Everytime I look at the title for this blog, I mis-read it, reading it as “Confessions of a Closet Underwear”…yah, maybe that’ll add to my hits through searches 🙂
At any rate…on to the pressing matters at hand…bring on the NEW WEEK! I struggled last week with my own personal motivation. I think the most difficult thing of embarking on this entrepreneurial career has been adjusting to the lifestyle change. I don’t mean the financial changes or the eating-at-home all the time changes…I mean getting used to not getting up at 6:30am, going through my morning routine and leaving for the office by 7am, working until 5pm and coming home. I thrived on the structure of that life – where someone else dictated my day, my schedule, my working hours. And then there was the mindset that came with that – I always felt that when I was in the office, I needed to be focused, dedicated and always on task for the good of the organization…the responsible and right way to think, I believe but there, someone else was holding me accountable – the guy holding my paycheque. But here’s the thing…now I’m the guy holding the paycheque and my success depends on myself (and Chris) and our ability to make the Goose great.
I have spent the last three months figuring out what works best, what’s the best way to keep that employer-imposed structure and how and when I work my best. Consciously paying attention to my environment, how I feel at certain points of the day and noticing patterns in my mental capacity have been extremely important. I know now that if I don’t go to the gym in the morning and start my day with exercise…I’m pretty much useless most of the day. My brain doesn’t seem to function at any high level and I can make excuses to myself all day long. I also know that when I’m in my home office, sitting at my desk in front of my desktop, instead of sitting on the couch (with the TV off mind you) with my laptop on my lap, my day flies by and I accomplish so much more. These, and other minor environmental and physical changes have made tremendous differences in my motivation and it’s been cool to recognize, and make sure I stay structured, to these things.
I knew these first few months as an entrepreneur would be different…but I underestimated just how much. What are the different ways you conduct yourself or environments you work in to increase your motivation?
So I’m reading a new book…I know, you’re shocked…called The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk. Amazing so far! In the first 30 pages it has made me reconsider my thinking on nature vs nurture and what makes us who we are. Shenk is challenging (using science) the historical notion that it is our genes that control our talent, not our environment. It’s traditionally believed that upon conception, our genes determine everything about us – from our hair color to our height to our skills and abilities. Seems pretty reasonable, right? Combination of DNA from our parents and voila…a pre-determined human with no control over talent. Shenk disputes that claim, saying that yes, genes are obviously important but that our environment is also to blame, or has influence over, the discovery of our talents and abilities.
Consider this (and Shenk uses this example) – baseball player called Ted Williams. Considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time (he played from 1939-1960) Willaims is said to have laser-like eyesight, which let him read the curve and speed of pitches the second it left the pitchers fingers. This “natural” ability is cited as the reason Williams holds the record as the last player to bat over 0.400 in a season, has 521 career home runs and continues to hold the record for the highest career batting average for anyone with 500 or more home runs. Even if you don’t understand all these baseball stats and their significance, understand this…they’re impressive. What’s even more impressive is that eye sight tests reveal William’s vision to be, while exceptional, to be well within normal human limits.
So what does that all mean? It means that Williams success can’t be credited to just good genes. His eyesight was good but it wasn’t exceptional. So what made him so great at his sport? Practice. And more practice. And then a little more practice after that. For sure, having good eyesight helped, but without the hours and hours he spent hitting balls, the hours and hours he spent talking to pitchers and coaches and other players, Williams would be ordinary. A guy good at baseball but not necessarily exceptional.
Even just this one example asks us to pause and give consideration to attributing amazing ability based on nothing but good genes, to considering that Williams was passionate for the game and did whatever he could to make sure he excelled at it. He took his passion, decided that he wanted to be amazing at it and did whatever he needed to do to make it happen. So what excuse do we have when we say we can’t do something because we have no natural ability at it? Based on the research by Shenk in this book…we really don’t have any excuse at all.
You probably noticed I changed the title of my blog today. Those of you who’ve been following me know that I started the blog as an experiment – a mission of sorts – to write a blog message a day and using my (at the time) non-existent readers to keep me accountable to my goal. Well a lot of good that accountability did me! Here we are, two or three months into it and I haven’t been consistent at all.
