Can you touch your toes?
Wasn’t that always one of the markers of health we were taught as kids?
Do they still teach kids to touch their toes? I hope so, but more than for the obvious reasons.
Recently, I’ve had to work at flexibility.
I was struggling in yoga class. Only being able to tough my right toe with my right hand but not my left.
Nobody else had this issue and I started to wonder if it just wasn’t possible.
Maybe I wasn’t built to be a person who had flexibility.
Isn’t that the way it goes? We let these barriers build up in our mind and convince ourselves there are just some things we can’t do.
Well, eventually I started to wonder: What exactly was my barrier? How far could I reach? I measured it specifically.
If step one is deciding on a goal, step two is finding a way to measure your limits.
How high can you jump? How far can you run? How long you can go without checking your email? Put it into time, put it into distance, put in a scale of 1 to 10 difficulty.
Once I find my measurable limit, the next time, instead of worrying about the end goal. I just tried to push past my own boundary – break my own record.
When I hear someone talking about something they aren’t able to do. This has become the analogy I use. Because at this point, not only can I touch my toe, I can wrap my hand around my foot.
When I keep pushing my boundaries, focus on beating my last record, I often surprise myself with what I can do.
Watching the Winter Olympics I’ve been awed at athletes competing in sports with a ice skate-thin margin for error.
Just two or three shots at the gold and if they are a millimetre off they are face down in the ice, dreams dashed.
Failure. It happens…
Success comes from how we respond.
It’s easy to respond ignorantly and hard to look at failure with an unbiased eye.
We succumb to ignoring problems or, even worse, blaming other people, the weather, the alignment of the stars, anything but ourselves.
No matter how things turned out, or how much of an influence we think we’ve had, we can always recognise the actions we took, no matter how minuscule.
I cannot empathise this enough: Take the time to self-reflect.
Why do these athletes get better and better?
They are continually using every tool at their disposal to track their performance: from slow motion video technology to aerodynamic contouring.
These aren’t wild guesses, they reflect and react to well honed data from years of practice.
So next time things go wrong or right for that matter, take a moment to figure out how else you could have shaped the situation.
Seriously, write a list. Write two.
1. What went wrong? (And how did it go wrong?)
Be brutally honest with yourself – what did you do to cause it?
By brutal I don’t mean be hard or unfair, I’m saying respect yourself enough to tell yourself the real deal.
Not a story or an excuse but the honest scenario.
What did you do or not do?
2. What could you have tried differently?
Brainstorm anything, from a simple shift in attitude to a complete change in approach with a different set of actions.
You’ll find these ideas easily translate into strategies for the future.
If we just act, we become vulnerable to repeating the same mistakes and reaping the same results.
Take the time to reflect and then react and you’ll find yourself weaving a new path – one that’s more likely to end in success.
I was gleefully doing what they tell you not to do.
Last weekend, I began work on a side project. With friends. They wanted to keep everything on the up and up, like we all do.
One of the first things they mentioned, was trading legal documents, meaning, of course, CONTRACTS -
-meaning REALLY LONG AND COMPLEX CONTRACTS WITH LOTS OF MEETINGS TALKING ABOUT CONTRACTS. All in effort to be “really secure about it.”
I had a natural aversion. And I told them so.
When you start obsessing over something as complex as a contract, it takes time. It takes effort. It’s a drain of your energy.
A drain of the energy that could be going towards the actual project. And the almighty Contract becomes the focus.
Tossing contracts back and forth, trying to protect yourself from any possible scenario, creates distrust and can kill the relationship before it starts.
If you’re going climbing, you make sure your rope is secure and you trust the person holding it for your safety. But ultimately you accept there’s a chance of finishing with a knock or scuff here and there.
Even with the most binding contract – there is always a risk.
We have a choice: we can spend all our time trying to eliminate any possibility of getting hurt or we can climb the bloody mountain.
If experience has taught me anything, it’s this: Contracts have loopholes. The more time we spend looking and sweating over contracts, the more loopholes become apparent.
So here’s how I deal with Contracts:
The Quick Contract
Can a contract be a document to aid communication, rather than a binding piece of personal legislation?
I’ve found a way to make contracts in a helpful way in the beginning of creative process.
I’ve started using this online tool.
It asks for a minimal amount of information and can help you knock out a contract in ten minutes.
