The Impossible To-Do List, How School Kills Creativity, Bob Ross Paintings, and More

Bring Ambition Newsletter - April 8, 2021

Hi folks and welcome aboard new subscribers!

In the Bring Ambition Newsletter, I share 3-5+ things that are fascinating me lately in the world of professional and personal development, peak performance psychology, meta-learning, side hustles, and more. You'll receive unconventional resources, cool gadgets, practical advice, and other inspiring content.

As always, if you enjoy the newsletter please share with a friend!

1.) A master Generalist's impossible to do list:

"Robert Boyle's Impossible To-Do List." If you haven't read it yet, I published this article earlier in the week and it quickly became my most-read post yet (by far!).

Robert Boyle (1627-1691) is widely considered “the father of modern chemistry.” But counterintuitively, rather than being a narrow specialist who spent 100% of his time in a lab, hunched over beakers and mixing concoctions, he had a lists of interests as varied as it is long. This article explores Boyle's true Generalist nature, his fascinating and "impossible" to-do / wish list, and why it should matter to you in the 21st century.

Fun fact: A vast majority of the items on his "impossible" list have now been accomplished.

2.) Where can you buy a Bob Ross painting?

"Where Are All the Bob Ross Paintings? We Found Them." I've been watching quite a bit of Bob Ross' The Joy of Painting lately. Captivated by his perm, friendly demeanor, encouraging tone, and masterful craftsmanship, I found myself wondering, "How does one get their hands on a Bob Ross painting?"

Fortunately this NYT article answers this question plus many more, like "Is it true he never painted people?" and "What's up with that haircut?"

3.) How growing up kills creativity:

I came across the talk below from the late Sir Ken Robinson, an expert in creativity and creative education. It blew me away.

As I work with professionals looking to maximize their impact and reach the “next level,” I’m noticing a trend: as people claw their way up the corporate ladder, they become increasingly terrified of making mistakes, asking "stupid" questions, or stepping out of their comfort zone. Appearing vulnerable becomes more terrifying than failing to meet their potential. But according to Sir Ken, the key to creativity - and arguably, performance at large - is feeling the fear of being wrong and taking action anyway.


"If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original... By the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this — we stigmatize mistakes. And we're now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities."

4.) Quote of the week:

Here’s a quote from Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s pulled from a recently discovered note to himself, and should be more than familiar (and hopefully helpful) to any writer — pro and amateur alike:

“Writing isn’t so bad really when you get through the worry. Forget about the worry, just press on. Don’t be embarrassed about the bad bits. Don’t strain at them. … Writing can be good. You attack it, don’t let it attack you. You can get pleasure out of it. You can certainly do very well for yourself with it!” — Douglas Adams

5.) One for the music fans:

The Real Book.” Here’s the fascinating story behind the Real Book, an unofficial, illegal collection of Jazz standards that started circulating during the 1970s, and were sold on street corners like illicit drugs.


“If you were going to music school in the 1970s, you couldn’t just buy a copy of the Real Book at the campus bookstore. Because the Real Book… was illegal. The world’s most popular collection of Jazz music was a totally unlicensed publication... It was duplicated at photocopy shops and sold on street corners, out of the trunks of cars, and under the table at music stores where people used secret code words to make the exchange.”

I’d love to hear your feedback on this newsletter — What did you enjoy? What's the worst thing about it that needs to be fixed as soon as possible? Reply here, or you can reach me on Twitter or Instagram.

Have a great weekend!

Jon D'Alessandro

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