Finding Success In Strange Places & 2 Rules For Joy

As OpenAI’s dramas have been dominating headlines, an intriguing story slipped under the radar. A new study found that GPT-4 outperformed humans on not one, but three separate tests of imagination. Researchers found that the model is especially good at cooking up surprising and unexpected ideas—serving as a powerful sparring partner when brainstorming. But this edition of Action Digest is sure to prompt (pun intended) insight and action more than any AI bot can muster.

Here are the gems of insight we’ll be unearthing in this week’s fourth and furious edition:

  • ❤️ The morbid origin story of The Thesaurus reveals why love is a neglected guarantee of greatness.

  • 🎷 Psychologists, a 7-year old, and a world-famous writer come together to help us understand when it’s time to quit with confidence.

P.s., if you’re just joining the action as a new subscriber, here’s what to expect…

Success leaves clues. And the biggest clue of all is that the greatest artists, entrepreneurs, and athletes, etc, operate with a bias for taking action. And if you dig one layer deeper, you realize they rely on many of the same best practices to make bold ideas happen. That’s where this newsletter comes in. By bringing you…

  • Case studies of the world’s greatest innovators and creatives;

  • The latest scientific studies on creativity; and

  • Insights from some of the world’s most productive creative individuals and teams

…the patterns of success become ingrained. By keeping these hacks and insights top of mind, your creative fitness will stay in fighting shape. You can check out the first few editions here in case you missed them.

Alright, on with the show…

1. A labor of love always pays off, just not how you might expect.

I have seen many people end up in a bad place after pursuing an opportunity that was just a means to an end. But I have never seen someone pursue something that they truly, truly, love—despite the fear and the uncertainty and the ambiguity—and not end up in a good place. It’s just not always the place they expected to end up.

The life of British physician, Peter Roget, was punctuated with misery. As a boy, his mother’s dark depressive episodes made for a troubled upbringing. Later in life, he struggled to help his sister and daughter cope with their own mental health disorders. His wife died young and his uncle committed suicide in Peter’s arms.

To cope with the tragedy that shadowed him, Peter turned to an unusual labor of love: writing lists. Peter would start by writing down a word on some paper. Then he would list as many other words he could think of that shared a similar meaning.

As Peter’s collection of synonyms grew, he had no expectations for them. They simply satisfied his passion for linguistics and served as a therapeutic exercise. But then, after a lifetime of list writing, something strange happened. Peter’s work caught the attention of a publisher who saw the value of what he’d created.

And so in 1852, at the age of 73, Peter’s lists were published as Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases—the world’s first thesaurus. The book was an unexpected hit and Peter’s version alone has since sold over 32 million copies worldwide.

A labor of love always pays off, just not always how you’d expect.

2. If you don’t do it for...

🔐 This insight, which reveals the best way to know if you’re on the right path according to a world-famous writer and modern psychology is for premium subscribers. Yep, for the price of one fancy coffee per month our research team will agonize over the lessons learned from world class creative leaders and teams who make ideas happen, and send their tightly summarized conclusions directly to your inbox on a weekly basis. What a proposition, huh?! ☕️ Join us and help make this weekly action catalyst for creative minds a sustainable project.  

💥 Upgrade to unlock full access to this and every Action Digest each week.

ACTION PRODUCTS - Our Evergreen Sponsor

The Action Method was designed almost 15 years ago to help the most productive and creative teams in the world put the above principles into practice—enabling them to think and work with a bias towards action.

The Action Method is a 3-part system with each page containing a zone for your preparation notes (prepare), a zone for you to jot down thoughts and ideas (explore), and a zone for you to convert ideas into action steps (execute).

It's like having a personal trainer for your productivity, ensuring you're always exercising your brainstorming and execution muscles with excellent form.

Over the years, iconic leaders across design, entertainment, and business became loyal users. Now, after a short hiatus, the original founders have assumed responsibility and updated the products.

Check out the new and improved Action Method family.

It’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen.


If you want to stay sharp and immerse yourself in the discipline of taking action and making ideas happen on a weekly basis (and unlock the third section of today’s digest - the test used by psychologists to determine whether you’re on the right path), join us for the price of one fancy coffee. ☕️

Upcoming insights and hacks for subscribers:

  • How does Taylor Sheridan produce 10 different TV series at the same time? We’ll learn a high-stakes technique to achieve prolific creative output used by the writer of the hit drama Yellowstone.

  • Why are strongly divided reactions the first sign of a brilliant idea? A counter explosives expert teaches us why our greatest ideas die and how to save them.

  • Why do the best ideas often fail? The controversial story of DNA’s discovery reveals some essential ingredients for innovation.

  • So much more… Making ideas happen is a form of fitness, and we are your trainer. ;-)

We’ll leave you with this…

“The mind can calculate, but the spirit yearns, and the heart knows what the heart knows.” 

Stephen King

Thanks for subscribing, and sharing anything you’ve learned with your teams and networks (let us know what you think and share ideas: @ActionDigest).

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