This is my ultimate point. I’ll say it with cap locks for emphasis:
DON’T LET A CONTRACT STOP YOU FROM STARTING.
A contract can do a few things remarkably well. It clarifies communication. It pushes a collaboration forward.
Since it’s impossible to make a contract insurance against everything bad that could possibly happen I’ve ended up with a motto:
Less Contracts, More Collaboration
If you are not a hacker, befriend one.
Hacking comes from the computer subculture in 70s, 80s and became associated with criminals.
Roughly speaking, a hacker was someone that could beat the system.
Now, everything has changed.
The term hack has been repurposed to every field people can manage. Lifehack, mindhack, bodyhack, travelhack, you name it, you can hack it.
…If you life hack, it means you find inventive ways to deal with commonplace problems.
…If you travel hack, it means you circumvent the conventional ways of traveling. You travel your way, your route, your style and to work for your budget.
…If you mind hack, it means you’re in charge. You’re in control of your mind, your understanding of it and exploiting it for a specific purpose.
But what on earth do we actually mean? What is hacking?
Well it helps to know the mindset of the hacker isn’t new… Flip the calendar back more than a century.
Henry Ford was stuck. He wanted his automobile business to grow but the conventional way of building cars - by hand, one at a time – was inefficient. Production levels were low and the price of the car remained high.
Ford needed a better way. He knew if he could mass manufacture and systematically lower production costs, he could sell more, and for a greater profit.
He needed to hack the system.
Henry took the cars and decided to build them on benches and move from one team of workers to the next, but this still wasn’t fast enough.
So he turned to automation, his team of engineers started building machines that would do the labour for them and eventually invented a whole host of manufacturing techniques that could build almost every part.
With the new manufacturing process he took his companies production levels from just a few cars a day to a record of one car every ten seconds.
He was able to pay his staff more whilst cutting prices and making even more profit. He grew his business, made the automobile affordable to the masses, and found a better way to create something we all use everyday.
Brilliant, right? Ford understood business-as-usual, but instead of just grinding it out, he made profound changes that disrupted everything.
That’s what a hacker is – someone who knows the game, the rules, and the end point. But, instead of playing along, they can change the game to create their own unique successes.
So, how do you adapt the hacking prerogative?
Here’s what hackers know:
There are always problems to solve. Hackers have that heady mixture of curiosity and action. The world is amazing, go find the thing that fascinates you and try to make it better.
Sharing makes friends. Don’t make other people figure out what you just spent months on. We’re moving the whole field forward together. Let other people build on your solutions and you can build on theirs.
When in doubt, automate. Don’t get stuck in repetitive tasks. Your job is to innovate.
Be your own Boss. I mean this figuratively. You need to be in a position to make your own schedule and pursue what you feel is important.
Don’t get “boxed in.” Stay open to solutions that might seem crazy at first.
Work Backwards. Take things apart and learn how they work.
Take it to the Lab. Experimentation and Trial-and-Error are your best friends.
Give it Everything. Everyone has a knowledge base that’s as unique as a fingerprint. Your parents, your friends, your teachers, your hobbies, everything could help you get an idea to solve the problem.
Being a hacker isn’t about rebel posturing… It’s about beating the system though solving problems, sharpening skills, and intelligently thinking outside the box.
Just because there’s a system already in place, doesn’t mean you can’t find a better way.
A long while back I had this flatmate who would stay up all hours, working. He had a perpetual unkept look.
Sometimes, he worked so hard he would forget to eat meals and then wander into the kitchen, hungry. (Often, I would witness him polish off a family-sized pizza in a matter of minutes.)
But after periods of intense effort, he’d crash – for weeks at time – and barely have energy to do much of anything.
Every time I saw him engage in this unhealthy routine I’d wonder: Why was he doing this?
To really understand my flatmate, you need to know his hero: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
He wanted to model himself on this “icon of doing good.”
Frequently I was regaled with Gandhi’s exploits, which most of us are at least vaguely aware…
Ghandi went on hunger strikes and walked insane distances, he was tortured, beaten and imprisoned time and time again. But since some of us have been away from history class for too long (or the 1982 movie), maybe it’s worth a reminder.
On several occasions imprisoned Ghandi protested British Rule by refusing to eat. His captors had no desire to let a man of Ghandi’s stature die, but equally had no willingness to give into his demands.
The result: A high stakes game of chicken.
In February of 1943, he went without food for 21 days.
