Simplify

Simplify things. This isn’t just about the things you own. It’s about the personal and work commitments as well. Say “no” more often and say “yes” to a simplified life. De-clutter your life. Pick one or two things and do that super well. Don’t be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Go deep, be present and give it 100%

Feeling the flow

You know when you are in the flow. Decisions feel like perfectly paired joints locking together. Opportunities in the form of people, ideas and things uncloak. You don’t look back or forward, there is only now. Recognize and remember the flow feeling. You’ll know it when you feel it.

Keep showing up 

Persistence is the secret ingredient to long term growth. I’ll use writing as an example. Check out non celebrity writers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or WordPress. They write something most days (normally multiple things) and their followers start to expect a post on a daily basis. Some posts will be good, some brilliant and some forgettable – the point is that it’s dependable and persistent. Over time their readers see the musings and writings of the author as companion pieces to the day – like a morning coffee.

There’s the January gym crowd who start off with a bang and putter out around February, then there are the lifers who show up every morning and slowly get fit and stay fit. Lifers don’t have New Year’s resolutions because they have a standing daily exercise appointment that they don’t miss. It’s the same with writing. Never miss the appointment.

Persistence is underrated and underused because people think it’s obvious and table stakes for success. The reality is that most people give up early, so it normally does come down to the last person standing who gets the prize.

Show up every day. Persist

“Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.” – Raymond Joseph Teller

Sycophant moats 

Some people surround themselves with a claque and never hear the truth. The politicians and celebrities who do this are easy to spot because they are under the klieg lights in the public domain. An objective observer sees it immediately. It’s cringeworthy because the people inside the bubble think it’s completely normal.

When the truth does catch up with them, and it always does, they refuse to believe it or melt down and replace the messenger with a loyal sycophant comrade.

A moat of sycophants creates an impenetrable reality distortion field. Truth is the only antidote. Don’t be an enabler. Speak truth to power or go spend your time elsewhere.

Live and work with people who hold you accountable, and are quietly confident enough to tell you the truth.

Movers and Stayers

There are certain towns and cities that are welcoming and growing. The place immediately hits the right notes and I feel a familiar frequency resonate through my bones.

These places have a common theme: the citizens have chosen to live there or move there. There’s an abundance mindset and an air of optimism. The assumption is that people are default good and there’s more than enough to go round. I can almost hear them saying ‘Come on in, the water is great!’ Uprooting their lives and moving to a new place takes guts…it’s scary. A trait among newcomers is that they overcame the fear of the unknown and took the plunge. Those are the kinds of gutsy, courageous and welcoming people I encounter.

The opposite are places where people feel trapped or locked in. There’s a scarcity mindset. People are holding on tight to what they’ve got, its unwelcoming and unfriendly. Strangers aren’t welcome and the default assumption is that new people are here to take and not contribute. I suppose that dying or failing companies are the same way.

It’s a consistent pattern wherever I go. Are people living or working there because they choose to, or are they trapped or too fearful to leave?

Listen to your gut. The next time you get the scarcity mindset feeling, it’s worth exploring. It’s a big red flag about the core constituency of any place.

Persistence and compassion are underrated

These lines in the NYT Michael Bloomberg interview resonated with me. It covers what I think is important. Persistence, compassion and hard work.

Who Gets the Job

What disturbs me is you talk to kids applying today and they invariably say, “I cured cancer, I brought peace to the Mideast.” Spare me. How about, “My father never existed, my mother is a convicted drug dealer. I worked three shifts at McDonald’s.” That’s the kind of kid I want — with an ethic of taking care of his family — because then he’ll take care of others. Some of us don’t have much prenatal intelligence, but nevertheless go out and try and have a decent chance of surviving. I’m not the smartest guy in the room, but nobody’s going to outwork me.

And he doesn’t look in the rear view mirror.

What I Would Have Done Differently

Given the way things turned out, nothing.

It’s a great interview. Read the rest here.

Work with clever and kind people

Work with clever people who are kind. Look for them, stay close to them, and learn from them.

Be weary of clever people who are unkind. Keep your distance and handle with caution.

Clever and kind people nurture and grow powerful communities of trusted friends who in turn connect and amplify those connections. Be part of that community. It’s powered by kindness and it’s evergreen.