Being Different Is Difficult

Different is Difficult

When most people talk about wanting something different, rarely do they want something too different.

What do they want?

They want a different flavor of themselves.  If we use a car metaphor, people don’t want an another kind; they want a different shade of paint or a new model.

If we stay with the car metaphor, it’s easier to drive a car where you reliably know where the air conditioner and the aux cord are. You can still have the same habits and get the same results.

Sometimes it isn’t a bad thing to want an update or even the same car. A new type of car means a new way of operating, and that takes time to get comfortable.

Dealing with people is no different.

If you do want different, prepare for “uncomfortability” on both sides.  Different is difficult. It requires us to change our habits and ways of seeing the world after we are comfortable.

Be patient.


Table for One

Smallest change, please

I love being a part of the altMBA program, both as a student and a coach.

During a private event with both alumni and Seth, he made a point that I’ve spent a lifetime trying to avoid. The thing is, he was completely right.

Before, I didn’t want to face it because:

  • It requires a lot of work and a ton of vulnerability.
  • It forces you to make decisions about the product you are offering to the world.
  • And, it might scare some people off.

What is it?

Focus on changing one person. That’s it.

Your job isn’t to make something for the masses. Your job, as a leader and a creator, is to make something for one person. Decide to attack one person’s problem, let one person find a voice, have one person feel represented.   Everyone else has to miss the boat.

Once you get that one person, then turn it into two.

Don’t Block Other’s Pain

Resist the urge to shield everything

You have to let your team scrape its knee. 

Failure is a path to growth, and when you stop the team from scraping its knee, you cut that growth short.

We adapt. When we are on a team that we trust, we know that the pain we feel can evolve into value at some point. When you are working with a team long-term, this is important. Each failure turns into a lesson for you and your team.

Don’t shame, blame or guilt. Failure is information. It is a chance to regroup.

Doesn’t mean it isn’t painful.

Let that pain evolve into an experience, or you’ll feel more pain later.

Show Up, There is Always a Prize When You Do

Go to work, show up

Every day you show up, something happens.

Sometimes that “something” is external. We earn accolades, money, validation.

Those are nice and necessary. Helping someone or making something happen feels good.

However, the external isn’t permanent. If that were it, then showing up wouldn’t be nearly as important as it is.

Something happens to our brains when we “do.” The change that happens is internal. We earn a little more know-how, form habits, and understand the language of what we do.

We take those things with us.They make up our foundation. The starting block for our taste.

There is always a prize for showing up.

Recognize, however, that no one else may see that prize.

Then show up anyway.

Own the Decision

own the decision

Create credibility by taking responsibility

Own the decision by taking responsibility for it.

Although it can get painful if you care about “optics,” it’s a quick fix for credibility.

There are few things more frustrating than working with someone who changes direction regularly. It’s textbook intellectual laziness from a leader.

Changing direction in the middle of a project is usually the result of not being thoughtful with the people to whom you delegate work.

It’s easier to “spray and pray” because finding a direction is hard work. It requires confidence and vulnerability.

Use this exercise to start to own the process.


Before you start a project or process, find the answers to:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • How?
  • Why?

Your answers to each of these is no longer than two sentences.

Thinking about who, what, where, how, and why and clearly articulating each one makes delegation easier: it frames the project from its start.

Then, if you have to change something, you have a quick tool to see if fear is operating; if those five elements don’t change, your shift won’t be effective.

Freedom to Switch It Up


Traveling a well-worn road is easy.

In many cases, it’s necessary. In high-stress situations, the well-worn road keeps us from going insane. The idea of “knowing” allows our energy to focus on problems. Focus is far easier to come by when you are comfortable in your surroundings.

Our habits are the well-worn roads of our conscious in our personal lives. Patterns make our lives easier, but because they make our lives easier, models can become a trap.

The way to avoid that trap is when things slow down, change the way you try with a habit. Change something small about what you are doing. If you clean the dishes at night in a big batch, try washing the item as soon as you use it. If you read before bed, try batching (doing it all at once vs. spread out) your reading for the week on a Sunday afternoon.

What happens? Perhaps nothing, or you find a way you approach your habit improves the way you help it. If you read fiction better batched and non-fiction on a consistent basis, then you’ve found an actionable insight that you can spin in different ways.

Instead of grabbing a non-fiction book for a flight, you know it’s far more enjoyable to read that Kafka novel you’ve avoided for years.

Little experimentations like these can lead to serious results.


  1. Write down your consistent habits.
  2. Figure out one change you could make.
  3. Try it a few times, take note of the differences you feel.

The Garlic Problem

We Aren’t Logical, So Prepare For It

When you eat garlic, the smell gets on your hands, around your mouth, and on your breath. People notice, but mostly, you care. Should you do something?


  • Do nothing.
  • You can excuse yourself, go to the bathroom, wash your hands, and pop in a stick of gum.
  • You could either register this change as the start of a catastrophe and run away from the dinner.

While we sit here and read this, the first two options seem reasonable. With no skin in the game, you recognize the best choice is the second, but you could live with the first.

The last choice seems insaneIn life, when you add emotion, it isn’t that simple.

You can feel the slight change of disposition in the room.  And in our worst moments, it can cause us to lose perspective.

When the pressure is on, the third option becomes much more reasonable in our heads.

Tomorrow – I’ll talk about why this is important.