Constantly difficult

It’s easy to be kind, but it takes effort to be cruel.

Or is it the opposite?

It’s hard to be kind, but it takes no effort to be cruel?

Actually it’s both. It depends on the situation.

What’s constant is the difficulty it takes to think about the result that our decision or indecision might have.

Learning to skate

The more scared we are, the harder it becomes. We become rigid and our ability to balance becomes impossible.

Eventually, we just have to let go and let it happen. We can’t force it. We can’t overthink it. We have to accept that we will fall, and not worry about it (perhaps prepare for it, with a helmet, for example).

This past week I learned that it’s difficult (if not impossible) to teach someone to skate (that someone being my daughter). We can prepare them to learn. But, yelling ‘bend your knees’ or ‘lean forward’ doesn’t really help (it adds pressure and fuels the fear, see above). At the end of the day they have to fall, get up, and keep trying. Then they learn.

Taking the stage

Two weeks ago I attended Kochava Summit, an online event for the AdTech industry.

The keynote speaker on the first day was Kai Kight. Kai is a violinist and keynote speaker “who uses music as a metaphor to inspire self-realization.”

His talk was about how companies can flourish today in our ever changing society. Kai distilled this back to a three step process:

  1. Looking inward, towards mastery.
  2. Collaboration with your ensemble.
  3. Taking the stage and making an impact with the audience.

There are a few things that really stuck with me.

First a “conductor cannot guide a performer who has not attempted to guide himself.” I think this is true in many aspects of lives, we can’t be helped unless we first try to help ourselves. Just the act of looking inward serves as a bridge between the first and second step.

Secondly, when Kai spoke about ‘taking the stage’ he mentioned that sometimes, despite all effort put forth by the performer and ensemble, something doesn’t click with the audience. The performance falls flat. This is of course true in other aspects of life. We follow the process and unable to achieve our desired outcome.

Recently, I’ve been struggling to detach outcomes from processes. I thought I was good at this, but as I moved into the world of ‘solopreneurship’ I am now challenging those assumptions.

During the Q/A period I asked Kai. ‘How do you detach the outcome of the audience reaction if your performance falls flat?’ I thought his answer was elegant so I’m sharing here.

There is no outcome. Only a chance to learn.

I like this mental model. Rather then teach yourself to ‘detach’ from the outcome. Convince yourself that there isn’t one. Outcomes are simply opportunities to learn and are part of the ever-flowing process.

Honestly lazy

Over the long run being honest is the path of least resistance.

Being dishonest might allow us to cut a corner here or there. But by doing so we have to carry baggage that gets heavier as we move farther down the path of life.

I feel bad because I can’t remember who said this to me the other week but I like it.

I’m too lazy to be dishonest. It takes too much work.

Unknown

Second self

This might sound crazy.

Try imagining that a second version of yourself is monitoring and giving you feedback on what you’re doing throughout the day. Almost like a micro managing boss standing over your shoulder, except an imaginary version of yourself.

That ‘second-self’ is judging you on your actions.

Does this change anything? Do you go about your day differently?

I’ve been trying this and surprisingly it’s been effective. If I look at what I’m doing from this ‘outside’ viewpoint I can see pretty quickly wether or not the actions I’m taking are aligned with my personal mission/vision.

It’s a tool worth trying to manage yourself.

(dis)comfort

Why do we always seek comfort?

The question is rhetorical. Because it is comfortable.

It’s ironic though, because the more we seek out to be ‘comfortable’ the harder it becomes to achieve comfort. In fact, I would argue the only way to truly be comfortable is to ensure that we also seek out being uncomfortable.

That means, speaking up, meeting someone new, doing that workout, learning something hard.

The only way to true comfort is through discomfort.

Sometimes the best compliment is none at all

A friend of mine once told me this story.

He was playing golf with two other people. One was a proficient golfer (let’s call him Phil) , and the other wasn’t very good (we can call him Bob).

At the end of the round the bad golfer missed a very short putt that even the most novice golfer would make 50% of the time or more.

After the put was missed Phil said to Bob “Nice weight” (meaning Bob hit the ball the correct distance but failed to aim it correctly). And he said it simply because he hadn’t provided Bob with any complement on his game for the entire prior round. He didn’t even think that, given how short the putt was, his comment could easily been seen as an insult.

This makes me think about life. How often do we give someone an ingenuine complement in order to fill some void? Complements should be genuine, or avoided completely.

In my opinion, a better and constructive compliment would have been this:

‘Hey Bob, I noticed that you had a tough time out there today. Way to hang in there and finish off the round. Most people after a hard day would have picked up and given themselves a gimme’. Keep working at your game and you’ll see results.”

Think before you say

A follow up to my post the other day titled “Say what you think“.

I also don’t mean that we should blurt out everything that we think immediately. We should thoughtfully construct our point of view before we say anything.

I’ve found myself in many conversations where I immediately reply to someone and then regret what I’ve said.

And a lot of the time it’s because I don’t want to sit in that awkward silence between participants of a conversation. Getting comfortable with this silence results in better, more effective, conversations.

Say what you think

Be polite. Of course.

But I think if everyone said what they actually thought, the world would be a better place.

Ok, maybe I’m generalizing here, but hear me out.

When we don’t say what we think and instead opt to say something that’s maybe easier to hear or fits some sort of neutral safe zone we can’t have we can’t make meaningful progress.

How many times in your life have you changed something only to hear (from those closest to you) ‘I’m so glad you did that, I wish you would have done that ages ago.’

I’m not saying that we should solicit advice without being asked. But if we are asked, providing our truth helps everyone.

It also doesn’t mean we need to accept any of the advice given to us, it’s just simply better to hear what people actually think on our journey to the truth.

Ask more questions

This may sound obvious but sometime the easiest way to thinking productively is to ask ourselves the questions we want answers too.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day ‘busyness’ of whatever we’re trying to achieve. Sometimes I feel like I’m turning into a task machine and my goal is to simply check the next thing off my list.

Rather, we should ask ourselves in he moment “what’s the most important thing I can be doing right now?” It’s strange because if we ask and listen, I mean really listen, to ourselves then the answer will be provided.

And sometimes the answer might surprise us.

It might be “go for a walk” or “take a nap”. Other times it might be “write your next blog post” or “call someone”.

I think today we often focus too much on the ‘doing’ without thinking if what we are doing is actually effective.