Whatever it Takes To Turn it In, Do the Work

Sometimes, the ends do justify the means. Get to work.

I have apps like freedom on my phone that block out the entire internet because I know I don’t have the self-control just to sit and type.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to work.

The work I turn out because of that app doesn’t have a unique mark on it. You don’t get any bonus points for making things hard on yourself.

I don’t care if you:

  • Have to squeal
  • Listen to comedy albums out loud
  • Take an afternoon nap

You do whatever it takes to get the work done.

Make a Fence -Framing Makes Freedom

Create a frame

A few days ago, I heard a story on a podcast about kids, fences, and freedom.

Mainly,  they saw that kids didn’t explore when they were in a park without fences. Without any visible boundaries, the kids kept close to the middle and played it safe.

When those same kids went to another park with fences, they spread around the entire area. They felt safe enough to explore the world around them.

Have you ever worked on a project when there were “no rules?”

It is stifling.

There isn’t a starting point. Most of us emulate those kids, we stick close to the middle and try not to fail.  It is as bad as someone micromanaging. If you stick to what you know, you can’t grow.

The best leaders work to understand the work before hand. They take that knowledge and put down a “fence” when they delegate. The fence is a frame that gives people the freedom to try.

Give someone enough room, you can watch them soar.

Freedom is… Lessons from August

Freedom Is...


So, I think back to the coffee shop where someone asked me “What is freedom?

I didn’t have an answer then. I don’t have one now. Freedom in both complicated in expression and concept.

However, I spent a month thinking about it.

A few lessons:

Freedom requires clarity.

It requires commitment.

You can’t run to shiny new objects, yet you have to understand yourself.

You can’t find perfection.

Freedom means taking on problems in different ways.

You have to take a step back and understand the whole problem.

While all of this is happening, you have to keep your vices in check by listening to them.

In short, it’s pretty complicated.This month gave me better questions. Questions lead to greater understanding, which leads to empathy. There is a lot of freedom just in that.

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Rest with Intent – It Compounds


Being purposeful comes with an advantage

Josh Waitzkin grew up playing chess (he was the subject of the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher). He wasn’t known as a competitive fighter. Then Josh Waitzkin won the world Tai Chi (push hands) championship.

One thing that Josh took with him from the chess world to competitive fighting was the intent.

He used it for each part of the fight. One thing that stood out to me was how he changed how he recovered between rounds.

Usually, when tired, most of us put our hands on our knees or have a seat. Josh didn’t do that.

In between rounds he laid on the ground. Flat, as if he were going to sleep.

It’s a smarter way to recover. It’s intentional.

The difference between that and the usual method is tiny. Even so, since this was a continual fight, that advantage compounded. By the time the fighters reached the end of the fight, that little edge had made a huge difference. It propelled Josh to beat his highly skilled opponent.

Sure, it looked silly to his opponents at the time.

The thing is, no one remembers how you recovered between rounds. They just remember how you fought.

When we work, we have to think about, with intent, how we rest. We have to beat back the idea of “silly” or making sure we conform to an unwritten standard.

Right vs. “Rightish”

right vs rightish

It’s Ugly. It’s OK.


The problem with that exclamation is the demand for perfection. 

That works in a school environment.

However, in life and leadership, binary thinking (right and wrong) stops us from growth.

Instead of the “right” answer, go for the “rightish” answer. Sometimes the “rightish” solution is ugly. In fact, often it is. And the beauty of “rightish” is the ability to iterate and make it better. 

As a result, pushing through the ugly with iteration makes something far better than the “perfect” first answer.

Most of the things you used started off on the “rightish” direction and grew from there.

Complexity and Utility – Offload When You Can

Vitamin C+

Offload when you can.

Think of your closet. It’s easy to organize your closet when it’s one piece of clothing in there.

Great. Except that one piece of clothing is boring.  So you add stuff: a pair of pants here, a sweater there. Soon, your closet is full.

Once full, everything about the closet changes, even the questions you ask when you open it. Before, clothing was a yes or no proposition.  Now it is about colors, fits, sizes, and moods.

A full closet comes with complexity. Instead of a few outfits, there are many choices, each interacting with one another.

Sometimes, this level of complexity creates something unique and fresh, however, often it creates fatigue. Anyway, we just go back to wearing the same thing we wore before.

The key here is the balance. How do you keep the art while maintaining utility?

The solution is to offload when possible.

We will talk about an exercise this week to help decide how to offload.

Today, think about how this applies to you more than your closet.