Matt Perryman

3 reasons to leave hacks and cheatsheets to the suckers

By Matt Perryman

While cleaning out the trash stinking up my inbox a few days ago, I came across an article promising “21 psychological triggers” that could make my writing irresistible.

Well who am I to turn down such a gift?

Before the third nugget of wisdom scrolled on to my screen the email was safely quarantined in the trash bin.

Hard experience taught me that long lists promising life-changing action steps rarely live up to the hype.

I get the attraction. Your mysterious email admirer promises you something really cool if only you spend a few minutes scrolling this repetitive, unoriginal and uninspiring piece of “content”.

They never pay off. At most you’ll get reminded of a useful idea or process, and that’s as far as it gets.

Everyone on social media is obsessed with this format because, in their stunted minds, “giving value” is the one and only goal of existence.

They have no idea of what value is or how it’s created. If they did, they wouldn’t be passing off cheap listicles as “value”. These things are like eating a bag of sugar. No matter how great it seemed up front, you hate yourself after.

Here’s three reasons that I avoid listicles, checklists, and all kinds of hacks:

1- Lists replace understanding with thoughtless repetition. 

You don’t need to use your own mind, or do the work figure out what is happening in your precise situation. Just follow this procedure.

This is what machines do. If you’re doing work that machines excel at doing, you won’t be doing that work for long.

2- Lists encourage passive inaction. 

You feel like you’re learning heaps. You feel like you’re improving yourself. You’ve got a map now.

In reality what you’re doing is repeating what somebody else already did two years ago. Even though the situation’s totally different moving into the future and demands new thinking, your own thoughtlessness leaves you following from behind.

3- Lists remove responsibility. 

If you didn’t think it up and do it yourself, you don’t have to take the blame if it goes wrong. It’s psychologically hard to be an autonomous individual. Why not let others do your thinking for you?

If you’re following a recipe or cross-checking that your jetliner is safe to fly, by all means follow the steps in the process.

There’s a difference between lists of “hacks” and genuine tools, which serve a clear and definite purpose.

The problem is not in the tools. It’s people who can’t or won’t use their minds for the most basic problem solving. People who can’t pick their nose without a 7-step framework. People who let fear or laziness turn them into fragile quivering blobs that need their hands held step by tedious step.

Instead of a list of “21 MUST DO steps”, I’d rather immerse myself in the process, see it, feel it, and taste it from the inside, try this and that and test the boundaries, and only THEN, with an idea of where I stand, worry about what’s needed to get the jobs done.

It’s not the easy work of copying the fast, easy, and simple blueprint to success…

… but the AI won’t put you out of work.

Matt Perryman

ps — I know what I did here.

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