Category: Which Path to Choose

Some Rules Were Made to Be Broken

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable one tries to adapt the world to himself. All progress depends on the unreasonable man” -George Bernard Shaw

The world has a need for consistency. If someone says something but does another, we call them: unreliable, hypocritical, flaky, wishy-washy. “Change the rules, but learn them first”, James Altucher.

One has a moral responsibility to obey just laws and conversely to disobey unjust ones. St. Augustine says an unjust law is no law at all. An unjust law is one that a powerful group compels another group to obey but does not make binding on itself. If you choose to break an unjust law, do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty… this is expressing the highest respect for the law.

“Ask for forgiveness, not permission. People will be fast to stop you before you start, but hesitant if you are moving”.

How to Get More Done

“Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can accomplish in a decade” –Bill Gates

First things first… start by saying “NO” to that which you don’t want to do and to that which distracts you from that which you should be saying “YES” to.

Tim Ferris, “Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated.”.

Derek Sivers, “When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than ‘Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!’ then say no.” Love this!

Stephen Covey’s 4 quadrants from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People helps considerably:


Question: why are you even operating in the bottom right quadrant?! The “Important, but Not Urgent” box includes exercise, relationship building, long-range planning…isn’t this a better place to play?

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there” -Cheshire Cat

Stand up and say what you want to do to the world… this creates accountability. Now, get organized. As David Allen says, everyone has more things on their plate than he can possibly do, so the goal is to consistently organize and re-prioritize so you feel OK with that which you aren’t doing… focus! He also promotes a pretty good organizational plan in his book Getting Things Done. The basic idea is to gather everything (paper, notes, lists, etc) and quickly organize into “To Do” lists:

  • Next Actions (Things that need to get done as soon as you can…don’t be scared if this list is 100+ items…it’s normal)
  • Calendar (This is anything from the Next Action list that needs to be done by a certain time/date. This he calls sacred territory… anything that goes here must get done! )
  • Waiting for (stuff you are waiting on from others…make sure and record the date)
  • Projects (list all of them here, but you don’t really DO a project, you do “Next Actions”, so put the next actions for your projects in “Next Actions”)
  • Someday/Maybe (not a priority, but would be nice)
  • Reference (I love Evernote for stashing this stuff away)…and yeah, it’s ugly in there, but it’s there if I ever need/want it

Calendar and Next Actions should be reviewed daily, weekly reviews should be done for Projects & Waiting For, and then review Someday/Maybe and Reference as needed. The critical part to all of this is that you put everything into one of these buckets (Everything!…so you aren’t distracted by things in the back of your mind). Apply to meetings too… what is the next action and who has got it? If you want to have more productive meetings, do not leave a meeting without figuring out the “Next Action” and who is responsible for it. Dedicate two hours every Friday afternoon to reviewing your “To Do” lists. “Don’t prioritize what’s on your schedule, schedule your priorities”

“Lack of time is a lack of priorities” -Ramit Sethi

Now, to hyper prioritize your “To Do” lists. At the end of the day make sure you know what the top five things are to get done tomorrow. If you go to bed knowing the top five things to do tomorrow, you will come up with some of the “How’s” while you sleep. There are two great things to do with this top five list:

  • Write them down on a piece of paper (Sticky Notes work great too). Review it every 15 minutes (to stay focused) until all are done. Great story about this in Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich
  • Hyperfocus on the one thing that is a “force multiplier”…the one thing, that if you do it, makes a whole lot of other things much easier

DO NOT get sucked into doing email first thing starting your day…that is letting others prioritize your day. Start with your “To Do” list…this is you prioritizing your day and what is important to you.

If done right, you can be super productive in just 3 to 5 hours every day. “It is the steadiness of it that counts. Be consistent and do something to move forward everyday” -Woody Allen

A few other laws and ideas to apply to magnify your results”

  • Pareto: 80/20 Rule. Apply more than once…if 20% = 80%, then 4% = 64%, 1% = 50%!!
    • What is the biggest return I can get for the least amount of effort?
    • The last 20% of most projects is usually the most time-consuming. Do the first 80% yourself in 20% of the time and hand the last 20% to someone else to complete
  • Parkinson’s Law: work expands so as to fill time available for its completion. In other words, don’t take 60 days to do something important that could be done in 24 hours.
  • Constraints can be a good thing… do more with less
  • Multiply yourself: inspire others to your cause, turn a snowball into an avalanche (1 –> ∞). Here’s a post on Becoming a Force Multiplier
  • Make simple rules for yourself and others: one blog post per day, write 2000 words per day, five sales calls per day, etc
  • Pick just one metric to measure yourself by: customer counts, new customers, revenue, profit, market share, new designs (Just Pick One!)
  • Make a “Stop Doing” list…stuff to stop doing altogether
  • Do a little bit every day no matter what… stick to a routine and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
  • “The most important thing is focus, second is committing time to your endeavor. No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time… you can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant” -Warren Buffett

P.S. if you are ever frustrated and not feeling like you are making progress, start making an “I did it” list instead of a “To Do” list. You’ll be surprised at how much you are actually accomplishing!

Steven Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
David Allen: Getting Things Done
Napoleon Hill: Think and Grow Rich
Tim Ferriss: The 4 Hour Work Week


“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are” -John Wooden

Who am I to write anything on this topic as I’ve had plenty of screw-ups in my own life, but let’s give it a try anyway…the only way to get better…

As we have seen time and time again, someone we have come to admire and adore over time has been found to be not what we thought maybe only by one act of poor judgment. The challenge is that many of us try to project to others that which we think they will look favorably on us for and try to hide our warts. Somehow those warts can dwarf your good deeds, especially if you have lived your life “too perfect” as there is always someone that has been just waiting to tear you down.

Maybe it is better to show your warts from the beginning, like Eminem at the end of 8 Mile… tell everybody your ugly stuff and no one can tear you down if you have already put it out there. Here are a few other things that go a long way:

  • Underpromise/Overdeliver
  • Do that which you say you are going to do
  • Never make a promise you can’t keep
  • Be loyal to those not present… this builds trust with those that are
  • If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy

ponder on this: if you make mistakes early in life, but own up to them, you have a chance to recover. However if you spend your life covering up your lies, deceits, etc. and are found out, you may have no chance (or time) to recover…look at Bill Cosby, Joe Paterno, Bernie Madoff, etc.

If the whole world (Your Mom, your Dad, wife, kids) could see every move you make, every thought you think, would you behave the same?

Warren Buffett, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it”

“Honesty compounds exponentially, not over days or weeks, but decades. Be dishonest once and all of those seeds will be washed away” -James Altucher


“Perfection is achieved, not when there is no more to add, but when there is no more to take away” -The Little Prince

Complexity is your enemy… any fool can make something complicated. It is very hard to make something simple. Don’t accumulate, eliminate! The learned man aims for more, but the wise man decreases and then decreases again. Your lifestyle tends to expand to accommodate your income… avoid this at all cost. Physically get rid of things lying around the house… this will free your mind considerably as you won’t think about them anymore. A rich man is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least

“Telling yourself you have all the time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in the palette, anything you want… this just kills creativity” -Jack White

Dr. Seuss wrote Green Eggs and Ham with only 50 different words. “It seems contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom… choose what to leave out… nothing is more paralyzing than the idea of limitless possibilities” -Austin Kleon

Simplicity is great in writing and speaking… use less words, but more impactful. Epictetus defined wealth as not having numerous and extravagant possessions, but as having few wants.

“Just as when the uncarved block is shaped it loses its simplicity, when the wise person loses his simplicity he is no longer wise” -Tao Te Ching