In making any product, there is a balance of making it better or spending time and money promoting it as it is. Without knowing what will be the best return on investment, it is hard to decide on either.
The same is true in your career. You can either spend your time broadly in two areas: schmoozing or getting your head down doing actual work. It is difficult to know where to draw the balancing line especially if your natural tendency is to plan out improvements, get stuck in and execute rather than shout out, self-promote and take credit.
But you must spend the time to cultivate this. Assuming you are not already, many a person has made a career and risen the ranks just by attending the right meetings and being close to the right people despite being mediocre best.
If you do not believe in yourself, who will? If you do not champion yourself, who will? If you do not shout about yourself, who will? Well, some people will, and most will not.
Elon Musk has said in the past that he does not spend a penny on advertising Tesla, instead preferring to invest in making the product better. This is a good model to strive for, but he does put on press conferences, do talks, interviews and publicity stunts, so he is still getting his message out there. He is still investing his time into marketing even if his money does not follow.
How can you get noticed today? What can you do to push yourself out of your comfort zone today? Who can you model yourself on that is really good at this? What would they do?
Will it make the boat go faster? Benjamin P. Hardy wrote a great article yesterday on how to keep focussing on the right things with a lesson from the British rowing team of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Read the whole article for context but my favourite excerpts are below:
They developed a one-question response to EVERY SINGLE DECISION they made. This one question allowed them to measure every situation, decision, and obstacle - and to not get derailed where most people do.
Find out what you want in life and for everything that gets in the way, ask yourself, will this help me hit my goal? If not, you know what to do...or not do.
Read the full article
Where do you want to get to? It could be getting promoted, passing an exam to get a qualification, it could be gaining a certain amount of money.
Why do you want that? This will help keep you going when the times get tough. Even if you stumble, it will act as your guiding light to get you back on track.
But the most important questions are needed to distil a habit:
What would a person who has already achieved the things you want BE like? How would they act? How would they think about things? What would be their outlook on life? How can you be like those things right now?
What do you think they would do each day? What would you need to do each day to be like them even if they do not need to do them each day? What would it look like if it was easy? Start with the smallest daily thing that you will be able to do no matter what. No matter if you are ill, if you are injured, if a crisis happens and you have no time. Something that is so small that it seems insignificant. Something that you are likely to do more than necessary because it seems too small.
Consistency over intensity is where habits build into greatness. Day by day by day. This is where the real change happens, inside yourself first before others will ever see it. This is where your focus should be.
Do the exercise. Find your habits and then get your head down and commit to them. Look up occasionally to see if you are still going in the right direction. Check in to see if your 'why' is strong enough. And then get your head back down and work.
Waiting for things to come to you. I read once a description of depression being someone that is too focused on the past and anxiety as someone who dwells on the future. I am not sure I agree with this completely although I do like it.
If you have good feelings about the past and think the current moment is worse than that, then I can see why this might be depressing. But what if the past was bad and 'now' is much better?
Similarly, by worrying about what might happen in the future and bringing those negative thoughts forward into the present, it makes sense that this would make a person anxious. But imagining a better, brighter future? I am not sure how this could cause anxiousness?
So then, it surely cannot solely be about the past or the future that cause these afflictions of the mind, but instead be about positivity and negativity.
Negativity can be thinking you are a victim, cannot see a way out, wanting things to be the way they were, not letting go.
Positive thinking is gratitude, not longing for material things, enjoying the journey, visualising a better future.
Being stuck in the past in a negative way is a result of negative thinking, which is a result of negative habits. You can create habits of gratitude, of visualisation, of mindfulness of the present. And these result in positive thinking, which results in thinking of the past as simply what got you to 'here' and thinking of the future as what is going to get you 'there.'
Trust the process and enjoy it along the way.
'Let's move on'. The three greatest word to change. Much better than 'this won't work' or 'tried it before' or 'you're talking rubbish.' Better than 'we're off topic,' 'no I won't,' or 'this isn't working.'
"Let's move on' can replace all of these other three-word phrases and it is charged with positivity rather than negativity. How much will the other phrases actually change anyone's mind?
