Self Help

Everything I Know - Jarvis, Paul

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Matheus Puppe

· 13 min read

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Here is a summary of the key points from “Everything I Know” by Paul Jarvis:

  • The book aims to illustrate the potential inside the reader to do something unique and innovative through their work, just as the author works to create new things and share them despite feeling fear.

  • Jarvis feels afraid of being arrested by imaginary “Creative Police” who would show he doesn’t actually know anything and his work is worthless. However, he continues creating and experimenting.

  • The foreword writer, Justine Musk, initially felt “website shame” until working with Jarvis, who helped her develop a stronger visual sense of identity online that informed her writing and increased her visibility.

  • Jarvis is in the business of creativity, self-discovery, and helping others find their voice through questioning and providing advice/tools rather than formulas. His goal is empowering clients to see themselves as heroes.

  • Despite fear, Jarvis continues making his own path through constant experimentation and pushing boundaries to find meaning in his work. He shares creations despite nerves to see how innovative he can be.

  • The book does not claim to provide guarantees for success but rather encourages the reader to draw on their inner strengths and originality over copying blueprints.

  • The passage encourages the reader to choose their own path and create their work in a unique way, rather than copying others or following conventional models. It says the biggest rewards go to innovators, not copycats.

  • It emphasizes following your internal values rather than measuring worth based on external factors like grades, salaries, or what clients/bosses think. Living according to your values allows you to determine your own worth.

  • While there may be benefits to learning from leaders, exactly replicating what others have done leads to forgettable, undifferentiated work that doesn’t stand out. To find success, you need to go off the beaten path and try new approaches.

  • No single business model guarantees success. The optimal path is different for everyone, so the reader is encouraged to do things their own way and experiment freely without fear of failure. If something doesn’t work, they can always change course.

  • The overall message is to choose your own adventure by crafting work aligned with your inner values and unique voice, rather than copying others or following conventional industry models. Forge your own path through experimentation.

  • The passage discusses choosing a career path that aligns with one’s values rather than focusing on money or worth. It says work should have meaning beyond just earning more.

  • It talks about figuring out which values will determine your sense of worth or satisfaction in your work. Once you know your values, it’s easier to choose work that enhances rather than decreases feelings of worth.

  • Doing work that helps others, even if only a few, can be worthwhile and meaningful. The impact is more important than the scale or commercial success.

  • Your worth as a person isn’t determined by how much money you make. Internal sources like doing valuable work should determine worth, not external factors like income.

  • Money alone won’t translate to fulfillment - the work also needs to inspire others enough that they support it financially. But passion requires honing your skills to truly serve others’ needs.

So in summary, it’s about finding purpose-driven work aligned with your values over superficial measures of worth, and continually improving your skills to create value for others.

  • Caren stood out as a yoga teacher by being open about her struggles with depression and teaching yoga poses with her dog. Her willingness to show her humanity made her relatable.

  • True leaders are appealing because they stay true to who they are and what they value. Their uniqueness is magnetic. It’s better to differentiate yourself by being your authentic self rather than trying to emulate others.

  • The author believes in being genuine and letting their personality shine through, even if that means occasionally swearing. Pretending to be something you’re not feels disingenuous. Their blunt speaking style has not negatively impacted their successful career.

  • For the author, traditional schooling did not suit their learning style of preferring hands-on experience over being told what to do. They were able to build business skills through working for others before starting their own company.

  • Having a financial goal like making $1 million per year did not align with the author’s values and led them to take on projects they did not find meaningful. True success comes from following paths that reflect one’s values rather than chasing arbitrary benchmarks.

  • The author realized designing websites just for money wasn’t fulfilling. Focusing on work they love and are passionate about leads to greater success and happiness.

  • Money itself isn’t bad, but it can enable both good and bad depending on one’s focus. It allows measuring how much others value your work.

  • The author treats their work as a job, not a hobby, to be financially sustainable. They strive to reach an “enough” point where basic needs are met and they have freedom to pursue other interests.

  • Rather than goals, the author is guided by values like helping others and taking on challenges. Values provide more flexibility than rigid goals.

