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Ian O'Byrne

You cannot teach a crab to walk straight. - Aristophanes In issue of the TL;DR Newsletter - #identity


Ian O'Byrne

Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast

2 min read

This statement comes from military and police parlance and usually indicates a focus on mobility and dexterity in operations.

Combat and conflict often center on mobility. If you move too fast, you can be outflanked. If you move too slow, you can be pinned down. The best course may be a cautious, thoughtful understanding of planned moves.

From a learning context, this statement provides insight into our focus on work process as opposed to product.

"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" indicates a focus on technique, and speed in learning new things.


As we learn new skills, we need to focus on the small, discrete skills slowly. This allows us to focus on technique and building expertise in our subconscious and long term memory. There is also a need to ensure that we do not focus on improper strategies as we learn these new skills and content.


To make this happen focus on the following stages:

CRAWL - Identify a new skill, practice, or area of content that you would like to study. Identify the theory and basic skills. What are the (3 - 5) major elements, or steps involved in this action or area? Be as granular as possible. 

WALK - Practice these 3 to 5 elements or steps in the process while considering the larger picture. Continue to practice these steps while you continue to learn, and practice the granular steps.

RUN - Work toward mastery of the skill, practice, or area of content. Continue to practice while focusing on the small, discrete skills you identified in the CRAWL stage. Expand toward automaticity with a constant focus on awareness and confidence.


An awareness of these stages can be applied at any level and for any aspect of learning. This builds a strong awareness of strategies, tactics, tools, and motivation in the practice. 


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Ian O'Byrne

Control your controllables

3 min read

In his studies on flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi presented insight into this highly focused mental state and tranquility.

We have all experienced times when instead of being buffeted by anonymous forces, we [feel] in control of our actions, masters of our own fate. On the rare occasions that it happens, we feel a sense of exhilaration, a deep sense of enjoyment.

Stephen Covey expands on this by positing that people filter experiences before they reach our consciousness. In between stimulus and response, we have the freedom to choose how we'll respond to each situation we're presented in life. 

Covey expands on this by indicating that people are generally proactive or reactive. Much of this focus relies on their locus of control.

  • Proactive people recognize that they're responsible for how they respond to outside stimuli. They have an internal locus of control. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their state. They believe that their situation and existence is a product of personal choice and decisions derived from their values and virtues.
  • Reactive people believe their condition is a product of their physical and social environments. They have an external locus of control. Their moods and actions are determined by the moods and actions of others or the things that happen to them. They allow the actions of others to determine and control their situation and existence.

We have a choice about how we choose to focus our time and energy. We have a circle of concern, or things that garner attention in our daily lives. These include our health, friends, family, the environment. We also have a circle of control, or things that we have actual, direct control over. These include what we eat, the friends that we choose, where we live. 

Stephen Covey indicates that the circle of control exists within the circle of control, but describes this as a circle of influence. Proactive people focus their time and energy on elements in this space as they can actually change these things. The more you act on decisions made in the circle of control, the more this circle of influence expands.

Put simply, by shifting attention from the cirlce of control to the circle of concern, you're losing the freedom to choose how you'll respond to situations in life. You're allowing events outside of your control your moods and happiness.

Focus on the things you can control in life. Remove constraints, complications, and negativity from your life. Strengthen and expand your circle of influence.

Control your controllables.


Image Credit

Figure from James Clear

Ian O'Byrne

January 29, 2016

2 min read

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center. - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


In identifying new opportunities, there is often a chance that we'll let this derail us and lead us astray from our true goals. 

I'm busy trying to iterate on my own practice. I'm alsp heavily into identifying and testing out new opportunites to connect, research, and build. In this I'm quick to say yes, yes, yes. Everything looks new, beautiful, and stellar. It's not until you jump in do you realize the time suck or pit that it truly may become.

Over the last year(s) I've spent a lot of time working on a couple of initiaitves that I thought would pan out and offer more opportunities. I have benefitted from these experiences in the people and insight that I've gained. I did not explicitly gain in the ways in which I thought I would. It makes me wonder if I still should say yes, and jump in...but be a bit more cautious and protective of my time...or should I adopt the "Hell yes, or no" mentality. 

I need to protect and maintain my center...but still remain willing and open to new opportunities.