Download vs. Upload Speeds

In my observation, download speeds are generally 5 times faster than upload speeds. I won’t presume that I know that much about why that is, but my assumption is that is the ratio that is allotted by service providers. After all, data can travel just as fast in either direction through the same cable, it’s seems to me that someone decided this is the correct ratio.

Which makes me ask, “Are we consuming that much more than creating?”

When we download a movie, or stream a YouTube channel, we’re downloading. When we are creating that video, we’re uploading. So is a 5:1 ratio really representative of how much the average person consumes compared to what they create?

Is that a problem? Is it an opportunity? Is it just a random thought? I’m not sure, but I’m certain I’ll think about it more in the future.

The competition changes the landscape

If you do difficult, important work, you may understand the value in differentiating it. A painter that creates unique works can be valued much higher than one who paints copies of images. An engineer who invents entirely new things may be valued more than an engineer who tweaks designs of bookshelves to fit different rooms. One way to differentiate is to identify your competition in a way outside the norm, by doing so, you figure out how to compete in a new way, and if you’re lucky your customers love you for it. When customers love you, more work comes in, and more works means higher rates. That’s always healthy. The only thing you need to understand here is some basic thoughts about evolution.

Bacteria becomes resistant to anti-bacterial soaps because those soaps kill 99% of bacteria. The 1% that aren’t killed then become the new basis for the next generation of bacteria which means the next group will have more than 1% survive the soaps and that will perpetuate in future generations. This is how species change over time. The interesting thing to think about is that the “competition” changes the species. In the example above, “competition” would be the anti-bacterial soap and the game would be survival.

When thinking about your work, it’s possible that a worthy competitor seems like something worth fearing, however it’s also possible that the right competition is going to change the landscape and create something entirely new about the way things are done that percolates everything. If those bacteria were instead facing heat as the competition, a new set of bacteria would arise instead of the anti-bacterial soap set.

We’re all trying to figure out, or should be, what competition frames our work correctly so that we can create magic that grows. If you’re a photographer, it may not just be other photographers you compete with but also, painters and caricaturists. If you identify your competition differently than the rest of the industry, it’s possible to create an entirely new model, and if done correctly, that new model should thrive.

Creativity and reframing how you think of yourself is an asset. Use it.

If they cared that much about _______, they must care about _______ too.

Above are some bars of chocolate. The scenery on them was painted on inside of a mold prior to the chocolate being poured inside. There is artistry here. Someone decided what every aspect of these bars should look like, taste, and eventually, how they will be packaged. A thousand decisions about something that is almost inconsequential in the grand scope of life. However, by not treating it that way, by treating it’s quality as something important, they created something worth taking notice of. Something that makes everyone look at it and say I want that.

Thinking through the psychology of it, it comes down to:

"If they cared that much about _________. They must care about _________ too."

In this case, it’s if they cared that much about how the chocolates looked. They must care about how it tastes/the quality of the ingredients/the care in preparation too.

When making someone else care about something that matters to you, showing how you care is an important step. We can see it in these chocolate bars by the time we can imagine the decoration taking, but it’s not always as easy to see it in other areas of life. It’s on you to show it to someone.

Omission Bias

Everyone sees bad actions that didn’t turn out as planned. No one sees the actions you didn’t do that could have failed. As a result, it’s easy to decide doing nothing is better than sticking your neck out. Over the long run, in my experience, that’s a false assertion. It’s better to fail while trying with that neck way out there than not. The reason this is true even though it feels “dangerous” is because patience and experience compound over time. The safe play that others choose to “omit” or not doing anything on, doesn’t calibrate any judgment capabilities they have on what will be successful and what won’t in the future. As a result, the person who doesn’t take action doesn’t learn anything. The person who sticks their neck out over and over inevitably has some failures, but also some successes. The great thing about that is their asymmetry. Failure is usually much lower down side than the upside of success, if it’s not, why take the risk in the first place?

Most people are biased to not failing, to omit the bad experiences. Of course, when it comes to learning, building a robust model in your mind of what a great story is, or what a good painting looks like, it pays to know what a bad story and an ugly painting is. Omitting those wouldn’t allow you to pick out a good painting because your mental model only contains good paintings, so any painting will be categorized that way. Without those failures, the picture of success is equally reduced. We need to know what failure looks like, so we can know success when we see it.

