Stone Soup

Stone Soup

The three soldiers returning home from war were hungry. When they saw the village ahead their spirits lifted—they were sure the villagers would give them a meal. But when they got there, they found the doors locked and the windows closed. After many years of war, the villagers were short of food, and hoarded what they had.


Undeterred, the soldiers boiled a pot of water and carefully placed three stones into it. The amazed villagers came out to watch.

“This is stone soup,” the soldiers explained. “Is that all you put in it?” asked the villagers. “Absolutely—although some say it tastes even better with a few carrots…” A villager ran off, returning in no time with a basket of carrots from his hoard.

A couple of minutes later, the villagers again asked “Is that it?”

“Well,” said the soldiers, “a couple of potatoes give it body.” Off ran another villager.

Over the next hour, the soldiers listed more ingredients that would enhance the soup: beef, leeks, salt, and herbs. Each time a different villager would run off to raid their personal stores.

Eventually they had produced a large pot of steaming soup. The soldiers removed the stones, and they sat down with the entire village to enjoy the first square meal any of them had eaten in months.

Stone soup最直观的方式当然是用于如何获取外部人士的resource。你不能一来就狮子大开口,要这要那。你得像stone soup中的solder们学习,耐心地一点一点地加东西,加完这点东西后又耐心地向其他人展示下一步可见的结果和并不遥远的未来,而不是急匆匆地一次性将所有的东西都加完。

且不说获取外部人士的支持,即便是获取你自己的支持也需要依靠stone soup的方式。就拿打扫卫生或者收拾行李来说,一般来讲都会迟迟拖延迈不开步子。等到实在是推不过去了,就开始强忍内心的不耐烦,开始一点一点地收拾。

但当你真的开始收拾、开始打扫,并承诺自己只做一部分的清扫工作时,你会发现,当自己已经把A地收拾了,那不如也将B地收拾了。毕竟A地瞬间干净明亮了许多。等到A、B都收拾完后,你会发现自己可能更加愿意继续把屋子里的剩余部分给收拾了。因为你在这个过程中,能够看到on going success。这样的微小正反馈,能够给你带来无穷无尽的动力。

又或者是对代码的重构。如果一开始让你重构整个项目,你可能基本上寸步难行。面对那么多的亟待改进的工作、无数不可预料的风险,你的整个身体就会像被巨大的石头锁住,动弹不得。但是,如果只是让从重构某个函数开始,你或许就轻松多了。当你把手头整个函数重构得整整齐齐后,其里面调用的关联函数你或许也跃跃欲试地想要改进一把。而关联函数又会有更多的关联函数,它们又会驱动你做进一步范围广博的重构。最后,你会逐步将整个项目重构完毕。

而这样的方式,也就是stone soup的方式。不要在一开始为其他人、为自己增加太多的心理负担,就做那么一点点的事情就好。等到真的完成了、能够看见on going success之后,就能够更为顺利地提出后续的改进方案,也能够更容易推进后续的工作开展。


近期回顾

激进的下注,无意义的收益
《天道》Notes
没有一劳永逸的决策,没有一成不变的先机


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