The Art of Fighting the Good Fight

The art of fighting the good fight.

As of this writing, this video has been seen 20,738,716 times. How many of these viewers do you think actually took his advice? How many are really “doing it” & taking on the world? Maybe 1%? We often find reasons that stop us, various roadblocks keeping us stationary. What we believe someone thinks, what we believe about ourselves or even the idea that this magical moment in the future will come and we’ll be ready then. This moment isn’t coming…

A “writer” wrote into Polly at the New York Mag asking Should I Just Give Up On My Writing?

The whole idea of “breaking through” is such a crock of shit. If you do nothing else, build a religion around this one fact. Beyond the ability to feed yourself, it doesn’t fucking matter if a million people love you or five people do. It doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 75. You cannot pollute your life with this fixation. You can feel relevant, you can imagine that you somehow matter in the larger scheme of things, you can commit to being a force in the world, without hitting some arbitrary high score or crossing some imaginary threshold of popularity…. You can’t try to “reach” some imagined mob of dipshits, molding your work to match their dipshitty tastes. Be a lovely odd duck instead, one who hardly notices if people are booing or cheering.

Offhanded Comments

We judge ourselves by our intentions, and others by their actions.

How many times have you heard a comment and thought what was she thinking?

Instead of getting insulted or hurt, ask instead what did she intend to say? What did she mean by those remarks?

If you take a step back, you’ll find they’re often not said with malice.

A compliment with poor delivery, a freudian slip, an immature or unnecessary offhanded remark. They’re all one in the same.

Suspending judgment empowers you to respond appropriately.

Don’t Break The Chain

Almost every time I sit down to start my daily blog post, the beginning is burdensome. All the doubts flood in. All the thoughts about how I am wasting my time fill my head. The longer I sit idly, the worse it gets. Nevertheless, I am doing it. I’m spilling out all the creative energy, all my passions and beliefs for the world to see. When I started, I only told one friend and made him a promise I’d do two weeks straight. A week in, I told another friend I’m shooting for a year—the full 365. Finally, I am now publicly announcing that I’m following the great Seth Godin and I’m going to write every day. Every single day, no questions asked.

I’m not doing it because I know it’ll be easier as I go (I started this post about how hard it is to come up with topics). In fact, I think it’ll probably be harder. But, I have one trick in the arsenal that I know will help. It is keeping the chain going. It is a concept that Jerry Seinfeld uses for his craft, publicized by Brad Isaac:

One night I was in the club where Seinfeld was working, and before he went on stage, I saw my chance. I had to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. What he told me was something that would benefit me a lifetime…

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.

The simplest part in keeping the chain isn’t the actual act of writing, it is knowing you’ve accomplished the task you’re looking to accomplish. It is knowing you have not compromised on something that has all the momentum you’ve already put in and because skipping one day only makes it easier to skip the next. Finally, once you’ve committed to a daily practice you can focus on the work and not analyze whether you should or shouldn’t be doing it.

If you can make a decision once, then the question isn’t should I do it? It’s what will I do? If you make the decision once to be a vegan, then you don’t need to have a discussion with yourself every single night about whether or not to have a hamburger. If you make the decision to blog every single day, then the only discussion I have to have with myself is what’s the best blog post I can write — not should I write a post. — Seth Godin

To Live & Die On Mars

mars1  To Live & Die On Mars Mars1

It is weird to think that there is an actual possibility that people alive today will be living on Mars in the near future. What seemed like science fiction a few generations ago is now a possibility. In fact, Elon Musk believes a million humans could live on mars by the 2060s. Sign me up!

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. ― André Gide

Science fiction and reality are catching up to one another.

damonmartian  To Live & Die On Mars DamonMartian

Work for the Sake of Work

We often find ourselves obsessed with ‘the hustle’ or ‘the grind.’ We show off how hard we’ve worked for what we’ve earned—it is our badge of honor. However, we also forget that there are plenty who hustle and don’t produce anything of value. To put it more cheerfully, there are people who are incredibly productive and make it look easy.