So here’s the new plan – name change to Closet Underachiever is my tribute to the fact that I miss on some of my goals, even when I accomplish many others. Which, I think is okay as long as the ratio of accomplished to non-accomplished favours the accomplishments. But here’s the thing…I want to accomplish more so I’m going to keep using this blog to do that. This will now be a listing of my goals and their highlights on the path to achievement. It’ll also be a record of the books I’m reading and the thoughts that come from those books because I read A LOT and I’m often inspired by the thoughts contained within these books. Maybe I’ll inspire you too!
Recently I had a discussion with someone about goal setting and the very definition of setting goals. She told me her life was too unstable and changed so often that setting goals was a moot point…too dynamic to actually accomplish any goals she set. I think that’s just an excuse…what say you?
I read an incredible book last week, called “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” by John Wood. John is the founder of an organization called Room to Read who’s mission is to educate the world’s children…incredible. Can you think of a bigger mission? It’s like asking for world peace and then actually going out to accomplish it. I wrote this week’s Goose article about it (check it out: http://bit.ly/9U4h6e) focusing on the “how” part of actionable leadership.
Ever been inspired by an idea or a movement yet as soon as you start thinking about what’s required to actually propel that movement forward, your motivation hits the floor? I’ve totally been there – many good intentions that I just didn’t follow through on. With his book, John really reinforced for me that all it takes is a bunch of small actions…send an email, pick up the phone, write a letter to the editor, start a blog…simple, five minute tasks that could potentially make all the difference. Actions that prove that people like John Wood and incredible organizations like Room to Read really can change the world.
I’m sitting on my front porch reading an incredible book, (for those readers that also follow my company, Goose Educational Media, this book is the topic of an article in a couple weeks so watch for it!) and being inspired. The book is about John Wood, an ex-Microsoft exec who left his job to start an organization called Room to Read, a non-profit dedicated to erasing illiteracy and bringing schools and libraries to those that need it most. My biz partner turned me on to Room to Read and now I’m hooked on the possibilities!
Here’s what’s making the difference for me…my whole life, I’ve loved reading. I would spend my summer vacations on the couch or the beach chair or the picnic blanket reading everything I could get my hands on. It honestly gives me anxiety to think of all the great books I’ll never read in my lifetime. My first job was the library and even my current career is dedicated to education and learning. But what if books had never been an option? I know with absolute certainty that I would not be where I am without the richness the words of those books provided me. Regardless of what type or style of book I was reading, those words had an influence in my life and it humbles me to remember how absolutely lucky I am to have access to those thoughts, stories and experiences read in those pages. John Wood took that humbling personal experience and did something about it. The thought now is what do I do with my own humbling experience from today? Stay tuned…
Had a situation over the weekend where instead of saying “No, I’m not interested”, a friend of mine made up excuses as to why he didn’t want to hang out. Problem for me was that I actually believed the excuses and took them as fact. Problem for him is that he told another friend of ours a different excuse…and now he’s been found out. Seriously, is it not way more work to make stuff up than to actually say “no thanks” and leave it at that?
I’ve always believed that the more detailed a response to a simple question, the greater the likelihood the person isn’t telling the truth (or the whole truth). When we’re trying to let the other person down easy or not wanting to hurt their feelings, we aren’t direct or clear and that leaves the other person with hope or expectations of a different result next time. And it typically leads to more conversation where you have to turn the friend, partner, colleague down a second or third or fiftieth time because they still haven’t heard “no thanks”. Isn’t that a lot of stress in your life – worrying about the next call or email or text? Just say no the first time, be clear without being mean and free up your brain for more important things.
Tomorrow is my girl friend’s wedding…yeah!! I can’t even believe the last 1.5 years of planning has finally cumulated into these last few days…and she’s still so excited! Predictably, it hasn’t always been an easy road, with many adjustments and misunderstandings and smiles through the tears. But seriously, if it was easy, I don’t know that it would be worth it.
Here’s the thought going around in my brain today…is there a specific length of time that a person must go through in order to be sure that a decision is the right one? For example, my friend and her fiance have been best friends for many years and romantic partners for two. They got engaged a few months after they started dating – but that wasn’t a surprise to anyone. And now here we are, with the wedding day tomorrow! Have they been engaged long enough? Or were they in a relationship long enough before they got engaged?
I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t matter the length of time, it matters the quality of time. A decision is a decision and although some people take longer to make them than others, I don’t think there is a predetermined “perfect” amount of time a person needs to wait to execute on a decision – personal or professional. If it feels right and you’ve done your due diligence to make sure its an appropriate choice, do it. And if it’s the wrong choice, just make another one!
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