Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Yesterday is dust, tomorrow a dream. Our gift is now.

My daughter called me earlier this month, but I let it go to voice mail. I was busy. I didn't have time to chit chat.

That's kind of a pattern for me. I duck and weave through each day based on my priorities, deciding who and what gets through to me. If there's a lot of work to do, I ignore all but the most frantic requests.

If I didn't do that, I'd be overrun with people demanding too much of my time. How would I get anything done?

Sometimes I'm even like that on vacation. Because my business is online, I feel an obligation to get some work done, even when I've traveled quite a distance to be "on vacation". 

Like being in Croatia this summer and blowing off a basketball game to do something I don't even remember on the the computer. It probably wasn't really that important. Maybe I just wanted to seem busy.

This weekend, I got a bit of a kick. Nothing happened to me, or my family. For that, I'm grateful.

But I was on Facebook (where else, right?) and was just poking along and saw a friend had posted an update. I had to read it twice. I was confused. His son had died. Gone. Less than 30 years old. 

My immediate reaction was disbelief. Come on. I know that kid. He's a great guy. That's a guy that loves music. He has an awesome smile. There's a ton of things he's doing right now. 

But that's not going to happen now. That's ended. There's no turning back the page. 

My heart breaks for my friend and his family. How they'll rebuild their lives with that huge piece missing. I doubt anything will ever fill that hole. It's too big. 

They'll go on, as we all do. Obligations to be met, things to tend to. The daily ebb and flow of life washing over them.

But I know for myself, something burned into my mind when I saw that. How wrong I have been in the allocation of my time. 

Maybe I'm terrible for turning the event to thinking of my own family, but I couldn't help reflect on how I've put projects in front of people so often. It would crush me to be held to account for it right now.

And so, I made a promise to myself. To be a little wiser in how I spend my time. Not to be so quick to duck phone calls from people. Especially my kids. 

Last night the phone rang. It was my daughter. She gave me the gift of an hour together with her. 

Every word was a little clearer, every feeling more delicious. She spoke, and I consumed. 

Maybe that's what that huge hole is for. The one my friend's son left behind. It's a window into the purpose of our existence. It's not to be the one with the most money, or the biggest house. Your heart can only be filled with love. Everything else leaks away. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Life is full of obstacles, don't create your own.

There are a ton of quotes about setting goals in the stars, and hitting the moon, etc...and while they might provide some momentary inspiration, I think it's a poor strategy for actually reaching a goal.


Well, my friend Jason Surfrapp just wrote an article about a fitness program that he tried out, that illustrates the danger of pushing people into programs of radical change. In short, when it's hard to get a feeling of success, it takes much more will power than most people can muster to stay in the game.

The psychology of this is pretty simple. If something is only providing pain, and no pleasure, it's just a matter of time before you will abandon it. Who wants to work hard to be presented repeatedly with a message of "You failed"?

Sure, failure is part of any path of growth. But it shouldn't be built in to what you're doing. Whatever your long-term goal is, be sure the path to get there is built on a highway of simple successes. Failure may occur, but it shouldn't be designed into your program.

To be clear, I think there is a major distinction between your overall goal, and your plan (mini-goals) to get there. Difficult goal? Awesome. Daunting path? Questionable.

Maybe your goal is to run a marathon. But at present you can only walk down the block. Make your first mini-goals to walk two, then three, etc. If you're going to try to go from walking a block to running a marathon, which is an aggressive goal, it's just silly to make your program aggressive too.

When you try to do too much too soon, you're too likely to end up frustrated and back to your old ways. Conversely, success begets success.

In recent article by James Altucher, about what he learned from interviewing Tony Robbins, this point is made crystal clear. The idea of bring the target closer. It refers to Tony training the US Army on how to improve it's marksmanship.

By starting with the target at close range, the soldiers got confidence in hitting it. Slowly it was moved further and further away, until they were exhibiting outstanding shooting from a distance. But that success was built on the simple victories of shooting from close up.

Design your own goals in the same way. Feel free to make your overall goal audacious, so long as your path to getting there is reasonable. There will be enough obstacles to side track you, don't let your own plan be one of them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Maybe you don't have a problem, just the wrong perspective.

As you may or may not know, I spend about half the year living in Europe. Yesterday was Independence Day in Poland. It was quiet outside. Except for a handful of shops, everything was closed. It's a scene normally seen in the US only on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

When I first moved here, it bugged me. I didn't like planning around these holidays when nearly all stores are closed. Why can't they just stay open? I lamented.

I was wrong. Frankly, it's awesome. Having a forced break in the action is a good thing. Having a dozen days a year when the excuses for chilling out are simply erased. How cool is that? Very cool I say.

In our hyper connected world the temptation is to run from one activity to the next. Day off? Better buy those things you could not get during the work week. It's a holiday, more time to get things done. Ugh. Stop it!

Activity is not advancement. Even if it were, what's the point of advancing if you've discarded everything in life worth caring about?

It  may not be a holiday today in the US, but the next time you have a day off, try just pulling the plug. Or do something completely unrelated to work or your normal routine. In short, take a break.

It's easy to be led into believing that a little more effort will solve a problem. Very often with a little distance from our routine, we may find we don't actually have a problem, just the wrong perspective.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Success is normally found in a pile of mistakes...

