Category: Ramblings

On Giving Advice

“Wisdom is the ability to take your own advice” Sam Harris

Realize that giving advice from your own personal experience or autobiography will create much better engagement. Speaking from a pedestal never turns out well.

If asked for advice, you really need to gauge how serious the requester is. Are they just asking in hopes of getting some validation or in opening up a complaining dialogue? Do they really want detailed, specific advice? A great question I saw from Ramit Sethi was this…”How serious are you?”. Then listen closely to the answer. Anything short of “I’m ready and will do anything you say” means they aren’t ready…just tell them they are doing great and move on.

The flip side of this is to also be careful with requests for help to others. Some say, “It never hurts to ask”, but this isn’t true. If you ask someone for a favor and put them in an uncomfortable position, they may not help you and may avoid you at all costs to avoid being further “uncomfortabilized”…new word! If you must ask, follow the “Give, Give, Give, and Give Some More” policy.

Put in the Work

“We don’t rise to the level of our hopes, we fall to the level of our training” – Archilogus

It is true that everybody wants a gold medal, but few want to wake up at 5:00am, run stairs, and sacrifice other pleasures to get there. Sun Tzu says “victory is reserved for those willing to pay its price”…basically, if you want to achieve something in this world, what in return are you willing to give up? It’s not just about focusing on the one thing that you want to be great at, but about not doing the other 10 things you want to do that are a distraction.

Maybe think about it in these terms as well… “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” — Jerzy Gregorek. Too many people sit around waiting for their big break to come without putting in the work ahead of time…they have things in the wrong order…instead put in the work day in and day out, and when that big break comes you will be ready…be prepared for your moment! Success is where preparation and opportunity meet, but you have to see the opportunity when it presents itself and seize on it.

Understand too that “work hard, play hard” is important too…you can’t just pound away every day without some glimmer of joy along the way too…make sure you take the time to smell the roses and recharge wherever it is you find that joy.

Also, make sure you have a plan and a proper feedback loop (mentor or coach) as you put in your 10,000 hours of practice…you need to be practicing the right things and in the right way, or you are just wasting your time. I wrote a previous post…”The learning process: from novice to master” that covers how to go about it. Also, as you practice, take a hint from master Bruce Lee…

“I am more afraid of the person that has practiced the one kick a 1,000 times than the person who has practiced 1,000 kicks once”…depth is critical.

For some additional reading and for when competition finally arises to meet you on your journey, check out a previous post I did on dealing with competition.

On Trying to Become a Better Listener

I am a terrible listener… there, I said it. Problem identified and maybe should be highlighted, starred, and underlined. So let’s start here, “Why?”…

  • I don’t really think my ideas/thoughts are more important than others…BUT then again maybe I really do (Ha…What’s wrong with me!)
  • I can definitely be easily distracted when someone is talking by one thing they said that I can’t wait to reply to, light them up on, prove myself right about, whatever, therefore missing everything said after that (Boooo, Me!)
  • I listen from my own frame of reference, not the other person’s (It’s all about me!)
  • I fixate on words used, not looking deeper for intent (Shallow Hal!)
  • I get really bothered when someone uses 1,000 words to state something easily said in 10 words (Is that really my problem? Guess so!) to the point of trying to finish statements for them
  • Maybe my worst offense of all… maybe I don’t look like I’m listening, so the other person (in many cases, my lovely wife) says,” you aren’t listening to me” and I repeat back exactly what she said (Freakin’ Mimicer!!! Talk about pissed…”You missed the meaning A–hole!!”)

WOW… that is a long list… I truly suck as a listener!

OK now, I’ve been reading, asking others, and taking notes and it is time to do better. Where to begin:

  1. Make sure I am calm and rational… usually not a problem (until pushed to the point of explosion of course as I don’t have that much self-mastery yet… off the rails! Working on it)
  2. Make sure I am showing I care with my body language: eye contact, lean forward, posture (arms, shoulders, etc)… walk and talk if it helps (removes distractions)
  3. Listen with the intent to understand (don’t get distracted thinking about your own reply, in fact, forget it).
  4. Listen beyond just what you hear with your ears (use your eyes, heart, and mind…am I capable? That’s a strong “Maybe”).
  5. Listen with purpose:
    • Listen from the other person’s frame of reference
    • Repeat back (in an unmimicing way) that which you don’t understand
    • Pay attention to the other person’s body language, tone, etc…. what are they feeling/thinking?
    • Be present and engaged
    • DO NOT finish their thoughts for them (Yikes! Bite that tongue!)
    • Make sure you accurately understand their point of view before rebuttal… ask questions

 

In short, I think this means genuinely care about the other person and what they are trying to communicate to me, right?

 

Examples:

  • I speak really poor conversational Spanish and no Japanese, but I tend to understand the conversations in Japan better as I tend to get fixated on Spanish words during conversations losing the overall meaning, whereas in Japan I just pay attention to tone, watch body language, etc..this is actually a rather amazing thing…the non verbal things you pick up are truly amazing…try it sometime with 2 people engaged in a language you don’t speak
  • I had a good customer who was very upset with me because we didn’t ask enough questions the first time we met and had to ask them in multiple follow-ups later. We did our homework the second time and finished the entire (very technical) conversation in 45 minutes and even got a tour out of it at the end because we had extra time and because we had shown enough respect as to make them think we cared.

