Notes From My “Commonplace Book”

A few days ago I read an article by Ryan Holiday titled How And Why To Keep A “Commonplace Book”. He’s a talented fellow, and it’s a good read.

Ryan discusses the value of keeping a log or journal of useful thoughts, tips, lessons, and advice that you discover through the course of, well… living your life. I’ve been doing the same thing for many years now, and decided that I would share a few of my own notes with you.

The Book of Chad

Instead of trying to explain each of these, I’m just going to throw them out here and let you take what you will from them. I think most of these are pretty self explanatory anyway, but you can always ask me questions in the comments.

  • Get good fast by learning from masters
  • Do as little as need, not as much as possible
  • Key to stopping bad habits, ie: nailing biting = disgust, embarrassment
  • Always feel better after getting exercise, even just a walk
  • When starting a business relationship, always set clear expectations early on
  • When asking for something, consider WIFT – What’s in it for them
  • Asymmetrical risks are great, ie: barbell scenario, ie: little risk, high reward
  • Never pay the fools price, ie: full price
  • Never ask a doctor what I should do, but instead what he/she would do
  • Sucker try to win arguments, non-suckers try to win
  • Everything gains or loses from volatility
  • Once you’ve got a task to do, it’s better to do it than to live with the fear of it
  • Never let people rush you
  • Never argue. Instead, use actions to persuade
  • The future always wins
  • People are pointless and random
  • Money follows mastery

If you noticed a bit of Nassim Taleb influence in there, congratulations! You’ve probably got good taste in books. For the rest of you, please do yourself a favor and read The Black Swan and Anti-Fragile. You’ll thank me later.

More importantly, though, if you aren’t keeping your own “Commonplace book”, then I think – and I say this as a friend – that you should start. The notes I’ve shared with you are very general, but I have notes on all sorts of different aspects of my life, from socializing to rock climbing, and I often go back to them. They’re a valuable resource.

(Photo by Tim Regan)



Life Advice

Photo of author


Chad is the co-founder of Unfinished Man, a leading men's lifestyle site. He provides straightforward advice on fashion, tech, and relationships based on his own experiences and product tests. Chad's relaxed flair makes him the site's accessible expert for savvy young professionals seeking trustworthy recommendations on living well.

Leave a Comment