- Let go of perfectionism
- Don’t let fear control you
- Lean heavily into your strengths
- Strive for better, rather than best
- Make mistakes and learn from them
- Be strict about who and what gets your energy and attention
- Get really good at saying no with kindness and integrity
- Get clear on the conditions for doing your best work
- Focus on what you have complete control over
- Accept that you can’t do everything well
- Know and respect your boundaries
- Remove pointless distractions
- Take control of your schedule
- Ask for help quickly and often
- Measure your work on inputs
- Embrace constraints
What am I working on?
I believe that wisdom can only be created through our own action and effort. We do that by exhausting our own resources working on problems, ideas, and asking ourselves tough questions. Here you will find (almost) daily posts of the things I'm trying to figure out for myself. Have a quick scroll through and see if you can find something that interests you :)
What do they have in common with each other?
They both want to:
- Make the world a better place
- Work hard for something that matters
- Feel fulfilled and satisfied at work
- Work to serve and help others
- Provide for and create a better life for their family
- Learn, grow and get better
- Make their dreams a reality
- Create ambitious ideas
- Express their agency and have choices
…and, they also make sacrifices and take risks for their work.
I feel we all have a duty, perhaps more now than ever, to look at what we have in common with each other and challenge these stereotypes.
Let’s work together to mend the fabric, rather than tear holes in it.
One of the most common challenges I see in my work is leadership spending very little time thinking about how to communicate a change or solution to their high-performing teams.
A lot of work goes into solving problems at the leadership level, and often times the value of that work is dramatically diminished by poor communication.
Simply put, solving a problem is only half the work. The other half is where you put time, effort and energy into communicating it to your team.
You may have the single best solution, but if your team don’t buy-in to it then you are going to be spending a lot of your time and energy dealing with resistance and push back.
Leaders present their team with solutions and wonder why they get problems.
Instead, leaders should present their team with problems and get help creating solutions.
I watched a video from Joe Satriani (guitarist) today. He said:
”If it doesn’t exist you really have no right to talk about it. If you are brave enough to take that first step and put that first stroke of paint on the canvas or lay down that first rhythm part, then you have the right to talk about it further and get other people involved”
I thought to myself…”Ok, I better get to work then! I won’t talk to anyone about this project until it’s done. That’s the challenge. Just do it, and don’t tell a soul.”
It’s all too common set goals and immediately sharing them with the world. But it’s just more distracting noise about a thing they might do, rather than something they actually produced that adds real value.
Two other examples:
- Architects (band) – you don’t hear about their new album until the first single is released.
- Ryan Holiday (author) – you don’t hear anything about his new book until it’s being published.
So, what’s the lesson? Creating something people want to talk about is more important than talking about something you haven’t yet created.
Anyone can talk a good game about what they are going to do. What’s rare is getting the head down, staying quiet and getting the work done.
It’s the quiet ones we should be watching!
Many people don’t like being told what to do. They want to feel in control and make independent choices about what they give their time and attention to.
Which is completely fine, however…
…at the drop of a hat, they will let their emotions carry them away by getting defensive, angry and drawn into the drama. They may even change their whole direction just to prove other people wrong.
You may not like being told what to do, but you ultimately let other people control you in a different way. Either way, the outcome is the same – you are being carried away by other people.
You are still being told what to do.
What’s the lesson?
It’s somewhat easier to reject overt instruction – like being verbally told what to do by someone else – but it’s much more difficult to recognise when your emotions are making irrational decisions for you and changing your behaviour based on how the people around you act and behave.
- Who’s carrying me away?
- Who am I giving control to?
- Who am I letting get to me?
I enjoy this challenge, and maybe you will too…
The next time you are tempted to use an inspirational quote to make a point, resist.
Instead, try to express that same point in your own words…through your own thinking.
It’s not so much that you might be able to say it better, or that quotes are necessarily bad or wrong (those that know me well know that I love an inspirational quote). But that’s all quotes will ever be – inspirational.
A quote will never transfer wisdom, which is something you have to create for yourself.