My flatmate professed; “If I could apply a fraction of that discipline to my own life, imagine what I could achieve.:
…But would you really called Ghandi disciplined?
When I think about those hunger strikes I’m blown away. Can you imagine that? 21 days.
Most people I know get grumpy after one missed meal.
In 3 days, the body burns through the supply of glucose. After that it starts proceeding body fat and by 21 days the body’s eating into muscles and vital organs for fuel.
To do something like this requires something special. And a lot of it.
I’d argue that Ghandi was fuelled by something more than discipline, something meaningful, something from deep within.
A purpose, an understanding and a desire to make a change.
Sure, he was disciplined, but what helped him do the impossible was a solid understanding of WHY he was doing what he was doing.
For as much as my flatmate idolized Ghandi, he missed this essential idea.
My flatmate relied on discipline. He was hardworking and made an effort to push himself, but he lacked clarity on why he was doing what he was doing.
So when things became tough and he needed that extra kick to break down the obstacles in his way, discipline fell flat on it’s face and he burnt out.
Discipline isn’t sustainable. It’s the icing, not the cake. It might help you get up early or pull an all-nighter but when bigger obstacles arise – discipline get’s trumped.
My flatmate needed clarity, a vision and a sense of purpose.
We all do.
Through deepening our understanding of why we’re doing what we’re doing, we increase our potential for making an impact.
If you are in Chicago with $40 bucks, you can take a tour of the city by boat, sliding down the river, and get a revelatory tour of the buildings of the Windy City.
The Architecture tour is one of those revelatory experiences, like the ghost tours in New Orleans, that shift your understanding of metropolis by showing you everything hiding in plain sight.
For an equally shocking experience have a couple designers and an architect over for dinner and have them tell you about your stuff.
To design something is to make a series of decisions that shape an experience for the user. Bright colours or muted tones? Angular or Round? Simple or multifaceted?
The answers to these design question depend on the experience being created. These choices are not only aesthetic, they are operational.
Design doesn’t just make things pretty, it makes them work.
All those clicks and whirrs on your iPod were put there by a designer to mimic the feeling of operating an analog device. All in effort to make the ipod bridge the gap from analog to digital whilst feeling intuitive.
Good design is transparent. It’s a gateway to the message. We feel it. But often, we don’t see or appreciate it.
And that’s the whole point. We’re not supposed to notice it. We’re supposed to use it.
We are all designers by nature. We are creating experiences everyday and we have the power to change the people around us.
What do you do that is invisible?
In what subtle (and obvious) ways, can you shape your interactions to provide a specific experience?
How do you want people to feel?
What do you want them to think?
Where do you want them to go next?
“Ninety-nine percent of who you are is invisible and untouchable.” —R. Buckminster Fuller
When it started raining, it turned into one of those experiences so awful you can only laugh.
It all started when Sheila and I first bonded over a shared love of David Byrne. When I admitted I’d never seen him live, she was appalled. So when he came through on a tour, she told me she was buying us tickets. I offered to pay, but she insisted.
Regular tickets were £20, but for £28 you could get a VIP ticket that let you skip the queue, get better seats, and order drinks. But Sheila thought it wasn’t worth it. I even offered to pay for the upgrade. No dice. So we rock with the normal tickets.
To get to the venue on time we forgo getting dinner and we show up an hour before. The line to get in was still curled around the block.
80 minutes later we’re closer, but still a few dozen people from the door. We can hear the muffle through the brickwork. And then, as you know, it starts raining. And the work rain does not do it justice.
Torrental downpour comes closer. We’re both sopping wet, her outfit is practically ruined, and I’m on the verge of catching pneumonia.
In another ten minutes we watch the queue shuffle forward as a couple more people go inside.
And so we cut our losses. We decide to skip the gig and grab something to eat. Sheila apologised over and over.
I told her not to worry about it - these things happen.
I kept her distracted as we toured through my favourite spots in London and with that, we were able to turn the night around.
Although, I couldn’t help but wonder why these things happen.
Even if we had waited it out, how much money would we have actually saved?
£8 – for 90-100 mins of our time? At a risk of ruining the show?
A city girl working for a top law firm. Now, I’m sure she earns a lot more…
But we’re human. We are bargain hunters. We don’t want to pay for unnecessary extras and we love a good deal.
And too often we sell our time for the sake of few pennies. We fuss over each and every last dime and yet we give away hours.
