creating change

Create Artifacts of Your Effort

Do you make task lists just to check off items? Have you (like me) added things to your list that you already did, just so you could check them off? That’s because we like completion. The culmination triggers a dopamine hit in your brain.

When we waste time cycling on things– starting loops that never stop, meetings without resolution, thinking without action– we don’t give ourselves that completion.

Artifacts remind us that we made progress and help ensure we don’t repeat the work or thought process again without resolution. A mentor of mine once said, “Never have a meeting that doesn’t produce an artifact.” Otherwise, you’re doomed to revisit old topics, forget key strategy items and simply waste time on low priority stuff, especially when multiple people are involved.

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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.

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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?

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Don’t Be Afraid of People. People are All You’ve Got.

Phone calls, coffees and meetings, oh my!

Scared to talk to someone you don’t know? Why? What could happen? Listen, I get what the fear of rejection is all about. I spent the first part of my career in sales and like countless other salespeople, I became a magical excuse machine for all the calls I did not make. We’re social animals; 40,000 years ago, strangers could kill you. So could your tribe rejecting you.

But we don’t live 40,000 years ago. Today, solutions are built on radical collaboration. The faster you gain empathy, insight, perspective, knowledge and help from other people, the faster you succeed. When I did that in sales, everything changed. So too with startups. The best big ideas are never (never EVER) born or perfected in a vacuum. That’s why lean startup and design thinking principles start with asking questions. Not building (and certainly not perfecting) a big fancy solution.

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