Some of the highlights from our discussion:
People usually underestimate how easy it is to help friends come to visit who you value the most. If there is something blocking someone, who you really like spending your time with, from coming to visit you, Cliff argues that you should take it upon yourself, as your responsibility, to unblock it so that you can benefit from their presence. Taking the initiative and making the first step will make it happen – otherwise these interactions may slip past very easily.
Junto – together in Spanish – are groups of people brought together to have discussions about matters of particular interest or intellect. Cliff came across this idea in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography as the American statesman made a junto with the idea of bringing all the most ambitious and intellectual people together at the time and have them sit together once a week and talk about the matters of the world. The ideal size is around 12 to 15 people with only one main rule which is that there is only one single thread of conversation. With the same set of people every week, the junto creates more connections and can build on ideas from previous discussions.
When it comes to stepping outside of our comfort zone, especially with socialising, it needs to be intentional. The more you practice socialising at the boundaries of where you are comfortable, the more you expand the range of your comfort zone. If you don’t practice making yourself uncomfortable in order to make more social connections and interactions, you’re relegating yourself to live a limited life for the rest of your life.
You want to find people who give you energy being around them. A good heuristic for who is a good friend for you is who can you talk to indefinitely and it’s important to recognise that this is different from person to person – it’s based on personality, interests and a host of other factors. When expanding his own network, Cliff discusses how he asks his friends to identify the 5 most exceptional people they know. He says that this puts the ability to define exceptional into the other person’s hands but you always get people who they really value.
Any framing that implies a game of human top trumps can be unsettling and problematic. In life there is no winner – there are a million different categories and we are each running our own race, thus resorting to a game of ‘top trumps’ is a fruitless exercise. Cliff draws on a quote that “you cannot be jealous of someone – if you want to be jealous of someone you have to consider their entire situation, not judge them based on one lane”. Even if you judge them to better than you in all the lanes, you don’t know what is going on behind the scenes in lanes that you cannot even see. The key is not to make a value judgement of that specific person as an individual but rather to consider the interaction effect of the two of us and how that would work.
Whilst we all know that friendships and relationships are the most important things in life, we rarely monitor them as closely as we should. Beyond putting someone’s birthday in our calendar or sending a Christmas card, we don’t treat them with the same level of measurement and management as we would tracking our macros for our physical health, even though relationships are more important.
Sponsored by Brilliant
This episode is kindly supported by Brilliant, the best way to learn maths, science, and computer science online. Brilliant focuses on helping you learn how to think, rather than just memorising methods and facts. Sign up at https://brilliant.org/notoverthinking — the first 100 people get 20% off an annual subscription.
Become a Not Overthinker
We've got a fun little members-only community where we have a private Slack channel, and host weekly (ish) Zoom hangouts. Click here if you fancy joining.
Leave us a Review
If you enjoy listening to the podcast, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes / Apple Podcasts. Here's a link that works even if you're not on an iPhone :)
Send us an Audio Message
We really want to include more listener comments and questions in our episodes. If you've got any thoughts on this episode, or if you've got a conundrum or question you'd like us to discuss, send an audio file / voice note to firstname.lastname@example.org.