the Five-Year project

Coming from a generation of folks (okay, the tail-end of that generation) who pored over the Whole Earth Catalog, every time Steward Brand‘s name comes up my interest is piqued. I’m always interested in hearing what that guy’s saying.

I found an interesting mention of him at today – by Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly, posted by Mark Frauenfelder.  Kelly’s talking about his life count-down clock, which is simply a web clock ticking off all his projected remaining days (8,500 days left to go) – but he says he was inspired by his friend Steward Brand:

“I am now 55 years old. Like a lot of people in middle age my late-night thoughts bend to contemplations about how short my remaining time is. Even with increasing longevity there is not enough time to do all that I want. Nowhere close. My friend Stewart Brand, who is now 69, has been arranging his life in blocks of 5 years. Five years is what he says any project worth doing will take. From moment of inception to the last good-riddance, a book, a campaign, a new job, a start-up will take 5 years to play through. So, he asks himself, how many 5 years do I have left? He can count them on one hand even if he is lucky. So this clarifies his choices. If he has less than 5 big things he can do, what will they be?”

What’s interesting is that my dad (sorry, he doesn’t have a website, but he should) has always said the exact same thing. He says it took him about five years to become a good tennis player, and then another five to master golf. He says that anything you want to do, you can do well in about five years with serious effort. The only category where five years hasn’t been enough has been the trumpet-playing.

Sorry, Dad, but it’s true.

Read the rest of the article here.

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