The lifeguard hack

Who am I to walk up to someone at a party and introduce myself?

Who are you to start a new project?

Who are they to give a talk on the main stage?

Don’t raise your hand–someone else might have a better question. Don’t ship that work, it’s not ready…

There are endless excuses, comparisons and reasons to hold back.


Unless you’re on lifeguard duty and someone is drowning. In that situation, even if you’re not the best lifeguard in the world, and even if the water isn’t the perfect temperature, and even if you don’t quite remember how to do the latest version of the cross-chest carry… you jump in the water.

Because it’s not for you. It’s for them.

Generosity unlocks doors inside of us.

Reblogged from: here


Do you feel rich?

It’s not the same as being rich.

Rich is always relative. Compared to your great-grandparents, we’re impossibly, supernaturally rich. We have access to information and technology that was unimagined a century ago. At the same time, compared to someone ten miles away or ten years in the future, we’re way behind.

Two people with precisely the same resources and options might answer the question of ‘rich’ completely differently. Because money is a story.

The neighborhood or industry or peer group you choose has a lot to do with whether you’re relatively rich or not.

After a stock market adjustment, billionaires give less to charity. They still have more money than they can count, but they’re not as rich as they used to be, and not-as-rich is easy to interpret as not rich.

Which means that for many people, feeling rich is a choice.

If that choice encourages us to be imperious, selfish and a bully, it’s probably best to avoid it.

On the other hand, if choosing to see our choices, chances and privileges as a path toward generosity, long-term thinking and connection, then we can do it right now.

Reblogged from: here


Perhaps it’s worth throwing it out today

If you’re considering putting an unmarked key into a drawer filled with keys, you’re better off simply throwing it out instead.

Not only won’t you be able to find that unmarked key when you need it, but you’ve just made it more difficult to sort the other keys as well.

We hesitate to embrace or announce failure right now, preferring to put it off to some indeterminate date in the future. But postponing the announcement isn’t the same as not failing. It simply makes things worse later. And being clear about the failure we’re about to cause someday makes it more likely we’ll do the work to avoid it.

If you don’t have time to do it right, you’re unlikely to have time to do it over.

No sense wasting tomorrow as well.

Reblogged from: here


Very good at a simple game

Outsized rewards go to people who figure out how to master a skill or a point of view, and then commit to doing it again and again.

This insight helps us with two things:

  • if you want a certain kind of success, it will require obsession plus the good luck to find the right thing to obsess about.
  • be careful not to confuse being very good at a simple game with character or wisdom or good judgment. They might go together, but they don’t always.

Reblogged from: here


Accuracy and precision

They’re not the same.

Precision brings granularity to measurement. You can drive around 50 miles an hour, or you can drive 54.7 miles an hour with precision.

But accuracy is how we describe doing what we intended to do. Driving in the wrong direction with precision isn’t much help, when accuracy in describing the goal would have been a better plan.

Most organizations spend their time on meetings about precision, instead of taking a few cycles to choose to be accurate instead.

Reblogged from: here


Do you have a tuner?

Piano tuners have a vital job… and very few pianists do that work themselves.

Who maintains your tools?

Perhaps it’s a computer with all the software that goes with it. Do you have a world-class pro, someone who is up-to-date, skilled, innovative and empathic making sure that they’re working well? Or are you doing it yourself, muddling through?

If we have mediocre tools, why should we expect great work?

Or perhaps it’s not the software or the hardware that needs tuning. Perhaps it’s our attitude, our approach to work, the way we deal with possibility…

A self-representing lawyer might have a fool for a client, but the rest of us are probably suffering from tools that aren’t what they could be.

Reblogged from: here


Write a better spec

If you’re asking someone to work for you, help you or advise you, it turns out that being specific about what success looks like is an obvious way to get better results.

If everyone can agree on what success looks like, you’re more likely to achieve it.

And yet…

And yet we prefer to say, “I’ll know it when I see it.” We’re vague, murky or even contradictory about what we want.

The reason is simple: If you write a great spec, we get to blame you if it doesn’t work out.

The vagueness is a way to hide.

If you don’t know what you want now, what makes you think you’ll know what you want later?

On the hook. That’s the most effective place to be.

Reblogged from: here


Blaming the weather is a trap

“If it were only nicer out, I’d be happier.”

That’s just a step away from, “If the current world crisis would abate, then I’d be able to concentrate.”

Which is not that far from, “If you would simply behave, I wouldn’t be upset.”

When we focus on external forces and tie them directly to our state of mind, we’re giving up agency.

The hard-won privilege of being in control of our own status and peace of mind.

Without a doubt, there are situations that are unfair, abusive or dangerous. And we should work to fix them or walk away if we possibly can. However, we don’t have to link these external forces to the way we choose to talk to ourselves. We can decide to claim possibility and take action instead.

Roz Zander teaches us to avoid, “I’m on vacation but it’s raining.” It’s far more powerful and useful to think, “I’m on vacation and it’s raining… what should I do with this moment?”

The story we tell ourselves belongs to us and only us. It’s entirely possible that someone selfishly or thoughtlessly put a story there. It’s possible that there isn’t enough empathy or fairness or opportunity. But once we see that we’re able to own our story, we gain a huge amount of power. And we retain that power for as long as we refuse to hand it over to someone else.

If the blame and the anger isn’t going to change the situation, better to reclaim our agency instead.

Reblogged from: here


And when is the shift over?

If you sell your time as the measure of the work you do, the work is over when the shift ends. Clock in, clock out.

If you sell your output as the measure of the work, your work is over when the inbox is empty. Once you’ve made all the pizzas that were ordered, you’re done.

But more and more, our work can be endless. One more sales call might lead to one more sale. One more cycle of innovation might lead to the breakthrough we’ve been looking for. One more post might get you the traffic you’re on the hook for.

In a competitive marketplace, self-regulating the length of our shift is a lot to ask. Given that the list of things to do is intentionally endless, it’s on each of us to decide what ‘enough’ looks like. Because more time isn’t always the answer.

Reblogged from: here


“And then what happens”

We’re not very good at predicting the future.

We’re very good at being aware of the urgency of the moment, and familiar with our need to deal with emergencies.

Before we react, though, it might be worth asking “and then what happens,” five times.

Five steps from here to there…

If any of the steps involve, “and then a miracle happens,” or “we’ll deal with that later,” it might be worth taking a few more moments to reconsider the first step.

Reblogged from: here