Vol.36 Finding things that you are not good at

2023.12.12 Issue 36#

This issue's cover image is generated by Dall-E 3, with the prompt "Snow is falling, covering the glazed tiles of the ancient Eastern-style buildings, creating a sense of desolation."

The following is the main content of this issue, with an estimated reading time of about 9 minutes.

1. Past Events#

Last week, two mechanical failures occurred on a flight operated by Eastern Airlines. Fortunately, the plane successfully made an emergency landing and returned to its departure point, without causing any casualties. C and I were reminded of the Eastern Airlines accident last year.

On the evening of March 20th last year, I received a sudden call informing me of my grandfather's passing while I was preparing for a business trip to Dongguan. I immediately took a nucleic acid test and bought a high-speed train ticket to return home the next day. However, on the morning of the 21st, I received calls from the community and my family, informing me that I was not allowed to attend the funeral because Beijing was considered a high-risk area. Despite my desperate pleas, I was not allowed to go. I had to continue working and suppress my grief.

At that time, C had just completed a project in Kunming and was planning to fly to Guangzhou on the 21st to accompany me to Dongguan. He had chosen the same flight that had the accident. Since I was not going to Dongguan until the 22nd, I told him not to buy a plane ticket and suggested he take a sleeper train instead. He was a bit reluctant and said he would think about it. However, in the afternoon of the 21st, while I was in a meeting, I heard a colleague mention the Eastern Airlines flight accident. When I saw that it was the Kunming to Guangzhou flight with a familiar flight number, I immediately called C. Fortunately, he listened to my suggestion and bought a train ticket.

When we finally met in Dongguan on the evening of the 22nd, we embraced each other and cried. I was grateful that I didn't let him buy a plane ticket, as he listened to me and didn't have to experience the pain of losing a loved one on top of everything else. He told me that he was really scared and just wanted to see me as soon as possible, to give me a big hug.

Since that plane crash, if we have a choice, we always avoid Eastern Airlines. The experience of not being able to attend the funeral has fundamentally changed my perspective on many things.

2. Finding What You're Not Good At#

"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom." One of the greatest challenges in life is finding what you're good at, but there is something even more difficult: finding what you're not good at.

Admitting one's shortcomings is not an easy task, as it requires great courage and self-reflection. However, this courage to face one's shortcomings and the ability to self-reflect are key to personal growth. When we can identify and accept our limitations, we are actually paving the way for self-improvement and learning new skills.

In this highly specialized era, it is impossible to be proficient in everything. In fact, it is not necessary. Looking at the developments in recent years, the labor market and work environment are rapidly adapting to high specialization and placing more emphasis on depth rather than breadth. When we find what we're not good at, we are actually determining where our strengths should be focused, so that we can concentrate on developing professional skills in those areas.

On the other hand, understanding our limitations does not mean giving up on those areas. Instead, it means that we can make wiser decisions on how to allocate our time and resources to our strengths and interests, and we can do so with purpose and efficiency.

My advice on this is:

  • Cultivate self-awareness: Self-awareness is not selfishness, but a deep understanding of our emotions, desires, thoughts, and actions. Through meditation, journaling, or even seeking psychological counseling, we can gradually peel away the layers of self-image and reveal our true selves.

  • Embrace failure: Failure and setbacks are important ways to understand what we're not good at. Each failure is a learning opportunity that can reveal our weaknesses and areas for improvement. It is important to have a growth mindset and see failure as a stepping stone to self-improvement, rather than a stumbling block.

  • Avoid comparison: When exploring our limitations, it is important to avoid falling into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and comparison only leads to unnecessary self-doubt.

  • Value feedback: Feedback from others is an essential part of the self-awareness process. It provides us with an external perspective on how we are perceived by others. This feedback can help us discover blind spots and guide us in making necessary adjustments.

  • Continuous learning: Life is a continuous process of learning and adaptation. Continuous learning not only helps us overcome our shortcomings, but also allows us to maintain a competitive edge in our areas of expertise.

3. Understanding the Essence of a Rapidly Changing Era#

We are currently living in a rapidly changing era, where big data, artificial intelligence, and Web3 have become hot trends, and progress driven by digital technology is accelerating. Humanity is experiencing what is known as the "VUCA era," a concept detailed in the book "Beyond VUCA."

"VUCA" stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. In the VUCA era, the complexity of problems is increasing, and new problems are constantly emerging. The approach of tackling problems alone or relying solely on experts is no longer applicable.

This era also marks a paradigm shift. We have witnessed numerous transformations: the transition from industrial economy to digital economy, the evolution from the industrial age to the VUCA era, the development of the virtual economy from the physical economy, and the shift from zero-sum games to infinite games with multiple winners.

A notable characteristic of the digital economy is the rise of knowledge. It is a process of transforming data into information, and then into knowledge, including cleaning, integrating, and re-connecting, to form a systematic knowledge network. Due to the intangible nature of knowledge, it can be endlessly used and is inherently suitable for sharing. In the process of exchange and interaction, knowledge not only does not diminish, but may also inspire new creativity. In the future, the collaboration between humans and machines will increasingly rely on knowledge sharing, communication, and collision among individuals, as well as interdisciplinary thinking and associative learning. Therefore, in the digital economy, knowledge workers become the most valuable resource, and organizations need to adopt new management models to integrate these knowledge workers.

