Rethinking Work

Being unprepared can both be frightening and liberating. It’s scary because there are no rules and no guides. When you’ve been conditioned (by school and work) to achieve targets and listen to directives, the lack thereof is unsettling.

How will we know if we’re right or wrong? How will we know if we’re off track? How will we know if it’s worth doing?

What’s interesting though is, that’s why being unprepared can be liberating. It allows us to do work that that isn’t stifled or limited. It gives the opportunity to be noticed. When you’re unprepared, you aren’t seeking to please or do what’s always been done.

Of course, what you choose to do might not work. So how will we know if we’re right or wrong? How will we know if we’re off track? How will we know if it’s worth doing?

Those are the wrong questions.

So how do we know when to prepare or not? What’s worth trying is having a thesis that guides your actions. Prepare some behaviors that could help you achieve a goal, but approach each task unprepared.

(This post was completely unprepared, but it still helps me achieve what I’m looking for – notice more things.)

Read more

I’m a big fan of routines, they allow us to free up mental energy by making certain tasks and habits mechanical.

But successful habits require one critical element – commitment. Without commitment, a routine become chores and is easily derailed. A snowstorm, a power failure, an early meeting, a late meeting, a sleepless night, a rainy day, a special day are all good reasons to break a routine. Unless there’s a commitment.

When you commit to writing a post daily, you write daily regardless of meeting times and weather conditions.

Routines are merely a way to deliver on what you said you would do. They allow you to spend less energy on everyday choices to focus on what matters, but when the routine fails, all that allows you to push through and still deliver is commitment.

If you didn’t start by standing up, so to speak, and say “I will do this”, then routine and process will only take you so far.

Read more

Commitment is a must. Once you state that you will blog daily, create a campaign or help a friend, breaking the engagement breaks the trust you’ve built by committing in the first place.

When someone sets the agenda, it might just be worth breaking that trust. It’s less damaging than continuing. But for all the times you made the choice, it is only by committing that will you ever be able to make a difference.

Sure a new practice isn’t always easy. The temptation to quit is often stronger than the drive to continue. Doing something that has the chance of being worth noticing never comes willy nilly. It comes from engaging and pushing through the temptations.

Determine what matters to you, commit to it and push through the temptation to stop.

Read more

There’s a saying you probably know well: “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Your neighbor’s lawn always looks better than yours.

The same goes for anything really – marketing, business models, sales process, company culture:

  • Of course Ariana Huffington can talk about work-life balance, meditation and taking time for yourself, she’s made her money. That’s looking over and seeing greener grass.
  • Of course Tony Robbins can tell you to donate money even if you don’t have much. He’s also made his fortune. That’s also looking over the fence and seeing greener grass.
  • Of course HubSpot can create blog posts, ebooks, webinars, trainings, podcasts, they’re a huge company. That’s greener grass.
  • Of course Howard Schultz can say supporting gay marriage is a social decision, not an economic one, Starbucks can afford the initiative. Greener grass.
  • Of course Red Bull can send a guy to space and broadcast his re entry. They’re that type of company. Greener grass.
  • Of course Apple can be antisocial (as in not use much social media), they have the iPhone! Greener grass.
  • Of course Google can say that GPA doesn’t correlate with employee performance, they’re Google, they can afford to test out different employees. And don’t get me started about the free food they offer their employees! Greener grass.
  • Of course Seth Godin can talk about permission marketing, he’s his own boss, he can do what he wants. Greener grass.

We create these greener pastures in our minds and tend to gravitate towards these dreams. And then we get there…and the grass doesn’t look so green anymore. That’s when we find out that like before, there’s stress working there, there are high expectations, their systems our outdated or only a few people get to work on the cool projects (or the projects don’t feel so cool when you see all the nuts and bolts of them).

No, I think it’s better to take the time to fertilize your lawn – stand for your beliefs, make a difference, create art. Only leave if you’re prevented from doing that.

Read more

The unremarkable brand depends on legalese, contracts and fine print to enforce their “uniqueness.”

