The Daily Stoic for May 20th. “Quality Over Quantity”
“What’s the point of having countless books and libraries, whose titles could hardly be read through in a lifetime. The learner is not taught, but burdened by the sheer volume, and it’s better to plant the seeds of a few authors than to be scattered about by many.”
—SENECA, ON TRANQUILITY OF MIND, 9.4
Some time ago, someone pointed me to this article about how “Startup founders read 60 to 100 books a year“. I thought it was the most stupid thing I had read in a looong time. I’m glad to read today’s stoic as a proof that maybe I’m not such a cynic dumb-ass.
On yesterday’s stoic, I mentioned how we have been taught to accumulate badges and trophies in our resumés such as how many programming languages we know, how much marketing tools we use, or how many agile methodologies or buzzwords we have in our arsenal. Most of the times, we don’t really know or are proficient in those skills.
It’s all about quantity, hoping that this technique will make us look more professional or appealing to recruiters or customers.
Quality Over Quantity
We live in an information overload society. Social media, the news, infotainment sites, colleagues, “must-read” books… We are bombarded daily with a lot of information competing for our attention and time.
There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with HackerNews, Reddit, Lifehacker, Twitter, Instagram… And being constantly reading books. But as Cal Newport explains on Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, if we want to be able to focus on something, we need to prioritize quality over quantity.
So if someone tells me they read two books every week, or just one… Yeah, good for them. I mean, it might be even possible and actually praiseworthy. But it’s not something I can do… Or I’m willing to do. I have immersed myself in an information diet lately, from social media to news to infotainment sites… And I’m quite happy with it :).
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Quality Over Quantity”, discusses the importance to focus on quality over quantity. Instead of accumulating books you’ve read like badges or trophies, focus on the stuff that really matters, and will bring the most value to your life.