Useless motions

Today the flight attendant had to ask me several times (sorry) to remove my ear buds as she was going to explain the safety procedures in case the plane experienced an emergency landing. Unfortunately everyone knows that if the plane has to make an emergency landing, statistically speaking, the safety procedure won't be needed. 

The flight attendants know this as well. They vaguely point in the direction of an exit and they try to hide their disdain for having to show people how to work a seat belt. They are just doing their jobs and the airlines won't risk not explaining the procedures at the advice of their large legal councils. The standard airlines aren't going to change their procedures anytime soon. 

It would be a shame though if we had our own safety procedures in our own lives, jobs or even churches that we were simply going through useless motions. The hard work is to look through what we do and match it up to what we believe. If there is any disconnect, have the guts to make a change. Instead of doing what has always been done before, be willing to ask why is it still being done. 

Insecure little souls

"They're all self-obsessed, delicate, dainty, insecure little souls and absolute psychopaths. Every last one of them." 

This is Gordon Ramsay talking about chefs and ultimately himself. This is true because a chef creates art that will be experienced by others. When your work is before others, it comes at a risk of being critiqued. This quote also applies to musicians, interior designers, hair stylist and writers. Most likely, this quote applies to most human beings that do anything. 

This is important to understand and believe. If we understand that everyone feels the same way we feel, maybe it lessens the fear just enough that we aren't paralyzed from acting. You have the desire to create and need to overcome the feeling that you don't have the confidence to put your work out there. 

You either put your work, art or beliefs out there with the risk of being judged, labelled and possibly ridiculed or you bury your work out of fear. But, only by taking that chance do you have the ability to do something that matters. Take the risk. 

 

 

Communicators win

If the world was perfect, the best idea would always win. The best content would always spread. The truth would always prevail. But the world has been broken since chapter 3 of our history. 

It has been said that content is king, but how the content is communicated increasingly matters more and more. Ideas still matter greatly. Yet a poorly communicated great idea rarely spreads. Therefore, our communication methods need to grow daily. 

How you write needs to be better tomorrow than today. How you speak in front of people needs to improve continually. Your growth needs to be measured and your practice needs to increase. 

Throughout history, communicators win. Thankfully communication is a skill that can be learned, developed and strengthened. It starts with you understanding that you need more than the best content. Then you need to understand you can be much more influential than you realize.  You just need to do the work to get there. 

No passion for passion

Passion often drives to innovation, break throughs, game changers, movements and top of market products. It is highly unlikely that greatness will come from a nonchalant attitude and desire though. Unfortunately, most people lack passion. More often we are surrounded people that have no passion for passion. 

Most people decide to avoid passion because it puts you out in front of others. When you have a passion, others will notice. There is a built in fear that others will mock you or even try to tear down your passion. There is a risk in standing for something bigger than yourself. 

Because of the perceived risk and fear, too many learn to hide their passions often without even knowing what they are doing. Passions need to be identified and fed. 

What are you passionate about? Write it down. The next conversation you have, share your passions. What's the plan to further your passion? Refuse to live your life without passion. 

Get in the game

Millions of people watch hours of sports on television every week. People gather with friends at pubs to watch the game. Guys take road trips to different stadiums. Some people even take vacations with the sole purpose of watching sporting events. There is a level of excitement in watching a game.

Then there are many people that belonged on a team, although they did't get into the game all that often. They trained just as long as the rest of team and even travelled to the games with the team. But they only sat on the bench watching the game. But watching from the bench is more exciting that watching from the stands or on television. 

And then you have the players. Most exciting for sure, but possibly at a risk. Inside the game, you can disappoint the entire team. Inside the game, you get beat up and will be sore the next morning. Inside the game, the chance of injury increases dramatically. Inside the game, you can be responsible for failure. 

But only inside the game can you hit the game winning shot. Inside the game you grow more as a player than any other place. And only inside the game you have the opportunity to play your role that leads to success for an entire team.  

So what's your game? What's the big opportunity that is in front of you? It is time to stop watching and get in the game. 