Rhythms of success

When reflecting on the best days I have, it seems to me that there is more with how the day felt, rather than how much was accomplished. Don’t get me wrong, accomplishing something each day is important, but some days those accomplishments feel chaotic, and others feel more orderly and rhythmic. Those orderly, rhythmic accomplished days feel like success more than the chaotic ones, even with similar levels of accomplishment.

This gets to an important matter, success has a feel to it. If you want to achieve something, knowing that feel is important. Knowing what rhythm you need is important and for different tasks, those rhythms may be different. Some people have an hourly rhythm, doing their tasks, getting in the flow, going on for a long time. Some people have a daily rhythm, each day brings something different but day-to-day the days are similar.

Some people have no rhythm at all. That is each and everyday is unique, and they like that.

If you haven’t thought about what kind of rhythm it takes for you to be successful at your endeavors, perhaps you should.

Shakespeare’s quantity and quality.

You may not be an interior design, but your work may require the same tools set to make an impact, taste, skill, and awareness of your work. It often seems like the easiest way to get there is to create one amazing piece of work. That may work better in architecture than in painting, but even in interior design it falls flat. While it seems like making one piece of work is the easy way, the problem is there is no way to know that one piece of work will be enjoyed by many people.

There is a reason Shakespeare’s works are still studied today. He wrote some of the most amazing pieces of literature the world has ever known, however the ones we often study in public schools like Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, are his masterworks. Do you think when he sat down to write them he thought, “This time I’m going to write something GOOD!”

Of course not!

Shakespeare was a prolific writer, excluding other works, he wrote 39 different plays. The everyday person doesn’t know all of these, but they likely know Romeo and Juliet. That’s because doing the work is important. The audience, not the creator chooses the masterpiece. Doing work where taste, opinion, and skill matters, requires courage and patience. First, the courage that you will eventually reach the skill level where people take notice and second patience because it takes time to build a portfolio of work. It’s unknown the order of Shakespeare’s plays were created, but there is some consensus of opinion, and many of the famous ones are not his early plays. He had to develop too.

In the case of most people, portfolios are best measured by the decade. Doing the work will hone your taste, opinion and skill, that’s why the easiest way to success will always be creating more, not less.

Serious work and memes

So many people want to do work that they can be proud. Work that is off the beaten path. Work that is different than the industry. That’s what the world needs, yet there is a struggle. Spreading the word about something that’s not currently on the menu is a tough job whether you’re an artist, an IT professional, a doctor, a lawyer or something else. To do this, spreading the message through network effects is something many marketers think about. I’ve been a follower of Seth Godin on this for a long-time. Yet, everyday when I’m on social media I see far more people sharing memes other people have made much more often than I see stories/articles/podcasts reshared. The rate is astronomically higher! Why is that?

I have a few ideas:

  1. The people I follow are just more prevalent meme lords. It’s a theory, but I follow a huge number of authors, and those people are reading and writing constantly, so that doesn’t add up. When I look in most forums that contain a mix of people from the general population, memes outnumber article shares even more.
  2. Memes are generally funny. People like to share a good feeling. This also seems true, but there are plenty of stories that are feel good that don’t seem to be shared as often.
  3. Memes can’t be stolen as easily and are hard to communicate through writing or speaking. To me, this is the one. You hear a good story story. You use it in your speeches, conversations, etc. You can easily share it back if it was memorable and clearly communicated. How do you do that with a meme? You need to show someone. Are you going to remake it? Of course, not! So, you share it. These days it only takes a couple of clicks.

The way that we communicate can influence how much our ideas are shared. When I consider how much memes are impacting culture, it’s quite amazing. Lil Nas X made his name in music by creating a little track and putting it over a bunch of different memes. Certain stocks are being bought because people are making memes about them. Certain products get amazing amounts of attention because their marketing teams made good memes.

Memes are the next level of complexity. They require visual thinking, words, communication skills, humor, and more. If wanting to do serious work, it doesn’t seems like memes are the way to go, but perhaps that’s foolish thinking. Perhaps we need the courage to accept that this is the new normal in society, while at the same time realizing that important work still needs the longer formats like articles, books, podcasts, etc. Memes can be a tool to bring awareness to those.