I follow the £10 rule - If it’s £10 and it will make you happier and your life easier – buy it.
So the next time you are sweating a small purchase (like trying to decide if you should take a taxi or jog-walk a mile to get to the movie on time), do yourself a favour and worry a little less about spending cash and more about spending minutes.
The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
This is one of my favourite quotes by the Bard. While he was writing about Mercy, I think it applies to that equally graceful act; gratitude.
A “Thank You” benefits not only the person who hears it, but the person who says it.
People who are thankful are happier and healthier. Gratitude improves psychological, emotional and physical well-being.
Studies show, it gives you more energy, more optimism, and more social connections and more happiness than those who do not. (And less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics.)
Additionally, you can earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.
Don’t believe me? Try it yourself.
Take five minutes to write down things you are thankful for. And see how you feel afterwards.
Even more adventurous? Keep a gratitude journal for the next 30 days and watch how it changes your perspective.
Lets start now.
What are you thankful for?
(Bonus points for following up with “And how can I show it?”)
She hangs her head for a moment, stretching out her back, then wipes her hands on her paint covered jeans. She squints at the canvas, unsure how to feel with today’s progress.
Then she looks at the poster on her wall… and smiles.
Rosie tells me that even when she’s tired or not feeling it, she pushes herself to give her work the energy it deserves. She says it’s one of the best investments she’s made.
Passion, energy, love, whatever you want to call it, is what really makes the difference between good and great, between mediocre and remarkable.
Too often we forget about giving something our very all and instead we become suckered into saving time, shaving off a few minutes here and there, trying to get the job done faster and with less effort.
But even if we want to squeeze more out of every day, the secret to productivity, isn’t time, it’s energy. The hours in each day will never change, but our energy… that’s as open as we can make it.
What about your work, your relationships, your life. How can you show some fucking passion?
Remind yourself of your goals.
Every morning, I read over my yearly, monthly, and daily goals. It helps me keep track over what’s important to me.
Keep good triggers around you
Show Some Fucking Passion is my computer and iPhone wallpaper. When I’m drifting away it’s a gentle reminder to wake up and give it my all.
Surround yourself with people that stretch you
If the people around you won’t let you get away with mediocre, you won’t deliver mediocre. You’ll stretch yourself to give more.
Whatever it is, wherever you do it. Bring your a-game and show some fucking passion.
In 2011, a news reporter, armed with video camera, drove up to a homeless man. He asked him to say something in radio voice. And from this rough looking guy pours a perfect movie narrator voice.
The video went viral. Ted Williams, the homeless man in question, appeared on the Today Show. He was given new clothes and a job – a chance at a whole new life – all thanks to his magical voice.
While it’s a lovely story, it’s also a lie.
This depiction glosses over the fact that Ted Williams went to school for voice acting and that he worked for years, perfecting his craft. It omits the hard work.
The idea that talent conquers all is dangerous. We see it too often, and it leads to laziness, dissatisfaction and people failing to commit to things they don’t believe they have a gift for.
The Myth of Talent is the belief of a natural ability that will make you instantly good. And if we want to succeed, we must have it.
The Myth Of Talent is projected by those who want others to believe that their skills are so out of reach that they must be God given.
The Myth Of Talent is a feeble excuse for not starting or giving up. It’s an attempt at a justification for doing nothing with what you have.
The Myth Of Talent is almost always dispelled by those who are dedicated to consistency and perseverance.
That guy who looks like everything comes naturally has actually put in the time and energy to make his ‘talent’ appear effortless.
Never succumb to the Myth Of Talent. What seems like a gift is often years of hard work.
There are two types of people in this world, those who ask for what they want, and those who say, “We-e-e-l-l, maybe it’s not the right time to ask, today. I’ll try tomorrow.”
Askers have balls! They see the opportunity and they grab it.
The others pussyfoot around and expect someone to magically hand it to them.
(What?! Did I just use ‘balls’ to denote power; and ‘pussy’ to symbolise weakness? Isn’t that’s sexist?!)
Well, we all know there are some very daring, fearless and tough women out there.
Just as we all know men who fantasise of magically stumbling into their dream job or eventually falling in love with their soul-mate – the one who’s been searching for them all this time!
It’s romantic. But it’s not true.
I like to think of it like this: life is full of gifts. They’re all bundled up in boxes and wrapped up everywhere. It’s your job to find the one you want and open it up. Inside might not be the answer you’re hoping for, but if you never look, you’ll never know.
