This is ingrained in us from an early age but is not innate. Even the best hunting machines in the animal kingdom by far fail more than they win. Lion versus gazelle, nine times out of ten the gazelle will get away. The lion has adapted to have enough energy from one meal to be able to keep failing. We must do the same.
What do you have the energy to fail at?
Probably not something that you do not care about - an exam in a subject you hate, a job interview just to pay the bills. But what about something that you are passionate about? Music? You must fail a lot to learn an instrument and keep practising anyway. Sport? You are not going to win the World Cup without ever losing.
But school and some companies gear us up to fear failure. Which ironically is the surest way to ensure failure - it is just that it will be later on.
The fear that one exam will ruin your whole life will show itself again throughout your life. You are afraid to speak up in that meeting. You are afraid to change jobs even though you hate it. You are afraid to do something that you are passionate about.
What is stopping you?
Only the constraints that society has put on you. Surround yourself with other information. Surround yourself with positivity instead of fear and realise that failing is moving forwards. Keep trying anyway. Keep the passion. Embrace the gift of something not working out, take the lessons from it and try something else.
What is the alternative? To be paralysed into inaction your whole life? Do something.
Why is hip-hop is so inspiring? Because they created something out of nothing. Sure, every artist does this, but it seems like hip-hop had more adversity than others. I watched the defiant ones on Netflix recently and it is so motivating. I am sure lots of people will take from it that they were lucky, but serendipity does not happen when you are at home on your couch doing nothing. Here is what I took from it:
Always work towards the bigger picture. Jimmy Iovine would not have a career if he had not gone to the studio on a holiday and met Bruce Springsteen. And Jimmy wanted to quit being an engineer on Born to Run because he was tired of asshole artists. His boss told him to look at the bigger picture. Your job is not to get paid for 9-5, your job is to help the artists make the best album they can make and if you do that, you will have a friend for life. Which brings me on to...
Relationships, relationships, relationships. Everything is built on relationships. Everything. Every opportunity and every risk. And they are best cultivated in person. And if not in person, then on the phone. Phone someone every day and keep that relationship hot. Whenever they signed someone tricky to get, it was because a relationship went sour and the artist wanted out. They got the artist because they worked on building and maintaining the relationship.
To scale, produce the producers. Jimmy realised that he could not get across all the artists he wanted to, so he had to get other producers rather than do all the work himself. This is not managing the managers, this is leading the leaders - and everyone can be a leader.
Get great people and let them do what they do. Do not try to control or manage the fall-out of great people. Just put the blinkers on them, set them down the course and let them ride. You got them for their good bits, do not try to manage their bad bits. That is part of who they are, and you will interfere with their creativity and passion if you do.
I found this so interesting and I for one have got a habit I want to try - phone every day. What are you going to try from this list? Let me know in the comments.
You can get a lot done with a small group of great people. You feel like you can change the world, and sometimes you can. Having just one person that is negative, that does not "play with the other children nicely," that just slows things down unnecessarily can destroy this.
Having the right team around you makes all the difference. Equally, having too many people, irrespective of their ability has the same effect. Things become slow, arguments get circular, discussions turn to consensus and things get taken out and "decided" one to one in different forums.
Two easy things to check next time you feel like this:
- Have we got the right people on this?
- Is this the minimum we can manage with or can we take more people out?
In the second of this weekend's link posts, an excerpt from an article by Ron Gibori on the common mistake that keeps businesses at a standstill. The excerpt below resonated this week due to writing a post about Jimmy Iovine to be posted soon.
Remove your ego and make the best decision for your company.
The simple truth is that networking and investment are priceless and necessary for any entrepreneur. Whether or not it means giving away equity, having consignments for your idea from influential thought leaders is crucial. A page in a local publication or being highlighted on a high-traffic site because you know the editor is a quick route to growth and success.
As much as you spend time working on and refining your idea, don't forget to nurture the relationships of the people around you. Nobody climbs to the top by themselves, somebody had to build the ladder.
Read the whole article here
The first of this weekend's link posts is from Ryan Holiday with 7 stoic strategies for navigating the workplace. Our favourite is below, but read them all here.
On tough days we might say, "My work is overwhelming," or "My boss is really frustrating." If only we could understand that this is impossible. Someone canât frustrate you, work canât overwhelm you â these are external objects, and they have no access to your mind. Those emotions you feel, as real as they are, come from the inside, not the outside.
The Stoics use the word hypolepsis, which means "taking up" - of perceptions, thoughts, and judgments by our mind. What we assume, what we willingly generate in our mind, thatâs on us. We canât blame other people for making us feel stressed or frustrated any more than we can blame them for our jealousy. The cause is within us. They're just the target.
Read the whole article here
This has to come above all else. Just like looking after yourself first because you cannot help anyone else if you do not have your health. As long as your focus is on how to help others, then looking after yourself first is okay. If you have a tendency to be selfish, then you may need different advice. But if you are the sort of person that always puts others before yourself, you may be burning yourself out to the point that you can no longer help them.
It is okay to take some time for yourself. You need to unwind, decompress, de-stress. There is no point putting others first if you are angry, irritable and frustrated. Sort yourself out so that you are in the right frame for your interactions. Otherwise, you are not really helping - you are there in body but not in mind - just going through the motions because you have to.