  • Taking breaks from work provides perspective and allows the author to reexamine their approach with fresh eyes. This led to improvements serving both them and their clients better.

  • Constantly innovating and challenging oneself prevents stagnation. Sometimes this means temporarily stopping regular work patterns.

The overall summary is the author advocates focusing on work you’re passionate about, using money as a tool rather than an end goal, being guided by core values over rigid targets, and taking breaks to facilitate growth and improvements through new perspectives.

The passage discusses overcoming common obstacles that prevent people from starting on meaningful or creative projects. It advocates focusing on taking the initial steps now rather than worrying about future uncertainties.

Some of the key excuses addressed include not having time, money or an audience. However, the passage argues that small initial steps are possible even while working full-time. It suggests prioritizing creative work over leisure activities to make time. Money issues can be circumvented by scaling ideas down or offering help to others for free as a starting point.

Creativity often requires sacrifice, whether that’s spending rent money on a project or cutting other activities out of one’s schedule. Side projects should be treated as experiments that can grow organically over time rather than expecting full-scale immediate results. The overall message is to stop making excuses and take the first step now towards one’s goals and dreams.

The author was at a small coffee shop in a small town. They noticed some wooden puzzle boxes for sale where you have to fit puzzle pieces together so they fit back in the original box. They started working on one of the puzzles and tried fitting different pieces together until they almost had it fitting back in the box, but were missing a few pieces. Even after multiple attempts, it didn’t quite fit until they kept experimenting with different combinations.

The author notes that if they had only tried once or a few times, they would have failed. But by keeping at it and not giving up, even when it wasn’t working at first, they eventually succeeded in getting all the pieces to fit back in the box. They draw a parallel that pushing through failure and trying multiple times is what leads to success, whether with a puzzle or other endeavors. Fear of failing can prevent attempts, but not trying at all guarantees failure. Keep experimenting and don’t be afraid to fail in order to eventually succeed.

  • Pushing against fears and moving towards them, even if uncomfortable, allows you to discover your true limits which are often further than you think. Experimenting with fear is how we grow.

  • Almost everything that was once feared has turned into something that can’t be believed was ever scary once it was tried. Taking action is the only way past fear.

  • Failure is an inevitable part of achievement and success often requires substantial risk and fear. Great work commonly involves a lot of fear but proceeding anyway.

  • Worrying about missing out consumes the actual present life you could be living. Checking social media to not miss things means only partially participating in anything. It’s better to be fully present than risk missing peripheral information.

  • Perfection is a myth and prevents discovery of weaknesses and growth. True innovators like Edison and Einstein didn’t succeed until experimenting and failing many times. Failure is prerequisite for success.

  • Practice doesn’t make perfect but makes one closer to the next step. Striving for perfection prevents work from being launched when it’s “good enough.”

  • Judgments from others are inevitable but what really matters is staying aligned with one’s own values and helping intended audiences through meaningful work.

  • Overcoming fears involves showing up to them through small acts of bravery added over time, even when uncomfortable. This is how true voice and alignment are found.

As a designer, the individual works on many different projects, some they are not proud of. However, with experience, their work improves and they reach a point where they are comfortable sharing it. Working consistently, even on days they don’t feel inspired, allows them to produce their best work. Creating regularly increases the chances of success, as their best designs might not exist otherwise.

They tackle each project by breaking it into small, manageable tasks. This makes large creative jobs feel less daunting and easier to accomplish, even without constant inspiration. Starting with basic elements like font or color selection helps build momentum to complete a whole design piece.

Constructive criticism strengthens work by testing its value and merit. As a designer working with clients, not every idea will be well-received. Getting defensive or upset over rejected designs prevents focus. Feedback instead shows room for improvement. While hard work getting discarded can be disappointing, dwelling on it helps no one.

Inner criticism is unhelpful and should be ignored. Creating for oneself without sharing deprives others. Vulnerability, or exposing oneself through work, requires courage but drives new opportunities. Labeling or expecting results adds unneeded pressure. Focusing on the present process and intrinsic values ensures work aligns with one’s purpose. Experimenting proves or disproves ideas without failure. Persistence through iterations leads to success.

