Of Direction and Discs

Of Direction and Discs

Well, this is the penultimate entry in this blog, so I thought I’d mix things up a bit. Instead of hearing about the latest sights and sounds I’ve taken in, I’m going to focus on one particular thing that I learned this week. If you enjoy this, dear reader, then good! If not, well, you’re only stuck with me for one more week, so hopefully we can bury that hatchet.


This week, I went to see J. Randy Forbes, one of the representatives of Virginia in the House, speak at the American Enterprise Institute as part of a one-on-one discussion on what an American strategy in the Asia-Pacific could and should look like. Such a topic may seem like it would only deliver extremely narrow and specific wisdom, but fear not, for something far more accessible than naval doctrine was gleaned from this conversation.


As a member of two committees, and the chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, Representative Forbes confided to the audience that he has to sit through a lot of hearings and presentations by a wide assortment of people. He listens politely, and then, after every speaker, he asks the same three questions. Number one: what is your strategy for this area? Number two: are we winning or losing there? And number three: what metrics are you using to measure whether we’re winning or losing?


These questions struck me as he described them, and I quickly wrote them down. On Friday, during a Washington Center talk about slavery, I got to ask them, and was very satisfied with how quickly those questions make the respondent sum up everything that they’re trying to say quickly and efficiently. Now while it certainly would be impressive enough to have discovered such useful questions for academic talks and conferences, I decided to take it one step further faithful reader. So what did I do?


I asked myself those questions, focusing on different areas of my life: long-term goals, short-term plans, and the like. And just like with the others who have been faced with those three inquiries, I found myself working to sum up what I was trying to achieve and how I was trying to achieve it. In situations where I found I had a strategy, I worked it down further to establish the ends I was aiming for, the means I possessed or needed to possess, and the tactics of how to turn the latter into the former. In situations where I had no strategy, well I worked to create one! Go ahead and try it out, I promise you that it can really help you put your priorities in order.


Ryan’s Recs

Alright, even though this whole entry was basically one big Ryan’s Recs, there’s still one more for you.



Get some exercise! I know, I sound like a gym teacher, but not only is physical exertion good for you, but it can be fun as well. This Sunday, I took a trip to the National Mall with some other TWCers. Every week there are a lot of sports leagues in the city that will take on players if they need them, and even if they don’t have room for you, you can still pitch a disc, toss a ball, and have a good time while meeting new folks.


Well, until next time, folks, remember, only love could pick a nested pair of steel Bramah locks.

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