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Near-daily doses of curiosity & creativity
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Go fast: push Go Far: pull

I know how to push. How to talk negatively towards myself. How to fear failure more than anything. How to just make myself do it.

I’m afraid I won’t be as good / go as far / be as successful if I quit pushing.

The tough news is that I might be right in the short term: I won’t be as successful if I don’t push. I can probably lose more weight on a crazy 4-day crash (read: push) diet than I could on a 4 day “pull” diet.

But successful long term change comes from pulling. From honoring your deep desires. Those same diets over a year? No competition. Pull will knock the socks off the crazy push spree.

And for even more honesty, there are times that we need a break from the push.

Pulling can feel like cheating. But, its hardly always easy. The hardest thing about pulling is making sure that you actively remember what it is that you really want.

I want to feel light and energetic more than I want this donut. I want to have extra energy, so I want to go weight lift today. I want to feel accomplished tonight, so I want to send this uncomfortable email now!

Its not always easy, but it is simple & effective.

When you want to go fast, push… when you want to go far, pull.

I strive to play the long game in life: I aim to pull myself towards my goals.

I use my ability to push as a tool to sprint.

It’s powerful (and smart) to use all the tools in your arsenal.

Sound Bite Culture

Sound bites are sexy. They are attention grabbing. They are clear and succinct.

Trouble is? Our world isn’t.

Our world is complicated, our challenges multi-faceted and our solutions, they are shades of grey.

And although they have their place in marketing, they should not have a place in our decision making. We seriously undermine our ability to understand and appreciate the many facets of the truth when what we hold true is a sound bite.

Remember, the sexy sound bite doesn’t lead to the nuanced truth.

GOOD GOAL: More of your best

 

The most fulfilling goals are almost always simple, but not easy — and this one is no exception.

Do more of what you do best and most naturally — and less of everything else.

Another way to state it would be to structure your work and your life around becoming  a better, truer version of yourself. Its all about spending the maximum time in your genius zone.

To do this successfully there are a number of leaps that need to be made. You need to:

  1. Develop and maintain the self awareness to know when you are at your best.
  2. Understand and communicate the value of working at your best (otherwise, you won’t get paid for it).
  3. Earn the trust and negotiate buy in from your leadership that enables focus.
  4. Cultivate the support system that will not only take all the other stuff off of your plate, but even more importantly, actually accentuate and enhance your strengths with their own.
  5. Build the discipline to focus on your genius, without getting distracted by things that you are good at… or things that you are great at… or things you do quickly… or that one, little, high priority item that you can just squeeze in (its no big deal).

The biggest win? Turning your weakness into a solvable problem. Even a small step in that direction improves everything.

One of, if not the single most important skill to thrive in a creative life (emotionally, intellectually, spiritually) is self management, or the internal ability to affect your mood, energy, productivity and attitude.

Everyone can cultivate it.

Another way to think about it — it’s your ability to be a good boss to yourself. Your ability to direct motivate, focus, grow and sustain yourself. Pretty much the same list of core responsibilities of any manager!

Here are four great questions to start thinking about how you currently manage yourself… and how you can be a better boss for yourself!

  1. What is my #1 priority? Am I honoring it?
  2. What drives me to action?
  3. When do I handle setbacks effectively? When do they derail me?
  4. What replenishes me?

Even small improvements in self-management are 10x wins in life, so make them long term changes. Small & steady wins this race.

Working on the wrong things

 

It’s easy to be busy.

Easy to fill every moment of the day with things that need to be done.

It’s extremely challenging to create a life where you constantly work on the right things — the important stuff that isn’t urgent.

You only find out what those things are when you slow down enough to step outside of yourself and your busy-ness. That is how strategy is uncovered.

What does this mean?

When you’re overwhelmed, don’t struggle to go faster, rather slow down, reflect & re-prioritize.

The truth is that it gets much, much worse before it starts to get better.

Overwhelm, confusion and mess sneak up on you. It feels like you had more clarity, cleanliness & safety before you started.

And THEN you have to start making hard decisions. Does this add to my business / life? Am I ever going to use this again? Is this who I really want to be?

It’s not comfortable and it is extremely tempting to give in. To just go back to what worked in the past… to just move everything… But that’s not what we came here to do.

With strategy & with moving, the discomfort needs to be moved through to get to somewhere better, somewhere with greater clarity and quality.

It’s always darkest before dawn.

What’s Your Limiting Factor?

When things aren’t working, we’re often tempted to do more of what worked in the past.

Many times, that’s the best solution… but it fails miserably if the real issue is a bottle neck, a limiting factor.

How can you tell? Imagine 10x-ing your efforts, would that offer proportionate rewards? If not, you’ve got a bottleneck.

Your purpose is to identify & release the constraint.

Then repeat… and repeat… and repeat.

Put another way, improving your website conversion won’t do much if your constraint is a lack of traffic… And getting more traffic won’t make you any more money, if you have nothing to sell.

What is the limiting factor that is preventing you from achieving your goals?
Focus on that.

What’s Important Now?

I’ve been loving this question for the last 3 or 4 weeks.

It comes from a wonderful story (found in the book Essentialism) of a high school Rugby coach who propelled his team to victory after victory with his “Win” philosophy.

That philosophy? An acronym for living and dying by the question “What’s Important Now?”

There are three reasons that this philosophy is so powerful:

  1. It pulls you out of your brain and into the moment
  2. It crystalizes focus on just one thing
  3. It forces you to prioritize — and act

Together, they completely change your state of mind & trajectory.

Even as I was getting a massage, I found my brain chattering and obsessing… I asked myself “What’s important now?” Having the opportunity to relax, rejuvenate and take a break from my brain. And suddenly, things got quieter.

Other times I realize that I don’t know what is important now, so I know that sitting down and prioritizing is exactly what I need to do.

And finally, I feel really good when I put myself at the top of that list, when me, or one of my goals, is what’s important now. It amplifies the gratitude that I feel and my commitment to it.

All in all, use this question liberally. It’s gold.

When things feel like chaos…

The most common problem is that you don’t know what the RIGHT things to do are.

Your to-do list may be a million miles long… but you aren’t confident that, even if they all go well, that it will be a success.

You want to feel in control and relaxed, knowing that you’re moving in the right direction and that everything that needs to get done, is getting done.

BUT, no matter how hard you work, or what processes you put into place or even how many people you hire, the problem is still going to be there.

That challenge is getting a clear and potent strategy. There’s no substitution for it.

 

Years ago, I read a book by Benjamin Zander, the famous Boston Philharmonic conductor. It’s an easy read. I breezed through it on the beach. But, boy has it stayed with me.

One of Ben’s primary assertions is that the best response to almost any outcome is curiosity: ask, what can I learn from this situation.

It went amazingly well! I wonder why?
Oh my god, I bombed. I wonder why?
So and so let me down… I wonder why?

He goes so far as to have his players say — “How fascinating!” — as a way to immediately tap into curiosity without all of the fear and negative emotions that dampen creativity.

And that is the purpose of curiosity.

Curiosity is the mindset in which we invite creativity in to play. It invites us to imagine something new, something different, something better.

Creativity can’t exist without curiosity.