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Set the alarm clock the night before

Situational goal adjustment is a real problem.

Don't set the clock when you're tired, set it when you are planning your day. Don't whittle away at your sales goals right after a serious rejection, set them when you're on a roll.

The discipline is in obeying the rule you set when you were in a different mood than you are now. That's what makes it a rule as opposed to a guideline.

History doesn’t always repeat itself

…but it usually rhymes.

There's a tendency to confuse the next big thing with the one, it, the last big thing, the end of the line.

Communism, Populism, McCarthyism, Progressivism, Libertarianism…

Impressionism, Cubism, Modernism, Pop, Hyperrealism…

Sufiism, Norse Gods, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Christian Science…

Email, the web, web 2.0, mobile…

Newton, Einstein, string theory…

Newspaper, Radio, TV, the Internet…

Most of the time, we're dealing with a moment, a step in a trend. We fail when we fall in love and believe there is no next step.

The heckler

How dare you.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Is this the best you can do?


I've written about the lizard brain and my friend Steve talks about the voice of the resistance.

It occurs to me, though, that most of us have to hassle with the heckler.

The heckler keeps a running critique going, amplifying its tone and anger as it goes on endlessly about all the things we shouldn't do, all the things we're not doing enough, and most of all, at our lack of entitlement to do much of anything new or important.

The heckler cannot be eliminated. It's been around since the beginning of our species, and we're hard wired to have it.

What can be done, though, is alter how the rest of the brain reacts or responds to the heckling.

If you engage with the heckler, if you qualify yourself, justify yourself or worst of all, rationalize yourself, the heckler will pounce, turning a small wedge into a giant hole. Like a standup comedian, it's almost impossible to outwit or shut down a dedicated heckler.

But there is a strategy that works. Acknowledge and move on.

When the heckler announces that you're incompetent, unqualified or hardly ready to step forward, think, "oh." And then proceed.

You give it no purchase. No opportunity to escalate. Each jibe is met with "noted."

Over time, the heckler gets quieter, because it just isn't worth the effort.

Delivering on never

I will never miss a deadline

I will never leave a typo

I will never fail to warn you about a possible pitfall

I will never charge you more than the competition

I will never violate a confidence

I will never let you down

I will never be late for a meeting

There are lots of sorts of never you can deliver to a customer. You can't deliver all of them, of course. Picking your never and sticking with it is a fabulous way to position yourself.

When the truth is just around the corner

…what's your posture?

Sometimes, we get close to finding out who we really are, what's the status of our situation, what's holding us back. When one of those conversations is going on, do you lean in, eager for more, or do you back off, afraid of what it will mean?

Do you go out of your way to learn about your habits, relationships and strengths? Or what's driving traffic to your website? Or why you didn't get that job?

When your organization has a chance to see itself as its customers do, do your leaders crowd around, trying to glean every insight they can about the story and your future, or do they prefer the status quo?

There are more mirrors available than ever. Sometimes, though, what's missing is the willingness to take a look.

Responsibility and authority

Achievers in traditional organizations often say, "I want more authority." They mean that they want the power to make things happen, the mantle of authority that will allow them to get things done.

This is an industrial-era mindset. Management by authority is top-down, risk-averse, measurable and perfect for the org chart. It's essential in organizations that are stable, asset-based and adverse to risk.

There's a different approach, though, one that's based on responsibility instead of authority. "Anyone who takes responsibility for getting something done is welcome to ask for the authority to do it."

Ah, your bluff is called. And so is your boss's.