Extrapolation anxiety

Extrapolating your current trajectory, if it’s not where you want to be heading will give you anxiety. Your brain is working from the data you have. If you’re in a job you don’t like, or have clients that aren’t who you want, it’s easy to think that’s the way things will always be. Of course, it’s delusion. If anyone could predict the future with absolute certainty they would be rich, secure, confident, and likely the luckiest person on the planet.

Extrapolation always needs to be weighed against facts uncovered through experimentation to confirm. Thinking that because a steel bracket in your garage deflects only a 1/4″ under 200lbs, and that 1/2″ deflection won’t see stuff sliding off it, so it can handle 400lbs is folly. Steel isn’t infinitely elastic, and that’s what extrapolation comes down to, assumptions. Put that 400lbs on that bracket and you may find out just how wrong you were.

When you have anxiety from thinking about your future, quit making so many assumptions, and simply take action to either make your positive assumptions come true, or your negative assumptions become false. That’s all there is to it.

A theory on the feeling of anxiety

Anxiety is a real struggle. Eliminating it is like lifting a weight of your shoulders. It makes your life much easier. My recent thoughts on the Theorem of Minimum Potential Energy and how it applies to people also relates to anxiety and how you can ease your or others’ anxiety, which makes life easier for everyone. To execute on what I’m about to tell you only requires the ability to self-reflect, to take action, and recognize progress. Anyone can do those!

My theory is that anxiety at its core is the expenditure of energy while seeing no progress towards a goal. Think about the financially anxious, someone who is trying to pay off debt. They are working 40+ hours a week, but falling deeper behind on interest, or other emergencies arise that dig them deeper into debt. They are expending energy working, but their efforts aren’t moving towards the goal. Perhaps they’ve tried other ways of making money like selling things they own that have also failed. This is the mental equivalent in our society of hunting for days, chasing down animals, but not bagging any food. Your mind starts to throw out “Warning! Something is wrong, you better do something different! Get better, or if not you’ll perish!” That’s what anxiety is. It may not be those words in your mind, but it’s that feeling your mind is creating and we recognize it as anxiety.

If I was applying this theory to a physics or engineering problem in mathematical terms, this would be the point of divergence. Where the results can no longer be accurately predicted. That’s what your mind is occupied with. That based on it’s current trajectory, it can’t predict a positive outcome. The outcome it is predicting from the current conditions is the energy completely spent and exhausted before any amount of reasonable results comes in. It may not be true, but your mind is extrapolating based on circumstance.

Following that theory on anxiety, it seems to me that a solution for anxiety is three parts:

  1. Have a plan
  2. Execute some of the plan
  3. Get some results

Is it no wonder the world seems so anxious? Can anyone agree on a plan? We’re at an inflection point where long-standing institutions and cultures are changing due to the interconnectedness of the internet. Inflection points are scary where the old rules change, the new rules are yet to be established and no one knows what’s going on.

For a while, I had no idea what I wanted, how to get it, where to start looking. My wife had some dangling notions of what she wanted to do, but we were moving a lot and getting nowhere, and we felt a bit overwhelmed. As we’ve aged, we’ve become more clear about our goals and life intentions (we have a plan), we’ve been taking efforts at executing that plan, and we are starting to see modest results for both of us. Our anxiety has dropped tremendously.

The thing is, the results don’t have to be instantaneous to lower the anxiety, they can be slow. Someone who always wanted their own business selling pottery, can keep their day job, make pottery and sell it on weekends. Eventually, when they save those pottery earnings, and can project how much they will earn if they went full-time they can find the courage to make the leap to full-time. At every step of that, they are lowering the anxiety towards their dreams. Keep in mind that just getting enough results to be rid of the anxiety is a win itself. For that pottery example, just starting to practice pottery daily can feel like you are moving towards your goal. Selling your first piece can feel that movement towards the goal. Then all the sales after that too.

If you or someone you know is feeling anxious, describe it. What is the anxiety? What is the goal you aren’t moving towards? Just identifying it may lower it. After that, check with yourself, are you actually making progress and you are just ignoring it? That happens too. I never write on this blog enough to get rid of all anxiety, but then if I take time to look at all the work I’m doing, it definitely seems like progress is there and the feeling shrinks. Recognize your progress. If neither of those is there, then make a plan, do some work, get some results towards a goal. Each piece of that will help the anxiety.

