The New Masterpiece of a Man of Genius

Nov 2023

I have excitedly been working on a mammoth new content project in the last couple of weeks. As I write this, the project already has nearly 100,000 words written, which is rather significant given that Life Profitability just breached 60,000 words. (There is something to be said about quality over quantity. It's my belief, though, that the nature of this project lends itself to have great value in the colour and context of the quantity.)

Also, the new project is not a book. Here's a little sneak peek of what it looks like instead:

Yes - it's Notion.

The original impetus for the project was to find a way to share some recent thoughts, experiences, and lessons learnt in an unfiltered and authentic way. I believe that I'd gotten myself into a mindset where I was at least partly withholding some of this publicly and instead shapeshifting to an extent to optimise for conversations and opportunities. The project thus started with this forward-looking perspective and goal: share more and without a filter.

As I started, though, it morphed into a very reflective and ultimately cathartic exercise where I started digging into artefacts of my past in my attempt to make sense of my present. This included re-reading past investor updates, journal entries in handwritten and digital notebooks, shorthand notes I left myself on my phone, or late-night emails to my wife to share where my head and heart are.

On that rabbit hole-like journey, I've found gems like this in a notebook from 2012, where I had similar ideas to what eventually led to the creation of Cogsy in 2020. (I had another notebook entry from early 2018 - included in the upcoming content project - where these ideas evolved much closer to what we originally launched as Cogsy V1.)

I've transcribed these handwritten notes for the project, but for now, I'll leave this as-is.

In overlaying so many different sources of content in my reflection, it's been fascinating to - for example - match how I was feeling, what I was journaling about, and what was happening in my business or professional life at any moment.

The other unexpected observation when zooming out and extending the time horizon of inquiry is how often the same questions or challenges have popped up for me. Things that seemed highly trivial when I first penned it again popped up months and years later. And some of those things are still relevant today.

In "How Proust Can Change Your Life" Alain de Botton writes:

If we read the new masterpiece of a man of genius, we are delighted to find in it those reflections of ours that we despised, joys and sorrows which we had repressed, a whole world of feeling we had scorned, and whose value the book in which we discover them suddenly teaches us.

This is an accurate summary of how I feel after a few weeks of reflecting on my past writings: When I wrote it originally, I wrote it for a different reason compared to why I reflect on the same writing now.

When I journaled, I processed my thoughts and feelings to regain clarity or focus on what I needed to do next.

My practice of writing monthly investor updates was cultivating a discipline of reflection and accountability. It was also to keep myself and others aligned with sufficient information and clarity to progress in our stated goals.

And the shorthand notes or late-night emails were meant to be breadcrumbs I could return to should I forget. I thought these were a huge epiphany and of significant value then. (I rarely found them super-valuable or at least actionable the next morning.)

In re-reading these now, I'm not finding genius, as de Botton suggests. I am, however, finding new or different value. I'm finding recurring patterns and parts of me that I have compartmentalised or downplayed (probably subconsciously for reasons unknown).

I also regret the seasons in which I didn't write as much and when my journaling habit fell by the wayside. This is especially true for the most recent season of life where I was building Cogsy: today, I don't have a lot of additional content after late 2021 when Cogsy raised its seed round. And yet, I know there is so much of that story to be told. (The upcoming content project attempts that, though.)

The regret of not writing more is the only new action that the last couple of weeks have informed: writing regularly in whatever format, irrespective of the reason, is probably helpful.

Beyond that, though, I've not been in a season of action-taking. Instead, I've purposefully avoided taking action in favour of rest, reflection and rejuvenation.

Returning to de Botton and the genius that possibly lies within the reflections. As I've reflected and been reminded of these patterns and parts of Adii, I've felt calmer and more integrated than I have in a while. This has been especially helpful in solidifying and powering up my core again as I plot my next steps.

As a final (and ambiguous) teaser for what the content project will include, I'll share one of those shorthand notes that have helped me integrate various experiences, emotions and thoughts to create a new sense of calm (and self/Self)...

7 minutes before midnight, just as I went to bed, but had a final thought. (The idea was Cogsy.)
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