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Amateurs obsess over tools, pros over mastery
Anyone who posts silly lists like "15 AI tools you can't miss" is truly the one who is lost
In our increasingly tech trend-driven world, it's easy to get caught up in the allure of shiny new tools. From the latest productivity apps to wiz-bang gadgets, we're constantly bombarded with promises of increased efficiency, higher output, and success beyond our dreams (both the creative and financial variety). We obsess over these tools, treating them like a crush—a fleeting infatuation that momentarily captivates our attention. All of this is wasted effort and delusion.
Of course, if you talk to a grizzled pro or anyone you actually respect in an industry you’ll find a constant: tools alone do not make a master. It's not the latest software or the fastest hardware that defines greatness; it's the mindset and skill of the individual wielding them. As the philosopher Seneca once stated, "A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand."
Take the acoustic guitar, for ex. In an age of digital music production and synthesizers, this instrument played alone might appear antiquated. Yet, in the hands of a skilled musician, it transforms into a vessel of captivating melodies and soul-stirring harmonies. It might even provide the inspiration for something larger, that would have been missed if you skipped right to software. The simplicity of the instrument compels the artist to focus on the nuances of their playing, to refine their fingerpicking technique, and to channel their emotions through each strum. The true magic lies not in the guitar itself, but in the virtuosity of the musician who brings it to life. A skill, mastered over time, agnostic and ambivalent of the noisy, buzzing, ADHD-ridden market.
Similarly, the digital world is teeming with tools that promise to revolutionize the way we work and create. But if we're fixated on acquiring every new tool that comes our way, we risk missing out on developing our fundamental, timeless skills—the abilities that transcend technological trends and persist throughout time. It’s almost always backwards to care much here. The important tools will find you. It’s also not a real moat, or recipe for producing anything great. Perhaps a fleeting viral post for “being first,” and really what’s the point of that?
True pros understand the importance of honing their craft, regardless of the tools at their disposal. They embrace the philosophy of Bruce Lee, who famously stated, "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." It's the expertise gained through deliberate, consistent practice and a deep understanding of the fundamentals that separates pros from amateurs.
It is real alpha to ignore the allure of novelty. Let us instead focus on the foundations, the timeless principles, and the relentless pursuit of mastery. Paradoxically, AI will make this more true. This will also ensure you escape the nihilism inherent to creative reliance on AI.
The next time you find yourself FOMO’ing after the latest gadget or the trendiest app, pause for a moment of reflection. Ask yourself: Am I truly honing my craft? Am I investing here only because others told me to? Am I really doing something that matters? Am I actually just a goldfish chasing a shiny lure? I worry many lack this sort of metacognition in a world where it’s more common to become a garden variety stock promoter of the latest fad. Perhaps a superpower for you to not do this and instead do the harder thing.
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