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All posts from September 2020

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1017: The Problem With The Eisenhower Matrix

Ever seen the Eisenhower Matrix?

Careful, it could turn you into a workaholic robot. Here’s how to avoid that.

It suggests that Urgent + Important = Do Now. In reality, to build work that matters and enjoy the ride, Urgent + Important = A situation you should design out of your life. Who wants to design a life or business based on perpetual streams of critical firefighting?

Same applies for Urgent + Not Important.

Next, it suggests that Not Urgent + Not Important = Delete. In reality, we all need room for this slot. This is where, for instance, reading a book not related to your field that broadens your thinking and helps you to see new possibilities comes from.

Finally, it suggests that Not Urgent + Important = Decide when to do it. This is something we can agree with. This is, in fact, what most of our work should be. We should aspire for this to not be bucket #2, but bucket #1.

Great work happens when we spend time doing things important to the creation of that work, without alarm bells going off in the background all the time.

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1016: Finished Enough

When is something “finished”?

When it’s perfect? Every angle considered and addressed to a world-class degree?

When it’s past being criticized harshly? Where you can make absolutely certain that nobody will have a negative word to say about it?

When it’s everything you wanted it to be? Immortalized as the height of your abilities in its respective field?

The problem with searching for “finished” is the temptation to hide it from the world until it gets to “finished”… despite it often being the world’s touch that helps get it there.

It’s probably “finished enough” to publish and come back to. Learning from what people thought about it, or didn’t understand, or want to see more or, could help turn your work into something you can be really proud of.

Sounds like something “finished” to me.

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1015: New & Improved VS Tried & True

When we create great work, we (should) nurture a passion for our craft, our audience, and our tools.

But that doesn’t mean we should keep working on all of these things:

Our craft will continue to evolve, trends will come and go. We get to decide whether we want to chase the trends, or focus on mastering timeless disciplines that matter most.

Our audience will continue to evolve because people are messy and the world continues to change. We get to decide whether we want to chase new audiences all the time – staying shallow for many – or to recommit ourselves daily to the exact same people – going deep for our chosen few.

Our toolbelt options will continue to change, there always seems to be a new-and-improved version of something coming around the corner. We get to decide whether we want to keep re-learning how to do basically the same thing with new toys, or master the ones we have to keep our focus on what we do with them rather than merely how to use them.

New-and-improved isn’t always a feature. Sometimes, tried-and-true is exactly what will enable us to do our best work.

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1014: The Setback And the Setforward

What is a setforward?

It’s a word I made up to mean “the opposite of a setback”.

A setback is normally when things we’re working on are tediously pushed back for reasons seemingly beyond our control. Something went wrong, an unexpected thing happened. We encountered a ‘setback’.

A setforward is another way of looking at the same thing.

A failed presentation or investment opportunity is a setback if we feel it should have succeeded, but it didn’t. But if we make peace with the fact that we can’t control external forces, instead getting to work on refining the presentation or learning from the investment opportunity, we have ourselves a setforward.

A financial blow is a setback if we feel we were somehow owed the funds we no longer have. But if we make peace with the fee and get it processed so we can move on with creating more resources, it’s a setforward.

Setback looks back longingly.

Setforward looks for the forward momentum.

Which direction would you prefer to give your attention?

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1013: The Tax For the Things You Want

Taxes are part of the trade you made:

If you want to live in a country that provides lots of amenities and protections, you’ll likely pay a hefty tax for that. That tax is optional, it’s a trade, money in exchange for the things you want (to live there).

If you want to grow your body of work to become more profitable, you’ll probably incur more fees, from service providers and the state. Those taxes are optional, it’s a trade, money in exchange for the thing you want (to grow).

If you want to serve more people with the work you produce, you’ll probably incur more challenging clients, simply because more people means an increased likelihood that they won’t all be wonderful. The tax is optional, it’s a trade, patience and grace in exchange for the thing you want (to serve more people).

We don’t have to like it. We get to choose. Pay the tax with grace, after all, you’re getting exactly what you wanted.

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1012: The Things That Make You Better

I hear a lot from folks that they want to improve in their craft but don’t know how.

It’s probably not a new tech gadget that’ll make you better. The new iPad does basically the same thing as the last one. The spec boost won’t make you better, but mastering an important skill you use it for will (whether you’re on the new one or not).

It’s probably not the permission you’ve been waiting for that’ll make you better. You’ve always had permission to get better, you don’t need the gig or the to-do or the invite you think you need. You need to simply begin.

It’s probably not the secret technique promised to you in an online course that’ll make you better. You’ve collected enough of those over the years to know it’s not the answer.

It’s probably in your communication skills and/or the mastery of your craft. Doing great work and knowing how to share it with the world are among the biggest sticking points for businesses doing work that matters.

Which is it for you?