March 2016

I broke my own rule. Then I broke it again.

I broke it many times, in fact.

I stopped writing every day and skipped some blog posts. Big deal, I don’t get much traffic, right? Wrong. Writing isn’t really about other people– it’s about me. It’s about sharpening my skills and perspective so that I can raise my own level of effectiveness. I’m at my best when I start the day creating something.

For several days, I neglected to do that. I opted out of being the type of person who I wanted to be– one who leads by example, for example– and fell into being the type of person I don’t want to be, but whose default habits make it true.

Read More

Know what you don’t know.

The myth of the rugged, independent, self-made man is as antiquated as it is wrong. First, because it’s defining feature is “manliness.” In my experience, women tend to be much better at getting shit done. Observe any mother.

Second, being “self-made” fails to address current realities. You, as an individual, are not scalable. You are not accountable. You only have one perspective. You only have certain skills. You cannot keep up with the pace of innovation. You only know what you know.

Read More

Drop and gimme 10.

Want to get in shape? Hit the floor with 10 pushups. Nothing is stopping you.
10 pushups a day = 3,650 pushups a year.

Or better: Spend 10 minutes a day walking. Park a couple blocks away. Get off the bus before your stop. Take the stairs. For all the days I don’t run (which is too often), squeezing in a walk break is surprisingly refreshing. Last week, a friend suggested we meet while walking and we strolled for a full hour. At 3 miles per hour, in 10 minutes you’ll add a half-mile walk into most daily routines.

Read More

“It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”

That’s why I’m here every day. To remind you. To help you start again. No one will ever know what you did to get what you want. But you will.

You know the sayings: Success is 80% attitude/showing up/perspiration. It’s not about the magic of genius or divine inspiration making it all possible. Success is a habit. It requires being the kind of person who can create success, not simply the person who somehow has it.

Perhaps yesterday was not your day. Things conspired against you. Or you conspired against yourself. It doesn’t matter. Today is another day, and it’s up to you to put in the work. That’s the only thing you have within your control: the inputs.

Read More

So much wrong in such a little space.

You’re going to do a lot of things today, but rest assured, you will not screw them up like this.

I get what Vanguard is trying to do here in this ad, but it had the opposite effect on me. They tried too hard and got too cute. Time and temperature makes people look, fine. So does a picture from my own local area. Neat. From there, it just falls apart.

Focus on less, you'll get more done.There’s no doubt that Vanguard tests their ads, but you can iterate and improve anything– especially something that starts out so bad. That doesn’t mean you’re even on the right track.

Read More

Eat that frog.

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

This unappetizing aphorism is credited to Mark Twain, but it probably came from Nicolas Chamfort, a French aristocrat living in the 1700’s. Bryan Tracy, renowned motivational speaker, thought enough of the quote to write a book about it.

Despite conflicting interpretations of what the statement really means, or why it originated, I think the lesson in it matters. You have the choice to deal with things as you see fit.

Read More

“It ain’t all waitin’ on you. That’s vanity.”

One of my favorite movie scenes of all time, this is from No Country for Old Men.

Nary a word wasted by Ellis, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell’s wheelchair-bound relative, in this intimate and instructional scene.

We could all use an Ellis to set us straight from time to time. He delivers one powerful line after another, but my favorite comes right at the end. Wait for it…

What quotes do you turn to for inspiration, or perhaps just a little perspective?

Read More

How do you check out to recharge?

When my wife suddenly yelled, “Q! Q! Q! Quality!!!!” bouncing up and down in her seat, pointing and giggling with joy, we all erupted in laughter. There we were, a car full of four adults, playing the most competitive hours-long game of “alphabet” you’ve ever seen, presided over by a power-trippy and slightly sadistic eight-year-old girl. For what seemed like an hour, no one could locate a word starting with the letter Q, until that spasmodic moment, and the car shook.

Read More

How I deal with feeling unmotivated.

Motivation and willpower are not universal and everlasting. They are finite resources we use up. And I do, every day. When I’m not full of meetings, I may be flush out of gumption at 10:00 AM, but that’s no problem if I started writing at 6:30.

Because I know myself, I know the dip is coming. It comes sooner or later, and goes deeper or shallower, depending on the day. It’s not a problem to solve, nor a weakness to overcome. It’s just the truth. I want to give in and waste time. Most often, I simply listen to that feeling and acknowledge it, then choose something easier until I can kick it into gear again.

Read More

Creating Inevitable Outcomes

What if you knew you couldn’t fail? What would you try?

Launch a new company?

Learn to dance or sing?

Learn a new language, or how to code?

Lose some weight?

Run a marathon?

This sort of question has become popular, especially in the startup world where company cultures are positive, brash, optimistic and empowering. Who doesn’t wish they could plow forward without risk of failure? But we do fear failure, we can’t eliminate risk, and there’s the rub.

So let’s reframe that question:
What would you try if you knew that you couldn’t be embarrassed?

Read More