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?

The most important factor in gaining a new skill

I’ve read lots of books devoted to skill acquisition.  There’s some useful info, backed by impressive data revealing habits, practices, and routines of world-class performers.

One of the most important commonalities is that most world-class performers had a coach/teacher who made the activity fun early on.

Interest precedes talent development, and even if Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory is correct, most of us won’t devote the second hour to something that doesn’t seem fun.

Exposing children (or adults for that matter) to someone who can make an activity interesting or fun may be the most important first step.  That goes for tennis, violin, or coding.

If we were wise…

I believe that the ultimate goal of wisdom is to have the same clarity you’ll have on your deathbed, but long before that so you can still act on it.

From that perspective, it seems absurd that we would ever:
– Feel bad for not fitting in with certain groups
– Believe that others are hyper-aware of our minor flaws, like your unmatched shoelaces or tiny scar
– Thoughtlessly allow other people’s beliefs, opinions or fears to become our own
– Connect with, date, or befriend toxic people out of obligation or fear of the alternative
– Blame others for our circumstances
– Judge others for anything other than their character
– EVER take the most important people in our lives for granted

What are your standards?

The exact life you have right now is a reflection of your standards, or, put simply, exactly what you are willing to TOLERATE.  This includes your finances, how you’re treated by others, your relationships, etc.

The common approach to personal growth is to exert more effort.  Try harder.  Tenacity and grit are useful, but upgrading your environment works better and faster.

If your home, social or work life feel antithetical to your goals, they probably are.  Your standards reflect your reality.  Want to change the quality of your life?  Three words: raise your standards.