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In many jobs, it’s easy to discern when progress is being made: “Look, now we have a door.” But in nerds’ bit-based work, progress is measured mentally and invisibly in code, algorithms, efficiency, and small mental victories that don’t exist in a world of atoms.
There are other ways your nerd can create The High, and he does it all the time.
That’s the nerd working on his project in his head.
You’re going to create a quiet, dark place here he can orient himself and figure out which way the water flushes down the toilet. Carve out three days somewhere quiet at the beginning of the trip. How about letting him chill on the bed for a half-day before you drag him out to see the Golden Gate Bridge? Food is thrown into the irrelevant bucket because it’s getting in the way of the content. Thing is, you want your nerd to eat healthily so that he’s here in another thirty years, so how do you change this behavior? For me, exercise became the project ten years ago after a horrible break-up.
Second, and more importantly, you need to remind him about his insatiable appetite for information. When the project was no longer the Ex, I dove into exercise every single day of the week. Significant nerd behavioral change is only going to happen if your nerd engages in the project heart and soul. My guess is that, collectively, your nerd interacts with ten times more people than you think he does.
Even though he’s apt to vanish for hours, has a strange sense of humor, doesn’t like you touching his stuff, and often doesn’t listen when you’re talking directly to him, he’s a keeper. My advice: Map the things he’s bad at to the things he loves.
You love to travel, but your nerd would prefer to hide in his cave for hours on end chasing The High. First, you need to convince him that you’re going to do your best to recreate his cave in his new surrounding.
Your nerd is used to making huge contextual leaps where he’s talking to a friend in one window, worrying about his 401k in another, and reading about World War II in yet another. For many topics, his knowledge is an inch deep and four miles wide. For any given piece of incoming information, your nerd is making a lightning fast assessment: relevant or not relevant?