The problem is that most people are scared, or quite frankly, they lack the cojones. They start believing there is some sort of formula to getting what they want, and they become suckers for the ‘secret.’
The real ‘secret’ my friend, is that your bazoombas aren’t big enough.
Growing a set of brass ornaments is no different to building muscle, every time a bodybuilder goes to the gym and trains his muscles, he’s not building them up, but tearing them down, so they can recover, bigger and stronger.
It’s the same for your testicular fortitude, the more they can take a good kicking, the more you can get past the pain of rejection.
And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? – Rejection!
Rejection doesn’t mean you’re unworthy or of lower value, it means someone doesn’t want what you’re offering.
Think about it! You reject people every day. You reject the person on the street asking you for a few moments of your time; a friend asking you for dinner; a job offer. But when we taste a little of our own medicine, we freak out.
You didn’t get it. That’s it, get over it! In many cases, that’s exactly what you need, a good kicking to your tiny little nut sac so your roasted chestnuts can grow back bigger and stronger.
On any journey of personal-growth we have to overcome the habits that are holding us back.
Today, we’re going to develop The Ball Growing Mindset.
Get Immune To Rejection
You know why heart surgeons don’t get nervous when they see another human’s inner workings? – Because they are used to it.
Paratroopers don’t get freaked out of when they jump out of plane from 15000ft – Because they are used to it.
You are no longer going to fear rejection – Because you’re going to become immune to it!
Most people always ask how he can do that. Or, how did they get that? Or why is she with him?
And they’re right; that person might not have as much talent, skill or even be as pretty or handsome as you but you know what?
They have balls.
The moral of the story?
Stop bitchin’ and start doin’!
Forget What Other People Think
You’ll never grow cast iron nuggets if you think you’re so important that one blunder, one moment of rejection is going to be recorded in the annals of history and remembered forever.
When you read someone’s bio, do you think they talk about all their failures, all their mishaps and all the times they got rejected?
Will It Matter In Five Years?
Will it matter next year, next week, or even tomorrow? – Probably not.
The temporary pain from being rejected is just that, temporary. But the reward from getting what you go after will last forever.
One Day We Won’t Be Here
As much as we love to think we’ll live forever. Our time is limited and one day we’ll be gone.
The world is full of woulda’, shoulda’, coulda’; Nobody remembers that crap!
People only remember the ones that did something.
Who do you decide to be?
Growing Big Balls Is Addictive
It feels great to set and overcome challenges and watch your Rocky Mountain Oysters grow from tiny, embarrassing species into something powerful and inspiring.
Set yourself a challenge and gauge just how big your marbles are.
Ask your boss for the pay raise you’ve been expecting. Present and pitch your idea to that investor. Woo that special someone into joining you for dinner – really, it’s that simple.
What are you going to do to start growing your balls today?
I’m starting to believe that this is the best time to be alive in the history of artists.
We’re spoilt. And we can have it all: Purpose, Mastery, Autonomy, Financial Stability and Free Time.
It’s staring us in the face.
The only thing left is take that very thing that keeps you up at night and perfect it until it shines so bright, we can’t miss it.
What you do right NOW is making you, you.
What are you putting off? What are you trying to avoid? What have you forgotten about?
Like every human, we’re programmed to avoid discomfort.
Our ape brains push us down the path of least resistance and pull us away from our potential.
We can choose ignorance or defeat. Or we can fight back and make a stand.
This moment is defining who you are. Are you going to attack life? Or let life attack you?
Stop reading this. Go do what you are avoiding.
It was one drink more than I needed. I’d moved from pleasantly buzzed to something… well, less pleasant.
This was one of the diviest hotel bars I’d ever been to – low lighting, surly bartender, and that smell of stale beer and ashtray.
It was packed on a cold Saturday night. I found myself with a group that were the loudest people in there. My throat hurt from trying to make myself heard. Maybe that’s why I kept drinking.
I was in town for a tech conference and had run into a friend. Let’s call him David, because something about him reminded me of a young David Tennant. I hadn’t seen him in a few years, and he looked like he hadn’t changed. He was always one of those people who felt like he was on the verge of greatness. I remember the last thing he said to me - “this industry is getting tiring – i’m venturing into new land.”
He said it right after canceling our last meeting, to start a project with these new guys. Knowing David it was going to be something special.
