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The Wile E. Coyote Principle: Stop doing things the hard way

McKinley Valentine — 2 min read
It's not cheating to use the skills that make it easier for you
Wile E. Coyote using methods that don't come naturally to him

You’re a coyote, use your dang teeth, stop trying to do things the hard way.

So the point about Wile E. Coyote is he has some pretty good tools for catching prey, namely: teeth, claws etc, and teaming up with badgers (this is true, coyotes are better at chasing and badgers better at digging so they often hunt together).

But he doesn’t do any of that, instead he tries all these elaborate ruses that he’s terrible at, that he’s totally unsuited to, and he never gets to eat.

There’s a very strong and logical idea that you should work on your weakest points, but I’ve been editing a bunch of business / thought leadership type articles for a finance firm, and they’re really pushing the idea that you should put all your resources into your strengths (what they would call your ‘distinctive capabilities’) and only improve your weaknesses to the bare minimum needed to get by.

Like, if you have poor organisation skills, don’t bother going to some three-day project management seminar, just make sure you’re meeting deadlines and showing up on time and call it good. Spend those three days on the skills that distinguish you.

This is actually a very classic ADHD thing – we tend to find some things much easier than neurotypicals, and some things much harder. And we think the stuff we find easy doesn't count as work, because it was easy.

It made me think of one of Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules for Writing:

Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth doing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.

Or how much better it feels, on the days you can manage it, not to wear clothes that disguise or balance or distract from your supposed body flaws, but to wear clothes that your fit your actual body, as it is, and make it look like the real body you have.

This piece was originally published in my newsletter, The Whippet. Subscribe to get the next issue in your inbox!

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