Anxiety doesn’t have to rule our lives if we don’t want it to. In fact, it’s often just our own programming being hijacked by a world that no longer requires it as much. With some self-reflection it goes away, or reduces. Do what you can to minimize it for yourself and others and you’ll find yourself going where you want to be naturally, after all minimizing anxiety comes through seeing progress towards a goal.

Laziness is not equivalent to the Theorem of Minimum Potential Energy

I’ve been writing about my Theorem of Minimum Potential Energy the last couple of days. I’d like to be clear about one thing on it, it’s not necessarily the same as laziness. Sure, a person who is having all of their needs met by being provided for and living in their mom’s basement may not seek out more work because he is minimizing his efforts and still getting the goals he wants to achieve, but that is only one form.

For different people the goals can be eating, a house, a certain car, toys, status or any other thing that people desire. The Theorem of Minimum Potential Energy as I describe it isn’t saying the people don’t want to do more than the minimum, it’s that in order to get the things they want, they will choose that path that minimizes their energy. In that regard, if someone is a skilled writer and can craft compelling copy to sell products quickly, they will likely leverage that in order to reach the goals they have if it is possible to do so in that manner. It wouldn’t make sense for them to leverage phone skills as a salesperson to reach them if those skills were weak in comparison to the writing.

This makes sense since motivation is essentially understanding that if we do this it moves closer to our goals, and that by working this way we will make progress.

Generally, what we call laziness in regards to this theorem would be having goals that are really low, not much more than survival. That’s entirely different than taking the path that minimizes the effort required to reach your goals by finding the maximum leverage of your personality, skillset, and experiences.

What is motivation?

Yesterday, I wrote this blog on the Theorem of Minimum Potential Energy. Of course, it was a actually a blog about people. While writing it, I came to the conclusion that this discussion of Minimum Potential Energy is the primal form of motivation. It’s the one that is deep-wired in us.

That means that it’s powerful. Think about the saying, “Sex sells.” It’s true because sex is primal, instinctual. I once wrote that a presentation I listened to laid out some compelling evidence that Engagement = Competence + Motivation. With this in mind, a better framework for how to lay out the opening lines to a presentation, article or sales pitch is available. All you need to do is answer the question, “How does this minimize the effort of the audience?” Clearly articulate that in your intro and throughout your arguments and you have half the engagement formula down pat.

Motivation is minimizing energy and effort, but when I think about it is probably subject to the following constraint:

P.S. If energy required to learn your info is greater than the energy saved by knowing it, the audience won’t bother. You have to consider that it takes energy to learn into consideration as well.

Theorem of Minimum Potential Energy.

The Theorem of Minimum Potential energy is a physics phenomenon that states a system will move into a configuration that minimizes its potential energy.

That means that there is a reason that holding a string in your hands it will always curve downwards rather than upwards. With gravity acting downward, a downward arch minimizes the potential energy. This is useful to know because it allows mathematics to be derived that can predict the outcome of all sorts of engineering and design problems.

I studied the mathematics relating to the Theorem of Minimum Potential Energy in graduate school quite a bit. One of the things that I always thought about was how it represents people and their behaviors. In general, my presumption is that people seek out the course of actions that require minimal energy. When thinking in these terms, people’s behaviors become much more predictable. It explains why people would rather brush others off, rather than explain their positions. It explains why some people blow up when hit with an unexpected problem. It explains why some people will do anything for money.

The part that makes things still unpredictable is the fact that people can’t actually measuring whether their actions are minimizing the energy needed over their lives. So, they judge it based on different criteria. The young guy looking to hit it big in the stock market is judging that retirement money by 30 years old is minimizing the energy required for his life. However, if he fails at it, loses money, he may alter his criteria in his older age. Finding new ways of measuring what requires “less energy”.

Money is the easiest thing to come by.

When I say that, I’m referring to thinking of money as a “good”. There is more money than there is just about any other good, after all it’s abundance in the form of liquidity is why we use money in the first place. As a result, it’s much more common to come across money, than it is a beautiful art piece. It’s much more common to come across money than it is a consultant who can help you with exactly what your business is missing. It’s much more common to come across money than it is the best tacos you’ve ever had in your life.

