Cynicism

Sometimes the cynicism is earned.

By earned I mean it comes from a place and isn’t just superficial, they have been burned before. Someone, prior to you (or even you) made a promise and they didn’t keep it.

It’s fair. 

So what do you do about it? 

Listen. Thats it. They are teaching, and you are learning.

First Principle – Context

Your decisions affect people.

Not in the way you think. We usually think people care about our decisions on the surface, that they “care” because life is all about us (we are natural narcissists.) 

However that isn’t it at all. While people may “care” about what we do, odds are they don’t because they too are making decisions and wondering if you care about them. 

Your decisions affect people because we live in a complex system. Everything builds on something else; there is no such thing as a clean slate. Because of this, it is imperative, as an impactful decision maker, to understand who and what your decisions affect.

To many teams and folks, this feels like overkill. I would caution you that over-indexing on context may, may lead to a rolled eye or two, but under-indexing can lead to a world war. Sounds extreme, but it has happened. 

Now, we may not have the decision power to change the lines on a globe, but we make decisions each and every day that change people on it.

So always contextualize. Find out who is affected by our decisions and then choose if it matters. 

Nothing happens in a vacuum.

One Key To Achieving A Goal? Give It A Narrative

What does a story have to do with your goals? We are human, and as humans, we are natural storytellers. When we take advantage of that, we can communicate value to the teams around us and really supercharge the goals we have to accomplish much more than we can imagine.

Questions

  • Why is a narrative important?
  • How do you structure a narrative?
  • How do you put together goals so they make “sense”

Market and Silence

So, here is something I wouldn’t have understood at the beginning of my career, but is becoming more evident.

  • Demonstrating who you are is essential. The work rarely speaks for itself and marketing matters.
  • At the same time, learning how to let the work speak for itself when it is time – embracing silence is just as critical.

Learning to dance in between the tension of those two ideas is where great work begins.

“The Work?”

Every day I get up and turn on my laptop. Soon, sometimes sooner than I think, I am looking at this blank page – wondering just what the fuck I want to write about.

Then the work begins, and I am jotting something down, cursing to myself and wondering if any of this makes sense.

I’m going to get meta here. 

As much as creating is catharsis, it is also work. If, and I really mean if, you decide to do it, prepare to work. And as you work, realize that most of it is unseen, happening in the mind. No one gets a front row seat with your dance of fear, the beads of internal sweat that transforms themselves into stomach pangs that function as a barrier to and a signal that you might be on to something.

But that isn’t “the work,” is it. “The work” is what happens next, when you find yourself surrounded by “life.”

It boils down to this question:

Are you willing to work until your shift is over, no matter what?

Hard to answer, even harder to do. Life is a great at throwing you an excuse. Can you dodge them for just today?

If you can do that, try for tomorrow, too. 

Wonder. Just Wonder

This morning, I woke up pretty excited. Getting up, I realized that there is a new world ahead. With the acceleration of technology, and the ease of communication, I think we are headed towards an age of wonder.

Some quick thoughts about the “winners” and “losers” in this new age.

The winners – Those who bring a level of curiosity and rigor to the proceedings. They are experienced in both the old and new ways and use them as tools, not dogma. With the whole world available, everything is an opportunity.

The losers: Those who choose to not play, or decide to play small. Being defensive, or being willfully ignorant won’t work. Both the old and new ways are best.

Proceed with whimsy, please. We’ll need you.

If you ship consistently, you have more time.

Sounds like a paradox, doesn’t it?

“What do you mean, I have more time? I barely have any time now, with the (fill in your job, family, or bills here)!”

Life is always there, no matter what we do. What I am talking about here, though, is that when a creative team or person has a consistent shipping schedule, they often have more time than they think. What bothers me, is when we as creatives decide to squander it by thinking short-term.

The benefit of shipping consistently is that you build trust. Once you’ve gained a certain amount of trust, it is worth your time to expend some of it by creating boundaries. No becomes a more important word the more work you do.

When you create that time, it is critical you get uncomfortable. That clarifying conversation? Have it. That weird experiment that might not work? Do it. The point is that in building boundaries, you give yourself the space to do the things that “go first.” Those are often the “soft” things that evaporate under pressure.

As Tom Peters says – “Soft is hard. Hard is soft”The trick is, understanding your boundaries and realizing you can say no. Everyone thinks that thier request is a fire. It is your job as your self-advocate to determine what is and what isn’t and move forward.

Give yourself time. You’ve got more than you think, and it isn’t worth squandering.