Willing to make mistakes

If you are like my family, you have a hard time deciding where you are going to eat tonight. Most times, the decision isn't made until everyone is in the vehicle. If no one makes a choice, the kids usually have an opinion. Yet the kids have terrible recommendations. Although one person may say they don't care, it is evident that they do care after the first suggestion is shot down. Eventually, we find a place to eat. 

Although we have made bad decisions on where to eat, we never decided not to eat.  Because we would rather eat at a bad restaurant instead of not eating, someone always decides. Unfortunately when it comes to more important decisions in life, we can often refuse to make moves because of fear. 

Henry Ford said, “Those who never make mistakes work for those of us who do.” Realize they are very few mistakes that will kill you. The act of failing can actually lead to innovation. The biggest mistake is not be willing to make choices. 

 

Discovery and Communication

Advancement comes from discovery and communication. I imagine the very first guy to discover fire wasn't alive to tell others how to replicate the achievement. At some point though the knowledge was shared. Once fire was common knowledge, it likely wasn't long until cooking over the open flame became popular.  

A company shouldn't spend millions of dollars on research if the information won't be shared with the development department. 

Not every discovery is going to be fire, the wheel or flight but you are making discoveries everyday that you have the opportunity to share. I am thankful for the people that communicated their discoveries that led to the advancement or improvement in my daily life. 

The blog that told me about Collective Coffee in Saskatoon. 

The mentor that gave me the book Brains of Fire

The friend that introduced me to real music . 

Thank those that have communicated their discoveries and make sure you are sharing your discoveries. 

Hit by a bus

What happens if you get hit by a bus? Of course your family and friends would be incredibly sad, but what happens to the work you do? What happens to the things in your life that you are most passionate about? Unfortunately for most people, their most important work wouldn't move forward. 

What do you need to change so that would not be the reality for you? 

First you need to realize what you consider your most important work. Raising your children, creating art, inspiring the next generation, equipping the church, starting a fortune 500 company or starting the next social justice movement. 

You must decide that your most important work won't fade away when you do. This likely requires you to operate differently. This requires  you to focus on inspiring more than being inspired. This requires you to lead more than you follow. This requires you to mentor instead of just doing. 

Creating great works of art is special. Creating a movement of artist is the goal though.  

Can't trust organizations

There are 7 Starbucks within 8 minutes of my house and I have been to them all at some point in the last year. Even though Starbucks strictly standardizes the coffee experience, I don't trust every store the same because the baristas are different. You can't trust organizations, you can only trust people. 

I don't trust some stores because the baristas will put the cookies away before closing. I trust other stores because they know I want the oat fudge bar without crust. I can't trust the store that puts lemonade in my iced tea. Every experience that builds or erodes trust solely comes from the actions of the baristas. People make the difference. 

Your business might be be building a brand, system or industry standard, but those can't be trusted. Only you can be trusted. Only your staff can be trusted. Only you can build or erode trust. Your actions and your decisions make the difference. 

Marketing or movement

We live in a time when marketing to millions of people costs very little. If you have a product, service or passion that you want others to know about, you have the opportunity to put that idea out into the world for free. Because of the internet, a mechanism exists to reach millions of people within minutes. But when you are busy telling your story, so are millions of others at the exact same time. When you talk about yourself, very few people will listen. That is the reality of marketing now.

Yet others are busy igniting something worth talking about. These people make such an impact on others, that their product, service and world view is being discussed on blogs, in coffee shops and around high school cafeteria tables. When your passion resonates with other people's passion, they will talk.

When you talk about your work, that is marketing. When others talk about your work, that is a movement. Marketing is nearly pointless. Movements change lives. You need to do work that matters. Do work that creates movements. 

Sunk cost

One hard rule in business is to ignore sunk cost. Sunk cost refers to the money that has previously been invested into a project that has no hope for a positive outcome. This idea has also been called the Concorde fallacy. For almost 30 years, the British and French government poured millions of dollars into the Concorde jet even though there was no ability for the airliner to make a profit. 