The point is the world is driven off of supply and demand, if you want money it’s likely you need to just start with something valuable like great art, smart services, or amazing food, and trade it for something that is less rare, namely money.

I remember as a child having my first thoughts that I could just go out and make money. That there were many different ways to do so. I’ve had a few conversations that have reminded me not everyone has had this epiphany yet, so I thought it might be beneficial to share.

Believing in what isn’t there.

Mythology is crafted because it’s a useful tool for creating behaviors. That could be mythology of how a person got rich where their story is embellished a bit. It could be the mythology of how a country is founded. It could be your own personal mythology of why you do the work that you do.

Mythology doesn’t imply not true in my context. It’s simply that no one can ever prove otherwise. It’s not something that occupies the physical realm. Can someone really tell you otherwise about why you went into medicine if you’re a doctor? I don’t think they can.

For many people, their personal mythology is a source of struggle. The stories they tell themselves about how to behave, their intelligence, their status, and where they belong in the world tends to be more self-limiting then empowering in my experience. If you’re going to believe in something that isn’t there, at least believe in something that lifts you up, not drags you down. Believe positives about yourself that you can will into existence, instead of negatives that do the same.

Bullwhip Griffin

That’s the title of an old time Disney movie.

It’s not that high in production quality, though it has a Disney family feel. It’s a study in watching a company improve and get better, at least it is if you’ve seen Bullwhip Griffin as well as more modern Disney movies.

Disney has a style, you may like it. You may not, but it is certainly there. If you watch a Disney movie, even without seeing the introduction, you likely know who made it. That development of style didn’t happen by accident. It was purposeful. It was practiced. It was likely even documented internally.

Disney knows who they are serving, families. They’ve worked over decades to produce a style that fits an audience making everyone in the family relatively happy watching the movie. They have some humor only adults will get, but they have “lighter” subjects and stories. They have characters and sets that always look a certain way.

It’s likely your work would benefit from the consistent practice of creating and shipping that Disney has done for decades. Look at their Disney Plus offering, it’s filled with nothing but productions from Disney. In fact, Disney has done so much work, they can create new pieces of content from the scraps, things like Disney Zenimation, which is just animation landscapes and music to create a calm feeling in you.

That’s the benefit of creating consistently for long periods of time. Eventually, every piece of work increases the value of the next piece of work because your skill rises. Your reputation rises. Your work is available for reuse and repurposing. People find you and your portfolio is larger for each successive person that discovers you. All of these compound into something amazing over time.

Everyday you have the choice to do some interesting work. To be consistent and develop something that people want to interact with. To get better at a craft. To have some fun. It doesn’t have to feel like work, but you should see that the “Disney Magic” is more like “Disney Patience” after all it’s sticking around for this long that made them a household name. You have this opportunity to if you just pick something to create consistently.

Being smart vs. Powerful

Lately, the world has been producing many different stories of smart vs. powerful for me.

  • There was the GME stock fiasco. Retail investors saw a smart opportunity, but powerful hedge funds shut it down.
  • I’m reading a book about history of humanity, and the apex predators prior to humans didn’t always have the smartest standing at the top.
  • And then I’ve seen debates about whether artificial intelligence will ever be smarter than a person, or simply more powerful. For a wild example, being able to trigger all the nuclear weapons at once doesn’t take as much intelligence as a single person, but it’s more power than a person has.

This has made me reflect on my own thoughts on the subject throughout my life. People always told me I could do anything because I was smart when I was a kid. I believed them. Without any other life experience, what else could I believe?

For me, power has always felt like a dirty word. I don’t particularly want to have power over anyone, but the reality is being smart is a step to having the power to make a change. A smart economist could see the possibilities for policies that would raise the standard of living. Does he have the power to make those changes?

Not likely.

What does that economist need?

Power. Not the rule the world with violence sort of power, but the most basic kind, public support. So, what are skills needed to acquire this?

  • Promoting your ideas through education in order to create the support you need.
  • Having a large network of people that can connect you to the right rooms to be in.
  • Being able to articulate your thoughts to groups with different backgrounds.

Keep in mind when I say “power” it doesn’t have to be at the world-changing level. It doesn’t have to be self-driving cars or climate change technology. It could be the power to change software for an industry that employs 1,000 people. Or it could be smaller than that. Being smart is something, but it’s not everything. Don’t forget to focus on the other aspects needed to make a positive change in the world.

