All The Little Things
"Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance"
"Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance" - Kurt Vonnegut
One of the most commonly asked questions in mentorship sessions I am asked often revolves around "having an impact" or "how do I make big changes." It's interesting to dissect a bit, and I can only offer some "advice" from past experiences and my perspective.
It is a bit off when someone or an organization thinks there's a clear path to eliciting huge change by boiling the ocean. It doesn't matter the 'what' - an attempt to make a massive culture change, technology shift, or something on a personal level like changing a life-long habit - big bang approaches don't usually work.
Change isn't like an asteroid hitting the planet. (Well, ok, that would change a few things). The simple truth is that for most items to register any importance or cause significant impact, change can only come from long-term consistency and micro-improvements.
Little things that add up to big things over time.
Often what many see as others having "success" is (behind the scenes) built on years of failure, missteps, incremental learning, documenting/journaling what worked, and continuous iteration.
"It takes about six years of hard work to become an overnight success; So, if you're going to write a book in six years, please start now and focus on hard work, breaking new ground and being a standup guy." - Seth Godin
Here's a counterintuitive example from the world of running. (Standard warning applies - even though I've run marathons and half-ironmans, I'm not a certified coach or have any form of medical insight); There's tons of research out there showing that 80% of your workouts should be done slowly. Going out and pushing yourself to start running fast isn't going to get you anywhere outside of an injury. But the 80/20 training rule - running at a slower pace helps your body increase the rate at which it converts oxygen to glycogen for fuel - gets your body more efficient over time.
It builds endurance to run harder without fatigue.
This illustrates the power of continuous progress.
Setting yourself up for big wins is often a quick path to failure. And honestly, as a human, small victories every day/week help build momentum. Its what we need.
"Well-being is realized by small steps, but is truly no small thing." - Zeno
If anything, I want to stress, that the most success you can have is in the process for change itself, not the actual outcome. The simple fact is, you have control of the process:
- you decide if you go for that workout or sleep in.
- you decide to eat the donut or the vegetables.
- you decide if you want to get sleep or stay up late.
- you decide to stay shackled to the past or focus on the future.
Your focus should ultimately be on the things you can control to make long-term changes. Focus on the systems you put in place to make slight, continuous improvements to get you to a different place.
Keep a journal of those improvements. Read it back in a year.
You'll be shocked at how far you've come in whatever you may be attempting.
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Shawn Blanc had a quick post this week on Minimums and Maximums that bears repeating:
I think it was Greg McKeown who I first heard suggest the following:
- Have a minimum amount of time set aside for the good, the deep, and the essential things.
- Have a maximum amount of time set aside for those things which are shallow and not essential.
150% dead on.
Thoughts of the week
I've been a long-time fan of the gear from Western Rise; I've previously backed their Airloft Jacket and really have enjoyed the Versa Hat; so when I saw they had a new offering, I quickly jumped on it. Check out The Meta Shell, which went live on Kickstarter and was funded in a few hours. And how cool is this: it even converts to a sling bag.
We created the Meta Shell because most rain jackets feel like wearing a trash bag. They are hot, they are crinkly, don't breathe, wrinkle, look terrible, are uncomfortable to wear, and don't move with your body. Not only that, they only work when it's cool and raining, so you look ridiculous carrying one around when it may or may not rain. We were tired of having to carry something that didn't meet our standards, so we completely rethought how a rain jacket was built.
There's an excellent overview of the new offering at Carryology, or if you want to back it, check out their Kickstarter.
This weeks "Deep Links"
Here are a few of the articles and videos that resonated with me over the last week:
- One of the most frequently asked questions I get from people I am advising or chatting with on business is "should I quit my job" and "Shields Down" is one of the best reads on the topic. "As a leader of humans, I've watched sadly as valued co-workers have resigned. Each time I work to understand two things: Why are they leaving? When did their shields go down?" - More
- I loved the idea of the Douglas Adams Inflection point, which was brought to my attention by (the aptly named) "Have I reached the Douglas Adams Inflection point (or is modern tech just a bit rubbish)?". The article posits: "Do I have a low tolerance for over-hyped gimmicks which are forever doomed to change the world next year.." which is something I think we all relate to - More
- If you watch any Marvel movies, you can easily recognize the sound of Tony Starks Ironman blasters firing up, and "The Iconic Sounds of the Marvel Cinematic Universe" is a fun watch with Adam Savage exploring Skywalker Sound. Check out how they create a 'sense of continuity for fans' through sound - More
- "Your Career Hype Doc" is described as 'the most important career doc for you,' essentially a living document focused on the micro-level accomplishments you want to remember. I love this form of journalling, especially lensing on this week's topic of 'little things adding up to big things'; we tend to forget all the small important achievements - More
- Why not? It's 2022: "3 Ways to Throw an Elbow Strike" demonstrates one of the most effective tactics in hand-to-hand combat - throwing a powerful elbow to an attacker's face (or, how to survive budget season) (kidding!) - More
- "I Have a Lot of Books, Yes, But..." resonated with me, as I, too am way better at buying books than reading them. The Antinet Zettelkasten is a process of 'extracting brief thoughts of important pages onto a special type of note' where it focuses on core ideas and similar topics. More importantly, it pushes a thought model towards reading for putting knowledge into use instead of entertainment - More
- This one is a doozy - "Useless Meetings Waste Time and $100 Million a Year for Big Companies". I always push on that meetings should have: an agenda, questions to answer, and the desired outcome; if not - don't go. Always try to lens in "if I'm in a meeting, how do I add value?"; and if the answer is "I don't" - you probably shouldn't be in that meeting - More
- The more you know, and I'm just going to leave this one here: "Mahna Mahna: How a Ditty From a Soft-Core Italian Movie Became the Muppets Catchiest Tune." - More
- I love the work of David Lynch, so I'm not surprised by "How David Lynch Got Creative Inspiration? By Drinking a Milkshake at Bob's Big Boy, Every Single Day, for Seven Straight Years". - More
- This one popped back up in my feed this week, as it still holds tremendous relevance. In "What We Lost," Rands explores the "sterile dehumanizing experience" of video calls and the fatigue we feel at the end of the day due to them - More
- "Hello, I'd Like to Network at You" was a fun one. I feel besieged by spam calls (how on earth are folks getting my number) and connection requests for contracting firms, and this one puts a fun, humorous spin on it all - More
- The battle for your attention: "New Report Highlights the Decline of Facebook and IG, as TikTok Becomes the New Home of Entertainment." Some alarming reports about how social media is now competing against other forms of entertainment - More
Closing out this week with a fantastic set of drawings (animated for your enjoyment) from Helen Green of the hairstyles of David Bowie. They range from before he was a star in 1964 to 2 years before his death in 2016.
Be well. ✌🏻