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Issue #49

We All Get to Fail

John Loeppky

April 3, 2024

A cartoon image of a dumpster on fire. The dumpster is green with white lettering. The letters spell out 2020.
Very easy to replace 2020 with the Twitter or X logo/ Paigeell from Pixabay

Especially on Twitter

Don’t mind the late email/post, just playing around to see what difference a few hours make. Also, what are disabled lives if not chaotically scheduled?

I used to keep a working document that included a running list of my bad ideas. At some point, I binned it, but I can still remember a few of them, largely ones focused on really bad podcast or playlist-related pieces. If they had one redeemable quality it was that I never wrote them. I did not waste my precious spoons on a podcast about the failings of the most obscure of disability issues, I did not waste an entire hour of my own time writing about the perfect songs to cry about ableism to, I did not even write one article about Donald Trump.

But even the best laid plans go to waste, even if you’re a big personality when it comes to the productivity space. Who am I talking about? Tim Ferriss.

I really like Tim Ferriss’ content, but when he posted a tweet on April 1 (seems fitting in hindsight) reading, “A good question to revisit whenever overwhelmed: Are you having a breakdown or a breakthrough?” I may have metaphorically chucked my keyboard across the room. This was different from the time a couple of weeks ago when my puppy howled and I dumped an entire mug of coffee onto my keyboard. Thanks huskies and spasms.

When it comes to writing about cripping productivity it is really easy to overanalyze and over intellectualize everything. I think that’s why a lot of disability-focused conversations end up mired in some version of academia. They become so deep and involved that your rank and file disabled person has no idea what is being talked about. This is what I feel when I look at a post from Tim like that. Quite frankly, all I want to write is 500 words on LinkedIn about how…IT’S BOTH, TIM. Or, maybe it’s a breakdown and I should just be quiet. Or, maybe just maybe I had a breakthrough so jaw droppingly profound that I immediately died of embarrassment and overwhelm in a foul metaphorical concoction that even on my most neurotypical of days I could not wrangle  and… resorted to a breakdown.

This strikes me as the same genre of social media posting that gets views on LinkedIn, the type of post that earnestly gets responses with lines like, “Content runs the internet, it should really be called the contenternet” A post that I saw but did not save. Full credit to those capitalisting so hard that they believe this stuff will lead them further in their career.

And yet, as I say in this newsletter each week, part of cripping productivity is trying to look for even the smallest shred of value, even in Twitter posts that, if they were printed out, wouldn’t be worth the paper or the ink.

Let’s start with the idea of a breakthrough. What can a cripped productivity breakthrough look like? It’s tempting to think about it in terms of a new app, or an unlocked process, or a new work assignment that will solve your financial woes. I’m tempted to think about breakthroughs as things we can scale down and scale up. Struggled with that email for weeks telling your medical provider to shove it? Did you send it? You did! That’s a breakthrough. It’s like an optimistic Jasper from the Simpsons. If you don’t get that reference, here’s a link. Yes, I’m aware it’s an absurd reference.

If that’s out of the way, what is a cripped breakdown. I’m inclined to feel that the cripped productivity version of a breakdown has very little to do with the word productivity. It’s actually having a space to break down, in whatever way that means for you, in a space that allows you to feel as safe as you can and recover to your baseline as simply as you can. A breakdown could look like an autistic meltdown, it could look like the very rapid onset of unpredictable symptoms. For me, historically, it looks like a day, usually once a year, where I throw a pity party about the fact that I am, and will always be disabled.

Through that lens, Ferriss’ post doesn’t make all that much more sense, breakdowns and breakthroughs aren’t exactly binary experiences, but perhaps we can even find solace in knowing that, through the lens of cripped productivity, even absurd things can be unpacked.

Until tomorrow!


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I've decided to shift CRPL to a 5 times a week newsletter about productivity as I am fascinated by the topic, am in the early stage of writing a book about it, and want to have a place to think, and write, and create work about this vital area of thinking. Click below to join the daily newsletter and/or to help financially support this project.