#1658 Intellectual Persistence

It’s a Virtue. How’s Yours?

A couple +1s ago, we chatted about my interaction with Emerson in which I asked him what he thought I was thinking about when I plugged in his Oura ring charger.

I mentioned the fact that he spent a LONG time earnestly contemplating the question.

Frankly, it was almost a little uncomfortable for me to patiently sit there waiting for his response and I had to discipline myself not to interrupt his contemplation.

As I waited for his response, I admired his incredible capacity to STICK with a challenge until he got the answer he was looking for.

To put it in perspective…

As you know if you’ve been following along (and as we discuss in the opening chapters to Areté—check this and this and this and this and this out), Emerson is REALLY into chess.

His current ambition is to become a chess Grandmaster.

He has a fantastic coach we were blessed to find on ChessKid.com. (Love ya, Nick! 🤗)

Just the other day, I was making lunch while Emerson and Nick were doing a Zoom coaching session.

Nick is helping Emerson cultivate his ability to calculate x moves ahead by cultivating his ability to visualize the chess board WITHOUT seeing the actual pieces on the board.

Nick does that by sharing the chess notation for the location of the pieces then asking him to solve a puzzle/make the next best series of moves. As you may know, chess pieces and moves can be represented by noting what rank and file a certain piece is in.

I’ll spare you the details, but Nick shares the chess notations for where the pieces are on the board, then Emerson has to VISUALIZE those pieces on the board in their respective places then he has to solve the puzzle Nick has presented.

I got tears in my eyes typing that. Proud dad moment that he can do that.


I’m making my lunch.

Nick and Emerson are working on one of those visualization puzzles.

I’m not really paying attention to the details, but Nick says something to Emerson then everything is quiet.

I look over.

Emerson’s face is scrunched up and he’s looking up and around and clearly trying to set the pieces up on this virtual, visualized chess board in his head so he can solve the puzzle.

I go back to making my lunch.

A solid minute goes by.

Pure silence.

Now I’m captivated by the power of his contemplation.

I stop moving and almost stop breathing to create silence for him while I soak in his remarkable focus and fierce commitment to solving the challenge.

Another minute goes by.

And another.


He finally starts describing the series of moves he thinks he needs to make to solve the puzzle.

I’m awestruck.


I’m inspired to make sure *I* stick with *MY* challenges for AT LEAST as long.

That’s what my dear friend Tom Morris (in his GREAT new book Stoicism for Dummies!) tells us that Aristotle called “intellectual persistence.”


That’s Today’s +1.

How’s YOUR intellectual persistence?

If you feel so inspired…

Let’s move from theory to practice to mastery and flex your intellectual persistence muscles RIGHT NOW…

Step 1.

What’s YOUR #1 creative/life challenge?

Got it?


Step 2.

Turn off ALL distractions (external AND internal) and…

Go spend 5 minutes trying to solve it.

Day 1. All in.

Let’s go, Hero.

🧠 💪

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