It is very difficult to change someone's opinion. Why do you need to do it right now? It will take time. Realise this and let go of your position; better to build the relationship.
Let's move on.
Let's move on to a subject we do agree on. Let's move on to a better future. Let's move on to a different option.
Forward progress is all that matters. Everything is in constant flux anyway. Everything on the planet is made from the same materials that build and decompose. We are all in this together, so let's all try to move forward together.
There will be opposing forces, but let's move on. There will be people that want us to fail, but let's move on. We will doubt our own ability, but let's move on.
And keep moving on. What is the smallest step you can do? Do that. Then move on. Keep moving on. Repeat every day.
Let's move on
Let's move on
Let's move on
It is okay to not have an opinion. Why busy yourself with trivia? There is someone in my extended family that knows lots of general knowledge and has appeared on and won a number of particularly difficult TV quiz shows. But even to look at him, it is clear that knowledge is not helping him. He is massively overweight. How can someone "intelligent" that has the ability to retain knowledge let himself get that way?
Is he actually intelligent at all? A conversation with this man is, at its most benign, a bore and, at its most frustrating, a series of one-upmanship about a random subject of his choosing. Who cares? Just ask Siri, Alexa, Google. How much longer are humans going to be praised for just remembering things and regurgitating them in computer like fashion?
Hint, in the real world - not long. In school, probably much longer than is useful or necessary.
The only way to be able to accumulate value (wealth) is to give value. If your main source for income is solely predicated on how much you know, how much you remember, on which rules people should be following, then you will soon lose your income to a cheaper human or ultimately to a computer.
With globalisation and the internet, it is easy and much cheaper to employ a version of you in Eastern Europe, India or Thailand (currently). The countries will change, but the trend will not. Work will move country by country and what will you do? Soon anything that is "unskilled" enough will be done by computers and systems entirely. And unskilled is not factory workers, they have already gone. This will be accountants, lawyers, admin assistants. Why do we need humans for these jobs? Just feed in the right stuff and the right stuff will come out the other end.
"Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now." This got stuck in my head after listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. I'm sure it means lucky to be alive rather than dead on a battlefield - it is relatively hard to follow having not seen the show, as well as competing with a five-month-old finding his own voice whilst driving in the car - but I do love this quote.
It is amazing to be living right now. So many things we take for granted growing up and so many more things the next generation will take for granted. How many hours of our teen years were wasted feeling sorry for ourselves despite having more than most humans in history before us? It is amazing that we have electricity, that we can make light at the flick of a switch, let alone that we carry around a pocket-sized device every day that can instantly connect us to anyone else in the world in any format we want: text, voice, video. We can talk to computers and they understand some of what we are saying - that is amazing.
But how easy is it to take for granted? Cursing when the lightbulb goes pop or when there is a power cut for a few hours. Cursing at Siri when she thinks you said "plum" rather than "mom." Cursing the crappy Wi-Fi when a Skype call drops for work.
Look around - how lucky we are to be alive right now. Right now, in this age, before all the dead dinosaur juice is depleted and there is a massive power shift in global politics and monetary policy. Before the water levels rise and we live on smaller and smaller islands. Before our food loses all nutrition from people chasing short-term profit targets.
This is the best time to be alive right now. We do not know if it is going to get better than this. Do you really want to be the person that did not try to follow their dreams during the best time to be alive? Take action today.
If you do not love what you do, you are not likely to stick with it long enough to be able to make it successful. You need to love the process. And when you love the process it does not really matter if you are successful as you are getting to do what you love.
However, as a side effect, it is more likely that you will be successful BECAUSE you are doing something that you love, and all the positive energy slowly makes an impact.
I was speaking to a server in a cafe whilst getting my lunch. It was 31st Jan after having a dry January and also cutting out caffeine, grains, any white carbs, sugar etc. As I was paying for my salad I joked that I might treat myself to one of everything they sell tomorrow as a treat for being good in January. She said, "if I was as skinny as you, then I would eat everything every day." Clearly, we were both joking, but as I walked away I found it interesting that people do want results without knowing what it takes to get there. If I ate anything every day, then I would not be skinny.
