Time to Dismiss the Default of Reactive

Reactive isn’t memorable.

We all have 24 hours in a day. There isn’t anyone who has 23 or 25. You can’t “save” time. You only spend it.

Time’s consistency combined with its scarcity is a major reason it’s the most valuable resource we have.

Our default state is to react to time:

  • Wait for an email to tell me what to do
  • Get that text to show us who to talk to
  • Find “fires” so we can feel effective

All of these things are reactive. None of those instances create memories. You won’t tell people at the bar later about that email that started you on a project. It isn’t a life that is memorable. When someone asks about what you were doing, all you say is you were “busy.”

When one is reactive, they rely on the word busy. Busy is a buzzword designed to protect your ego. When you say your busy, you don’t have to think about why you decided to do something.  You take away your personal responsibility.

At the end of the day, would you rather be busy or interesting?

Sharpen Your Sword, It Doesn’t Need Another Guard.

Take away things when you can.

A sword becomes sharper by removing the imperfections, not by adding features. Once a sword is out of the “factory,” you spend your time sharpening it, not adding an additional scabbard.

How do you make a sword sharper? Removing the imperfections.

Remember, nothing is free.

Often, there is an urge to “do more,” or deal with its sibling “don’t miss.”

You make an impact magnitudes faster by removing instead of adding. 

What is more effective in the field, a sharp sword, or a pretty one and which would you rather be?

You Can’t Run From Problems (or Fight…or Ignore….)

Fight or flight only stops you from finding solutions that work.

Quicksand scares me.

What is quicksand? Quicksand is loose wet sand that yields easily to pressure and sucks in anything resting on or falling into it.

At first, you don’t notice, the quicksand drags your feet. You ignore it.

You’re trapped. 

There is nowhere to go. You’re stuck.

  • Running won’t get you out, in fact, it makes it worse.
  • You can’t ignore it anymore, that’s what got you in this mess. 
  • Fighting the facts won’t change the situation either.

Sound familiar? It’s the same structure as most of our problems.

You don’t notice a problem at first. Then it nips at your heels. You try to ignore it, run away or fight it.

Like quicksand, all of those things make the problem worse.

The solution to quicksand, like problems, needs you to understand your environment.  Tactics, such as breathing, help slow you down. It allows you to take in more information. Information helps you craft solutions that matter.

If you allow yourself to default into fight or flight, you stop the flow of information and drastically drop the amount information you receive. That means your solution if you get to one, isn’t ideal.

If you are wondering about the solution for quicksand, it’s simple.


Simple right?

How many problems in your life are solvable by a simple solution?

You won’t know unless you slow down and face things as you see them.

Swinging Pendulums and Our Emotional Volitility

Pendulum pushes and pulls.

Yesterday’s newsletter (sign up won’t you) talked about the pendulum, and why it’s an important visual tool to describe volatility with decisions.

Since we base our emotions on if we get the “yes” and how excited the decision makes us decide how strong the “push.”

The decision on how hard to “push” comes from our emotions and are excitement towards them. If I am happy or sad based on a decision then I “push” it.

After the push, there are aftershocks (the swings after the initial push). The pendulum cannot “rest” until it’s out of energy.

So, the “yes” or “no” still has some power after that first push. This is important because they affect other pendulums (other “yes” or “no” decisions) that we have, advertently or inadvertently.

In short, our decisions are powerful and have lasting effects. They go beyond the moment we make them. 

We are not islands, and pretending does us no good.



Avoid Busy For Two Reasons

Not a great word

  • Using it takes away an opportunity to communicate what you work on. It comes from a place of insecurity.  “If I say I’m busy, then that will confirm what I am doing to the other person.”
  • Being “busy” means we lost track of what we are doing. Just by using that word, we generally settle on System 1 thinking. Suddenly, the day is gone.

The worst part about the word is the two behaviors feed each other. When you don’t stop to communicate what you are doing and feed into your insecurity, it gets easier to lose track because “busy” often works.

Note: You aren’t as busy as you think you are.


No, it Wasn’t Free

Everything has a cost.

There is a rule in accounting. All transactions have a debit and a credit. You can’t do one without the other.

To call something free is to dismiss the “credit” side of a transaction.

If you just saw half of the movie screen, your imagination isn’t going to replicate what happened on the other side.


That “free” lunch?

You gave up time, money, or another resource to make it happen somewhere in the chain reaction that got you to that restaurant table.

When you dismiss a part of the equation, you miss the picture.

Not Doing It – Stop Adding New

No, we don’t need anything but you.

“Would it be cool if we…”
“How about if we add…”
“We don’t want to miss…”

The answer: no.

You don’t need more of anything with the projects you have. I saw a lot of this when coaching at altMBA, especially early in the program. Students would wonder about “what else” instead of what was there. As a result, the project lacked power. Instead of focus, they went for features.

A notice: If you are reading this, you more than likely have enough tools and your brand/tool/product has enough “features.”

So, that new thing isn’t a need. It’s a way to distract you from what matters.

What matters is doing the hard work of getting the most out of the ideas you have.

It means dealing with the “I don’t know what to do!”

Building the endurance to sit in the tough part and see instead of searching for new is a valuable skill.One of the beautiful things about altMBA is that it teaches you to recognize fear. It takes a lot of shipping to dance with it with reckless abandon, but the first step is recognizing it.

We all look for the juicer when life hands us lemons because that is the only way we get to make lemonade.

Be the juicer.

Good Morning, Today!

A New Opportunity!

Every day presents an opportunity to try two things:

  • Do your best work.
  • Try again.

Finding where those two ideas intersect is where you find consistent growth.

It’s worth the time to know if you are skewing one way or the other. Leaning too heavy on one (perfectionism) or the other(no skin in the game) can create meaningless work.



The Garlic Problem, Part 2

Our emotions play a role.

Yesterday I laid out the Garlic Problem, or what our options are when we smell of garlic.

There were rational options, and then there was running away  as fast as we could.

  • “I would never run away from the table,” you say?
  • “I would know they don’t want me gone,” you say?

The example yesterday sounds ridiculous, but it’s a game that we play every day. Our fight or flight instincts always have a say in everything we do.

So what are we supposed to do here, ignore it?

No. I have bad news, every time you just ignore the game, you accumulate emotional debt. You ever watch someone scream at a printer? That’s emotional debt trying to collect.

We have to reconcile the idea of emotion matters, and they exist. We can’t ignore them, that leads to other problems. We have to connect with them, listen, and then understand that we can say “no.”

Then you can wash your hands, and get back to the conversation.