Of course it’s comforting to be unremarkable. Since school we’ve been thought to be average: try to get an A of course, but don’t stand out and rock the boat. So today, we work hard to be average. So when push comes to shove we have to do just that.

The other option of course is to be remarkable. It’s as easily said as it is done. What if we couldn’t compete with you because you had focused on being unique? Unique can’t be replicated. What if you worked hard on making people want to work with you? Contracts are then a simple formality. What if you offered products that did what they said and were in the best interest of the client? The fine print then becomes the main copy.

Tradition forces us to be unremarkable. If you can hide behind fine print, then why create something worth buying?

Why be remarkable when unremarkable can be enforced?

Read more

The woman next to me on the train is reading up on SMART goals. I’ve read up on SMART goals and I’m sure you have too. Yet, are your goals smarter than they were before? Are we more productive and efficient?

SMART goals work, so do most efficiency and productivity hacks. They only have one design flaw…they need to be put in place to function as designed. Without implementation, there is no change, no new way. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to create and do work that matters, but every artist has her each way of creating and shipping.

I don’t think Dr. Maya Angelou, Beethoven or Hemingway spent their time reading up on how to create more art. They perfected the routines and rituals that worked for them.

What if, instead of chasing the latest hack, you focused on just shipping. Find the thing that drives the most impact and work on that.

I think Nike had it right all along: Just do it.

Read more

In a world of abundance, the one willing to be most generous, gets ahead. When everything is available, when the foundation for generating and executing any idea is available for all, holding on makes little sense.

Until, of course you need to be selfish. At some point the buck stops. You need to be ruthlessly selfish with anything that allows you to create value and live out your purpose.

You need to be selfish with your time. You need to be selfish with your career. You need to be selfish with your deals. You need to be selfish with your attention…

Be generous with what you’ve acquired – your knowledge, your wisdom, your skills, but be selfish if it will help you create something the world needs.

Read more

A hammer has no use if there is nothing to nail. Of course it becomes crucial when you do need to nail a plank to a post.

The thing about tools is that we can settle with the ones we use. The ones our boss showed us, the ones our parents used, the ones are friends seek out.

But once in a while a new tool comes along – a nail gun – that no one we know uses. We can be quick to ignore ans dismiss it or we can opt to test it, research it, seek out experts’ advice.

Don’t buy the tool and look for a job, but seek the best tool for the work that you need to do. Because in the end, the fulcrum makes the lever more powerful.

Read more

Silent artist is an oxymoron because an artist is precisely the opposite. An artist bothers, takes a stand, creates something new, aims to make a difference. An artist can be armed with a pen, a brush or even a spreadsheet or WordPress account. These are not silent weapons.

A real artist is arrogant about her work and believes change needs to happen and decides to be that change. An artist will strive to make us reconsider an industry, a way of doing, a belief and even what art itself is. She knows she will face criticism. People will disagree, brush it off and bad talk. Heck his art might even go unnoticed, unread, unacknowledged but that’s OK, it just means he will start all over again.

Why? Because the first thing an artist attempts to do is live with the risk of being dismissed, ignored, disliked and ridiculed. She thrives not for acceptance, but to take a stand. A passionate stand.

One thing for sure is, an artist is not silent. She doesn’t quietly wait in the sidelines hoping to just get by, waiting for direction, hoping the status quo remains in place. An artist is loud in his own right. An artist is bold.

Read more

image

It’s easier to be generous with something you have a lot of – money, time, resources. In that context, giving some of what you have involves little, to no risk. You probably won’t miss what you’ve given away and you remain the giver, the one with the most.

It gets more difficult is when you feel you have something to lose. If you share your class notes, the other person might get a better grade than you. If you give away your secret marketing sauce, the others might get more leads.

There’s risk there, you might go from a have to a have not. You had the class notes, you could have gotten the A, now she has an A too.

So why be generous when it’s difficult? Why run the risk of losing the edge? Then again why hold on when others can do more? Does the edge matter that much?

The one who shares when it’s difficult, when all others would hold on, is the one who’s remembered, talked about and missed when she’s gone…

(Photo credit: JD Hancock)

Read more