I have been trying to grow high end ridiculously expensive hei bi (Cantonese for shrimps) for almost a year now. These shrimps that are no larger than 0.7cm cost $3 to $15 per piece. On random weekends that I manage to bullshit myself that the water conditions are perfect, I will toss away an average of $50; for a bag of tiny (and colorful) shrimps. Only to have them stiffen up and rot away within the week.

I cared, a lot

Boy, oh, boy. I cared a lot. I changed the water religiously every weekend. I researched hard for the best lights that will make the reds on the shrimp redder, the whites on its body whiter. When they kept dying, I wanted to eradicate all possibilities of toxins in the water; be it chlorine or copper in tap water. So I bought a 3-stage water purifier after plenty of research.

This is what hobbies make you do -- to spend a lot of money and time as one dives deeper into the rabbit hole.

Anyways, they kept dying.

I gave up

I am quite a persistent guy. When I have my goals set on something, I usually get my way. Ask my wife or my mom, and they will vouch for this trait of mine.

I started doing just enough maintenance work. I topped up the tank with pure water as the water level dropped due to evaporation. I pulled algae out when it started being an eyesore. And even that, I started doing it a lot less.

And I bought fish because I was "done" with shrimps. Fishes are a huge no-no for shrimps because they eat up baby shrimps.

Then, they thrived

Gorgeous shrimp hiding amongst the hayball of algae that grew due to neglect

Just when I cared less, what few shrimps that survived began to thrive. They grew bigger. They stopped dying. They thrived. By letting go and doing less, I suspect I let the water conditions stabilize. Shrimps are notoriously picky about the water condition. And while they need clean water, what they need more is a stable environment.

A stable environment

I have been trying to replicate stability at work by micro-managing less; by giving my marbles to another teammate to handle. I find that I do not need to adopt a binary approach between product obsession and totally not giving a fuck. Instead, what I can do is to establish a stable environment for the people that work with me to thrive towards towards a common mission.

The end.