It is strange how our brains do this to us. It is easy to see the muscled man or the toned woman and assume that it is easy for them, they are just fit, rather than thinking that they might have been fat, geeky children for all but 1 year of their life and they have worked really hard every day to keep working out and avoiding the temptation of eating crap in order to look like that.
The same thing happens in business - nothing is an overnight success. People with overnight successes have worked for ten years behind the scenes (and will work hard for at least 10 more years) to make something that you have not heard of one day and that everyone's heard of the next day.
It builds, it does not bang.
People want results without the effort. If you asked someone if they wanted to win the lottery they would, of course, say yes. If you said to them that they could have even more money than a lottery win and all they had to do was work on themselves for 15 years for 15 hours a day without a day off, do you think that they would do it? I think not.
Enjoy the journey - make the results be the side product.
The Wisdom Of Doing Something Small But Consistently Is Never Taught In School Or: Why Entrepreneurs Are Currently Born And Not Made
Entrepreneurs are currently born and not made Can it not be taught or is it just not currently taught? At the moment, school teaches you just the opposite of real life - that all energies should be focussed towards pulling a "one-off". There is no consistent trying needed in school.
Everyone should try to set up their own business, just to have the learning opportunity to do it. It does not need to make money - you can do it on the side of your day job or even on the side of formal learning, but you will learn how life actually works by doing this rather than guessing and watching from the side-lines.
What you will probably find is that your focus shifts from one thing to another in a way that is much unlike school. In school, periods are set. You have to spend as much time doing biology as you do mathematics, whether you are interested or good at it or not. Most of school is merely a memory testing we usually remember what we like or are interested in most.
When learning something to set up a business, I have found that I have an intense period of learning, only in order to fulfil a specific need. Once that task is done, if it is not repeated or cannot get better then I do not need to learn anymore.
Not sure which legal entity to start your business as? Learn the pros and cons of each then pick one. Job done. Move on. No need to do a four-year law or finance degree to understand this. If you do - hire someone that can do it for you in an hour or so.
Learning what you need to know and then putting it into practice is not how we got taught at school. Learning was its own end. But putting things into practice, whether in action or in the mind (learning about bettering ourselves) is what really matters.
To those that dropped out of school and had to make their own way, you are luckier than you know. Being good at school and then finding out that it doesn't matter takes years of adjusting to - if people manage it at all.
Where do people spend their time at work? On frivolous things. On worrying what other people, who are no better than them, think.
Everyone has their own shit to deal with. Just because someone is higher than you on an org chart does not mean they have sorted everything out. Probably just the opposite.
Ask yourself why are they working here? If they were that good, why have they not started, or tried to start, their own company? Do they actually know how to market if they were spending their own money? Do they know how to sell with the pressure of not getting any income if they do not convert? Do they know about stock holding and cash flow when that same cash needs to pay the mortgage on their own house?
Are all the people above you on the org chart the critics that Theodore Roosevelt was talking about? Have they actually done anything?
Well, some have. Some have battled their way through. Some have taken hard stances. Some have tried lots of jobs to expand their knowledge and see first-hand that it is easier to criticise another function rather than do the doing that they do, day in day out.
At the same time, there are also the blow-hards. The ones that talk a good game. That set things up like a house of cards and get promoted before leaving the inevitable winds of change to knock the cards down for some other sucker to sort out. The ones that do not seem to actually know anything. That ask what they think are profound questions in the style of a leader, when in fact they are just obvious simple questions that do not require any thought.
Being mistaken for a blow-hard when you are a doer is gut-wrenching. Being mistaken for a doer when you are a blow-hard is surely the ultimate aim of the blow-hard.
The quicker you can work out which one of these you are working for, the better. Preferably in the interview before you accept the job. No need to leave your job if you find out too late - just know.
Blow-hards are always looking for doers. Just try to get directly to the people they speak to as they are likely to steal your work for their own gain. If you are working for a doer, they will give you the credit - like a brotherhood.