Oliver Burkeman in his post Nobody Cares How Hard You Work explains how we perceive high quality for work that have a perceived high level of difficulty.

Psychologists have long noticed what’s sometimes been called the “labor illusion:” when it comes to judging other people’s work, we might say we’re focused only on whether they did the job quickly and well—but really we want to feel they wore themselves out for us.

The problem is we apply this often to ourselves. Oliver Burkeman calls it the Effort Trap:

We apply the same twisted standards to ourselves. Call it the “Effort Trap:” it’s dangerously easy to feel as though a 10-hour day spent plowing through your inbox, or catching up on calls, was much more worthwhile than two hours spent in deep concentration on hard thinking, followed by a leisurely afternoon off. Yet any writer, designer or web developer will tell you it’s the two focused hours that pay most—both in terms of money and fulfillment.

It’s doubly hard to avoid the Effort Trap because our culture so strongly reinforces its deceptive message: Hard work is ultimately what matters. From childhood, parents and teachers drum into us the moral virtue of effort, and the importance of “doing your best”

The market dictates the value of a service, not necessarily how difficult it was to be completed. In fact, if you can find the highest paying service for the least work possible, that’s exactly the most efficient outcome.

I believe this is one of the reasons we are seeing more freelancers in our economy. Technology is enabling work on your own schedules. Today’s technology is making this more and more of a reality. That is why there are predictions that our economy will be 50% freelancers by 2020.

When you find yourself focused with ‘the hustle’ or ‘the grind,’ keep in context that wearing yourself out by being constantly connected and filling your calendar to the fullest amount isn’t a reliable indicator of a day well spent.

On Communication

Think of those times when you’ve read prose or poetry that is presented in such a way that you have a fleeting sense of being startled by beauty or insight, but a glimpse into someone’s soul. All of a sudden everything seems to fit together or at least have some meaning for a moment. This is our goal as writers. – Bird by Bird by Anne LamottOn Communication ir t jster0a 20 l am2 o 1 a 0385480016

Substitute writers with communicators.

To me, communication—whether with video, an email or a glance— is when a moment or concept we are experiencing flows through us uncensored. We are merely its messenger, a passenger on its journey. It isn’t us doing the talking per se, but the piece of knowledge itself. Our desire is for the listener to grasp the message in its entirety, not to prove anything about ourselves; not to show how smart or important we are. The second we focus on ourselves, we’ve lost the ability to pass on the knowledge we’ve attained. Why do you think 140 characters are king? Because the second the writer writes one word off tilter, says one thing that doesn’t vibe with us, we move on. There’s been a break in the chain of communication, a damn in the metaphorical “river.” We’re no longer listening. It is the giver’s duty and not the receiver to be understood.

Communication is a function of trust, not technique – Stephen Covey

This is the type of communication I seek to recreate every day. I want to be able to turn it on like a faucet. I’d like to believe that that level of connectedness in communication is the natural order, the way things should be. If not simply because I want to forget the struggle and pain of feeling misunderstood.

Or as Jason Silva says more beautifully than me:

I’ve also explored the dread, the haunting paralysis of realizing that all is temporary. So even our greatest ecstasy is tinged by a bit darkness. This moment will pass, this moment will end… Cinema allows us to share subjectivity, to feel connected to somebody else who has also experienced what we have felt. That’s kind of amazing because we feel less alone in that moment. And I think my own desire to make media about this is at least I can explain to you how I have felt when I have probed and contemplated loss, it makes the sadness less acute because at least we are in it together.

Where’d All The Inspiration Go?

Where do you go for inspiration? Quick, answer the question without reading on….

 

 

Answer the question without googling “inspiration.”

 

….

 

Don’t look down at your instagram.

 

 

Focus!

 

 

Answer the question!

 

 

Remember, there is no right answer.

 

 

What’d you come up with?