Which is why, after the last speaker, I promised David we would catch up. I thought we might hang out with the speakers and some of the people I’d been following online.
But David had something else planned, and I found myself at this ashtray bar with a bunch of lively strangers – David’s new gang.
This group was a mix of ages but uniform in gender: male. To a man, they thought David was hot shit. They laughed at his jokes and agreed with his views, making him the alpha in a world of betas.
After we’d spent a bit of time comparing British and American Sports, I tried to ask about their work…
Conversations can feel like rollercoasters, moving up and down and on to something else. I’m not sure how that prompted the conversation about personal accomplishment, but maybe the prowess of athletes make us think about our personal highlight reel.
One shouts “I’ll tell you the hardest thing I ever did was run a marathon. I trained for-“
And then someone else interrupts “A marathon?! That’s nothing. Try hiking. It’s not the distance. It’s the elevation that gets you. This one time-“
And then another interruption “You think hiking is hard. Me and my buddies kyak.”
And it went on like this. And it was odd to hear David chime in.
“That’s nothing, you should try boxing. That’s a sport for real men.” (I’d hear this sort of stuff before. (Link to Real Man))
Ultimately it’s benign one-upmanship. But it felt incredibly uncharitable. It also felt like they dodged every time I prompted David to talk about his work or anything he might be passionate about.
Only then did I noticed David looked faint – he told me it was the jet lag but he’d only caught a two hour flight. Something felt off…
Then our rollercoaster car, took another sharp swerve.
“To hear women tell it, the hardest thing you could ever do is be pregnant.”
Everyone but me laughed.
I didn’t like where this was going. But I stayed silent through the dumbly misogynistic ramble that followed. Maybe I should have said something, but I didn’t know these guys… And I certainly didn’t feel like I knew David anymore.
I tell you more, but honestly, I stopped listening.
When there was a lull I excused myself to my hotel room.
In the elevator I found myself wondering what my life would have been like if those people had been my friends. Would I have been laughing along with them?
This isn’t just a matter of an old friend getting drunk and acting like a bit of a cock. David had transformed on a fundamental level. When he changed his crowd, he changed himself. By hanging around shit he started smelling like it.
Not only did he devolve into dumb jokes and petty machismo, he left so much else behind. I never heard him once talk about what his dreams and his hopes – and this was a guy who used to wear those on his sleeve. He was always proud of the work he was doing and pushing himself to accomplish more.
After we would hang out, I used to feel inspired. But this time, I just felt a little sick.
He had chosen to surround himself with people who looked up to him and he had fallen to their level.
If you want to take your game to the next level, show up where the best hang out. Spend time with people who challenge you, people who inspire you, people you hope to be like.
Your world view will change and their skills and talents will rub off. After all, it’s human nature to adapt to our surroundings.
I believe in hard work.
I certainly believe hard work is more important than talent.
I believe that hard work will get you most of the way to success. (The rest is luck… and often hard work is what will keep you going until luck finds it’s way to you.)
I believe hard work is satisfying.
I believe that most of us want to put in a hard day of work…
The question is: a hard day of work doing what?
Half of what I write about are ways that we get steered by other people’s priorities and how we forget to listen to ourself.
What makes me most upset is to see so much discipline go to waste.
Some people discipline themselves to go to the gym so they can get back in respectable shape, but they hate the gym. They tell themselves, if it’s not working, it’s their fault.
Do you know what the answer is? Don’t go to the f******* gym! Don’t go unless you can like it or better still; fall in love with it.
Do something else – go surfing, start dance classes, learn capoeira, climb mountains . . .
Find the things you love that move you towards the end goal and go for that – it might not be the most “effective” way if we were all programmed robots, but we’re not!
When you choose love over discipline, you can transform those 12 hour work days to feel like a vacation. You can make even the hardest tasks seem effortless.
In almost all aspects of my life, I pride myself on being generous and forward thinking.
But a few weeks back, I gave a deadline-abusing freelancer an ultimatum. “Get it to me on time, or I can’t work with you.”
When he failed, it felt terrible to end a business relationship. In so many other ways he was a nice guy. The whole incident made me think about a particularly old fashioned piece of advice I got from my parents. It would be cliché if it wasn’t so powerful.
“Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep.”
And because I try and avoid negative motivation, I switched it up:
“Make a Promise. And Keep it.”
