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The worst

The worst golfer in town came in last in the club tournament.

Actually, that’s not true. The worst golfer didn’t even enter.

Well, that’s not true either. The worst golfer doesn’t even play.

Convenience and boredom

The last fifty years have seen a worldwide effort to maximize one and eliminate the other.

Marketers and technologists work overtime to create convenience. We’ve gone from hunting and growing our food to pressing three buttons on a phone to get it…

And the cost of that convenience is high. We give up privacy, control and satisfaction to get it, in every corner of our lives.

At the same time, the market has figured out that we simply don’t like to be bored. And so there’s more stimulation, more options and more noise than ever before.

The problem is that boredom is a partner with satisfaction and joy. It’s hard to overstimulate ourselves into those feelings.

When the gauge is broken

When your watch stops, it’s unlikely that you believe that time is now standing still. It’s obviously the watch that’s broken, not time.

But when a metric on our culture or a complex machine is functioning poorly, it’s easy to get confused. Is this work actually unpopular, or is the bestseller list not an accurate reporter of what people care about? Is the pump actually overheating, or is the temperature probe broken?

The more complex the system, the more likely we are to believe a broken gauge, even if it’s only right twice a day.

If you’re not satisfied with what you think is happening, it might be worth recalibrating.

An opportunity for significant organizations

Our new project, The Carbon Almanac, is now inviting supporting partners to join us. We are all volunteers and we’re focused on offering institutions a chance to amplify the conversation about climate change. (Partner organizations don’t have to be large, simply committed to help).

Supportive groups like Linkedin, Kone NL, Automattic, McCann Worldgroup, Porchlight Books, Seagate, Amazon, The New York Public Library, The Optimist magazine, Cleantech Open and Change Inc. are already on board. They’re contributing in different ways, agreeing to pre-order or distribute copies of our new book this June.

Foundational partners get a link on this blog, and all partners appear on our home page and have access to our teaching materials.

If you’d like to learn more–for your brand or corporation, or for your non-profit–please check out this simple info form.

Peer to peer, group to group, ideas spread and make an impact.

Thanks.

And maybe it’s enough

To feel sufficient, to be satisfied with what we have: Chisoku in Japanese.

Of course, by some measures, there’s never enough. We can always come up with a reason why more is better, or better is better, or new is better or different is better.

Enough becomes a choice, not a measure of science.

The essence of choice is that it belongs to each of us. And if you decide you have enough, then you do.

And with that choice comes a remarkable sort of freedom. The freedom to be still, to become aware and to stop hiding from the living that’s yet to be done.

Modern marketing and hustle

Hustle uses shortcuts and effort to bend the conventions of society to get more than the hustler’s fair share of attention. Hustle burns trust for awareness. Because it’s a shortcut, hustle might deliver in the short-run, but hustle is notably non-consensual. Few people want to be hustled.

Marketing is the work of helping people get what they’ve wanted all along. Marketing is about establishing the conditions for a small group of people to eagerly spread the word and build connection. Modern marketing changes the culture by establishing what the new norms are, and does it in a way that makes things better for those it serves.

Taking attention vs. storytelling and service. Sometimes it feels like the shortcuts and depersonalization and scale are the only option, then a great marketing project comes along and we’re reminded that in fact, we can do work we’re proud of.

The surprising thing about expectations

When you meet expectations, when you make a promise and keep it, when your quality is on spec—we say “of course.”

On the other hand, if you relentlessly raise expectations, if you overpromise and add a bit of hype, you’re almost certain to fail to meet our dreams and hopes. At the same time, though, those raised hopes are their own sort of placebo, an internal cognitive dissonance that will make some people like your work more than if you had simply promised less.

And finally, if you invest the time, care and money to dramatically over-deliver, you probably won’t make as much in profit today, but that imbalance is often made up for with word of mouth in your favor. When you amaze and delight, your fans will pay it forward.

A hundred years into our industrial age, each of these forms of expectation has become its own signal. We’ve established expectations about expectations. You can’t raise money from a VC if you tell them exactly what the numbers are going to be like, and no one would have surgery if surgeons were clear about all the details.

The challenge is to be sure we put the correct expectations in the right categories.

Anytimed

It’s not a word, but perhaps it should be.

If a competitor goes after your customers by offering them faster service, all day and all night, you’ve been anytimed.

And if your boss, fearing that event, or simply trying to boost output for free, pushes you to be available all hours of the day and night, you’re being anytimed as well.

The market wants convenience and speed and price. Anytimed is a side effect of that race.

Catastrophization

Life’s a tragedy. It always surprises us, and eventually, we all die.

But tragedies don’t have to lead to catastrophes. A catastrophe is a shared emergency that overwhelms our interactions and narratives.

Lately, they’ve become a business model and a never-ending part of our days. If we live in a world driven by attention, catastrophization is a sure way to grab some. It’s a bright red button that causes forward motion to freeze up.

If it helped, it wouldn’t be a problem. If it helped, we could use our resources to make a difference. But it’s not designed to help, it’s designed to shift our focus and activate our emotions.

It might be the catastrophe of world events, or the political scrum or even an unhappy customer on Yelp.

For too long, people with power and privilege simply ignored things that mattered, and catastrophization is a reasonable response–until it begins to undermine the work we need to do. It quickly becomes a version of Pressfield’s resistance, a way to avoid leaning into important projects that might not work–because it’s safer to focus on a thing over there than it is to work on something right here.

And it’s exhausting. Catastrophe fatigue sets in, and we end up losing interest and drifting away, until the next emergency arrives.

Catastrophization ends up distracting us from the long-term systemic work we signed up to do. It’s a signal that we care about what’s happening right now, but it also keeps us from focusing on what’s going to happen soon.

The best way to care is to persist in bending the culture and our systems to improve things over time.

“Not a heavy lift”

If you work with your hands and your back, avoiding a heavy lift is totally understandable.

For many of us, though, we work with time or with trust.

If someone asks you to endorse their new project, “it’ll only take a minute,” they’re offering to save you time, but at the risk of the trust you’ve built. That’s not a light lift, it’s a huge risk.

If someone says, “please forward this to everyone in your address book, here’s a simple script to do it automatically,” that is indeed a heavy lift.

Just because it’s fast doesn’t mean it’s worth doing.