This week we talk to Tim Urban
His recent Ted talk has been watched almost 15 million times.
His articles have been regularly republished on sites like Quartz, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, TIME, Business Insider and Gizmodo. In 2015, Fast Company wrote that “Wait But Why is disproving the notion that thoughtful, long-form content and virality are mutually exclusive.”
Urban has gained a number of prominent readers as well: authors Sam Harris and Susan Cain, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, TED curator Chris Anderson and Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova.
Recently, Urban received a call from Elon Musk, who told Urban he liked his writing and asked Urban if he’d like to interview him and write about his companies. Urban accepted, and spent the next six months writing a thorough blog series that Vox’s David Roberts called “the meatiest, most fascinating, most satisfying posts I’ve read in ages.” Since then, Urban’s relationship with Musk has continued: Musk invited him to host SpaceX’s launch webcast, solicited Urban’s input and slide illustrations in a talk he did at the December 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris, and recently granted him early access to information about SpaceX’s interplanetary transport system for use in a post on Wait But Why.
In This Interview, Tim Urban and I Discuss…
- The Wolf Parable
- His blog, Wait But Why
- The image of the rational mind being trapped inside with an animal
- How it would be easier if we were just the “animal”
- How procrastination works: a metaphor
- Rational decision maker vs the Instant gratification monkey
- Who has control of the wheel
- The one thing that the monkey is terrified of: the panic monster
- Creating your own panic monster by setting external deadlines
- Which is the alpha character?
- Chronic procrastinators
- That when there are no deadlines, you don’t really see procrastination happening – and with big life things, this can be very destructive
- Icky daunting tasks
- That a building is just a bunch of bricks
- A book is just a bunch of individual pages
- The glorious, large achievement is just a bunch of small, mundane tasks combined
- The danger of making the bricks too big
- The importance of keeping promises to ourselves and seeing that track record
- The power of intentionally starting the day with little wins over the monkey to shift the power dynamic a bit
- That little steps taken in the right direction gets you there
- The impact of a habit over time
- The dark playground vs the dark woods
- The air is filled with guilt and self-loathing, you’re miserable while you’re there, rational decision maker asking whyyyy??
- The happy playground on the other side of the dark woods
- The various rides in the dark playground
Tim Urban Links
A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other.
One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear.
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather quietly replies, the one you feed
The Tale of Two Wolves is often attributed to the Cherokee indians but there seems to be no real proof of this. It has also been attributed to evangelical preacher Billy Graham and Irish Playwright George Bernard Shaw. It appears no one knows for sure but this does not diminish the power of the parable.
This parable goes by many names including:
The Tale of Two Wolves
The Parable of the Two Wolves
Which Wolf Do You Feed
Which Wolf are You Feeding
Which Wolf Will You Feed
It also often features different animals, mainly two dogs.