Using other people’s quotes short circuit the thinking process. It’s means we don’t have to think for ourselves.
I’ve found that I end up disagreeing with quotes, or that they don’t really mean what I think they mean, or that I can say it better in my own words, or that I don’t really have an opinion on that thing.
But at the end of the day, I feel more confident and clear because I took the time to think it through for myself.
It might not be as cool, or as succinct, or as catchy…you may even arrive at the same conclusion as others. But the important thing is that we don’t get complacent in our thinking, and that we continue to challenge ourselves.
Up for the challenge?
There are a tonne of great books that will help you to improve your communication. I’ve read a lot of them.
So far, there is *one book that trumps them all*, and that’s because it’s not about the tactics. It’s about getting to the root of why you behave the way you do.
It’s called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. My Mum gifted it to me around about the time when my brother Colin died (about 15 years ago). I’ve read it a dozen or more times. And I’ll read it agin this year.
The Four Agreements will challenge everything you don’t know about why you behave, act and respond to the people around you. It will expose the ‘agreements’ that you didn’t know you had already made with yourself, and give you four new and better ones:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
Every single fight, conflict or bad experience I’ve ever had happened because one or more of these agreements were pushed to the side.
Think about The Four Agreements as an operating system that will help you put all those great communication tactics to better use.
This book is too important to ignore.
If you haven’t read it, go get it.
If you have read it already, maybe it’s time to pick it up again 🙂
It’s incredible to me how quickly I can let someone or something quickly carry me away from who I want to be.
Here’s a cheeky wee daily life hack I use to help me get into, and stay in, the best frame of mind for the day ahead…
I’ve got a stack of 5×3 index/revision cards on my desk. I take a new one each day and answer this one question:
“Who do I want to be today?”
The card will sit there all day and help me to stay within my integrity and values.
It works for me. It may work for you, too.
Towards the end of last year I read something that inspired me to start writing weekly letters to my younger kids.
The trigger came from thinking about when I was a child and receiving postcards from my grandparents when they went on holiday. Or from my parents when they went on a work trip.
The cards would be pinned to a cork board, or attached to the fridge with a magnet. They’d remind me that my parents were thinking of me no matter where they were in the world.
It was customary back then (30+ years ago!) to send postcards, and for a few obvious reasons it’s not so common these days.
Anyway, a few months ago decided that I’d like to write a weekly letter to my younger kids. Not only is it exciting to get something in the mail, but I wanted to give them something that they could place in their keepsake boxes and hold on for many years. Perhaps at times when I’m not around they will find comfort in them.
The bonus for me is that I have something fun to do with my 1961 refurbished typewriter that Cara gifted me last year for my birthday!
Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without a list of tips…so here are two lists for you:
List #1 – General guidance for writing a letter to your kids:
- Keep it really short and specific.
- Don’t overthink it.
- If your kids can read yet you can read it with them.
- Keep it positive – so they can go back to it in the future to feel good about themselves.
- Be honest – if you commit to promising something for the future make sure you follow through.
- Don’t worry about how they might respond. Know that you are influencing your kids in a positive way, even if they don’t realise it in the moment.
- Tell them that you love them.
- Don’t put pressure on them, criticise them or project your expectations.
- Have they got somewhere to keep their letters?
List #2 – Questions to inspire ideas to include in your letter:
- What do your kids love doing?
- What have you seen that you liked about what your kids did?
- What’s something you enjoyed about your time together recently?
- What’s something you are looking forward to?
- What are you proud of?
- What’s something that means a lot to you?
- Look back at photos from your most recent time together.
- What do you wish you had heard from your parents?
- What promises and commitments do you want to make to your children?
- You want to look smart.
- You want to seem interesting.
- You want to save the day.
- You want to feel important.
- You need recognition and fame.
- You need to solve every problem.
- You are avoiding more important problems.
- You are addicted to being busy.
- You are a slave to your ego.
- You think you’re better than other people.
I’ve attacked myself by writing and sharing this. 🤪