Being blinded by what we know

In very many things we don't know how much we don't know. This is true for fluid situations like negotiating a business contract or offering help to somebody in need.

It's also true for objective truths in science, medicine, law, math, etc...

Usually, we don't know how much we don't know. (But we assume we're very well-versed in most things!)

The key is to understand and accept that and approach new situations with openness.

We don't want to ask questions to confirm what we think we know, we must find ways to get to the bits we don't know. Jump into the unknown and risk finding out something new.

Don't be blinded by what we know guiding us into never learning anything new.

We must remain as flexible as possible in fluid situations and when learning new things. Open and fluid is a recipe for success.

Every case is new. We must let what we know–our known knowns–guide us but not blind us to what we do not know; we must remain flexible and adaptable to any situation; we must always retain a beginner’s mind; and we must never overvalue our experience or undervalue the informational and emotional realities served up moment by moment in whatever situation we face.
— Chris Voss

Being more regular

When I started writing these posts I was sure I wouldn't last a week. It was the third time I had committed to doing this and I'd failed both times before.

I'm working on another project and I desperately am trying to be more regular and complete one big task for this project each day, week after week, month after month.

I've had good runs for a few weeks at a time and even a few months at a time, but in the 5 years I've been working on the project, I've never managed to put together more than 5 months where I am regular and consistent.

I think the issue is a matter of my self-discipline and self-starting. Greatness lies in the ability to start without somebody forcing you to. I tend to let a desire for perfection neuter good things before they have a chance to get off the ground.

If I'm being honest with myself, I'm not sure it's a desire perfection or a fear that what I'm doing isn't good enough. The thought process if then that perfection is the ONLY thing that would be good enough. It's just another excuse that I let hold me back.

Writing it down and putting it out there is helpful, so I suppose we should consider this post more of a lecture to myself than anything else.

The importance of self-control

Whether we realize it or not, we make pretty much all of our decisions based on the emotion we feel toward a particular thing or idea. You do, I do, and our prospective customers do, too.

When talking about negotiating a new contract, figuring out pricing, or collecting unpaid bills, it's important to have self-control when the heat of the discussion takes place. We must control our emotions.

If we don't work on our self-control, we'll get heated and much less formidable in negotiating conversations. You lose your head, you lose everything.

If we can't control our own emotions, how can we expect to influence or "control" the emotions of the party with whom we're dealing?

Self-control. It's vital.

Compromise is easy

To agree to the salesman's compromise is comfortable and easy. That's really why we do it. Those uncomfortable moments with the salesman aren't fun for most of us and we're looking to get out and get a deal we can brag to friends and family about.

Taking the second offer, with a couple of easy throw-ins from the company, makes us feel like we fought for our deal. Meanwhile, the company is collecting checks... usually from us.

Next time you need to negotiate, don't let fear and aversion to pain drive your negotiating process. Enter with a clear goal and negotiate with that in mind.

Find the creative solution, the weird solution, the one others don't think to ask because "there is just NO WAY it would ever work." Don't worry about being uncomfortable, embrace the moment, love the hardness, and work with the conflict moments to find the great deals around the edges and you'll walk away with better deals and far less remorse.

Seth Godin is wrong about "move fast and break things"

I really like Seth Godin.

I check out Seth Godin's blog every couple days and I saw the other day he wrote a few words about the saying "Move fast and break things" where he fails to see the merit of the saying.

Either I'm onto something or I'm just in the mood to be a contrarian.

Breaking things has never been "the point of your work" as Godin says. The saying is all about NOT overthinking things and being decisive.

This means that you will certainly break some things, but don't worry about it.

Decisiveness will allow you to correct from those mistakes and gain ground quickly.

Don't worry about "making things better" or "learning something" or "creating possibility".

When you think about these things you lock yourself up. When you let go and allow your self to break things, you put yourself exactly in a position to make things better, learn new things, create possibilities, and get better and do better in all the things you do.