Big business always competes on price.

They are interested in keeping wages low, not necessarily for their own overhead, but because of people had money, they wouldn’t choose things based on price. They may choose it based on artistry, health, service, quality or any other quantity that isn’t easily scalable for a big business.

There is a huge amount of room in the world to compete on something other than price, but not if you are taking notes from a huge company.

I’ve been lucky to work in a mix of companies spanning the range from tiny to huge. Then from there, to work with hundreds of other companies as a consultant. I’ve seen the spectrum and can tell you, doing things on your own terms is possible, but you have to know what the term is. You have to communicate it. You have to link it to the customers problems.

You don’t have to compete on price, but if you don’t it better be super clear about what benefit is being provided that a cheaper option wouldn’t.

Making it through the dips.

In every endeavor that matters the long-term is involved. Anything worth doing takes 5-10 years to grow, and in that timeframe it’s easy to lose faith. To not see the path you are on when the numbers don’t work out at a specific point in time.

The stock market has a good analogy here. Paraphrasing Warren Buffett, the most prolific investor of our era, “The stock market is a tool for transferring wealth from the impatient to the patient.” Warren goes on to say that people panic when a stock they bought drops in value and often end up selling for a loss. Then after taking that loss, often times the stock goes up far beyond what the investor paid for it. There are investment firms that know this psychology and even make moves that influence stock prices to collect money from these people who aren’t patient.

Why are these people who know they should buy low and sell high often doing the opposite?

It’s panic. The availability of data and the ability to see the price at any given time become a tool for leading people to intentionally make bad decisions that don’t make any sense whatsoever. The great analogy Mr. Buffett uses is “If you bought a house, and someone immediately came by after you moved in offering you 75% of the amount you had paid, would you take it just because there was an offer?”

The answer is obviously “No.”

Yet, people panic sell their stocks during a dip.

What does this have to do with the original message?

The work we do today has more measurable data than ever before. That information that may lead you to question what you’re doing. It may lead you to question your assumptions about what will work and what won’t. You have to resist.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve destroyed nearly everything by lacking patience. However, like the stock market, like anything in real life, the journey is not a nice smooth endeavor. When things dip is when your need patience and courage. You need to press on and wait for things to swing back.

P.S. There could be times where external forces lead you to have to get out. That’s okay, but is a huge topic on it’s own for another time. In this case, I’m talking about the natural ebbs and flows of our work. It can create doubt in us that shouldn’t be there.

Your worldview is made up of…

everything you leave out without realizing it.

  • If you ignore negativity, you’re are positive.
  • If you ignore positivity, you’re negative.
  • If you ignore the external, you’re introverted.
  • If you ignore the internal, you’re extraverted.
  • If you ignore the theoretical, you’re practical.
  • If you ignore the practical, you’re theoretical.
  • If you ignore the facts, you’re assuming.
  • If you ignore the assumptions, you’re operating from the facts.

When you look at your own hand, you can see different levels of detail depending on how close you look and how much time you’ve spent learning to “see”. The mental model of that hand is extremely different if looked at by a toddler or a skilled artist. The toddler sees five fingers. The skilled artists sees four fingers, a thumb, rough proportions, the deviations in shape of the fingers, the smooth/roughness of the skin, the wrinkles and lines, the level of manicure on the nails. the skin tone and the hues, the freckles, the veins, the ligaments and shape of the knuckles. By comparison, the toddlers simple model of the hand is defined by all the things he is lacking in comparison to the artist.

The question is, does the artists mental model of a hand lack anything?

The answer is “We can never know.”

For the most complex subjects, no one will ever have a “complete model”. These are things like economics, politics, how to organize a business, how to live your life, your purpose, what is art and more. However, the fact that we know our mental models will never be perfect is an opportunity to reflect on all the things we miss, incorporate new information and disregard outdated concepts. This is a skill in the same way the artist had to teach himself how to see all those details in a hand in order to be able to draw or paint it. Changing your mind isn’t a weakness if it helps you frame the subject in a new way.

The excuse of time and money.

Really likely means money. If you had that, of course you would have the time.

And even the money isn’t it entirely because more often than not, the money you need could be much lower if willing to sacrifice a few things and be a bit resourceful.