If you made it this far and answered remotely with some truth, then you’re on the right track.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Sometimes it is right in front of you. Sometimes you have to dig deep. Sometimes you waste so much time looking for the inspiration that you wash away any attempt at finding it.

Google may bring you to inspiration, it may lead you astray. The power of google is a double edged sword. With it comes so much knowledge, the vastness is beyond comprehension. The ease of access, the freedom to keep searching for the answer actually debilitates our own thinking.

The search result is the temporary plug for a hole that can never be filled. Inspiration doesn’t come from a search, it comes from knowing not to search.

Leave google for 3 days, see how you do.

Then leave a comment below.

Show Me The Tools

Searching for a shortcut is enticing. We instinctively know there are faster ways to do the things we want to do. However, more often than not a shortcut is merely a trap. For instance, knowing which tools you need to start on an endeavor is not a shortcut.

A recent trend for marketers is to give away a freebie for an email. These sites proclaim that people want to know the tools, the shortcut. Their argument is: give the visitor what they think they want. Then, just maybe, after they’ve got an email, sell the visitor what they really need. Better to entice them with “The Seven Must Have Tools for Growing Your Own Garden” then provide real consistent value. Better to have an email than not. They won’t even remember how they gave it out, anyway.

If you want to be a basketball player, we’re told that wearing the same shoes as Lebron will make us dribble better. If we want to be a photographer, we’re sold on the newest and most powerful camera or the coolest new app for our iPhone’s camera.

It’s easy to waste more time looking for shortcuts than you’ll ever save by finding them. Sometimes, the path is clear: other people have already walked it, and they’ll even tell you where it is if you look. Meanwhile, other people – who haven’t walked the path, but want you to follow them – will offer you shortcuts. That’s when you end up getting lost.

The answer is being cognizant of when we are being enticed by the freebie and steering clear.

Why Miami Needs to Learn Patience

miamiold  Why Miami Needs to Learn Patience MiamiOld

Timing is everything. We’ve all heard that before. Timing includes understanding when to be patient versus when to double down and push harder. Or even more importantly, timing includes knowing when to quit.

The difficult part of a any new skill, career, or undertaking is called The DipWhy Miami Needs to Learn Patience ir t jster0a 20 l am2 o 1 a 1591841666, according to Seth Godin. The Dip happens in every new endeavor. It occurs that moment when you are no longer learning quickly; the moment when you start to feel those urges to give in and surrender. Understanding when you are facing “The Dip” informs you when you’re on the right path to becoming the best and how to persevere. Observing you’re in the Dip helps you understand when you are simply wasting your time.

We’re seduced by the tales of actresses being discovered at the local drugstore, or a classmate who got a fantastic job just by showing up at the college placement office. We see an author hit the big time after just one appearance on Oprah or a rock band getting signed after submitting a demo— it all seems easy and exciting. It’s easy to be seduced by the new money and the rush to the fresh. The problem is that this leads to both an addiction and a very short attention span. If it doesn’t work today, the thinking goes, why should I wait around until tomorrow? The problem is that only a tiny portion of the audience is looking for the brand-new thing. Most people are waiting for the tested, the authenticated, and the proven.

In Miami, it is no different. We see gorgeous property listings through filters in our Instagram feeds. We see real estate agents making huge sales commissions. We’re so convinced we are the next Chad Carroll, everyone in Miami has a real estate license. It has become a running joke. Why? Because the barriers to entry are next to none. It is easy to get one. The difficult part is learning the market, getting through The Dip. The hard part is understanding you’re not going to be selling mansions in year one, but still making cold calls.

Like any pyramid scheme—including the Real Estate Agent training funnel—Miami has a new pyramid Scheme: The Startup. Miami, like many cities, has bought into the startup fever. Look at the Miami Herald’s recent headline:

Miami No. 2 for startups – but rides in 2nd to last for scale-ups

“Miami is a place that does very, very well on startup activity – a lot of people are becoming entrepreneurs and starting companies,” said Arnobio Morelix, senior research analyst and program officer in Research and Policy at Kauffman, which studies and supports entrepreneurship. “But when we look at how firms grow after they start, we don’t see Miami doing very well.”