We usually see success when it's been polished up a little like a diamond. It's pretty, and everyone wants it. That's where the problem comes for those seeking success. Often they've been deluded by appearances that success starts out looking like the finished product.

Nope. Success, as I have written before, is messy. You'll bump into things, make mistakes that'll have you cringing with embarrassment at times. You'll waste time on dumb ideas, get distracted, and waste more time. But, that's all part of the journey. 

Eventually you'll be getting better at what you are doing. You'll look in your pile of mistakes and see some flecks of gold, or diamonds. You'll figure how you got them, and start improving the way you work. In time, you'll have a great understanding of what you are doing, and progress will come much easier. More gold and diamonds. Nice.

Just to give you an example, when I was trying to grow my old investigative business, we went through many iterations of trying to keep up with the dictated reports that were submitted by investigators. This was expensive due to the overnighting of tapes, and on occasion we had to spend a ton of time looking for a missing tape. Then a woman who was working transcribing tapes asked why I didn't have a medical dictation system.

The reason? I didn't know what it was. But the system allowed all that dictation to be done via telephone every night. No more audio tapes, no more daily inbound express packages. In retrospect it seemed crazy we hadn't looked into it. But we didn't know such systems existed. But fixing that mistake was easily worth over a $100k per year. A nice additional profit.

You can improve the process by doing plenty of studying beforehand, but as my example illustrates, you'll probably still screw up. That's good. Because your success is going to be in that pile of mistakes. Just keep looking. 

Good luck!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right. - Henry Ford

A great quote by Henry Ford. There are plenty of other quotes about the role of belief in people's ability to accomplish things. 

In my experience, they are 100% true.

Now, if you can somehow trick yourself into thinking you can fly, that's not what I'm talking about.

However, there are many situations I have found myself in where I found myself delaying something or not doing it because I thought "I don't know how". 

Even after 53 years of living, I still play that game with myself. I'm convinced my idea for a podcast is sound, but I put all sorts of things in front of it, because of fear and a goofy internal dialog. 

It was no different when I started Omega nearly 18 years ago. Did I have a clue? No, I did not. But I just kept pushing myself forward. One more call, one more item on the list, until I was just doing it. If there was an inflection point, I have no idea what it was. 

The moral of my story. The best way to gain the "think you can", is to do it. Fail, but try. Try again. With every increment of effort you'll get better, and your confidence will increase. 

If you want to have your own business, then break it into "bite-sized" pieces. One at a time, try and master them. The process of doing that gives you not only the skill to start a business - it also gives you the confidence, the belief. 

Perhaps you truly can't today, but with effort inability will go away.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Real failure isn't a moment in time, it's an attitude in your mind.

In the movies, things are often painted with a nice black or white brush. We know what winning looks like, and we know what losing looks like. Success and failure are properly labeled so we can easily recognize them.

In real life, we might imagine such labels exist, but the reality is that they don't. Failure and success are often two different perspectives on an event. And even those perspectives are subject to change over time. 

For example, there was a company called Blue Ribbon Sports, known better today as Nike. In 1971, they were a tiny business that was losing their distributorship for ASICS running shoes in the USA. This effectively put them out of business. They had no product to sell. In that moment, it would be easy to look at this event and declare it failure. 

But founder Phil Knight managed to find someone to manufacture a new design, to create their own product - later known as Nike. If they had NOT lost the distributorship, they may have carried on as a distributor. While there's nothing especially wrong with that, it would have meant that you'd have never heard "Just Do It" as there would be no Nike. There's no way that a distributor would have the brand equity that Nike does. In essence, losing the distributorship was a major success. But it took a bit of time to see that. Most importantly, it took the will to keep going.

Such is the nature of much failure and success. What looks good in a given moment may not stand the test of time. Conversely, what looks like a complete failure today can be the genesis of a remarkable success. Keep that in mind before you become too downcast over a setback. Real failure isn't a moment in time, it's an attitude in your mind. Stay positive and just keep looking.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why blogging every day is a risky, goofy idea.

"You should blog every day"

This is a piece of advice I hear pretty frequently that I think is goofy. 

Look, there's no question that developing something of a rhythm with readers is important. But the idea that you'll have something worthwhile to say every day is flawed. 

If you churn out some garbage just to make your deadline, you're violating the trust of your readers. And as a content creator, trust is about all you've got. Why would you try to create an expectation of daily content when you may be having trouble knocking out a weekly blog?

If, someone shows up to read your blog for the first time and you're content that day is weak, what makes you think they'll come back for more? Isn't it a better idea to develop compelling content weekly? Write an article based on questions you see coming in, and then refine it over a week to make it a real value add for readers. 

There's obviously no set recipe for success in anything. But if you want people to flock to your content, you'd better take the time to let it ferment, get edited, and released when it is ready to be savored by readers. Once it's out of the "kitchen" you'll be judged by it's merit and quality.

Personally, I blog when I have the time to write something I think is worthwhile. Perhaps most folks would procrastinate. I'd actually love to do something daily, but if I'm too busy with other things, on holiday or just am throwing up rubbish ideas, I'd prefer to wait. That's my duty to you, the reader. 

But what do y'all think? Is more better? Is frequency a concern? Please let me know your thoughts.

All the best from sunny Poland.