Mistakes and growth

For most of my adult life my operating strategy has been:
1) Be open to multiple ideas and execute on the best ones
2) Keep doing what works
3) Stop doing and learn from what doesn’t

It occurs to me that no real growth can happen with each success, as by definition I’m not changing anything.  Only when we make mistakes do we have a chance to reflect and grow.

Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors, is obsessed with post-game mistake analysis, and summarizes it as: “pain plus reflection equals progress.”



Being authentic

To be authentic means first to be fiercely self-aware, which means you NEVER lie to yourself. It means you develop genuine relationships such that both people are better off. It means you’re mindful and present.

You’ll be less stressed as there will be fewer (or no) discrepancies between what you actually are and what you think you need to be to gain respect from people (some of whom don’t matter). You’ll spend more time with people who encourage you to be you.

It means wherever you go, you’ll be celebrated, not just tolerated. That includes alone time.

We see what we want to see

A famous experiment asked students to keep close count of the score of a basketball game they were watching.  Without error, each student recorded the score with perfect accuracy, but not one of them saw a saw a man dressed as a gorilla walk through the middle of the court.

How easily we see and hear what we most set out to.  But how reliably do we discount obvious things that weren’t part of what we set out to see in the first place.

The bright side of this embarrassing survey result, is that we can choose to intentionally “attract” those things we set out to, using the principle to our advantage.



Words matter

It’s almost certain that you’ll forget most of the things you said today, this week, or this year.  And it’s likely that some of your words will be remembered by the recipients for years to come.
Multiple historical contemplatives have preached the value of being impeccable with our words (per the first of the Four Agreements).  Written and spoken words carry weight.  Choose them wisely.

Facts and stories

Almost all our behavior is animated by facts that turn into stories.

A guy bumped into me and spilled my drink.

FACT: (re-read the sentence above)
STORIES: He thinks he’s more important than me; He singled me out and did that intentionally; He’s in a hurry and didn’t notice; He’s recovering from an addiction and can’t control his body…

We craft so many stories that may or may not be true, and all of them are framed by our own biases.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. ”

— Viktor E. Frankl

Academics and alternatives

People often ask my advice on whether they should pursue additional degrees or education.

Two important questions to ask yourself when considering ANY significant investment of time and resources:
1) What are my intended outcomes?
2) What are alternative ways I could achieve them?

The goals of starting an MBA program may be: knowledge; credibility; networking. One alternative is to work free of charge, shadowing people running a real business and achieve all three outcomes. Of course, you may decide after conducting this thought experiment that an MBA is best for you. 

The wisest people are not the ones with the best answers, they’re the ones with the best questions.

The gift of gratitude

Eulogies would be so much more valuable if we gave them while people were still alive.

Science confirms that expressing gratitude makes us and the object of our gratitude feel measurably better  (Not that we needed science to confirm this).

Since no one obtains any kind of success without support from our parents, spouses, friends, old bosses who took a chance on us, 3rd grade teachers…make time to focus your energy on each person.  Do it for them and you.

Who can you thank today?