Making a change

“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve.” – Coco Chanel

When you are young you can hit the reset button and restart. Time is your friend and you have many lives.

When you get older you don’t have that luxury anymore, but you can still change direction and work with what you’ve got.

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Trusting your gut

Trusting your gut isn’t limited to the big decisions in life. It permeates our daily lives.

  • What to eat.
  • Whether to swim in the sea if the current feels too intense.
  • Deciding to exercise or take a rest because you don’t feel 100%.
  • Which books to read.
  • Who to trust and who stay away from.
  • When to leave and when to stay.
  • When to be quiet and listen.

Trusting your gut is all about the micro moves we make during the day.

The more you listen to yourself, the closer you get to who you are.

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Uncharted territory

Never sail into uncharted waters to avoid a storm. Boats are designed to handle stormy seas. They aren’t designed to run aground on a shallow reef.

Sometimes people borrow money from unethical lenders and ending up losing more than their business when things don’t go to plan.

Every winter, we read about a holidaymaker who takes the back road to avoid the snow traffic and congestion ends up getting stuck in the backcountry with a sad outcome.

Running from imagined danger can end up making things worse. 

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Time to pay it forward

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,”

John F. Kennedy

Don’t ask why no one is helping you, or not taking a chance on you or not believing in you.

Instead, ask why you aren’t helping someone, or giving someone a leg up, or taking a bet on someone even when they still have a lot to prove.

Think back on your own career. Can you name somebody who took a chance on you? Hired you, introduced you, invested time in you, taught you, believed in you?

Pay it forward.

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Bootstrap and build it yourself

The quickest way for me to learn is to bootstrap and build something myself.

I have slowly built my website over time, learning as I go.

The upside of building my stuff is that I’m not reliant on someone else. I experiment and tweak things on my timeline. I own the schedule. If I break it, I know how to fix it or revert the change. If it’s a total screw up, I can ask someone can show me. Significant improvements to my site sometimes mean cutting and pasting bits of code from a google search result and then refreshing to see if it works.

If any WordPress developer peaked under my website’s hood, they would see the equivalent of a one-bedroom house with extensions like a loft, basement, and garage all stapled on that have not been built to code.

My father is also building his site, so sometimes it’s about us sharing notes about new intentional and accidental discoveries that pop up when we tinker with the website.

There’s no formal syllabus. The building roadmap is dictated by what I need next.

Building on the fly is like learning a new language. I prepared by attending some formal French classes when I lived in Luxembourg for a short period. None of that helped. When I arrived in Lux, I couldn’t even understand what people were saying, let alone have a conversation. I learned to get by over time by repeating phrases like ordering coffee, buying bus tickets, and asking for directions. These practical phrases were my building blocks.

It’s the same with building anything new. Look for tools you need to get from point A to point B. Then figure out how to get to point C. It won’t be pretty, but you’ll keep moving forward and being in control will empower you.

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Make a move

“Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow…” – Jeff Bezos

In 1944, General Eisenhower, the Allied Supreme Commander in Europe, had to make one of the most significant decisions of WWII, and time was running out. He had already delayed the D-Day for a month, and he now set a date of June 5, 1944. The weather forecast for June 5 was rain and heavy seas. 

Less than 24 hours before the scheduled invasion, he gathered his advisers again. The weather forecast indicated that the rain would stop, and there would be clear sky breaks in the clouds in the afternoon on June 5. Still, his meteorologists predicted improved conditions for the following day.

Eisenhower decided to delay and changed the date for D-Day to June 6. 

Eisenhower made a decision and gave the order to set in motion the most massive amphibious invasion in world history; 4,000 warships, 10,000 aircraft, and 160,000 troops. Eisenhower had won his gamble with the weather, and within two months, Allied forces broke out from their Normandy beachheads and began their long battle march to liberate Europe.

* * * *

The problem with hiring people from large, slow-moving companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Big Banks, Consulting firms, Big 4 Accounting shops, and top tier law firms is that long timer employees at these companies are conditioned to only make decisions when they have “all” the information. They are not comfortable operating in the grey spaces. They want it black or white. This ends up paralyzing their day to day decisions, and they get out-innovated in the long run.

Work with folks who move fast and comfortable making a call with incomplete information, and listen to their gut and data at the time.

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Accept your seat at the table

When the Goddess of Wealth comes to give you her blessing, you shouldn’t leave the room to wash your face – Hindu Proverb

If you want to win the lottery, you gotta buy a ticket.

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Tinker, build, fiddle, and experiment

Tinker, build, fiddle, and experiment. Get your head out of the theory and into the practical.

Have a bias towards action. You will quickly learn if you like something or not.

Are you thinking of moving to a new neighborhood or town? Get an Airbnb and stay the weekend and walk through the main street.

Are you thinking about buying a new car? See if you can rent one for the weekend and give it a proper test drive.

Are you thinking about starting a new hobby like cycling, surfing, kiteboarding, fishing, or golf? Rent some equipment and give it a spin.

Once you’ve scratched the itch, you’ll get some authentic feedback, and you’ll know if you want to commit more time and money. The trick is starting small with a low commitment. It’s less intimidating, and it gets you going and saves you time if it’s not for you.

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Lightning in a bottle

Dolly Parton wrote ‘Jolene’ and ‘I Will Always Love You’ in one Day in 1972. Brilliance and genius is not a function of hours behind a desk, it’s about catching lightening in a bottle when it strikes.

Find a job or career, where you don’t have to pretend to be busy. On some days you might have to crank the whole day, and other days might be filled with a lot of space and nothingness.

Space and downtime is good because you get to think, listen and commune.

p.s. Dolly Parton is not an overnight success. Writing those songs in one day is a byproduct of hard work, persistence, patience and raw talent. There are no free lunches 🙂

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Moving fast doesn’t have to come at the expense of quality or long term progress

Moving fast doesn’t have to come at the expense of quality or long term progress.

Make small moves and correct mistakes quickly.
Avoid irreversible decisions, so when you change your mind, you don’t have to start from scratch.

The quicker you learn and adapt to reality, the better.

Check your ego and listen to feedback. But you only get that feedback if you put yourself out there. Thinking about doing something while you are in the shower is different from being out there in the dirt.

When you are starting out, act as a field mouse foraging for food while the owl is hunting. Stay alert, be nimble, and use your size and speed to your advantage. Stack up the small wins and then take cover. Repeat and build momentum over time: the more forward momentum you have, the more significant the outcomes.

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