A quick cheat code for getting some time for yourself? Get up before everyone else. No need to lose sleep, go to bed earlier. Getting up earlier is the easiest way to be more productive. Workout, meditate, journal. Whatever it is you need to do to get back to yourself, early morning is the easiest time to do it before the day descends into chaos and whim.
I was watching Master Chef. What a decadent people we humans have become. I watched someone prepare cauliflower for three hours. Slicing it, grilling it, making balls of it in solution and making a powder out of it. They served it four ways with a tiny ball of sheepâs these on top. Whilst it looked good, and was obviously a testament to the technical skills and creativity of the chef, do we really need to mess around with our food?
The answer to this question was made clear for me when the critic who tasted it described it as very clever because when he ate a bit of the cauliflower along with the cheese that exploded in his mouth, he said it tasted like cauliflower cheese - something much less extravagant that could be knocked up in a tenth of the time. If you want to eat something that tastes like cauliflower cheese, then why not just eat that rather than over complicate things?
Unsophisticated is the counter-argument. You are not sophisticated enough to understand the delicate flavours and all of the work involved. You must be unsophisticated if you like to eat actual cauliflower cheese for a tenth of the price.
I feel like money comes first and then seeking a way to waste it. Michelin star restaurants are the epitome of this for me. Why can we not be happy eating plain porridge for every meal? Why must we seek out the most elaborate processes possible for our food to be tampered with before we can enjoy it?
Why must food be exciting at all? It does not need to be anything more Than just fuel for the body if we do not give in to our need for pleasure.
Of course, we do this in every area of life. Spending money and over complicating things to further the perception of ourselves to others. We love to over complicate things as it makes us look clever, indispensable, that we need a bigger team to cope.
What can you try today to live with the scantest of fare, to think from first principals, to simplify? See how it feels.
If you do not have a plan when things go wrong, what do you do? You are trusting yourself to make a reasoned choice quickly amongst chaos and emotion. Planning is not some magical thing where you have to tirelessly plan out every scenario or every detail - as people who hate planning might think. Nor is thinking that the plan will need to change anyway so why bother doing it in the first place.
It is the planning, rather than the plan itself, that is beneficial. It is the thinking time ahead of chaos that allows better decisions when the plan is knocked off track, even if you have not formally considered the event or circumstances that end up impacting the plan.
Similarly, it is much easier to assess what is going on in life through a mental model. We have mental models whether we consciously choose them or not, so why wouldn't you want to be conscious of them! To be more aware of yourself, you need to be aware of the mental models you are using.
A plan is very to mental model, it helps make sense of what is going on around you, and the consequences, very quickly. It provides structure now, to any further decision. With no plan to start with, things will quickly descend into scattered panic and disorder at the first sign of trouble.
This is what leaders do. They must sell the vision of the future, gain buy-in and then get on track through a plan.
Meetings are no different. They will descend into mindless chatter and chaos without knowing the vision of the meeting - the purpose. There must also be a semblance of structure - an agenda. It does not need to be detailed, but it does need to be there to protect the purpose of the meeting.
Things will go off track but deciding how to get back on track is much easier now you have done the groundwork.
Wanting little is the key to a good life. We were watching Seven Year Switch on TV with a wife who did not work berating her husband for not being ambitious and for being too childish. She wanted money to buy a car to go and do nice things. They have a small child and he is amazing with her, running around enthusiastically on the playground whilst the wife was tense and worried about getting the child home to be changed or fed. He also loves his job. He does bar work so not likely to have a substantial increase in salary, but he loves it.
It was really interesting to see the reasons they cited for being unhappy. For another couple, the same things could be what they dream about. Living in the UK, not under a dictatorship, not in a war zone, not in famine or disease or high crime. Having a child when this is so precious to those that cannot have children. Having a loving husband who wants to help out with the cleaning, cooking, childcare and makes enough time to do this.
There is so much to be grateful for and to enjoy, yet all the wife could focus on was a lack of material things. If she did have a husband that worked fourteen hours a day to earn money to buy them things they did not need, I suggest that she still would not be happy either. I think that what she is really worried about is how she comes across to her friends and parents.
Worrying what other people think can lead to a lifetime of unhappiness. This is the first thing to consciously let go of and then keep practicing and reminding yourself every day.
In my day job, we have a project to replace an IT system. We have the opportunity to take all the good parts from the old one and fix the bad bits. We can do this in life too.
Physically moving to a different climate, moving to a different partner, moving to a different job. But the new thing will also have other bad bits that you were not aware of at the time.
In our IT system example, we have managed to fix some of the annoyances of the past but things that we thought were going to be amazing have fallen short of the sales pitch and now have become annoyances themselves. Some of them are because the new system is worse than the old one in some areas and one because although it has gotten better, the benchmarks of expectation have moved on.
The same is true of our other examples. Moving to a different country? Now you complain it is too hot rather than too cold. Moving to a different partner? Now you complain they smother you with too much attention rather than being too aloof. Moving to a different job? Now you complain about the hours required rather than the salary.
There is a way, however, of taking all the good parts of life and leaving the bad bits. You just need to cultivate two habits: gratitude and not complaining. Realise that the only thing in your control is your mind, then you may take a second through before taking physical action.
Gratitude and not complaining sound like the same thing, but in practice, they are subtly different. Gratitude is being grateful for what you already have in the past and in the present. Not complaining is the ability to catch yourself in the moment. Gratitude is a proactive practice. Not complaining is reactive practice - the last defence - but still in your control.