The only question to worry about..

When we put in effort, society points us to in the direction of a a couple of questions –

Did you do better than him/her?

Did you win?

The only question we ought to ask, though, is

Have I been the “best I can be” and given it my best?

We are the questions we ask.

Making Lists

Doing little things every day is what differentiates those who live well and those who don’t.

In fact, I’d go on a limb and a say that does with the consistent good habits are those who achieve extraordinary success.

I think we misunderstood the message from the heavens on who the world really belongs to. It doesn’t belong to the geek, the meek or to the intelligent, it belongs to the disciplined.

And, reminders and lists are the salt of the earth when it comes to helping us be disciplined, and as an extension, live well.

Go on then. Make those lists.

Work Hacks Wednesdays: Plan Tomorrow’s Work Today

It’s a very simple thing to do – spend 5 minutes at the end of the day to plan out the big rocks for the next day.

It’s all about starting the next day with “small wins.”

How do you set yourself up for small wins? As an example, do the hard work of backing your car into the drive way so you can just drive out in the morning.

Planning tomorrow’s work is similar to backing the car as you can show up in the morning and just get going.

Make it frictionless. Make it easy to notch up small wins. The big wins will show up soon enough.

N and o

It’s amazing how powerful these 2 letters are, together.

In combination, they have..

.. shot down many a great idea.

.. killed many a great initiative.

.. caused rejection paralysis in human beings all over.

.. resulted in many singles wondering if they would ever find a partner.

.. infused fear, which has crippled action, time and time again.

The idea that pops straight to mind is one of rejection, of worthless-ness, of disappointment. The word i.e. the two letters in combination, implies none of that, of course.

So, the next time, we hear a “No”, let’s remember to separate the idea from the word. We hear a million words in any given week.

Why let one stop us from doing great things?

Taking control of our lives

Let’s face it – there are very few events we actually control. For the most part, life just happens to us. And we spend a big chunk of our time reacting to these events.

That said, there are big parts of certain constants we actually do control.

For example, we don’t control what others think of us at work. But, we do control how we go about doing work. Or, we don’t control what our final exam papers look like. But, we do control how we prepare for it.

It’s easy to get into one of two modes of thinking –

“I don’t control anything.” So, who cares, right?

“I have too many choices.” Do I play politics, back stab that colleague, pretend I was working at 2am on Monday morning? Cue decision paralysis.

We have a penchant for complicating things. Let’s keep things simple – work hard, study hard and as Steve Martin would say..

‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’

Best wishes for a good week.

On The 5 Habits of a Craftsman

This week’s book learning is part 3 of a 5 part series from ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’ by Cal Newport. (Parts 1, 2)

We spoke of the “craftsman mindset” as the best way to build career capital. Today, we will take a deep look at the 5 habits of a craftsman –

1: Decide what capital market you are in. There are 2 kinds of markets –

Winner-take-all: One killer skills with a few winners all over the world (e.g. hollywood script writer)

Auction: Diverse collection of skills. Here, there are many different types of career capital and each person might generate their own unique collection (e.g. CEO of a Fortune 500 company)

2: Identify your capital type. Ignore this if you are in a winner-take-all market as there’s only one type of capital. (i.e. be amongst the top 10 script writers in the world to make it in Hollywood)

For an auction market, however, seek open gates i.e. opportunities to build capital that are already open to you. Open gates get us farther faster. Skill acquisition is like a freight train: Getting it started requires a huge application of effort, but changing its track once it’s moving is easy. (e.g. keep moving upwards in an organization and then laterally instead of trying to move laterally and start from scratch)

3: Define “good”. Set clear goals. For a script writer, the definition of “good” is clear – his scripts being taken seriously.

4: Stretch and destroy. Deliberate practice – that uncomfortable sensation in our heads that feels like physical strain, as if neurons are physically re-forming into new configurations.

5: Be patient. Look years into the future for the payoff. It’s less about paying attention to your main pursuit, and more about your willingness to ignore other pursuits that pop up along the way to distract you.

While the craftsman mindset can be applied to most kinds of work, Cal also indicates three disqualifiers for applying the craftsman mindset. These are jobs that

1. …present few opportunities to distinguish yourself by developing relevant skills that are rare and valuable.
2. …focus on something you think is useless or perhaps even actively bad for the world.
3. … force you to work with people you really dislike.

Over to principle #3 then. Coming up next week..

Here’s to developing the 5 habits of a craftsman this week!


Want to finish that bar of chocolate? Play that extra hour on the play station? Wear that expensive dress and go for a fancy dinner?  Curl up in your bed and just read a book in quiet?

Go for it. Don’t think twice.

Tomorrow, we can go about worrying about all of life’s little problems – our waist lines, crazy projects, bosses and plan.

Tomorrow, we will exercise, work, and study.

Today, we will indulge.

Tomorrow, we will do.

Today, we will just be..

Self control is so incredibly critical to long term happiness. But it’s nice to let go once a while and give in. The key is once a while of course.