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All posts from January 2020

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781: Redefining The Way Things Should Be

Your industry has “a way things should be.”

So does the family you grew up in.

So does the way you and your team implement your important work.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Because your industry normally takes payment up front, doesn’t mean you have to. Because your industry requires its own distribution, doesn’t mean you have to. Because your family was okay with excessive drinking, doesn’t mean you have to. Because your team is used to marginal results, doesn’t mean you have to be.

What way should it be? What if you were to bill in an entirely new way, making it easier for people to choose you over anybody else? What if you strategically partnered with others in the industry to outsize your reach and potential rather than seeing everyone as a competitor? What if you carved a new, better path for your family or your company?

Make it so. The way things should be aren’t the way things should be because they’re the way they should be. They’re simply the way things have been done in order to confirm to the status quo.

Found a better way? Make it so.

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780: Unstructured Minds And Sustained Focus

One of our most precious business assets is intangible: brains creating value from sustained focus:

It creates solutions to business and social problems that change the world. Such as Gates Foundation’s transformation of poverty with quality healthcare and education. Your work can make a lasting impact too, if you can sustain focus long enough to create that value.

It creates products and services that change the way we live: Such as iPhones, Internet and powered flight so that humans can connect at a greater level than ever previously thought possible. Your work can change lives too, if you can sustain focus long enough to create that value.

It creates disciplines and mindsets that change the way we behave: Such as the act of committing our energy to things greater than ourselves through strategic giving and philanthropy. Your work can change the culture too, if you can sustain focus long enough to create that value.

We live in a world that celebrates unstructured minds but rewards sustained focus.

Which would you prefer to have?

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779: That Advert Might Be Lying To You

Are those you’re listening to walking the talk?

Steve Jobs led the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad into being. Yet Walter Isaacson (his biographer) cites Steve’s home to be relatively tech-free, without a device in sight at the dinner table, for instance. It doesn’t mean the tech is bad, but it does mean he acknowledged the need for self-discipline.

Internet gurus make bold claims in Facebook Ads about their fortunes and secrets they’ll reveal to you for $97. Yet almost all of them disappear from our newsfeeds when their lies don’t cover their costs anymore. It doesn’t mean all advertisers are liars, but it does mean we must look for evidence of walking the talk.

Natural wellness brands advertise their calm, relaxing serums and oils to ensure you operate in a perpetual state of tranquility. Yet many of them lead frenetic, stressed-out, volatile lives behind a facade of peace. It doesn’t mean all businesses fail at that which they claim to solve, but it does mean we must look for evidence of walking the talk.

My team and I know the importance of ethically empathizing with – and articulating – the narrative at play in the marketplace. But we owe it to ourselves as consumers to trade only with honest voices, and we owe it to the market to reward those brave enough to be honest with our trade.

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778: Outlast Them

Are you an Outworker or an Outlaster?

Outworkers: They curse their mistakes, chase ‘the secret’ and fear falling behind. They celebrate burning the midnight oil and completing busywork ‘because hustle’. They burn out and disappear once replaced by the next Outworker.

Outlasters: They curse shortcuts, chase greater discipline and fear distractions. They celebrate healthy lifestyles and focusing on deep work ‘because delegation’. They’re quiet and efficient, not easily displaced by either Outworkers or other Outlasters.

You can’t be both. Choose wisely.

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777: The System, the Focus, and the Execution

Got all three?

When we lack the system, we try all sorts of things, in different ways, every time. A consultant tells us of a trick that can’t lose. A blog post reveals a secret we simply must try. No system, no results. Got no system? They’re already available to you, such as the system for communicating effectively with the marketplace.

When we lack the focus, we have systems we don’t stick to. The consultant steals our focus with shiny toys. The blog post makes us question what we’ve created. When really all the system needed was the focus to refine it and perfect it into something transformational. Got no focus? Commit to your system.

When we lack execution, we focus but don’t move. We research, roadmap and strategize ourselves into a self-gratifying fog of inaction. When all the system and focus needed was the commitment to methodically, consistently, reliably moving things forward, every single day.

So. Got all three?

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776: Ignore What They Say

Important work is easy to dilute.

Create a powerful article, waste time with troll comments. When did wasting time on haters who are tearing you down result in a sale? Why not invest that time on your kind of people, instead?

Create a great social post conversation, then get sucked into popularity contests. When did doing what everyone else does help you stand out? Why not do more of your great pieces, instead?

Create a transformational service, then get weaken the offer by being too many things for too many types of people. When did trying to please everyone ever make your work better? Why not focus only on what your people need?

Unless they’re the people you set out to serve – those in your choice of market for whom you can produce a lasting difference – ignore them.