The Small Steps of Giant Leaps: Building an Antilibrary


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 18, 2023

3 min read


The Small Steps of Giant Leaps: Building an Antilibrary

Strong positions and a vast wealth of knowledge are not accidents or strokes of luck. They are the result of the small choices we make consistently over time. Just as compound interest can grow your financial wealth, compound daily habits can shape your success in life. It's the small, seemingly insignificant choices that we make every day that ultimately determine our trajectory.

Often, we know what the obvious choice is—the one that positions us for future success—but we choose not to act on it. We may think that not doing the obvious thing won't hurt us right away, but in reality, it's these small choices that compound over time that truly make a difference. Consistency is key. Intensity may carry us in the short term, but if we want compounding results, we need to be consistent in our efforts.

Excelling at the small choices that compound over time perpetually puts us in favorable circumstances. No matter what challenges arise in the world, we are never forced into making bad decisions because we have consistently made the right choices. When we look below the surface, we realize that giant leaps aren't really giant leaps at all. They are a series of ordinary choices that suddenly become noticeable when they accumulate.

Similarly, the concept of an antilibrary—a collection of unread books—teaches us the power of the unknown. Tsundoku, a beautiful Japanese word, describes the habit of acquiring books but letting them pile up without reading them. But these unread books hold immense value if we choose to consider them in the right light. In fact, unread books can be as powerful as the ones we have read.

The idea of an antilibrary was first introduced by Lebanese-American scholar and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He describes the unique relationship Italian writer Umberto Eco had with books, stating that read books are far less valuable than unread ones. An antilibrary is not about displaying books we have read to show off our knowledge; it is about curating a personal collection of resources around the themes we are curious about.

An antilibrary is an ode to everything we want to explore. It is a reminder of everything we don't know. Whether it's a small collection or a vast library, being surrounded by books we haven't read yet is a humbling experience. It reminds us that there is always more to learn and discover. It encourages us to embrace our ignorance and approach knowledge with humility.

To build an antilibrary, we can make notes of all relevant references, ask fellow readers for recommendations, and allow for serendipity in our choices. We should not expect the proportion of unread books to decrease because the goal is not to read every book but to have a vast collection of knowledge at our disposal. By improving our relationship with knowledge and embracing the unknown, we can develop a more nuanced thinking that is essential in today's world.

In conclusion, the small steps we take and the choices we make daily have the power to shape our lives and position us for success. By being consistent in our efforts and excelling at the small choices that compound over time, we can perpetually find ourselves in favorable circumstances. Additionally, building an antilibrary—a collection of unread books—can remind us of the vastness of knowledge and the beauty of the unknown. Embracing our ignorance and approaching knowledge with humility allows us to develop a more nuanced understanding of the world. So, let us take these three actionable pieces of advice: be consistent in your choices, curate an antilibrary, and embrace the unknown. In doing so, we can pave the way for our own giant leaps.

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