Now

When deciding what to do next, try to avoid the urgent.

Urgent is rarely important. Urgent rarely brings long term value.

So ask yourself, what should I do next that will return dividends well into the future?

Like compound interest, these small, regular investments will accumulate over time and turn into something massive.

 

 

 

Asking the right person

 

A lot of time can be saved by getting the people who actually do the work in the room early on.

Usually, time spent talking about possible challenges and solutions is completely wasted because no one thought to ask the person who will do it.

Ask yourself:

  • What do we need to do
  • Who does it
  • When does it need to be done

But don’t ask:

  • How do we do it
  • What happens if we do it like this
  • Why can’t we do this

…until you’ve got the right person answering the questions.

 

Park it

Have you ever felt that emotional, cloudy feeling in your brain when something seems so hard that you don’t know what to do next?

I have.

When the speaker makes the wrong assumption. Someone changes their mind. An agreement is broken.

Our mind can cope with only a few challenges at a time. In meetings, when more than 3 barriers are raised, notice how everyone’s confidence and constructiveness drops?

There’s a simple way to overcome this. Since our brains black out, it’s best to create a ‘parking lot’ on the whiteboard.

The parking lot is somewhere issues, blockers or cons can be stored and addressed at a later time. They are things raised during discussion, verbalised, noted and recorded.

Our brains love this. We don’t panic that they may be forgotten. We don’t stress about getting sidetracked. We don’t accuse people of hijacking the meeting.

When the time comes to go through the parking lot issues, you will find that the emotion has dispersed and once unpacked they are much easier to solve than previously thought.

The Parking lot technique is a simple way to keep meetings on track (and on time!) and to keep everyone focused on achieving the same thing. Try it!

Hitting singles – a path to success

home run

A home run is an incredible way to win the game. You risk it all on one big swing, hoping that night will be the night you single-handedly make the difference.

However most teams in the MLB this season average less than 1 home run per game. Usually, games are won by singles or doubles, accumulated over an inning – not a magical moment of individual brilliance.

So it is with our work or any pursuit we are trying to excel in. Undoubtedly, we dream of a home run each time we wake up in the morning, hoping that today will be the day the crowd finally witnesses our hidden talent.

Though instead of aiming to hit it out of the park each time, we should try to simply hit the ball first. Then, hit singles. Hit singles as consistently and reliably as anyone. Turn up, deliver what was promised, contribute, improve, share. Hit singles every time.

Eventually, you might even hit a home run. Yet until you are known as the person who is reliable, the one-off remarkable success will only be viewed as a fluke.

True success comes from mastering the basics, over and over again. This is a skill as rare as smashing it into the crowd.


Image: Werner Kunz

Hitch a ride

hitchhiker
Life is full of trends. Like waves in the ocean, we can get swayed back and forth without realising it.

We know that the cycle of poverty is hard to break because there’s momentum behind generational unemployment.

Addictions are terrible because it’s not only the substance or behaviour, it’s the habitual repetition of that action that makes it hard to break.

On the positive, finding a mentor or boss with positive momentum can completely change your career or outlook on life.

Who will you hitch a ride with this year?

I tried and failed

Life would be incredible boring if we knew what was going to happen next.

Failure is totally acceptable if you know why and how to avoid it next time. Actually, most of the things we try in business or life are not guaranteed.

Anxiety over the end result is worthless if you have answers for:

  1. How you approached the problem
  2. How you impacted the result
  3. Why you think you failed
  4. What you are going to do differently next time

Failure only happens when we can’t answer these questions, because then we haven’t tried to learn or care.

Understand the how before worrying about the what.

Fixed or flexible

flexible

It’s frustrating when someone comes along and ditches the plan. The plan we all agreed was the best path. The one we graphed and colour coded and said, in unison, ‘approved’.

It’s also frustrating when someone can’t break from the plan. The plan that is so constrictive, inflexible. The plan that’s stopping us from making something even better.

Both ways of thinking are perfectly fine, but can be equally dangerous.

Often I find myself in both camps. When I’m invested in the plan, I can’t stand it when people break it. When I want to break the plan, I can’t stand people who want to keep it.

Understanding the type of people you work with (and for), either planners or breakers, is a massive help.

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2 ways to take advice

  1. Ignore it. Pretend like you’ve heard it all before and that you should be the one giving them advice, not receiving it. Nod and say, ‘yeah, I do that already but it doesn’t work’.
  2. Even if we’ve heard it all before, listen. Think about why they’re telling it to you. What are their perceptions of you? What experiences have they had that you can learn from without making the same mistakes. Thank them. Ask them more questions. Sure, ignore the things you disagree with, privately. Everyone can learn something from someone else.

Advice is a gift and often helps us skip the most painful experiences because someone was kind enough to warn us or show us the way. Who can you give advice to today? Who do you need to listen to more?

 

Deliver at all costs

delivery
Photo: npr.com

Not delivering is the worst thing you can do. It gives me a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.

Sometimes we stall and delay because we’re afraid of showing people our work or being judged on the quality.

But the results are secondary, really. And the benefit of hindsight means we can improve, optimise and learn for next time.

If Amazon delayed delivering a book you ordered because they thought you might just return it, or write a bad review, you’d be mad.

So, let’s keep our commitments. Even if it’s the worst thing you’ve ever done, ship it. Press send. Turn up. Apply.

Then learn from it. Doing nothing is worse than doing something badly.

What if

What if we went global
What if we closed our shops
What if we worked at a round table everyday
What if we answered the phone without any recordings
What if we dropped everything for that great idea
What if we linked our salary to customer satisfaction
What if we called our customers to ask what they like
What if we donated our profits

What if we broke the rules