Rethinking Life

If you think of your life as a pie. Each piece represents an aspect of it…

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It’s roughly twenty past six. I just completed today’s 7-minute workout and ate a 4-hour body type breakfast. Earlier this morning I woke-up using the SleepBot app on my Nexus S.

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We’re all full of contradictions. It’s one of the things that make us human. It’s one place robots and digitization will have a hard time replacing us.

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I don’t know if we want responsibility. Power is frightening; it’s easier to follow.

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As your priorities change — be more healthy, lose weight, read more, write, sleep more, take more time off — it seems we’re always on a quest to improve. You change for a bit, it works for a while, until you break. Like a constant game of cat and mouse. We’re always chasing our goal, but never really changing.

Actually, the same goes for any type of change. Not only personal ambitions. Companies trying to take a different route fall in the same trap.

Habits can take an eternity to develop. You’ve been eating unhealthy since you were a child, you cannot change it now, in a week. You’ve been smoking for years, this isn’t your last pack. Your processes have been in place for decades, today is probably not the last day things are done this way.

No, what we need is to form new habits over the rest of our lifetime.

That’s what Peter Sims calls Little Bets (affiliate link). Small changes that are unnoticeable to your trained unconscious. The unconscious is the one that guides your habits. If you try to change it too quickly, out of fear, it will quickly revert back to old habits.

What you want is small unconscious change.

  • You want to quit smoking? When you open your pack, throw out one cigarette. Then the next pack, throw out two and so on until there are none left.
  • You want to start flossing? Floss one tooth and go to bed. The following week, floss two and so on.
  • You want to change your corporate processes? Get your team to change one thing — one element, then a second, then a third and so on.
  • You want to exercise more? Start by simply standing up during commercials, then next week, start doing jumping jacks for 30 seconds, and slowly increase week after week.

It might sound silly, but that’s how your current habit formed, one junk food snack, one cigarette, one tweak at a time, for a lifetime. That’s what you’re up against. As Mahatma Gandhi said:

“We cannot, in a moment, get rid of habits of a lifetime.”

(Photo credit: Morgan)

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Four links that will make you rethink

These are four “must read” articles that will make you rethink — rethink marketing, rethink business, rethink work and rethink life. I read a lot of great content online. I share a lot of it on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+, but today I’ll share four that I think are particularly amazing. They’re not necessarily articles that are related to marketing, business, work and life, but you can apply it to those areas.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did

  • [Rethink Marketing] The Lone Ranger represents everything that’s wrong with Hollywood blockbusters. The blockbuster is based on a make-or-break type formula. As Hollywood blockbusters get lazier, they depend more and more on marketing to make their numbers. It’s not sustainable. In fact, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are predicting the “implosion” of this system. The over-dependence on scripts and marketing and less on creativity and uniqueness is — quite frankly — not limited to Hollywood. All in all and interesting read about the blockbuster process.
  • [Rethink Business] Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post. But so did Amazon / Target buys another dotcom, eyes on e-commerce prize. Two articles that illustrate just how fascinating business is right now. One the one hand, one of the pillars of the e-commerce world, Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) just bought The Washington Post and on the other, Target continues to buy e-commerce platforms. The so-called “traditional” world and digital world are coming together. It’s no longer about one versus the other. We live in very exciting times.
  • [Rethink Work] Brave new work: Making the 9-5 somewhere you want to be. Work is broken. “We ended up in containers that are no longer relevant, we still think about work as a destination when we should think about it is as an activity.” One of the major issues stated here is technology — or rather misuse of technology. Why email a document back and forth, save various versions all over the place, when one collaborative document will do the trick? For the first time we live in a world where we’re more technologically advanced at home than we are at work. So the onus on business to make employees more engaged with work. Of course, technology isn’t the only source/solution to the problem…
  • [Rethink Life] High-end stores use facial recognition tools to spot VIPs. If there’s one things celebrities hate, is not being recognized. Or maybe they prefer the anonymity. Who knows? Anyway it doesn’t matter. They’ll increasingly have the first option — like it or not. A new piece of technology that retailers can install uses facial recognition to notify staff that a celebrity has just walked in. I’m guessing it’s so that they can serve them better than the regular customers. Regardless, this won’t be a feature reserved for celebrities for very long… Facebook made sure of that.

That’s it for this week, what are you reading right now?