When you're away from work be concerned with the good things Godin talks about, but when works begin, be fearless and ready to break things if you make a mistake, but quickly adjust course and correct, grow, get better, stronger, and faster at everything you do.

Searching for excuses

To break a bad habit is a noble yet difficult thing. To start new, better habits can be equally difficult.

I find that when I'm wrestling with a particular habit or behavior pattern I want to change, I start looking for excuses to continue the bad habit (or not start the good habit).

I can do all the planning and writing down exactly what and why I will make this or that change, but when the time comes to actually put in the work I actively seek distraction or excuse from doing the good thing I know I should be doing.

It's fantastically interesting to watch myself try to do this over and over and I am still not sure why I do it, but I know without a doubt that it's just another hurdle I always must overcome when I'm working on myself.

It’s interesting to note things like this about yourself. It makes it easier to work on changing those things as well.

Never stop changing.

Never stop changing things that keep you from making changes to yourself.

Sympathy vs. Empathy

Every internet guru and "social media entrepreneur" these days seems to be talking about "empathy" or–even better–"tactical empathy".

But what is it all about? It sounds cool, but how do we become more empathetic in a way that helps our brand or business?

I think it helps to understand the difference between sympathy and empathy.

As defined by the dictionary, sympathy is harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another.

Whereas empathy is: the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

So our empathy in business, branding, and even negotiation isn't agreeing with the feelings or ideas of the people with whom you're connecting. That's sympathy. We're not in the business of giving out hugs.

The empathy we need to put forth is that we begin to understand the situation from the other person's perspective. We make the attempt to look at our brand, our work, our customer service, etc... from their eyes.

– Do people want to watch your totally awesome 45 minutes long YouTube video? Or do people really only have 8 minutes to give?

– Are the 48 hours wait for a return email from your customer service email form breed anxiety and anger in your customers? Wouldn't they be better served with a hotline they can call and get questions answered instantly?

– Do your cringe-inducing and provocative tweets drive people from wanting to work with you and alter your brand (the way people see you)? Would you not be better served to do some market research and see what your followers and viewers actually want to see from you?

I think the difficulty of true empathy is that it requires us to set ourselves and our ego aside and really care about serving our viewers, customer, or clients.

It's not easy, but if you begin doing it, you'll realize it changes everything in your business.

You get what you ask for

We don't need to like negotiating or asking for business, but it helps to understand that the world usually works that way. We won't get what we don't ask for.

We don't need to intimidate or try to crush people, but we do need to play the game of working with the emotions of the people with whom we deal with whom we do business.

We do need to ask, however, it's not what you ask. It's how you ask.

First, learn to ask and get comfortable with that. Then learn how to ask. The results will be incredible.

What you tell yourself matters

Everyone else will let us know what they think about what we want to do. They'll have no problem telling us we had a stupid idea or it's too risky or we shouldn't take that trip or start that business.

It's easy to stay the same. Keep the same comfortable mediocrity that we've always had and justified it with the words of the people around us.

But here's the thing, those external voices are nothing. Just a bit of moving wind in the air around your ears. What really matters is what you tell yourself.

Can you, despite the naysayers, stay the course? Can you pick up and change your life when everyone tells you it can't be done?

I just read the story of Roger Bannister, who was an English runner in the 1950s. He wanted to run a mile in less than 4 minutes.

Everybody told him is was humanly impossible! But he tried anyway and he failed. A bunch of times. But eventually, he ran the mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. Close, but that's a sub-4-minute mile.

After he shattered the narrative presented by the "experts" thousands have gone on to run the sub-4-minute mile. So much for "common knowledge."

Don't let the talkers get in the way of the ones changing things.

The uncommon ones

There are only a select few who stand out to us as uncommon. Sadly, we seem to look at them as the "weird" ones.

I like to think of them as the special ones. I want to be more like them.

I think we're all presented with the opportunity to prove just how uncommon we are.

Instead of taking the easy way out, clocking out early, or going to bed when they arrive home after a 16-hour shift, the uncommon ones prepare for the next day, clean the house, and get a short workout in.