Unlike the specialized division of labor in the industrial age, the VUCA era emphasizes cross-border collaboration. While the industrial age focuses on processes, efficiency, and execution, the VUCA era values creativity, the ability to identify core problems in chaos, and resilience. In the industrial age, there were definite answers, but in the VUCA era, the emphasis is on asking the right questions.

  • Reference: "Readers" Issue 2302 "Chessboard and Network"

4. Night Sailing Ship#

The following part of the webpage is provided with bilingual links by Immersive Translation. Due to technical limitations, a network proxy tool is required to open it.


  • The "Top 10 Popular Phrases of 2023" have been announced by the editorial department of "Yao Wen Jiao Zi". They are "New Productivity," "Bidirectional Travel," "Artificial Intelligence Big Model," "Village Super," "Special Forces-style Tourism," "Eye-catching Bag," "Partner," "Dopamine XX," "Emotional Value," and "Questioning XX, Understanding XX, Becoming XX."

  • What is the global economic outlook for 2024? Caixin analyzes: The global economic outlook for 2024 is uncertain, but it largely depends on when the Federal Reserve starts to loosen its monetary policy. The U.S. economy is expected to continue growing, but there are differing views. European economic growth is expected to be lower, the UK economy is expected to perform poorly, Japan is expected to achieve its inflation target and economic growth, and China's economic growth rate is expected to slow down. Global demand will be under pressure, and commodity prices may decline. Some economists are concerned about rising long-term interest rates in the U.S. and financial stability risks.

  • Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a successful media company that has turned its content into a source of revenue. Over the years, HBR has continuously evolved and adjusted its content and format to attract contemporary readers. It has become a decisive voice in the media industry, generating hundreds of millions in revenue. The success of HBR as a media company raises the question of whether Harvard Business School itself is a media business. The organization has built a strong business model by creating and distributing content to a large audience. Other companies, such as educational technology startups and crowdfunding platforms, may seek to emulate HBR's success in the future.

  • The proliferation of digital technology is changing the way we read and threatening our ability to engage in deep reading. Deep reading is a process of engaging in a dialogue with the author and discovering original insights. It cultivates our abstract thinking, creativity, and empathy. However, the widespread use of digital devices has led to problems such as lack of concentration, superficial thinking, and social isolation, gradually eroding our ability to engage in deep reading. This is a significant loss for both individuals and society.

  • An Existential Problem in the Search for Alien Life Scientists have been searching for extraterrestrial life, but still do not know the nature of life itself. The definition and theories of life have not been definitively answered. People can only remotely search for signs of extraterrestrial life through interpretation and inference, which makes the task more challenging. We only know life on Earth and have no knowledge of other possible forms of life in the universe. Scientists hope to find a unified theory of life, but currently there is not enough data to achieve this goal. Therefore, we need to maintain an open mindset, continue exploring, and accept the anomalies that challenge our preconceptions. Despite our limited understanding of life, we still need to search for extraterrestrial life to enhance our knowledge of the universe and Earth.

  • Place and None-Place Traditional cities function mainly because they are mostly made up of "places," where things happen, such as houses, offices, parks, museums, and restaurants. In contrast, "none-places" are areas in the city where nothing happens, such as parking lots, unused green spaces, and roads. When a city is mostly made up of places, there is "more existence," but when a city is mostly made up of none-places, there is "less existence," until eventually, there is "no existence." In today's cities, green spaces are a disruptive form of none-place, and when introduced into urban design, they often add more none-places in an attempt to address the problems caused by the original none-places.


  • A reading tool that completely changed the way I acquire knowledge: Readwise Reader (YouTube)

  • How to Make Learning as Addictive as Social Media (TED)

5. Living Elsewhere#

  • The first snowfall in Beijing this winter was heavy. In the middle of the night, C excitedly ran downstairs to play in the snow. He couldn't help but feel sorry for the children in Guangdong. This was the second time he had seen snow.

    Snow in Beijing

  • After getting off the plane yesterday, I felt the familiar warmth and humidity while walking on the jet bridge. It seems that Guangzhou has no respect for December in the northern hemisphere.

  • Since the teacher doesn't usually reside in Beijing, I always stay at the teacher's house whenever I return to Beijing. It saves me money on rent, but the cost of meals is still expensive. For example, a box lunch with one meat and one vegetable costs 14 yuan. In Guangzhou, on the other hand, four dishes with unlimited meat and vegetables and a bowl of soup also cost 14 yuan, and the dishes are fresher than those in Beijing.

  • This issue of the digital newspaper was written using Heptabase. It is a visual knowledge management tool that focuses on helping users learn, think, research, and plan better, in order to establish a deep understanding of the information and knowledge they consume.

  • If you would like to support me, please consider purchasing my paid column. Thank you.


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