is.

There is only one person you can change...

...and they are wearing your shoes.

It is not all about you

It is not even mostly about you.


  1. The lesson I impart to co-workers up and down the food chain: "Priority" really means deciding what you're NOT going to get.

  2. Great lessons. One lesson I would impart to young men is NOT to 'keep their options open'. Focus in early on ONE skill or course of study. Otherwise they will become a jack of all trades and master of none. Pick ONE thing, one high demand or highly specialized thing, which necessarily means excluding most or all other things, and become an expert at that one thing.

    A case in point. I have a nephew who got his bachelor's degree at University of Arizona. I think his major was general science or perhaps engineering, with a specialty in optics. Upon graduation, instead of going into the work force, he went on to get a master's degree at U of A in optical engineering. He was one of only a small handful of students, I think maybe five or ten, who were pursuing that course of study.

    I remember wondering what kind of job he was going to be able to find with such an esoteric degree. I need not have worried. He became one of the people who designed and built the cameras on the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter that has been taking incredibly high resolution photos of the Martian surface. And he is making big bucks doing something he loves to do.


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