This week marks about 5 weeks of the stay at home order here in Illinois and much of the nation. This week I did a little personal inventory a little reflecting back on the week to see if I’m on the right track. Remember, Steve Jobs told us we can only connect those dots looking back. And I have to say that looking back I feel pretty good. If I was in a job interview right now and the interviewer tried to test me by asking what 3 valuable uses of my time were during my period of unemployment. I feel confident that I would nail it. I’m learning about financial advising, I’ve enrolled in some free online classes – blows my mind that people don’t take advantage of these great opportunities, I’ve started this podcast – which by the way you can also start for free and I’ve gotten outside and worked on staying fit. Also free!
The binge watching couch potato.
Not for the interviewer, but for you. I’ve also seen the first three seasons of Money Heist – love it! Except that they killed my favorite character – not a spoiler alert since you don’t know who my favorite is and Except that while playing a board game with the family the other night I heard Tokyo narrating my next play in my head. “now is the time for mommy to make her move, but she’s screwed. She missed the opportunity to play her awkward pieces and now there’s no place for her to play on this board. The professor told us we would face this, but where is the professor now? We haven’t heard from the professor since the coronavirus began.” Yes, I love this show, but I don’t love it in my head.
Jonathan Estrin says “The way we spend our time defines who we are.”
So I’m sharing this story because there are so many choices right now –
You can choose the couch
You can choose to dive into sharpening the saw or learning new skills
Can you see the tyranny of “or” here? If I choose one path I choose to deny myself of the other path. Or is oppressive. It’s why so much self improvement, so many diets, and so many new ideas fail. Poor sad little “or”. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other or choose just one path. As Jim Collins would say in his book Built to Last “Embrace the Genius of AND.”
Instead of being oppressed by the “Tyranny of the OR,” liberate yourself with the “Genius of the AND”— and set yourself free. You can embrace two extremes at the same time. It is possible. You don’t need to choose between A OR B, figure out a way to have both A AND B. In my earlier example I have used my time for self-improvement AND I’ve been a couch potato. Just not equal parts of both. (more…)
If you want new results you must adopt new actions.
Changing beliefs is hard. Years and years of programming went into your current beliefs. Like they say with losing pregnancy weight it took you 9 months to put on the weight, give yourself at least that amount of time to take it off. The same with your beliefs. It will take a lot of new thinking, new programming, maybe even new friends to eliminate old beliefs that were getting in your way and adopt new beliefs that unleash your true potential. As Brian Tracy says, “you begin to fly when you let go of self-limiting beliefs and allow your mind and aspirations to rise to greater heights.”
So now we have a leaders mindset. We are working on replacing our limiting beliefs with positive beliefs and so we must start working on our actions. Why? Because again our mindset fuels our actions and our actions fuel our results. If we want different results than what we have had then we need different actions. You’ve heard that saying – the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. New results require new actions.
Back to compounded interest theory.
Sure massive action may get us massive results, but is it sustainable? Or is it even repeatable? Small actions over time will build into massive results in a more sustainable way. There’s a great book out there called Atomic Habits by James Clear – by an atomic habit he means a small habit and he says “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement”
There are two buckets of habits you really need to look at
You can reach your goals by establishing new good habit or by building on the good habits you already have and you can reach your goals by eliminating your bad habits.
So it’s not necessarily what are you going to start doing. It may be what am I already doing that if I do more of I will attract more success or what am I doing now that if I stop doing will get me more in line with my goals and aspirations.
To illustrate, these let’s say I want to be a better leader and I know that leaders are readers. Every January I get bit by the new year’s resolution bug and I buy a new book and dive all in. I also really enjoy binge watching Netflix’s most popular shows and some nights watch as many as three episodes in a row.
I already have a good action – reading a book in January, but it’s not really a habit yet. If I took this one thing and built on it until it was a habit would you agree that I would attract more success as a leader? Of course. So another thing we learn in Atomic Habits is that you do not rise to the levels of your goals you fall to the levels of your systems.
So, my buy a book every January wasn’t a very good system was it? No. What if I changed my system to sign up for a book club that sends me a book a month. Now I have some skin in the game and may be one step closer to making this a habit. Now what if I go one step further and dedicate 15 minutes every morning to reading first thing when I wake up. Do you see a system forming here. My system has a why – I desire to be a better leader. It has a what – leaders are readers – and it has a how – have a book delivered every month and commit to reading 15 minutes every morning first thing when I wake up.
