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Don’t waste the good days

If you’re feeling creative, do the errands tomorrow.

If you’re fit and healthy, take a day to go surfing.

When inspiration strikes, write it down.

The calendar belongs to everyone else. Their schedule isn’t your schedule unless it helps you get where you’re going.

Which errors to focus on?

So many missed opportunities. Decisions not made, errors in judgment, opportunities lost.

Perhaps you didn’t buy Google stock at $80, didn’t buy ETH at $5, didn’t buy that winning lottery ticket… You also didn’t take that course in college, or go out of your way to meet that person on campus or learn Spanish when you had the chance.

But most of the time, those aren’t the things we’re obsessed about. Instead of these huge opportunities not seen, we think about the near misses, the ones we had some sort of proximity to. As if the emotional proximity to a choice is the thing to feel badly about. So, instead of thinking of the $10,000 we didn’t make by buying a certain equity, we think about the $10 we affirmatively lost by leaving it on a counter. Instead of thinking about a breakthrough paper we didn’t write, we worry about a typo we made in a brief years ago.

One is thousands of times more expensive than the other, and the amount of effort in each is the same, but our minds focus on the one where we feel like we had more responsibility. Which causes us to focus even more on the wrong sort of decision in the future.

The roads not seen almost always matter more than the potholes we hit along the way.

The two choices for anyone with a new idea

“It’s simple.”

“It’s complicated.”

When you talk to someone about your new idea, they’re going to realize right away that it’s one or the other.

The trap is trying to pitch a complicated cultural shift, possibility or project as if it’s simple.

Darwin’s insight about how the world evolved is simple once you understand it, but it represents such a conceptual leap that bringing it to someone who’s looking for a simple and easy explanation is sure to fail. But if you invite someone along for a journey instead of a quick fix, you earn the right to take your time and tell your story.

Some non-profits are simple, “there’s an earthquake, and these people need food right now.” Some are complicated, “we can create a significant, permanent change in the culture by treating people with dignity so that they can live fuller, more complete lives.”

The simple/complex trap often confuses well-meaning people in politics, business and the arts. The solution isn’t to dumb down the complex. The solution is to invite the right people along on the journey.

Choice vs. convenience

You have more than a billion choices online. With just a few clicks, you could be just about anywhere. Thanks for reading this today.

What did you have for lunch yesterday? Of all the lunches in all your possible universes, was it your first choice? Best choice?

When someone tries to take our freedom of choice away, it’s a problem. And yet…

We have far more choices than we realize. In school, we’re bound by the course catalog, the schedule and the requirements of a degree, but even there, we had more freedom than we imagined. The organizations we could have started, the projects we could have launched, the people we could have connected…

It’s convenience that holds us back. And it comes in many forms.

Social convenience: it’s easier to sit through a boring cocktail party or a meeting than it is to tell someone you don’t want to come.

Physical convenience: things that are handy are much more likely to be chosen than ones that require us to move somewhere to go get them.

Intellectual convenience: change makes us uncomfortable. Sunk costs are hard to ignore. Possibility comes with agency, and agency comes with risk.

Financial convenience: if it’s cheaper in the short run, we’re more likely to choose it, even if it costs satisfaction, opportunity or cash in the long run.

Cultural convenience: A combination of all of these, because culture likes the status quo and reminds of this regularly.

If we ever saw precisely how much freedom of choice we have if we were willing to sacrifice convenience for it, we’d be paralyzed. But if the choices we’re making now aren’t helping us live the way we choose, it might be worth taking a hard look at why.

[PS Thanks for reading this on the slowest week of the year. If you’re up for an inconvenient choice, I’ve created a coupon for my Udemy lectures on learning so it only costs half the usual amount for the next few days. (If you were looking for the free code, alas, your fellow readers grabbed them… I set it at maximum Udemy allows, but they all went quickly.)

Thanks. Here’s to peace of mind and possibility.]

Best behavior

If we’re new to a situation, or feeling unsure, we pay careful attention. We’re closely examining how others feel, what the cultural norms are, and what impact we’re seeking to make.

On the other hand, sometimes we fail to be on our best behavior. That’s another way of describing impulsive selfishness.

The surprising thing isn’t that being on our best behavior makes things go more smoothly. No, for many of us, the surprise is that it actually makes the experience better for us, not just the other folks.


One sort of job requires people to follow a recipe.

Another, better sort of job requires people to understand the recipe.

If you understand it, that means you can change it. You have resilience and insight and the leverage to make it better.

Lead by leading

Managers have to wait for permission, because management requires authority.

But in every area of our lives, if we choose to lead, we can lead. Simply by beginning.

It might be that few will choose to follow, but then we can learn to get better at leading.

First we begin.

Value capture (and the minibar)

No one freely buys anything unless it’s worth more than it costs.

And so, in a competitive market, organizations will compete to capture as little value as they can afford to, offering the most surplus to the customer, because that’s how they can grow and thrive.

And monopolies (and organizations that would like to profit as they do) work to create situations where the customer has no real options, so they can capture almost all the value that’s created.

That’s why nuts at the minibar cost so much. The goal is to price them a penny less than they’re worth to the traveler in that moment.

Value creation is a worthwhile goal. Capturing all of that value might not be.

What did you expect?

If you open a roadside motel, expect that tired and demanding budget travelers will arrive.

If you run a fancy restaurant, don’t be surprised if people will angle and cajole and lie to get a ‘better’ table.

If you hustle to get market share, you’ll probably end up with customers who insist on ever more hustle and trickery to stay with you.

If you decide to become a coach, realize that most of your prospects will be people who don’t think they need a coach. (Because the people who want and need a coach already have one).

If you attract new freelance business by being the cheapest, I’m betting that your customers will give you a hard time about your rates.

If you’re a mental health professional, expect that the people you encounter will have issues with their mental health.

Sometimes, things work the way they are supposed to, even if it’s not what we might want in the moment.

The problems with churlishness

Sometimes, people with every advantage act as if they don’t have what they deserve.

They’re ungracious, unkind and even vulgar about it.

The first problem is that it earns them little in the way of sympathy or kindness from people who believe that they ought to be behaving better.

And the second problem is that the person who’s acting churlish knows that they have little reason to take umbrage and that makes it even harder to feel better.

When we feel like a churl, the best path could be to head for gracious humility and kindness instead. It might not work, but it works better than any other option.