Rethinking Life

The difference between risk and danger is that risk is perceived, danger is real. Risk is the perception that something unfavorable will happen. Truth is danger rarely, if ever, occurs – finding yourself between a beat and her cub pretty much never happens.

Trouble is, we usually confuse the two. In fact, one of the surest ways to eliminate risk and reduce danger is knowledge. Your risky investment in the wealth manager’s safest route, your risky venture is the entrepreneur’s sure thing, your risky marketing campaign is the Senior VP of Marketing’s chosen path.

What’s left? Push through the anxiety, you’ve created it. Sure, it won’t be easy, but that doesn’t make it dangerous.

Once you realize that risk is made up, you can follow any path. Let’s not block any roads prematurely, anyone of them could make all the difference.

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I read somewhere that success happens when others are taking time off. In other words, success happens when you’re willing to grind it out when others are taking their break. It’s less about bursts in performance and more about slow and steady effort.

Today, as our kids are pilling into classrooms I think it’s important to remember. The drive to reward short bursts of performance is tempting. Grades and GPA are so easy to measure. But wouldn’t it make more sense to encourage slow and steady effort? Consistency and leadership? Concentration and resilience?

School is about learning and I think what we’re teaching is quick fixes and bursts of effort, not success.

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Luck is about thinking small. True, the small steps are often discredited. Change the world, be the difference, saves lives – that’s what we want. The thing is, getting to that point often means taking many tiny steps to get there – another blog post, choosing the healthy meal, going for a run, building a small site, creating yet another podcast. They’re all little jewels that you can add to your crown.

If you discredit the small stuff, you might be hindering the big. The big, bold ideas come from the small daily victories…those small decisions we make to create our luck.

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This is Monday morning and I haven’t thought about what to write about. Maybe it’s the rainy day, maybe it’s the night time wake-ups, maybe it’s all the above or none of them.

What I know is there is never a shortage of excuses. There’s always a reason not to push the envelope, create a change, make a difference in our lives and that of others.

There is, however, one reason why we should. Because it’s needed. We have enough average, common, mediocre. We need fresh, bold and unique.

I’ll end with a message to myself (and you if you want)… while all the reasons not to are easy to find, listen to the one reason that says you should.

that will make all the difference.

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As soon as my son was born I took two weeks off to be with him and help my wife. Among all the congratulations emails I got from colleagues, one sent me a link to this HBR article: Brave Men Take Paternity Leave. It outlines why men of my generation don’t take time off when their children are born. From the fear of losing out at work all the way through to simply not having any paid leave available, men don’t take time off.

And it’s too bad, it’s proven that father/child time is correlated with lower drug and alcohol use later on, better social adaptability, better grades in school, etc.

I’m lucky, in Quebec where I live, we get up to 5 weeks off and I plan to use them all. Add to that regular vacation time, I’ll be with my son for roughly 2 months this year.

Some companies like Yahoo have taken over and offer paid leave. I think in the end it comes down to each new father and his priorities.

I get the pressures of a career and the illusion that being at your desk matters more than anything, but I hope more of us can appreciate more of that first year of life. Because, in the end, I think we’ll appreciate those moments more than yet another meeting.

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I’m back from a two week hiatus. On July 5th I became a father. My son Samuel and his mom are doing great. They’re both truly amazing and inspiring.

The past couple of weeks have been truly fascinating. I’m blessed to be able to live this and decided to take some time off from online presences (new sleep patterns also had something to do with this temporary stop).

I’m a little rusty after this break, so I’ll keep this short, but here are some things that I have been thinking about since this new journey started:

– Work/life balance: what does it really mean? Is it even a thing? Work has changed, priorities have changed. How do the two balance each other out or do they complement each other?
– The connected age: What does it mean to serve someone else, love unconditionally and be a stable bow (your child is the arrow)? What does it mean to be a father in an age of abundance?
– What example do I want to set? Does it even matter?
– Mindfulness and focus. I’m realizing how much these skills will be a big differentiator in the new economy of abundance.
– The four hour workweek. How to prioritize what matters and ditch the rest.

It’s only been 2 weeks so I’m sure more questions will arise and I hope to cover them here over the next little while.

To the fathers out there, what have your big questions been?

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Seth Godin is known to have said, “we’ve never heard of speakers block, so do we have writers block?” Or something along those lines. Here are some ideas on how to fight writers block:

1. Establish a routine. Routines free up time and mind space so you can create. In fact, many prolific artists had and still have routines. Most days I don’t write are days when my routine is thrown off course.

2. Just do it. Sounds easier said than done, but you usually don’t write because of what Steven Pressfield calls the Resistance, that voice inside that tells you you can’t, you shouldn’t, it’s not good enough, check email instead. The best way to ignore that voice is to just do it.

3. Along those same lines… When inspiration doesn’t come, just write whatever. When that happens, I start my posts by writing something like “Here we are again. I have no idea what to talk about, all I can think of is…” Just write something and the rest should flow.

4. Keep it simple. Sometimes less is more. Do we really need a 10,000 word article on whatever? Usually 1,000 will do just fine. Length and complication I’m sure are also the work of the Resistance.

Happy writing!

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A few years ago, I listened to Lenny Rachitsky talk about serendipity at TEDxConcordia. Google Maps, Twitter and Facebook he felt had largely removed it from our lives. He was on a mission to bring it back.

I don’t know if serendipity is a strategy or how happy you would be if Google Maps directed you to a random location at times, but I think we need to be open to it. Life sometimes comes together in funny ways… One tweet, leads to an encounter that leads to a meeting that leads to something bigger.

For sure, serendipity is not a strategy, but at the same time, I think we’re too quick to close ourselves off: We hide in our cars, at home in front of the TV and at out computers in the office.

Open yourself up… There’s some risk and vulnerability involved, but it can make all the difference.

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A roller coaster is about climbs and falls. The higher the climb, the bigger and faster the fall. The slow climb builds the anticipation of an exhilarating ride. Of course the experience of the whole thing is less about the hills and the speed and more about what you hope to get out of it.

Most projects operate on the same premise. Ups and downs are a big characteristic of any worthy endeavor. In the end, like the roller coaster, it’s less about the ups and downs, but what you make of it. There will be long, slow climbs followed by rapid falls and the question shouldn’t be, I can’t deal with the downside, how do I get out?

The real question is, is it worth it? Do I get to grow, learn, build? If yes, the ride will be thrilling.

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The marketer who consistently favors publicity over remarkable, the sales rep who favors commission over trust, the CEO who obsesses over quarterly results instead of sustainability, they all fear greatness. Every time you opt for a short-term, sure thing over a long-term uncertainty, you pick good instead of great.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m great at everything I do. I know I have strengths and weaknesses just like you. I also know that the difference between being great and being good or even mediocre is not that big. Both the person who strives for greatness and the person who goes for good face fear.

There’s a gap between what is — the publicity stunt, the commission, the quarter — and what could be — being remarkable, earning trust, building sustainability. I think to be great, you need to be comfortable with that gap. You need to be vulnerable enough to accept that on path to greatness there will be set backs. I think you also need the confidence to know you can be great and that the fear you feel is a fuel not a wall.

Oh and one more thing, working on greatness is not an excuse to procrastinate. To be great you need to work on hundreds, thousands, millions of little things along the way.

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