The options are unlimited

When was the last time you learned something?

Expect to learn.  Make the effort to learn.

Your world gets smaller and smaller when you fail to stimulate your brain.  Your brain begins to turn to mush.

Possibilities start to show up when you take the time to learn, to engage your curiosity and expand your awareness of the greater world around you.

Why not try a new language?  Why not read a book in a new genre?  What about travel, or trying a class or webinar that transports you beyond your sphere of knowledge? Something that pushes you forward, that takes you outside your comfort zone – beyond the dullness of the daily routine.

Sharpen your mind.  The options are unlimited, but you have to take the first step.

It’s okay

Want to get really rich?

Try working 80 hours a week for the next 20 years.  That, combined with smart choices and a little luck, will get you there.

There are no shortcuts to wealth, unless, of course, you become a benefactor in a trust fund or life insurance payout; or win the mega-lottery.

Many say they want to be rich.  Few put in the time.  It’s okay.  Just don’t complain.

Everything gets better when …

I’m perfectly imperfect.

Still a work in progress.

I’ve realized that success is not fully measured by what I achieve, credentials I acquire, and material trappings that accumulate along the way.  I now know the biggest measure of success is how much I really like my imperfect me.

It wasn’t always that way.  I just worked harder and tried to hide my flaws.  I thought it would help me love the man in the mirror.  But that’s not how it works.  I have to like me to love me – flaws and all.  And when I love me, everything gets better – loving others too.

How about you?

There are no dumb questions

The curse of knowledge

If you’re not careful, you can become too trusting of your knowledge, too secure in your private delusion of how smart you are, too self-assured in thinking others understand you the way you do.

You must learn to step back and ask questions.  Good questions.  Sometimes seemingly silly questions.  Ask lots of questions to make sure you understand, to ensure you are understood.

Every day, too many people – geniuses included – screw up because they assumed they knew enough. They failed to ask questions.  Every day, people let their egos get in the way of asking what they assumed were dumb questions.

There are no dumb questions.  Don’t let what you know get in the way of  what you need to know.

It’s time

Many a false start was made by standing still. – Fortune cookie

Standing still is falling behind.  You have to haul ass, get a move on things.  You have to step beyond the fear that keeps your feet frozen in place.  You either make progress or live with regret.

The cost of standing still, the price for not starting, is financial, emotional and physical turmoil.  It’s time to get a move on!

Fahrenheit 451 redux

Go ahead, piss somebody off.

I live in an age of the safe space. I  get frightened by those who challenge my thinking, who go after my sensibilities.

Ray Bradbury got it right.  I can get so focused on not offending anyone, I’ll go to great lengths to avoid sharing the inconvenient truths.  I’ll even burn books, or the equivalent.

I must kill the censor.  That inner voice that tells me to be politically correct, that tells me to refrain from difficult conversations, that tells me to ignore those who might seem offensive.

I don’t want to live in a world where everyone thinks the same as me.  I don’t want to disinvite controversy for sake of safety.  I don’t want to become a social justice martyr.

I do want to practice more radical candor, and engage in more difficult conversations.  To bare the truth.  To acknowledge biases, and at the same time respect those who challenge my views.

My life is a social experiment.  Why not test its boundaries?

Halo or horns?

The purpose of listening is to understand

Not to judge.  Not to ready a follow-on response before the speaker even finishes.  Not to categorize or showcase your biases; or conclude whether they’re friend or foe, wearing a halo or horns.

If you want to be understood, you must take the time to first understand.

And so it goes

Mario was right

“I can teach a chimp how to cook dinner.  But I cannot teach a chimp to love it.” – famed chef Mario Batali

And so it goes. 

Passion drives the joy of work.  Skill feeds that love. 

Getting good at what you do stokes the fire of passion, and in turn, that passion feeds the desire to get better at what you do.  Not necessarily perfect, but good enough, and better than most.  It’s what enables you to ride the learning curve, and deal with the mundane, sometimes boring, in-between stuff.  It’s what then gets you to the part that really turns you on. 

Your recipe counts

What’s your secret sauce?

A meal is a meal is a meal – until you meet the right chef.  The chef who can take ordinary ingredients and fuse them in an extraordinary combination, in the perfect proportions.  It’s not magic, it’s not science.  It takes effort and a lot of trial and error to get the combination right – to create the secret sauce.

Achieving excellence in life is also about how you create your secret sauce.  Discovering your talents, expanding and cultivating them, and then blending them into the perfect mix.  It’s the recipe unique to you.

Discovering your secret sauce is often a process of many attempts, of trial and error and trying again.  It’s moving beyond what you think you like, expanding your personal awareness, and discovering what you truly do well.

What you do well is what grows your passion.  What you do well is the expression of your secret sauce.

Why not?

Specialization is for insects.

Not for you.  Resist spending your life knowing more and more about less and less.

Become as diverse as suits you.  Become a double or triple threat. Not as a dabbler or dilettante, but to gain skills and competency in what interests and excites you.  Why not combine and intersect those capabilities in ways that make you rare and valuable?  Why not cultivate and leverage your skills in the same way that top CEOs and entrepreneurs do?

Why not be extraordinary?