Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day. – John Wooden
This quote gives me inspiration to take advantage of the days ahead where I’ll feel 100%. I’ve been itching for that moment–nothing like catching a cold does that.
As hard as it is to do, I’ve been looking for the silver lining for this cold. In any moment of adversity or challenge, I think that’s when we’re most likely to give in. I didn’t want to to succumb or admit I was ill. I tried pushing through it–staying late at the office, showing properties, blogging and networking in the evenings. Even when I was clearly sick, I wanted to read one of my many business books and listen in on the newest Harvard Business Review podcast. However, pushing myself too strenuously clearly contributed to me catching this cold.
While giving in to rest felt like a weakness, in fact it was a chance to regroup and come back stronger. Putting it in perspective made me remember from past experiences that I usually feel very lively after overcoming a cold because I’m so ecstatic to be clear headed after days of misery. And while I would have rather been healthy throughout, it was my body that told me it was time to rest.
As I was resting at home fighting a vicious cold the last couple days (the reason I didn’t muster up a post yesterday), I came across Star Wars Episode 1 on TBS. I had to indulge for a little while and keep it on in the background as I finished my reading of Ashley Vance’s Elon Musk.
There are many fantastic analogies and quotes throughout Star Wars, a series I believe will stand the test of time. The one that stood out the most was Qui-Gon Jinn says to Anakin: “Your focus determines your reality.”
I’ve thought about this often recently because of this new term the “focus economy” that gets thrown around. We all feel the pinch to get more done in short periods, and our focus is pulled in so many different directions. The skill-set of focus is even sold back to us in Books and webinars on how to do so. As like with many things these days, there are focus apps for tracking your productivity, and there are people throwing out the red flags warning us of the lack of focus. We all feel the effect, a very real one. I don’t have the answer, but I know that somebody selling me how to overcome it isn’t the solution. I think it simply comes down to setting yourself in situations where you’re not tempted by those mind numbing distractions. That means putting your phone on do not disturb for 20 minutes while you work. It means closing those extra tabs you’ve left open humming in the background.
When we approach a situation with strict intentions, we’ve often already lost. Rigidity in pursuing your goal is likely to lead you astray—you’re bound to get the exact opposite of what you intended. We all have ideals of what we expect from our work, jobs, or our relationships. But, rigidity will cause you to miss those best opportunities or on those novel ideas. Leave behind those expectations and see what happens.
When the opportunity arises, it is too late to prepare. – John Wooden
We’re in the tenth month of 2016 and if you scroll to the bottom of many websites, you’ll see 2015 listed on the bottom. In the world of everyone having their own professional and stunning website, there is still no single-handed better way to see how on top of their game a company is. Do you really want to work with a company that has a copyright of 2014? 2013?
I am, as I’ve said, merely competent. But in an age of incompetence, that makes me extraordinary. – Billy Joel
As they say, the small things are the important ones. Show you’ve got your basics covered. If you think people won’t notice, you’re not paying close enough attention.
As silly as it sounds, when I was a little boy and first saw old photos or shows in black and white, I thought there were people that lived in a time where color hadn’t existed. In my naiveté, I believed older generations didn’t have color. They must have lived before color was invented by humans. I would see black and white movies or television shows on the tv and wonder how color was invented. I laugh at it now, but the irony of it all is that in many senses people did live in a very black and white world; Some people live this way today.
You can live your life as if nothing is a miracle, or you can live as if everything is a miracle. If reality is coupled to perception, then if you can tweak the nobs and levers of perception, you can tweak reality. So having some kind of authorship over your own phenomenology, some kind of authorship of your own subjectivity is the ultimate antidote to despair. Even if I’m hypnotizing myself with some kind of bullshit script, if it works for me and it makes me happy, then that’s great. – Jason Silva
How you perceive the world shapes your daily actions. Reality, however you view it, can be bent and shaped. We constantly are revising and modifying this reality.
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” – Albert Einstein
Over the years, I’ve realized that there are always new things to tackle. A new challenge or problem is waiting around the corner for action. After solving an issue, a new (and seemingly more important) one seems to immediately fill the void. This feeling will always be there. There is no reason to fight it—doing so only intensifies the desire to solve the insatiable drivr to solve a new problem.
“Life has to be about more than solving problems.” – Elon Musk
This urge to solve problems reminds me of the game Whack-A-Mole. This was a popular arcade game where moles randomly popped out of their holes. The purpose of the game was to hit as many of the moles as possible with a big soft hammer and drive them back into their holes. You scored points every time you hit a mole. You never knew which hole they’d pop out of, but you were certain they would come.
Like moles in this childish game, you never know where real life problems will come from. It could be an unannounced illness, or a sudden shift in the economy. One thing is certain, you can be certain that they’ll arise. As we look to start a onto another week, remember there will always be a new mole to whack. You have the choice to whack them away or not.
This is another homage to Emotional Equations as I referred to in an earlier post. I’ve been using this equation for thinking about how we build trust within our organizations and within our relationships. And it simply comes down to a simple equation. It looks like this:
What you actually do / What you say you’ll do
The higher the fraction, the better. If it is 1, then you really keep true to your word and people believe what you say. If it is less than one, that’s a different story. The lower the fraction, the lower the value of your word. Understanding this balance is key. People are always comparing what you say with what you do. They might not track it in a formal way with an equation, but they’re still doing it. That’s why even on a Friday evening, I’m keeping my word and making sure I get my daily post in. Even if the trust building is with myself and no one in particular.
Have you ever agreed to something to find that there was a contingency the other party hadn’t mentioned? And if you knew about this contingency, you would have approached the deal differently? Or that maybe you wouldn’t have done the deal in the first place?
When we experience this, we often promise ourselves not to do business with this person again. When we find out about a unreasonable contingency, we don’t agree to it in a heartbeat. But, what happens when that person is you? What happens when you hold a contingency against yourself that you’re not even aware of? When we hold these known or hidden contingencies, we have no one else to be mad at but ourselves.
I’m thoroughly enjoying Ashley Vance’s Elon Musk. Reading about Elon’s early endeavors and immense successes make me think hard about over-optimism. It appears Elon would throw himself so bullishly into his ventures, his super-sized overconfidence would extend into the timeline of when he’d accomplish his goals.
“If you asked Elon how long it would take to do something, there was never anything in his mind that would take more than an hour. We came to interpret an hour as really taking a day or two and if Elon ever did say something would take a day, we allowed for a week or two weeks.” – Jim Ambras, the Vice President of Engineer at Zip2.
I believe when Elon states he’ll have a project done in such a short time, he truly believes it with vigor. There isn’t much doubt in his mind that he can’t have it done within due time. (He seems to be realistic about the real risks in his companies, even stating on the record he thought SpaceX was more likely to be a failure than a success). Even so, he’s not doubtful about how hard he’ll push and his timelines for doing so. How many times have you loaded up your to-do list with countless items that there isn’t even a chance you’ll get them all done? It is better to have overextended yourself and continually push yourself than to play it safe. Some of us don’t have a play it safe mode. Elon seems to be one of those.