All Those Natural Colors Between Black and White

One of my favorite minds is that of Derek Sivers, of CD Baby, TED, Tim Ferriss, and philosopreneur fame.


He has a way of cutting to the heart center of things, making a point in the most concise manner imaginable.


If you’ve been following this blog, you may realize this is not my style. It might be nice if it were, but I wonder if the way we write is simply one of those things like handwriting—it’s changeable, but if it’s forced, is the changed thing really ours?


Derek’s style inspires me. I’ve never known someone with such a knack for both prolific creation and succinct distillation of their ideas and philosophy.

With that said, in my most recent post, I didn’t feel like I adequately expressed my intent, so I asked Derek to show me how he would have done it.His rework is amazing and enlightening. I’ll refrain from saying it’s “better,” because maybe there is no better or worse. But it does seem more connectable. And that’s what I’m trying to do here: connect with you. So would someone write a computer program for an automatic Derek-Distillation-izer?

It’s not just because of the way he thinks that he has a following, but because he is able to relate his thoughts so clearly. So, without further ado and with Derek’s permission, I am posting below his rework of my last post.


All Those Natural Colors Between Black and White

by Derek Sivers


We tend to think in black-or-white: putting all actions, things, or thoughts into a binary good-or-bad category.

It simplifies. It helps make quick decisions, though not good decisions.  It over-simplifies.

It starts in school, when we’re praised for doing good or bad, passing or failing, praise or condemnation.

It continues in the working world, where the only time we hear feedback on our work is when we do extremely well or badly.

But what about all those times when we’re just chugging along, doing our work, doing okay?

And forget work, what about relationships?  Are we often over-simplifying our friendships and romances into “it’s going great” or “it’s not going great, therefore it’s going bad”!

But life is a continuum.  All of the wonderful colors of the world exist in that spectrum between black and white.

If you notice your natural thoughts, they’re all over the place, nuanced, conflicting and co-existing, without needing to be pushed into a good or bad box.

When we leave the school and corporate world and become self-directed, we need to deliberately stop the black-or-white tendency.

If our work is making progress, but not finished yet, we don’t need to kick ourselves.  If our relationships are normal and healthy, we we don’t need to create drama that pushes it into good or bad.

We need to be okay with things being okay, and enjoy all those natural colors between black and white.

ripples on water continuum


I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment!

And if you don’t know who Derek is, do yourself a favor and check out his book, Anything You Want, or his chapter in Tim Ferriss’ book, Tribe of Mentors.

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