Well, I’m not there yet, but trying to improve every day. If you know me and are reading this saying, “Dude, you are still a terrible listener”, I know, I’m trying, point it out…I really want to do better…efforting!

Friends…Choose Wisely

“A friend is one to whom you can pour out the content of your heart, chaff and grain alike, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away”

Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are. If as the saying goes, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, who are those 5 and are they the ones you know they should be?

As my beautifully wise Mom told me at one point when I was a boy, true friends you can probably only count on one hand… the kind that will drop everything just to help you regardless of what is going on in their own life. Regularly tell these people you are grateful for them…they are nearly impossible to replicate.

If you’re married, consider that your significant other is probably your best friend… do you treat them that way? If not, time for you to do better.

To make more friends, ask yourself at the end of the day…”who did I help today?”… you have to take a risk to be somebody’s friend… put yourself out there. See your relationships as the place you go to give, not a place to take.  Friendships of convenience in the moment usually end poorly…look for long term potential.

Always be elevating your associations…not for more money but for people that will challenge you. Really good friends will help push you out of your comfort zone… associate with people that will do you this kindness.

Could it be possible that some person whom you consider to be a friend is in reality your worst enemy because of his negative influence on your mind? Sometimes the truest friends come in disguise. You may not recognize their true beauty at first. The same is true in reverse. Choose wisely!

“It doesn’t matter how many friends you can count, but how many you can count on. It is more about quality than breadth… go deep” -Jason Gaignard

Secret Formula to Getting What You Want: Give, Give, and Give Some More

“I shall pass this way but once. Therefore any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now for I shall not pass this way again” –Stephen Grellet

Wow, this is a hard one: ever feel like your giving is a one way street? You can’t do anything about the other side, except keep giving. After giving enough, you have every right to ask, but don’t count on it being favorable. Here are some thoughts on giving:

  • Pay it forward… give first
  • Give, give, give, give, give, then ask if you must
  • Do the unexpected or no one will ever remember you. Tell a good story of why you do things this way

If there is already an exchange of giving:

  • Focus your life on appreciation, not expectations…let gratitude fill your soul
  • Always give a little more than you promise… under promise and over deliver

If you give without thoughts of receiving, whatever it is will grow…isn’t that the idea anyway? Be grateful and be wary of desire… things in excess tend to become their opposite.

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile” -Albert Einstein

10 Ideas a Day

I got this idea from James Altucher’s Choose Yourself book. If you haven’t read it or listened to his podcast, give it a whirl…I thoroughly still enjoy both (yes, I read the same books more than once…or at least my own notes…over and over…I know, dork squared!).

Anyway, the idea is that to keep yourself fresh and relevant, you should work every day to come up with 10 new ideas. This may sound daunting, but we aren’t talking about setting the world on fire, all that is required is to pick a topic and just start freewheeling. “I can’t do that” you say. Well, I beg to differ…it really doesn’t take that long and it is fabulous for getting your mind stimulated and even invigorating your outlook. Here are some starting points:

  • Childhood passions
  • Hobbies
  • Things that could be improved
  • Things that you’d really like to buy that don’t exist
  • Things that would make your day easier
  • Things that could be fixed at your place of work
  • Things that could be fixed at your kids school
  • 10 people you should introduce to each other
  • Things that your favorite business could do to be better
  • Ideas for songs, movies, books, blogs, etc.
  • Things your favorite team could do to improve their season
  • On and on

It really doesn’t matter…the idea is to get your “idea muscle” working. At first, no doubt it will be hard, but trust me after a few goes at it, you will get better and better and really enjoy the exercise. You don’t even have to keep the 10 ideas…throw them away, give them to a friend or business, whatever. The idea is just to start exercising your brain.

Well, what if I come up with a doozy that I want to execute on. Well, start working on the next steps…what are the 10 things you need to do to push this forward and get started today. Remember this…the ideas are worthless in and of themselves, execution is everything, so don’t worry that someone is going to run off with your ideas either.

If you do this for a whole year consider that you will have almost 4000 ideas! Want to have some more fun, do as James Altucher suggests and start having “Idea Sex”…marry one idea to another and see what comes of it. I have a friend that once suggested just looking up patents and marrying them to each other and then filing for a patent on the combo…you aren’t having to do the hard labor of creating something new, just marrying what already exists.

Here’s his detailed Idea Machine post on the topic. Have fun with it!

Law of Compound Interest

The more you save, the longer you save it (earlier in life), and the higher the rate of return (careful of that which is too good to be true), the bigger your pile…

compound interest

Notice the earlier you save at the same rate, the lesser the amount of money you need to put away every month. If you can get a higher rate of return (again, be careful of too good to be true…S&P 500 Index is just fine at 8-9%/yr), the bigger your pile as well…

rate of return

Still have your doubts, try this compounding experiment… fold a napkin on itself 50 times…when done, it could go to the moon and back 1,179 times! If you figure you can double your income every 8 years at 8-9%/yr, imagine the possibilities!