Work takes time. Time is money. All of these things should be obvious by now.
But how do you decide how to spend your time or money?
Spend time identifying the most high value opportunities that you can spend your time with. Then divide and conquer.
“Deadlines are vitamins for creativity”
Set monthly objectives. Everyone gets all hot and ornery about new years resolutions, but every turning of the calendar month should bring the same contemplation. This gives you 12 opportunities a year to assess where you’re at, where you’re going, and where you want to get to. Make it a regular practice.
I once worked for a zombie startup*.
At one point, the “leadership” team decided they needed to just get away and do some real soul searching. A candid mandate was issued that everyone read Creativity Inc in the next three days.
They travelled to an old west dude ranch in Arizona, the team met to discuss the changes that had already taken place: The removal of the CIO and COO, as the company tightened its belt in a desperate attempt to “get organized” and “make a plan”.
Someone was ordered to pick up a dozen hatchets from the general store for the meeting. On each hatchet, each “leader” was to name their hatchet with sharpie marker. Later on the team would proceed out into the desert where they would burry all of their hatchets. (A team building exercise that had clearly been recommended by the business coach).
As I was the most senior technology person on staff following the dismissal of the CIO, I wasn’t invited to the meeting. But the hatchets showed up on Monday at the office. Intrigued, I picked up the first one I came across.
Written across the face of the hatchet in the CEO’s handwriting, “The Best”.
Either the team couldn’t figure out how to dig a hole in the desert (possible) or they were too lazy to try (likely).
Either way, The Best™ hatchet is still doing fine work for me.
*Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be construed as a recommendation to bring a hatchet to a zombie fight.
Free Business Idea:
A business coaching business coaches.
It seems there are so many folks, (around this area in particular) who are interested in helping other businesses grow their business. It’s their business to grow your business.
I’ll let you in on a secret: You can learn nearly all the same information from books and the internet.
Please shoot me a note if you’re interested in building a business coaching other business coaches. I don’t know, maybe it sticks. Some business coaches out there are just regurgitating advice, paraphrasing commencement talks and writing terrible e-books. They could surely use some help with their business coaching business?
It’s a pretty specific niche. Could we make it more specific by focusing on business coaches coaching businesses in a specific vertical?
What about an annual conference for business coaching coaching? We could offer our best business coach clients the opportunity to give paraphrased versions of talks from other conferences that were interesting a year or two ago.
Dealing with humans is hard. Communication appears simple but for every person involved in the conversation, there’s an exponentially increasing number of ways to be misunderstood. Everyone has their own filter bubble, and it’s available IRL, not just on Twitter.
You can bet on the best communicator being the one winning the job, getting the promotion, or gaining more power in an organization.
The funny thing is, the best communicator doesn’t necessarily mean the one with the best ideas.
The person with the genius level intelligence who goes dark and can’t clearly communicate their brilliant ideas isn’t going to be gaining more traction within the social network that is a business enterprise. If you’re a programmer, this is summed up well by Jeff Atwood who tells you, “Don’t Go Dark”.
The person in the organization who communicates well to the most important stake holders is the one will garner more attention and more power within the organization.
A subtle wrinkle here: This person doesn’t even need a clear direction — let alone the best ideas.
You really only need to communicate to others that you care about them and their interests. If you do that, you’re likely to go far.
3 Minute Read
Ben Franklin has a solid set of virtues that just about anyone can apply, even today.
He used the card on the right to focus on each value once a week for 13 weeks, thus cycling through the entire list 4 times a year.
Ben’s Virtues are:
- Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
- Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
- Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
- Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
- Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
- Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
- Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
- Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
- Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
- Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
- Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
- Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
- Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
There’s an outdated and thus terrible app in the App Store by the name of Ben’s Virtues, and while it will crash and not work, I love the concept of reproducing this chart on your smartphone for daily recording.
Taylor Pearson recently published an essay titled How to Discover Your Values and Use Them to Make Better Decisions. I spent some time this morning going through his exercise. I’d recommend taking the time to do it yourself.
If you take the time to go through that exercise, or at least read through his essay (admittedly, like most of his excellent content, it’s too long), you’ll realize that this list of values that you come up with at the end is intended to be iterated on. It’s not a final list. You’ll adjust it as things change and you gain a better understanding of where you’re at and what’s important to you.
I wound up inculding “Patience” as one my core values… and wrote as the description “Always wait calmly for what you want. Getting worked up over delays is not helpful”.
I jumped over to check Slack, and noticed that someone still had not completed a 2-minute task that an hour earlier I indicated as urgent. I started getting worked up. Then I looked down at this thing I had wrote on the page called “Patience“.
I’m thinking perhaps I should add another core value, called “Impatience: Always get pissed at the person who takes too long to do a simple task” – It’s probably more accurate!