(Photo credit: David Sifry)

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What's worth chasing

Leigh Newman has what could be my favourite quote. If it’s not number one, it’s not far. she once said:

“There are still things out there in the universe to contemplate and spend our lives chasing.”

As we get older we get more sceptical and serious. We think we know the world — we have our experiences and opinions after all! We feel don’t need others as much anymore. The world gets more and more predictable as our routines develop. We embark on paths that don’t really please us and get stuck with expenses we feel control us.

I love Leigh’s quote because it reminds us to keep that child-like view of the world. It’s worth observing it, and it’s worth chasing dreams. Why stop and settle, when we can grow, climb and, yes, sometimes we’ll fall. But that’s just an opportunity to get back up again. It’s still worth exploring new jobs, new countries, new opportunities and it’s still worth chasing dreams and aspirations even when the going gets tough and obstacles get in the way.

This isn’t an invitation to tune out, but an encouragement to create. I think we easily get caught up in our responsibilities — this is serious now! We have real problems and situations to deal with after all. But in the end, life is a game. We can either let it play use or we play it.

So that’s what I wish for you: To stop and contemplate and find things that are worth the chase.

(Photo credit: Dan Bennett)

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Practice makes perfect

Right now, the way I write is this: I’ll write the post one day and (usually) the next day I’ll edit and publish it. I’d love to be able to do it all in one shot — write, edit, post. From what I understand Seth Godin and Fred Wilson write daily and do it in one shot. Granted, I’m not there with them so I could be completely wrong.

I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve that one-day write-edit-post thing, but let me tell you one way I know for sure it will never happen. If I stop writing altogether and wait for it to happen. The only way there’s even a remote chance of it happening is to write every day. The more you write, the more the words come naturally, the less you need to edit (especially short posts like this) and the more chances there are of posting the same day.

Your mom was right, practice makes perfect.

(Photo credit: matryosha)

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The two days

Apparently Mark Twain once said:

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”

While it’s hard to argue with the first day, I question the second. True, finding happiness and purpose beats being unsatisfied and dreading Mondays (or living for weekends and vacations). I still have a hard time with that second day — I have this image in my head of drones walking around waiting for the fabled day. I think waiting for the day you find out your purpose is just an excuse to do nothing. It’s as bad as living for weekends.

The key I think, is this: keep at it. Try different things. Experiment with various projects. Meet with new people.

Start, scratch everything off, start over.

There are two reasons. First, there are a limited amount of people that know really early on what they’ve wanted to do. The rest of us need to work at it and sitting there waiting for your purpose to be revealed really won’t lead to anything.

The second reason — and I’ve spoken about this before — is interests and passions change. And that goes for everyone. What’s thrilling today, is boring tomorrow. When I was a very young kid, I was obsessed with car tires, now I need a manual to change one. I used to love to draw, now a relatively straight stick figure is a feat. I played guitar for 7 years, there are none in my house today. I was obsessed with advertising, now I’m a Marketing Director (there’s a difference, trust me).

So in the end, that first day, the day you’re born, is everything. That second day though might never come. But that’s OK. Just keep at it, fiddle, tweak, experiment, grow and you won’t need it.

(Photo credit: Luis Argerich)

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whatever doesn't kill you...


The thing about scars is that they often remind us of what has happened — That time in college where you did what you shouldn’t have, or the accident or “the incident” whatever it might be. You can look at your scars and succumb to regret, fear and despair. I know. I was stabbed by a homeless man on a quest to score his next crack fix. I was walking downtown, on my way to see a friend after work when it happened. I was lucky, nothing was ever life-threatening, but it did leave me with a big scar where the surgeons cut me open to make sure I had no internal damage and of course there’s the scar caused by the knife wound.

The thing is they’re right below my chest, on my abs, so every morning and evening I get to see them, like daily reminder of that night.

But I’m wrong. We all have it wrong.

You see scar tissue is stronger than the rest. It might looks all mangled and awkward, but it’s actually stronger than the pristine skin next to it.

So scars aren’t a reminder of what’s happened, but an indication of how much stronger you’ve become. You have permission to stand tall and proud because you could have let life beat you down, but you survived. That scar is now a badge — like Superman’s “S” or Batman’s bat. You’re a superhero.

For me: I now know that I react very calmly under pressure, I have a strong will and I can be very resilient. And I think above all, I’m very confident about my priorities in life.

Scars… Henry Rollins put it best:

“Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.”

(Photo credit: Bhope34)

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