This isn’t to bash on all startups, but to point out that our focus shouldn’t be exclusively on promoting the start. There is progress—Endeavor brought its first US office to Miami in 2013. However, what is missing is supplementing the encouragement of “the start,” with support of the push-through. We need to take Seth Godin’s words to heart and preserve through The Dip.

Being better than 98 percent of the competition used to be fine. In the world of Google, though, it’s useless. It’s useless because all of your competition is just a click away, whatever it is you do. The only position you can count on now is best in the world.

The market wants to see you persist. It demands a signal from you that you’re serious, powerful, accepted, and safe. The bulk of the market, any market, is made up of those folks in the middle of the bell curve, the ones who want to buy something proven and valued.

Those struggling artists at the local craft fair are struggling because they don’t have the guts or the wherewithal to take their work to the next level.

If you’re going to quit, quit before you start. Reject the system. Don’t play the game if you realize you can’t be the best in the world.

The choice is yours.

[Book Review]: Emotional Equations

Emotional EquationsEmotional Equations [Book Review]: Emotional Equations ir t jster0a 20 l am2 o 1 a B004T4KRHE is by far a top five favorite book of mine. As simple as the title is, Chip Conley goes very deep into the various types of emotions we experience and explains how he came to start using these equations in his business as a successful hotelier. The equations helped him and his team through hard times. I’m sure what he learned by writing this book has helped him as the Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy at Airbnb.

Why I find his book useful and very informative is because it gives a framework for evaluating feelings. Humans evaluate our lives with contrasts and comparisons. We compare our personal situation with those of others. We compare our careers with our peers. Our emotions are no different.

Emotional equations provide a novel and well thought out process for comparing and contrasting these feelings. Sometimes doing so gives us a better understanding of the struggles we are facing. It has certainly helped me. Sometimes we don’t even understand what the underlying feeling is that we are actually feeling.

Think of your emotions as messages that give you the freedom, rather than the obligation, to respond. Fear protects. Regret teaches. Sadness releases. Joy uplifts. Empathy unites.

Our emotions let us know that we are alive and that we care about something. But modern life can be a form of “tri-zophrenia” when we think one thing, feel another, and act out a third. The more conscious we become about the ingredients of our emotions, the easier it is to transmute the more complicated, high-volume emotions into something more manageable.

Happiness

Happiness = Wanting What You Have / Having What You Want

“Wanting What You Have” is like practicing gratitude. It means appreciating the good fortune in your life. “Having What You Want,” to me, means that you are pursuing something that will give you gratification, potentially to the neglect of what you already have.

Anxiety

Anxiety is an emotion, not a character defect. People with the greatest need to control their lives are often hit hardest by anxiety symptoms. Those who experience high anxiety levels tend to be high-functioning, high-achieving, strong individuals who exercise a lot of influence over their lives, yet can’t understand when things go wrong. For me, anxiety is a big clue that something in my life is out of balance— whether my mind is too future-oriented, my desire for control too amplified, or my sense of my own power too unappreciated.

My Own Equation

At the end of the book, Chip recommends we make our own equations. This is one I came up with myself:

Insecurity = Ego / Vulnerability

Our insecurities come from a place of an outsized ego. Being vulnerable will diminish the value of the ego in comparison, and leads to a healthy level of insecurity. That is why they’re represented by division. If, on the other hand, you’re not being very vulnerable, your ego will overshadow in comparison and leave you with a high level of insecurity. When someone talks about another being very humble, it is typically synonymous with a small ego. Essentially, their ego is in check. When someone lashes out and is domineering it can often be because of a misbalance of the ego and vulnerability equation. They may get a momentary high for their primitive dominance, but these are brief and in their wake is narcism and emptiness. It is like a bully, they’re compensating for insecurity.

I could have copied the whole book here because it is that good. I highly recommend it.