Ball machines are predictable

It’s easier to criticize or dole out advice than it is to do. If people don’t have skin in the game or consequences of a decision or actions, then their opinion doesn’t mean much. 

It’s the same as getting advice from a highly paid consultant who has never run a company day to day. Everything always looks simple and obvious when the outcomes are academic. Academic recommendations don’t factor in real-world dynamics that are unpredictable and filled with unknowns.

Getting academic advice on how to implement something in the real world is like practicing tennis on an indoor court with a ball machine. At the end of an intensive tennis training camp with the ball machine, I’m sure the error rate will be low, and the person will have a stable backhand. Now take that same person and put them on a tennis court in the middle of a sunny day with a breeze. See how their tennis game deteriorates when they are serving with the sun in their eyes and their opponent charges the net after returning serve. Ball machines are consistent and predictable. Real-life is the antithesis of predictable.  

Instead of asking for advice, ask for shared experiences and draw your conclusions. If a person doesn’t have any shared experiences with the task at hand, then press mute and move on.

Frontiers and Boundaries

I love the word frontier which implies exploration and boundary which implies being boxed in. It’s the difference between open and close, curious and close-minded, building a wall and opening a gate.

Cicero is believed to be the greatest speaker that ever lived. So eloquent that Caesar–often the victim of the man’s words and redresses–considered Cicero‘s achievements to be more significant than his own; once remarking that it was nobler to “extend the frontiers of the mind” than it was to the “boundaries of the empire.”

Watch what he does when he’s down

If you want to know how good someone is, then watch what he does when he’s down.

Does he put his head in the sand and ignore the problem? Does put his hands on his ears and drown out reality? Does he spend his time making a list of who is to blame? Does he run away? Does his reality distortion field get set to maximum strength?

Or does he knock on your door at 8am in the morning with 2 cups of black coffee, and ask how he can help? Does he roll up his sleeves and muck in? Does he admit that he needs help and take advice? Does he follow through and take responsibility when everyone else has run for the exits?

Choose wisely when working with people. When the pawpaw hits the fan…and it always will when you are building new stuff then who do you want by your side?

 

The Weirdo Rule

It’s taken me a long time to adhere to the Weirdo rule. Partly because I doubted myself and partly because I was too polite. I’ll still make the mistake of not following it in the future, but I’m getting better with each burn.

Here are some examples of the rule. You’ll get the gist.

When you have met someone multiple times in different settings, and he doesn’t remember your name. Each time he introduces himself to you as if it’s the first time he’s ever met you. A mistake would be to walk away thinking you must a very forgettable person. Wrong. This person is a weirdo. Zero EQ or social skills. Too self involved to notice.

You are having a conversation with someone, and it’s entirely one way. They asked for the meeting or initiated the conversation, but they offer nothing.  A mistake would be for you to keep talking. Maybe you are hard to understand or just boring them to tears? Nope. This person is a weirdo. Stop talking, Pause. There will probably be an awkward moment or two. Goodbye weirdo.

You ask for a rare favor from someone you’ve helped on countless occasions in the past. Your text or email goes unanswered. The next time you see the person they act as if they never saw the email. They’ve ghosted the whole interaction. Your email didn’t fail to send. It’s not still sitting in your draft folder. Their response didn’t go to your junk mail. In the past I would think I probably shouldn’t have asked for a favor, now I just stop helping the weirdo.

Have confidence in your intuition. Be self-aware. Follow up and give people the benefit of the doubt, but don’t start making excuses for weirdos. Life gets a lot more straightforward with this rule.

There is a catch 22 with this rule. You might be the weirdo, then you are screwed.

Constant motion and mistakes

You don’t learn to ride a bike by reading about it. You learn by balancing and moving forward. Over time you get the muscle memory, learn how to adjust and have a few scrapes to prove it. The secret is to get on the bike and keep moving.

Most people just talk. And that where most ideas die. Some people get moving but then most give up after day one. The first wrong turn, small failure or funny look deflates them.

A small minority who persist, get it wrong, recalibrated and follow through. These are the last people left standing. They aren’t even the most talented people. Most of the gifted people are still talking about it either too distracted, seduced or scared to try something.

Don’t sit around waiting for inspiration. Start tweaking and tinkering now. And keep at it.

“Inspiration is for amateurs. Professionals just show up and get to work” – Chuck Close.

 

What you work on works on you

Postive thinking starts with action. It’s not the other way around. People have mantras, dream boards, journals, brainstorms – but none of that stuff matters if you aren’t doing anything about it.

Hang out with and work with positive, action orientated people. When you socialize with doers, it’ll become pretty obvious very quickly who is standing still and who is moving.

Doers don’t have the time or patience for downers and complainers. If they don’t want to be around you, it’s probably because you are a negative person. Misery loves company. Doers love action and positivity.

Doing is contagious. Once you get over the fear of making mistakes or looking silly, then you are 98% of the way there.

Develop daily rituals and habits. Habits and routines are exercises that craft and sculpt your character.

Be a happy warrior and do the work.

 

Follow the themes and trends

Follow themes and trends. Avoid the breaking news. Cancel cable news and “NewsTwitter.”

Don’t just avoid the clickbait, flee from it.

Pay for your news – subscribe to the Washington Post.

Don’t read the free daily clickbait blogs (tech, politics, entertainment). Gossip sites are free because you are the product and they are paid to get you to click. It’s like IHOP “All you can eat” but for news. You’ll leave feeling sorry for yourself and guilty. You wouldn’t accept free food from a random roadside food truck, so don’t do it with what you read.

Invest for the long term. Don’t pay attention to “market corrections,” “Trump bumps,” “Trade WARS,” crypto’s ups and downs. It’s all short-term BS, pontifications and breaking news. Invest in trendlines. Set it and forget it.

Read this every morning if you feel the urge to click. It’s like eating an apple instead of a Twinkie.