Here are a few key ideas about art, craft and passion from the summary:

  • Doing your own unique work and innovating rather than following others is important for creativity. You need to take risks and try new things.

  • It’s not enough to just be passionate about something - you also need skill in your craft and the ability to create something people genuinely want to buy. Passion alone doesn’t make a viable business.

  • Find the intersection of something you’re passionate about and skilled at that helps others. Focus on continually improving your craft over time through diligent practice and learning.

  • Generate many ideas and routinely develop them to increase your chances of finding that sweet spot where you care deeply about the work and are highly competent in it.

  • Passion can be about the process, people or larger purpose rather than just the work itself. Regularly examining your motivations is important to sustain passion long-term.

The key is combining passion with real skill development and making something of value to others, not just yourself. Ideas need to be validated through refinement, testing and proving demand in the market.

  • Focus on finding the intersection between your interests/skills and what your target audience values and is willing to pay for. Your craft or passion alone may not be enough if the audience doesn’t see value.

  • Draw a line based on your core values to identify your target audience/tribe. Not everyone needs to like what you do.

  • Connect individually with your “small army” of supporters who genuinely appreciate your work. These people will promote and advocate for you.

  • Consider using “rallying points” - clear expressions of your values and mission - to attract the right audience and repel those who don’t align. This could be done through writing, videos, branding or your general communication style. The goal is to unambiguously identify your supporters.

  • Standing by your principles and communicating them openly is more important for success than trying to please everyone or just focusing on sales. Having strong rallying points helps build true connections and identify your most committed fans.

  • When you raise an idea or project up, it will draw people toward it who are interested in or aligned with that idea. Raising something up increases its visibility and appeal.

  • It’s important to follow through and fully develop your ideas, not just start them and then fizzle out. Saying no to other projects and commitments can help you stay focused on actually finishing what you start.

  • Small, incremental steps make projects feel more manageable vs huge tasks. Rewards along the way also help motivation.

  • Reflecting on your original intentions can refocus you if excitement starts to fade. But it’s ok to iterate or adapt if something isn’t working as expected.

  • Our time and focus are limited resources, so it’s important to choose what we say yes to carefully. Saying no clears space for higher priority work.

  • Don’t worry too much about expertise - keep learning and improving, value your own experience, and let your work speak for itself over labels or degrees.

  • In the Internet age, there are fewer gatekeepers controlling who can share their work. Focus on creating and iteratively improving, rather than constant promotion.

  • The creative process is often messy and ugly, involving many bad or failed ideas before arriving at something good. Finished creative works make the process seem easy, but it typically requires much hard work, iteration and editing.

  • It is important for artists to start by copying others as a learning process, but they should then use those influences to tell their own unique story and develop their personal creative voice/style. Mimicking others’ work without adding your own perspective is counterproductive.

  • The first drafts of creative works are usually bad, as the focus is on getting all ideas down without editing. It is better to create badly at first in order to then iterate and refine the work.

  • Comparing one’s creative process or works to others is usually unfair and unhelpful, as we don’t see others’ full efforts behind the scenes. The focus should be on one’s own journey and values.

  • Finding inspiration and truly engaging in the creative process results in work the creator does not totally dislike. However, accessing that “genius mode” is difficult and fleeting. Enjoying the process itself, without concerning over failures or criticisms, allows one to be more present and in their true creative voice.

The passage discusses the struggle of starting creative work like writing or making music. It describes how in the moment before beginning, all the negative thoughts and doubts reach their peak. This is the most fearful moment, when you stare at a blank page or pick up an instrument.

It says the key is to push through that moment of fear and start working anyway. Nothing is guaranteed, but your odds of creating good work increase with more practice and effort over time. If you give in to distractions like checking social media instead of working, you miss the chance for inspiration.

The author argues that repeatedly facing that moment of fear through daily practice can help diminish it. Fears get tired of being ignored. By devoting attention to your work, you make less space for neuroses and doubts. True genius may be trying to reach you in that moment, so you need to be listening and ready to work, not distracted by other things.

In summary, it discusses the psychological challenge of starting creative projects and argues the importance of facing fears, practicing daily, and giving your full attention to your work to break through barriers and allow your best ideas to emerge.

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About Matheus Puppe