They hold themselves to a higher standard.

They analyze what they do (or don't do) and fix where they've gone wrong.

They leave no stone unturned in the quest to better themselves and they leave no duty undone when the alternative is to check out early or fill their life with excuses and blame for others.

"Here's to the crazy ones..."

Be not the problem, be the problem-solver

When the bride realizes she left something in the hotel lobby 20 floors below and nobody can grab it, be the wedding photographer who insists you grab it for her.

When the time-critical package isn't delivered in time, be the FedEx employee who pro-actively secures a private courier to ensure the package gets delivered on time. Don't make the paying customer driver 2 hours to the nearest distribution center to get their package.

When the pipe breaks, get your renter a free hotel room(the nicer, the better!) for a couple of nights as a treat "stay-cation" to make up for the inconvenience.

Be the one who oils the wheel. Be the one who solves the problem. Be the one who over-delivers at every single step of the process.

They'll soon forget what you say and what you do, but they'll never forget how you made them feel. Also, it's just a cooler way to live your life.

Be not the problem!


Douglas Adams once famously said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

But how to do you deal with deadlines?

I think the key to dealing with deadlines is the ability to forego the pleasure of the moment.

That's a fancy way of saying "kill procrastination".

Suffer the pain of discipline now to avoid the agony of regret later. You'll also start coming across as much more professional because you'll hit your deadlines and actually show up on time.

The best ability

They say the best ability is avail-ability and there is some truth to that, but it's no good being there if you have nothing to contribute.

I think the best ability is the ability to creatively problem solve. When you learn to think creatively and freely and without concern for what those around you think about you, you unlock the greatest superpower that lies within you.

The ability to problem solve in creative and radical ways–even in the face of the status quo or that feeling of safety–allows you to positively contribute in your own life and business as well as the lives of others.

Discipline and strengthening your mind

Want to break the endless scrolling habits we possess? We scroll from Facebook right to Instagram right to Twitter right to Reddit and back to Facebook again.

The answer is to strengthen the mind and teach it to focus on one thing each moment without craving that next dopamine hit (the moment we see the next post, image, tweet, news article, comment, etc... we get a little hit of this stuff to our brain).

To focus on the thing you need to work on right now without fear of missing out on all that other stuff out there.

To develop the discipline to actually start making yourself focus and just do it requires a strengthening of the mind.

To strengthen the mind you mush push hardest when you really want to quit. The days you don't want to show up need to be the days you show up longest and hardest.

To suffer this discomfort as we develop our self-discipline (so that we may be disciplined enough to practice focusing without distraction, etc...) requires that we know why we're putting ourselves through this. You must know what you want and, most importantly, why you want it.

Your “why” needs to be short and sweet. You need to ingrain it into your mind so in that difficult moment of distraction, laziness, or weakness you can quickly recite in your mind why you're doing this.

You must show up and do your best work when you're least motivated. Slay the beast and start doing what you want without regret and for the reasons you want to do them.

1. Find your “why”.
2. Force yourself through discomfort to strengthen your mind.
3. Use the discipline gained in that to practice focusing on one thing at a time.
4. Use your discipline and singular focus combined with your “why” to execute high-level work reliably.
5. Keep working on yourself.

How much can you take?

I'm reading "Can't Hurt Me" by David Goggins at the moment and as I read his incredible story, I'm left wondering just how much the human body can handle.

How much further could I run if I REALLY tried and didn't give up when breathing got difficult?

How much more could I lift if I pushed a little harder?

How much more could I lift 6 weeks from today if I pushed a little harder every time I go to the gym?

How much more could I focus if I ruthlessly cut out all distractions?

Cancel Netflix. Shut off my phone and lock it in a cabinet. Block Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and any websites that distract me throughout the day.

Run even when it’s freezing cold outside. Jump on the bicycle when it’s rainy and cold. Push harder and let nothing stand in the way. Build THAT mindset.

