Feross: What was your biggest insight from Peru?
Jacob: Don’t let the energy escape.
Feross: What does that mean?
Jacob: It means things on multiple levels. On a very physical level it means, when practicing qigong / tai chi, don’t let the subjectively perceived feeling of energy flowing out of your fingertips, your mouth, your eyes, escape, but instead catch it in the fingers of your opposing hand, or by putting the tongue tip at the roof of the mouth, or by closing your eyelids. Where the attention goes energy flows. Be careful about where you’re putting your attention.
It also means don’t let your energy or the world’s energy escape in your day and life. By energy I mean the same thing as when I say “I have a lot of energy today”. It is your finite capacity to do things in the world. “Don’t let the energy escape” means stewarding your energy by being very conscious of what you put it into, being cognizant of the downstream consequences of what you’re going to do and making wise decisions accordingly. Acting on this psychological energy requires physical energy in your muscles and/or other stores present in the external world. You can’t let it escape either.
Feross: So does this mean mean we should destroy the ozone layer and foment global warming so that we don’t let the energy escape from Earth?
Jacob: Well when you put it that way…
Feross: But seriously, is what you’re saying that we should plan more and act less? Because I’m actually trying to do the opposite in my life. I get the same social gratification from discussing an idea with my friends as I do implementing it, so talking saps my motivation to actually do it. By contrast, if I just do it, then it gets users and takes on a life of its own and doesn’t require active motivation for me to sustain it. Also, there many ideas that are time sensitive, like a hack about a current event or a project implementing something mentioned in a hot post on reddit, and if I write them down and implement them two days or a year later, they won’t be relevant anymore or noticed by as many people.
Jacob: I don’t think that’s doing justice to the concept of not letting the energy escape. Not jumping on an opportunity that is time sensitive is letting the energy escape, the energy and attention of the redditors whose comment thread you’re posting on, the energy of the world.
Feross: Ah, I see. So similarly, keeping momentum going in various contexts is not letting the energy escape — this could be physically, like keeping a train moving, or subjectively, like keeping people’s enthusiasm for a project alive.
Jacob: Yes, it’s like spinning poi balls, or fire spinning — you know those flaming or non-flaming balls on ends of ropes people spin at places like Burning Man? The trick with those is to never let them stop, to never lose momentum. It’s just the same with running a startup.
Feross: “If you stop, you get burned.”
Jacob: lol you’re really good at those. My favorite is still when I told you about Grubhub and you asked if it lets you “fork” things, though.
Feross: I guess, then, what I was about to go do is about not letting the energy escape. I was planning to go merge the 36 pull requests I currently have outstanding on my open source projects on Github, some as recent as yesterday. I feel like merging pull requests quickly is one of the best things you can do to keep the momentum going on a project: it keeps people who are enthusiastic contributors engaged and lets people know that a project isn’t a dead and not being maintained.
#idea way to figure out what projects are dead on Github vs those that are alive
Jacob: Go merge those requests so the energy doesn’t escape!
::Jacob writes down conversation::
Jacob: Mind if I post our conversation about not letting the energy escape to my blog? I just wrote it down.
Jacob: I’m glad. I wouldn’t want to let its energy escape, to have it be forgotten and its potential to help energy in people’s lives not escape be wasted.
?<> CJ’s blog post:”you have so much energy” (search for quote on page)