Also we can get better results by stopping habits that are in our way of success. What about my Netflix habit in the example? What if I stopped this habit and filled that time with new more productive activities built with a success system. Of course I would start seeing new results. What time wasting habits do you have?
Does this example sound too simple. Yes – but what is simple is not easy. Simple said not so easy do right? This is where I think so many people get held up in the world of self improvement. They think that the changes or the goals have to be monumental or they are not worthy so they are paralyzed with fear. It’s too big it’s too much – so many limiting beliefs form. But when you break it down to the small – atom sized pieces – you can start to see how the changes can be possible.
Here are two quotes from Atomic habits to sum it up.
“If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.”
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”
Variety improves the things that we do too often, but it rules the things that we don’t do often enough. -Daniel Gilbert
My reading list is much like my running play list. I like to mix it up. A little American history, running stories, motivation,business, self help, and some good science fiction. As the quote above indicates, by reading a variety it improves the experience by keeping it fresh.
Here’s a review on a more recent read.
Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth by John Doerr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The case studies in this book are a fun read, especially in the audio book version which has each person related to the specific case study read their portion. The variety in voices kept the book entertaining.
Where the book lacked
was in providing detail. It is very vague and although the case studies were from companies that achieved great growth it doesn’t necessarily explain how the OKR’s caused the growth. Would My Fitness Pal really not been so successful without an OKR ? Impossible to say from reading this book.
If you are a “techie” and would be interested in hearing case studies from Silicon Valley then you would enjoy this book. If you want details on goal setting and measuring what matters then I recommend finding a different book.
Every book has a lesson or two. This one had quite a lot of great quotes because of all of the influencers used to illustrate the purpose. Here’s a few of my favorites:
“Leaders must get across the why as well as the what. Their people need more than milestones for motivation. They are thirsting for meaning, to understand how their goals relate to the mission.”
“There are so many people working so hard and achieving so little. —Andy Grove”
“When people help choose a course of action, they are more likely to see it through.”
What shall I read during Week 4 of Chicago Marathon training?
Running is a great sport to give a whirl because you literally do not need a thing to get started. Zero start up cost. You don’t like it; no worries, you’re not out a thing.
If you do like it and stick with it, unlike other sports that require a ton of expensive equipment, you can maintain a very low budget. One way I keep costs low is by not worrying if my running
shoes are the latest and the greatest. By purchasing last year’s model instead of the newest release I save a ton of dough.
My normal run essentials are: Burt’s Bees lip balm, Maui Jim sunglasses, toasted marshmallow GU, and a great play list. A very eclectic great playlist. I love to run to music. Black Eyed Peas, Led Zepplin, Bruno Mars . . . and then I met this book. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. On long runs it’s my new fave. It gives me the motivation I need to get the miles in. I figure if they can run hundreds of miles then I can certainly get in 13.
A great friend gave me a great tip, use the speed feature on audible.com. Putting this story at 1.25 x speed is the perfect tempo to run to.
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Very inspiring story. I loved listening to it while out for a run.
Just a few of my favorite quotes…
“You don’t stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.”
“If you don’t have answers to your problems after a four-hour run, you ain’t getting them.”
“Suffering is humbling. It pays to know how to get your butt kicked.”
“There was some kind of connection between the capacity to love and the capacity to love running.”
View all my reviews
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
One of my all time favorites! I listened to it on Audible during my commutes. Sometimes I would sit in my car in my driveway and just keep listening. I found the history, geography and world culture lessons given through the lens of someone sharing their life story absolutely fascinating.
In January 2008, I saw the movie The Bucket List and crazy as it sounds, as a non-runner put “run a marathon” on my list. I’ve been running in a different brand ever since, but now that I have read this story I am going to the running store to pick up some Nike’s immediately.
Thank you Phil Knight for your contributions and thank you for sharing your story.
View all my reviews
1776 by David McCullough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Belief was a strong characteristic that enabled George Washington to stay with his task even when discouraged and feeling hopeless. His belief in ‘why’ they were defending the United States gave him remarkable courage and determination to stick out the war. At a time when he may have been the wealthiest person in the US it would have been understandable if at any time he would have backed down.
The book is great and written in a way that keeps your attention page after page. McCullough may be my favorite author.
View all my reviews