Sunk cost often leads us to make poor decisions. It's hard for a person to walk away from a poker game with $20 invested, but even harder for the guy with $100 in the game. People often will sit through a horrible movie just because they paid for the ticket. Just because you bought a terrible book, doesn't mean you need to spend 8 more hours finishing it. 

Likewise, some people stay in their current job because of the 10 years of experience and don't want to waste that investment.

There might be areas in your life that you have spent time or money that are not worth further investment. Try to see where you might have sunk cost in your life. Don't make future decisions based on sunk cost. 

Hackathon

When faced with the reality that their podcasting company was sinking, CEO Evan Williams sent his team on a two week hackathon. Every person in the company paired themselves with another to work on projects that could bring the company life. No rules, no boundaries, just two weeks to develop a plan to save the company. 

Within two weeks, Jack Dorsey presented a plan that eventually became one of the most visited websites of all time with over 200 million users.

The origin of Twitter offers many principles and insights that we can apply to our own lives. Yet the attitude behind the hackathon might be one of the most important. Entrepreneurs often face do or die situations and the majority of times, start-ups fail. Evan Williams was no exception with his company Odeo. By limiting hackathons to small teams on a tight timeframe not only saved the company, but eventually turned out to a $2.56 billion profit for the CEO. 

Your business, your start-up, your ministry or life is going to reach a point where you need to initiate a hackathon. When you hit a roadblock, plateau or a dead end, you can decide to find a creative solution. That solution might be your best work yet. 

Under promise, over deliver

In order to stay off the list of airlines that have the most delays and late arrivals, some airlines are now padding how they report flight times. By over estimating flight times most flights arrive early. Even when people know the flight times should be shorter than reported, most people still appreciate showing up artificially early. Zappos employs a similar tactic when you choose 3 - 5 days shipping, but are given free next day delivery. Exceeding expectations beats meeting expectations. 

On the flip side, people don't like to be disappointed. One of the easiest ways to disappoint people is by making a commitment you can not keep. This is why most infomercial products fade away so quickly. Their primary purpose is to get you to buy the product only one time. Often they will give you the second one for free. The product never lives up to the hype, you will be disappointed and never buy from them again. 

Our nature is to talk a big game and work hard to match our story, but unfortunately we too often fall short. Instead, by under promising and over delivering, we avoid disappointment and create appreciation. 

You can do better

In a study of 18,000 NBA games, teams behind by 1 point at halftime won more often than teams that were ahead by 1 point. Another study done through a typing competition found that those told that they were slightly behind in the competition performed much better after the feedback. 

Positive feedback feels good. Being ahead in the race feels good. Yet, it seems that we always have more to give. Knowing that we have room to grow can be a great motivator. Since most of us aren't in the NBA or engaged in typing competitions, we need to define what we are slightly behind in. 

Know that you might be great, but you haven't arrived yet. You can do better. Knowing that you have more to give can be what it takes for you to go from good to better.

Emotional fears

After the terrorist attacks in New York City in 2001, the number of traffic fatalities rose in the following months. Because of the increased fear of flying, people opted to drive more miles, which is statistically more dangerous than flying. As people made emotional decisions based on the fear of dying, some ironically made the exact choice that led to their deaths. 

Although not as dramatic, many of our decisions birthed out of emotional fear can actually lead to worse outcomes than those we fear the most. When making decisions, fear can often force the wrong decision. Fear plays an important role when bear hunting, but not as important in most of your decisions. 

Gut feelings, legitimate concerns and past experiences should be a part of making decisions, but leave emotional fears out of the process. 

The lie surrounding sleep

At times, high capacity people might feel that sleep is a waste of time. The 6 to 8 hours that are wasted every single day doing nothing is hard to accept. So we push late into the night and set the alarm earlier and earlier, sucking every last minute we can out of the day. Except this is actually preventing the productivity we are fighting to achieve. 

Many studies have shown that too little sleep leads to less productivity and creativity. Other studies show that an interrupted night of sleep leads to more time wasted surfing the web the next day. 

Instead of being focused with the hours we can devote to our work, we wake up checking email and fall asleep with laptops in our beds. But those that truly are disciplined to get the work done that matters get enough sleep. 