At it’s core, it’s an excuse of comfort. If you reframe it that way, it becomes much more truthful and much more easier to move past the cliche excuses.

“I’m not comfortable doing that.”

Great. At least the facts are out there. Do you want the things that come along with doing whatever “that” is? The work? The status? The income? The responsibility? If the answer is yes, then the next step is determining if those things are worth overcoming the discomfort. If not, stop. If so, continue.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard:

“Everything you still want lies on the other side of what’s comfortable for you. If it wasn’t you would have it already.”

I don’t know who said it.

If you took take the excuse of time and money and transform it to what it actually is, which is comfort, some real conversations can start to happen to find the courage. You just have to decide if what is on the other side of that comfort is worth the “costs”.

#dedication isn’t much of a thing on social media…

which is sad. In the world of the internet, someone sticking to something long-term doesn’t seem to really be all that important. I personally can’t think of something more important than this.

Dedication is a tool to de-risk most of your “investments”. Remember buying that guitar so that you could learn it and be a rockstar? Dedicating your days to practicing and playing gigs in clubs for years is a great way to build a following. It minimizes the chance that paying good money for that guitar was a bad investment.

Remember that website you paid to have built for your business? Staying in that line of work for a long time so that the website returns the largest possible number of customers is a great way to make sure that the website pays for itself. Quitting a couple months later on that business may find you in the hole financially on the website.

There are many things that are risky in the world. However, if you are building something like your own skills, a business, or even an invention, dedication is a tool for de-risking the investment. You’ll always figure things out if you can stick with them long enough. What that timeframe is however, is anyone’s guess.

#dedication should be a thing. Send a story of dedication if you have one on twitter with #dedication. If you don’t have one, start thinking about one you would like to write a couple years for now and start dedicating yourself to it.

Long-Term or Short-Term

I recently made some short-term investments. The problem is I’m a long-term person. I write this blog not because of what I’ll get out of it tomorrow, but because of what I’ll get out of it in 10, 20, or even 50 years. That’s the kind of long-term thinking that life has taught me works for what I want.

One thing I noticed from the short-term investments I made is how distracted they made me from the long-term goals I have. That by being misaligned even in the timeframes, even if the investments serve the same purpose towards the same goals, one became more urgent than the other and urgency replaced everything else. This happens throughout our lives if we are paying close enough attention.

So something to ponder is how your different goals are aligned. Is everything short-term? If so, that’s probably okay, they will take up equal amounts of your focus because they have similar urgency. Is everything long-term? If so, that’s great because you can continue to peck away at the efforts required to get where you want to go. The problem is the mismatch.

The short-term erodes the long-term. Short-term is great, if it is a fraction of a long-term goal. To give an example of this in relative terms, since long and short are relative by nature, my wife is working on a marketing guide for customers to share what a project looks like and give them expectations about working with her. This is her long-term goal. She’s has many other activities going on so to sit down and write a ten-page guide to this is a significant undertaking it might take 3-6 months. However, she can outline this document, then every week write a single blog for he website that covers one section. Perhaps it’s half a page each week. When she’s covered every section with a blog, she can then edit the document together and have it available. This is the value of short-term goals building to long ones.

A bad example, one where short-term distracts from long-term is an example where a company is struggling financially because they need to rework corporate sales training sessions they provide which no longer are as valued in the marketplace. Sales are dwindling every year, and what they need is a new offering, but it would take a year to create that new training program and they need revenues to go up now. So they focus the company’s efforts on new marketing plans and gimmicks and discounts, and don’t spend enough of the company’s efforts on reworking their offerings. Their short-term ate away their long-term. Every year they will need more gimmicks, more discounts, and their offerings will continue to dwindle.

In the moment, it’s easy to miss the fact that your short-term goals aren’t always aligned with the long-term goals. However, it’s definitely worth checking in with yourself from time to time on them.

P.S. Don’t forget as a mentioned, long and short are relative. A long-term goal for someone could be a month, and their short-term could be a day. That’s okay. Everyone is built differently. Just recognize that in yourself as well.

Computing power eaten by the system and your life.

Once upon a time every increase in computing power and memory allowed more powerful software applications to be written. At some point, it allowed computers to have colored screens, and complex interfaces. Then it allowed for things like Computer Aided Design Tools for engineers, layout tools for publishers, rendering tools for animators, and so much more.