These days everyone makes promises they don’t keep. And the whole the point of a promise is being undermined.
With every promise you have an opportunity to build trust and develop the relationship – make good of it – deliver.
If a restaurant makes a promise to open everyday and one saturday it’s quiet so they decide to close a few hours early. They’re going to piss off the customers that turn up to find they’re closed – they’re going to lose the relationship they were trying to build.
Become known for sticking to your word and, in today’s world, that alone will set you leaps and bounds above the rest.
Reputation is everything.
Why wait for the new year to make resolutions and form positive habits? Why wait for Christmas, birthdays and other events to show the people you care about some love?
Instead of waiting for an opportunity….
I held my shoes in my hand so I could feel the sand in my toes. Sometimes I don’t realise how much I miss the ocean until I get to stare into that endless blue.
The night before had been… off-putting. I attend this conference in a costal city, and i was surprised how few other people had made plans to go to the beach. Even though this was a business trip I made sure I got up early enough to go for a walk.
When I mentioned my plan to go to the beach the next day, a few seem surprised in a I-hadn’t-even-thought-of-that way. But I couldn’t get that close and not go.
So I went.
While listening to the rhythm of the waves, I kept thinking of a question a friend of mine would ask, “Ocean or Mountains?”
The idea was that you would only get to pick for the rest of your life.
Like all those thought games, they are a little silly on the surface. (“What three books would you bring to a desert island?”)
And good for us that we will never have to pick between the ocean and the mountains. (I happen to know there is a beautiful stretch in Central California where the mountains defend all the way to the ocean, pausing periodically for a tucked away beach.)
But listening to ourselves, and understanding ourselves, can come with questions as simple as these.
Where would you prefer to go for rejuvenation: Ocean or Mountains? It really doesn’t matter what you pick. Perhaps you might even go with an out of the box third answer. Maybe you really like the deserts of the American Southwest. I have a friend, whose wife swears by rivers, like the one she would visit in childhood.
I like to ask myself what each of these places do for me. A weekend of rock-climbing might pick me up, while a day surfing might chill me out.
What kind of nature do you crave? How long has it been since you’ve been there? What’s it going to take to get you back?
“When are you going to get a real job?”
Some of the most successful people I know have heard that question over and over and over.
It comes from parents, councilors, friends – all of whom have the best of intentions. They want us to go out and get a bit of security. A bit of safety.
“What will you fall back on?”
“When are you going to settle down?”
“Don’t you want a real life?”
These questions, and the many variations are thick with subtext. A subtext I find baffling. What is a real job? What is a real life?
What I do get, is that the recommendation is to take the safe route. To be financially safe. To be physically safe. To be emotionally safe.
The risky way, we’ve been told, is to follow your ambition.
Ultimately, I think that kind of safety is a myth. You never know what is going to happen. (You might already know how I feel about certainty.)
I believe in Time. I believe lasting, satisfying success take lots and lots of hard work over a long, long time. The choice isn’t a binary between safe or risky – it’s a more complex one:
How do you want to spend your time?
The stuff that will get you through the obstacles, the stuff that will get you through the hard times, the stuff that drives you on comes from pursuing things that you are passionate about.
I don’t know what your particular thing is, you have to figure that out for yourself. And the prospect of that, can feel scary.
Sometimes settling down, can be exactly that, settling. That’s why people pursue law degrees and spend the rest of their lives dreaming about running an art museum, or end up buying a house in a place they don’t really want to live.
Doing what you love is no longer a privilege. It’s an opportunity.
If you’ve ever had an idea or an itch to do something different, to go against the grain and be unconventional.
You’ll have heard about The Real World™.
It’s a place people will tell you about when you share a fresh idea.
They’ll tell you, “That would never work in The Real World™!”
In The Real World™ ideas are just ideas and dreams are just dreams. Unfamiliar approaches and foreign concepts never make it through.
The Real World™ can be a depressing place to live.
I know. I used to live in it.
Until I discovered The Real World™ isn’t so real after all.
It’s an excuse. A justification for not trying.
True happiness came when I ditched The Real World™ and created a new one. My own!
My life is dedicated to my own world now, one which defies all The Real World™ rules and fails all The Real World™ tests.
Next time someone tries to convince you that your idea is impossible and would never make it in The Real World™.
Don’t believe them. It may be real for them, but The Real World™ doesn’t have to be real for you!