Don't believe the lie that you don't need sleep. Don't believe that you can forgo an appropriate amount of sleep and rest without losing productivity. Be smart, be focused, work hard and then go to bed. Your work will be better. You will be better. 

The weight of a box of potatoes

A study done at Rutgers University reported about multiple groups of people that were asked to guess the weight of a box full of potatoes. If the group was told they would have help in lifting the box, they guessed the potatoes were 10% lighter than it's actual weight. 

Our perception of tasks and projects seem much bigger and harder when we place the weight solely on our own shoulders. When the weight is shared, our perception of the difficulty of the work changes. 

Likely, you currently have work that really matters on hold because you feel overwhelmed. You have projects sitting on the shelf because you don't believe in your ability to launch successfully. Maybe you need to ask for help. Maybe you need another person on your team to boost your confidence. Maybe another person will change your perception just enough to tip the scales in your favour. 

Write down the goals and projects you want to complete but have failed to start. Now write down someone's name next to those goals and projects. Your box of potatoes just got lighter. 

Formerly known

Too often we define ourselves and act according to what we are formerly known as. Although we hate when people do this to us, we see others through this lens all the time. It is easier that way. He is always so negative. She doesn't work well with others. The guy down the hall always takes credit for other people's work. Of course, there are times when these statements are true and will always be true. 

Some of these statements or others like them might be true about you. But the problem is when they were formerly true but you still allow them to dictate what you do and who you are. 

People will always talk. A wise man once said haters gonna hate, but you can't live your life based on what you were formerly known as. You might have been the average one in school, but you are smart now. You might have been negative all the time because of your insecurities, but now you encourage and inspire others. You might have been on the fringe, but now you connect those people. 

Jesus does this all the time. People formerly known as prostitutes become the most beautiful worshippers. People formerly known as murders become global church planters. People formerly known as dead come alive. For everything that you are formerly known as, there is grace for that. 

Don't define your life this day forward as what you were formerly known as, instead be the person you are called and designed to be. We want you to be that person more than you know. 

Living dog is better than a dead lion

The wisest man to ever live once said that a living dog is better than a dead lion. Although he was literally talking about life, there are many other applications in this one phrase. 

I often hear people talk about their great ideas and describe themselves as creative thinkers, but rarely hear about their accomplishments. The most mediocre action is better than the best idea that never happens.

We often focus primarily on the people that we currently aren't reaching. Always planning how to turn strangers into fans, but at times missing the opportunity of the current people in our circle. The impact from the smallest amount of people that follow us is better than no impact from the millions that aren't following us. 

Instead of focusing on the many good things you can do, focus on the great things you are doing. Instead of dreaming about what you want to do, plan the things you will do. Ideas without execution are dead. What you actually do and accomplish is better. 

Walking in circles

A group of scientist in Germany recently researched if people really do walk in circles when lost in the woods. They studied several groups in the forest of Germany and additional groups in the Sahara Desert. The data did prove that people walk in circles when the sun or the moon were not visible. 

It appears that we need something to guide us. Without a focal point, we make small directional errors, which eventually leads us back to the same spot as we started. Many of us know this is true. We know that we are lost in our work, in a relationship, in a habit, or even in our thinking. Yet since we don't have sight of where we want to be we eventually end up in the exact same place. But with a focal point, we usually can make progress toward our goal. 

Kobe Bryant studied Michael Jordan for years, imitating the exact moves thousands of times in the gym. Kobe knew exactly where he wanted to be. The comparison between the two players existed because Kobe was aiming to be the next and better Jordan. 

The apostle Paul tells us to imitate him as he imitates Jesus. Paul wrote about Jesus, talked about Jesus, planted churches to worship Jesus and even died for Jesus. There was no question where Paul was going because it was clear who he was following. 

We need a focal point to reach our destination. Our goal is not to become someone else, but to know the direction we want to go. If we blindly move forward, we end up in the same place as we stand right now. Setting our sight on where we need to go, the outcome improves greatly.