How much more could I focus if I really gave it an honest effort? Because it's not really about what I think my body can handle. It's about what my mind can handle and how much I'm willing to push it.

The book has been a great reminder to stop complaining and work my way out and work my way up. It's up to you and nobody else. So no excuses, no shortcuts, and certainly not taking it easy on yourself. Choose the hard and painful way and learn to love it.

Wasted potential is sad (I'm selfish)

You have things to do and the potential is great. Don't waste it your life being comfortable. Don't tell yourself that it couldn't be you. There is nothing special about the big stars, the famous people, the rich ones.

I heard someone say recently that the easiest way to live a short and unimportant life is to consume the world around you rather than contribute to it.

The consumer lets the world happen to them and they don't realize their potential.

The artist happens to the world and pushes the envelope searching for the limits to their potential.

Lift yourself up and search for limits, but never believe you have any. To watch great potential wasted is a sad thing. Create, contribute, and share.

Only be a little better

Be better than you were yesterday.

Be better than you were last week.

Be better than you were last month.

Just keep track of what you do and work on being a little better. Speed doesn't matter, direction does.

Why do I always want what I can't get?

The "Scarcity Principle" dictates that the more somebody has access to something, the less they will come to value it. It seems to be a biological thing.

When we over-share people get annoyed. If we could never get away from our significant other we'd breed resentment. If we spoil our kids, receiving a gift or present becomes the norm.

But by withholding just enough we breed interest, desire, and fascination.

When Snapchat makes a message that disappears in 24 hours, you want to make sure you see that thing before it's gone forever.

When your product will only be available for 72 hours, you make it more desirable.

When the sofa you're looking at has been sold to someone else, you find that it just happens to be the one you REALLY wanted.

We're after the forbidden fruit, not the fruit that is right beside it and very much available.

It's a funny thing, that "Scarcity Principle" and it's as old as mankind himself.

Expert vs. amateur

I like to read and explore ideas. This often ends of setting a trap (that I often fall into) in which I'm tricked into thinking that I know more about a given subject than I do. Because I read ONE book about it.

What is the difference between somebody who reads a few books about a topic and maybe watch a Skillshare course or two and a real expert?

I have a theory that anyone can watch a few Skillshare courses on photography, we might have a rudimentary idea of how a shutter speed or aperture helps them get a better (or worse) picture.

On the other hand, an expert treats the camera as an extension as his hand. He can walk into a new photo location and immediately see what shutter, what ISO, what aperture will work best. He can see his subject and immediately understand how and why he will light the subject. The expert takes action and reacts with an intuitive-like speed where they immediately just know.

The Skillshare savant has the information, but not the speed of access to make the knowledge apply in real time in the real world.

Imagine a master of psychology. She can share all of her information and knowledge with you or me in a week, but she can also have a conversation and recognize the psychological traits on the fly and react as she sees fit moment by moment and no matter how different each conversation is from the last one.

You or I would have the information, but could we apply it to 10 patients over the course of an afternoon?

Therein, I think, lies the biggest difference between a guy like me who reads a few books about something and somebody who has dedicated their life to a skill.

Getting started is the hardest part

A rocket doesn’t think about lifting of, it just does. Starting is what rockets do and they’re really good at it.

I am an unrepentant procrastination machine. I want to be reformed of it, but I am never quite as focused as I know I really could be.

I want to change, but do I? If you really want to change it is #1 in your mind and you do make the change. So maybe I don't want to change as much as I know I should.

Anyway, I noticed this morning that right before I start a couple of different tasks that I've agreed with myself I would start doing each morning, there was a little moment where I started making an excuse.

I started to look for a reason to NOT do the thing. I didn't have anything better to do. I probably would have just wasted the time.

I did end up doing all three tasks, each of which I hesitated for a moment before starting.

I crushed the thought in its infancy and jumped into each task.

Because the hardest part is getting started, so get started quickly. Once you start it's easy. At least, that's what I've come to realize.

So be the rocket. Get started and don’t hesitate.