However, it’s often that increased computing power gets eaten up by the operating system. Think about your cell phone. It’s possible that we could be doing much greater things with it in apps every time a new hardware model is released, but what does most of the new computing power go to? Animating emojis rather than leaving them static. They add higher resolution graphics to the backgrounds. They animate things that weren’t before. While it does create some “magic” in the experience, it also shows that we are using what is touted as an increase in power for things that don’t grant increased capability. For many, that is an acceptable tradeoff.

This really makes you question whether you need the “upgrades” you think you do. Those “upgrades” could be increased knowledge, more money, more time, and so on. In reality, it’s likely you need the software to be better. And what is software?

The code that is written down and followed as a set of routines.

You need to do better in the actual work. Resources will always get sucked up by the system, but the core of what you do, the work that only you can do is important. Keep improving that and you’ll do well.

P.S. An example of resources getting sucked up by the system is using your increased monthly surplus from paying off debt to move into a bigger house rather than invest in the work you do. Of course, this is okay as long you realize you are looking for the “magic” rather than the resources to increase the capabilities of the work you do.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

Typically, abbreviated as FUD.

The whole point is to manipulate you. To harm your confidence. Make no mistake, a large part of marketing is doing this. They are making you think you need to be more, buy more, do more. You don’t.

What you need is to be you. Be confident in your dreams, your goals and your actions to get there.

I think of fear, uncertainty, and doubt as an analogy to driving a car. Let’s say you’re taking a road trip, and on the trip you go through a rural area filled with farmland, with few buildings and lots of roads. All of a sudden, your GPS stops working for a half hour. You start to question whether you should have turned off miles back or keep going after 30 minutes of no GPS. You start to slow down. You may think about pulling out of the direction you are heading and attempt to find some sort of landmark, building, or person to ask, or you could keep going ahead until you get a signal back to tell you whether you messed up or not.

When our destination is known, fear, uncertainty and doubt, are much less likely to distract us. We can swim through the area we aren’t familiar with, continuing towards the destination through the unfamiliar parts until we reach the areas we are familiar with again.

There is something unnoticed by many in this regard. Having even a single point of focus in your life can take away fear, uncertainty and doubt in others. This is why sometimes we see people go all in on certain aspects of life like family, business, hobbies, etc. It grounds them. They know what is awaiting them.

If you’re not sure what your focus is, you might succumb to fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Make some decisions now and you’re more likely to build some resilience against the FUD.

Most problems are the same…

the responses to them are different.

Throughout the arc of mankind we’ve had organizational issues, emotional issues, technological issues, financial issues, relationship issues, health issues and a whole host of other problems.

Our problems are not that unique. What is unique is our strengths, our constraints, our personalities. How we respond to these common challenges are set by our tastes, opinions and behaviors, those are the items that make us human.

Doing the most important work, the work that only a human can do, is the kind of work where the is no correct answer. Computers like to zero in on a number. The work that only a human can do, at least at this point in time is a lot like dividing by zero, it doesn’t compute for a machine.

Do you think a computer is going to tell you the perfect thing to say after your friends husband passes away?

Seek out the work that only humans do, everything else can and ultimately will be automated away.

Those who want to learn, teach.

We have all heard that other line that sounds similar to this one. Of course, it’s false. Plenty of people teach who can also do. I was literally paid for years to both perform engineering analysis work and to train others how to do it. It wasn’t a dichotomy of do it or teach it, as is often portrayed.

Teaching is a way to ensure that you have mastered a subject yourself. The amount of questions needed to be answered, alternate ways of describing complex concepts in a manner that allows different people to grasp them, ideating examples that describe the edge cases, and so on, all lead to mastery of understanding.

Teaching is the act of making a test for yourself in your own understanding. Someone training a new employee is checking that they themselves understanding the workings of the company. Someone teaching economics is constantly checking that they can relate the concepts to world events for their students and that the understanding and principles still hold.

Whatever you teach, you are also a student of. When you teach, your pace of learning may slow down as your approach the pinnacle of available knowledge about the subject, but your students will never let you stop learning entirely.

As my friend and coworker, Sam Hochberg says when being asked how the class he taught went, “Great! I learned a lot!”.

You can learn too. Just teach what you can. Students are everywhere.